Mark Your Calendars – Week of April 16

Although we have less than a month to go in the semester, Pre-Law Advising Services has two important workshops — TODAY and next Monday — for those of you planning on applying to law school this fall.  Scroll down for information about these programs, study groups for the September LSAT, Fulbright Scholarships and more, including a campus visit by noted attorney and civil rights advocate Alan Dershowitz!

Pre-Law Advising Services

Applying to Law School Workshop – TODAY, Monday April 16, 4-5:15pm, 514 IUB

This workshop is designed for Illini planning to apply to law school this fall (2018) or who are graduating and plan to apply to law school in the next few years.  The workshop will cover:

  • LSAT options–these recently changed!
  • Using the LSAC/Credential Assembly Service
  • How to use the summer to get ahead on law school applications
  • Developing a law school application strategy
  • Sending in transcripts
  • Getting letters of recommendation

And we will allocate time for Q&A. Join us to get a head start on fall applications or to find out what you can do to maximize your applications during a gap year. All students and alumni are welcome!

Personal Statement and Resume Workshop – NEXT Monday, April 23, 4-5pm, 514 IUB

If you’re planning to apply to law school this fall OR if you’re graduating and planning to apply to law school in the next couple of years, then this is a great opportunity to learn about writing a personal statement and resume for law school. The personal statement is a critical part of the law school application in which applicants must show personality, highlight strengths, identify career goals, and address why law school is their next step: a tall order for a 2 page document! Join us as we cover:

  • What the personal statement is (and isn’t) to law schools
  • Creating a realistic timeline 
  • Outlining a plan for how to write the statement
  • How the personal statement and resume work together in the application
  • What is an addendum?
  • Knowing the right resources to help you along the way

We’ll have time for Q&A, so bring your questions!

PLAS also has a couple of additional opportunities for you to consider:

  1. LSAT Study Group – The September LSAT is only a few months away! Pre-Law Advising Services is organizing LSAT study groups for those people taking the September 8, 2018 exam. We will organize groups based on the availability you specify in the google form. Sign-ups for the LSAT study groups will close by next Thursday April 19 at noon. To sign up, use the google form provided here: https://goo.gl/forms/nNpDBqrvBI510pg12

2. Pre-Law Club – Pre-Law Advising Services is measuring interest for a possible pre-law registered student organization here at the University of Illinois. The RSO would be for the 2018-2019 school year. Please answer our survey to let us know about your interest in this RSO and possibly joining the Pre-Law RSO! The form can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/MvL1xYyR2cY8Tvss2

Campus Events

Career Center

Resume, Cover Letter, Linked In Reviews – Monday, April 16, 2-4:30pm, Resource Center; 7-9pm, Undergraduate Library, Consultation Corner.  This workshop is offered several other times during the week.  Go here for more information.

Creating Your Powerful Resume – Monday, April 16, 4-5pm, The Career Center Conference Room 143

International Student Career Meet Up – Friday, April 20, 4-5:30pm, The Career Center Interview Suite Room 213.  Join us for an information gathering where international students can talk with alumni, recruiters, or current international students who have successful job search stories. Information on invited speakers will be posted on Handshake. Open to all international students, but RSVP on Handshake is required due to a space limitation.

For more information on these and other Career Center events, check out their website.

National & International Scholarship Program – Fulbright Scholarship Workshops

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.  A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Sound interesting?  The National & International Scholarships Program has several workshops scheduled to help you prepare a strong application.

Friday, April 20: Personal Statement Workshop – 3:30-5:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. A key part of the Fulbright Application is the Personal Statement, a one-page essay. Come learn how to create this document and tell your unique story.

       Webinars for those off campus:

If you are not currently on campus to take advantage of our Fulbright Information        Session, join us remotely for these webinars!  The same detailed overview will be provided for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, including: eligibility, grant types, and application advice.  There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers.

 Wednesday, April 25: Informational Webinar for Illinois Alumni and Students Abroad – 8:30-9:30 am CST; https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/96a0120ef64d43dc9f7b43d6e77ce197

Thursday, April 26: Informational Webinar for Illinois Alumni and Students Abroad – 12:00-1:00 pm CST; https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/ed88abfed96540c7a4e96da034f46819

Friday, April 27: English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Application Workshop – 2:00-3:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. The Fulbright ETA application includes a one-page essay on your case for Why the Fulbright program should fund You to Teach English to students in ____________ (insert your host country).  We will discuss how to approach this essay and more during this workshop.

Friday, April 27: Designing a Fulbright Research Proposal Workshop – 3:30-5:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. If you are interested in applying for a Fulbright research grant, join us for this workshop to learn how to craft this important two-page grant request, how to secure a letter of affiliation, and how to select your reference letter writers.

The US Student Fulbright website is:  https://us.fulbrightonline.org

Facebook UIUC Fulbright Events page is here.

Alan Dershowitz to Give Public Lecture at University of Illinois

Alan Dershowitz, noted attorney and advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, will be on the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign campus next Thursday, April 26, 2018, for a series of events. The day will culminate in a public lecture held in Foelinger Auditorium, at 7:30pm.  This even is FREE and open to the public! This visit is sponsored by Gies College of Business; The Program in Constitutional Theory, History and Law at the College of Law; and the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at the University of Illinois.dershowitz

 

 

 

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Course Options for Fall 2018

Still looking for some fall courses? As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. However, given an interest in law, here are some fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. Check out Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

For more info on building academic skills for law school, visit the March 16 blog post.

AAS 375/LLS 377: Prisons, Race and Terror. Examination of the U.S. prison regime, focusing on three dimensions of U.S. imprisonment — criminal justice, immigrant detention, and martial imprisonment, particularly under the War on Terror. 

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning–Understanding financial instruments and tax implications is critical for many lawyers

ACE 306: Food Law and ACE 406: Environmental Law

ADV 310: Intro to Public Relations: Introduces the student to the practice and profession of public relations. Course material covers topics such as the history of public relations and the role of law and ethics in public relations.

Community Health courses are helpful for people interested in healthcare law, such as

  • CHLH 100: Contemporary Health
  • CHLH 101: Intro to Public Health

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 310: The Rhetorical Tradition
  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ECON 484: Law and Economics Applications of economic theory to problems and issues in both civil and criminal law and the effect of legal rules on the allocation of resources.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School & Society

English courses help develop writing, research, and analysis skills.

  • ENGL 199: Career Planning for Humanities Majors
  • ENGL 310: Introduction to the Study of the English Language (Unprotected Speech)
  • ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (same as ESE 360)

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues and ESE 466: Environmental Policy for those interested in environmental law

FIN 214: Fundamentals of Real Estate A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics.

Geography courses may be particularly engaging for students interested in environmental issues, global politics, and/or international legal issues

  • GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment 
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies, GLBL 220: Governance, and GLBL 260: Global Human Rights

HIST 395: Topics in Law and Society

INFO 303: Writing Across Media, a skill that all careers integrate and value.

LAW 301: Introduction to Law

  • Serves as a general foundation course for those interested in applying to law school.

Labor & Employment Relations offers multiple courses for undergraduates on labor law and employment law issues, including:

  • LER 100: Introduction to Labor Studies
  • LER 290: Introduction to Employment Law
  • LER 320: Gender, Race, Class, and Work

LLS 468: Latinas/os & the Law

Examines the Latina/Latino experience in the U.S. how and when the law, through the courts, has most often operated as an instrument of subordination and oppression, but has also at times been leveraged for positive social transformation. Students will come to understand that the law is a deeply contested social space that is central to U.S. social hierarchies based upon race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, immigration status, and religion.

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning This course is particularly helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics This course includes some basic exploration of ethics, including looking at the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State

Political Science options to explore specific legal areas include:

  • PS 225: Environmental Politics & Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are helpful primers for law school
  • PS 312: Politics and the Media
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 322: Law and Public Policy or PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 323: Law & Representation
  • PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project completed in conjunction with the internship itself for academic credit, credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office. Stay tuned for updates regarding the application process for this exciting opportunity. For more information, go here: https://pol.illinois.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/internships.

Note – beginning in the Fall of 2018, the Political Science Department will be introducing a new curriculum, featuring concentrations in the following areas: General Political Science; Citizen Politics; Civic Leadership; International Relations; Law & Power; Public Policy & Democratic Institutions; and World Politics.  For more information on these changes, go here.

PSYC 468: Psych and Law

  • Examines relationship of the administrative, civil, and criminal justice systems to educational and mental health institutions; individual rights, social issues, and psychological well being.

Sociology introduced its Criminology, Law and Society Minor last fall.  Some interesting class offerings there include:

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 477/479: Law and Society

SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work studies systemic social issues and resources, working with vulnerable populations

Other courses to explore different areas of law include:

  • JOUR 311: Media Law Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age. 
  • RST 225: Environmental Politics & Policy (cross listed as PS 225) Examinations of the political, economic, ecological, and cultural trade-offs between the use and the preservation of the environment, with particular emphasis on the preservation of land and water resources in national parks, forests, and other reserved lands.
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport A study of legal principles and their impact on the sport industry; the course examines the application of different areas of law including tort, contract, constitutional, anti-trust, and intellectual property law to professional, amateur and recreational sport.
  • SE 400: Engineering Law – note – only prerequisite is Rhet 105. Course covers: nature and development of the legal system; legal rights and duties important to engineers in their professions; contracts, uniform commercial code and sales of goods, torts, agency, worker’s compensation, labor law, property, environmental law, intellectual property.
  • TE 450: Startups: Incorporate, Fund, Contracts, Intellectual Property Explore legal tools used in constructing and operating companies. Topics include: issues with business formation, intellectual property, NDA, contracts, and other corporate legal issues impacting startups.
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law Provides students with a basic understanding of the governmental structure, legal aspects, and practice of local municipal planning, with special emphasis on case law, constitutional principles, zoning, subdivision regulations and comprehensive planning. Gives an introduction for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in land use law and local government planning.

Remember that these are only suggestions and that none of these courses is required for law school.  Further, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify courses that are the best fit for you.

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Guide to selecting pre-law coursework for Illinois students

Each semester, we post a list of upcoming courses that will help pre-law students develop relevant skills for law school and get a taste of what studying law is like. What else should you know about building your pre-law schedule? This Guide provides several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Pre-Law students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Therefore, carefully consider what major(s) and minor(s) will challenge you but also allow you to demonstrate your academic strengths. Explore all majors and minors on campus here.

What academic skills should you build? Pre-law students must demonstrate strong research, writing, reading, and speaking skills, which can be accomplished both in and out of the classroom. These are the core skills that law schools truly care about, so take a look at your DARS and ask yourself: How many courses have you taken that develop and reflect these skills? Take courses that demonstrate those skills–they can be in any discipline. Popular options include English, History, Political Science, Philosophy, or Communication courses, but don’t feel limited to only those.

Balance academic challenge with success. Law schools want to see students who demonstrate academic success while taking a challenging courseload. Ideally, pre-law students would take an academic course load that is challenging both in terms of rigor and credits while still doing performing well. What does this mean, and how can you achieve it?

  • A challenging but not overwhelming course load suggestion is 15-17 credit hours. (This can vary due to individual factors, and is only a general guideline, not a mandate. Think carefully about the right course load for you.)
  • Be strategic in your course selection. Don’t take your 5 hardest classes in the same semester to get them out of the way. Work with your major advisor to determine how you can distribute those courses throughout your remaining semesters. Likewise, don’t take your 5 easiest classes at the same time–use those to give you some relief from the harder classes each semester.
  • For juniors and seniors–Move up from 1 and 200 level courses to 3 and 400 levels in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of challenge. A good general rule is no more than one 1 or 200 level course per semester for juniors and seniors (unless you must do so to graduate on time). Taking easy classes to pad a GPA is obvious to law school admissions, who know what a challenging semester looks like.

Use your major(s) and minor(s) to complement each other. If you have a major that does not necessarily demonstrate lots of writing or research skills, then selecting a minor or secondary major that does is a smart balance. Unusual combinations of majors/minors can also show a law school someone who is intellectually curious and able to succeed in a wide variety of coursework.

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework. This is especially important if you struggle academically for more than one semester–it is very challenging to fix a low GPA once obtained.

We recommend that you avoid making course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes in the afternoons/on Tu/Th/to complement my work schedule so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I just wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

What, then, are good reasons to take a course?

  • It demonstrates the skills that law schools prefer to see;
  • I like the topic and find it interesting or it is required for my major/minor;
  • It fits in well with my remaining coursework in terms of balancing rigor and the ability to do well; and
  • I talked with my academic advisor who agreed it is a good fit for me.

You must prioritize academics if law school is your goal. Don’t get distracted from your goal of law school admission. If being president of a social organization or volunteering too much affects your grades, it’s time to dial back your extracurriculars and rededicate yourself to your role as a student. Law schools will not care that the reason your grades suffered is because you were planning a big fundraiser…that shows them a lack of prioritizing and time management skills.

Build important academic skills. Right now you are building academic skills and habits which you will rely on when you transition to law school, where the work is much harder and infinitely more time consuming than your undergraduate studies. Now is the time to master discipline (not procrastinating), effective note taking, reading comprehension and speed, attention to detail in your writing, citing your work appropriately, giving an effective speech, and managing your time. All of these are skills that you will be expected to bring with you into your law school classroom.

Plan far in advance for study abroad, Illinois in Washington, and taking the LSAT. Most students try to lighten their academic load during the spring of Junior year or during the fall of Senior year while they prep for the LSAT. Studying for the LSAT will take about 10-15 hours per week for 4-6 months. Review upcoming LSAT dates and deadlines here. If you are planning to study abroad or do Illinois in Washington, talk to a pre-law advisor about planning your LSAT options around those.

Monitor your academic performance and seek help. Don’t wait until the last week of class to discover that you are actually not earning an A. Seek help when you need it–this University abounds with programs and services to support your academic endeavors! Start by talking to your TA/Professor and your academic advisor about academic support and tutoring options.

Remember that grade replacement will not help for law school (click here for a refresher), so take the time to carefully consider your best course options and seek help when you need it.

 

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Make the most of your spring/spring break!

Here are suggestions for pre-law students and alumni to maximize your spring and/or your spring break.

For all current pre-law students or those entering law school this fall:

  • Complete your FAFSA if you haven’t already. This is how financial aid for federal loans for summer/fall will be determined, whether you are an undergrad or an incoming law student.

Freshmen and Sophomores:

  • Apply for Summer Jobs and Internships. Do you have summer plans locked down? If not, apply for jobs and internships. Check out our internship newsletter over on our Compass page. We’ve also listed LOTS of  internships on our Facebook page and on our blog!  Use the search box on either of these to find internships. You should also be checking Handshake regularly (or set it to email you when new listings appear).
  • Apply to Summer Pre-Law Programs. These are typically 4 week residential programs to teach basics of law and how to prepare for law school, and most are free and come with a stipend for selected students. We have been posting these all spring on our blog and Facebook page. Take a look at the Summer Pre-Law Programs spreadsheet on our Compass page, listing over 40 summer programs, for even more opportunities. Note: Some deadlines have passed and others are April 1, so apply SOON.
  • Take a practice LSAT. Not ready to take the real LSAT yet but wondering what it’s all about? Go to this website to download a free practice test. When you’re done, you can score it and watch videos there with explanations of the answers. Want to take more practice LSATs? You can purchase books of 10 previously administered LSATs like this one at Amazon or another bookseller, or used on ebay.
  • Job shadow, or ask a lawyer to spend 30 minutes doing an informational interview with you. Don’t be intimidated; this is an opportunity for you to buy him/her coffee and ask about their professional life. Here’s a resource for planning your informational interview. 
  • Get caught up. Use this time to catch up on studying and prepare for finals–those grades are very important to law schools!

Pre-Law Students and Alumni Applying This Fall:

  • Make your LSAT plans. 
    • Taking the June LSAT? You should already have selected your prep option and started studying. Spring break is a great time to crank up your LSAT studying.Tip: REGISTER FOR THE JUNE LSAT NOW, because the popular test sites fill up around spring break each year.
    • Taking the September LSAT? Now is the time to research LSAT prep options. Check out the LSAT Preparation folder over on our Compass page for information on free LSAT resources as well as listings of popular LSAT prep companies, including discounts they are offering to Illinois students.
  • Decide who will be your recommendation writers. You will want to approach them by this May/June (at the end of THIS semester) so that they have plenty of time to write the letter and your performance is still fresh in their mind. If you are an alum, reach out ASAP because the longer you wait the more difficult it is to track people down and for them to remember you.
  • Register for the Credential Assembly Service. This is the account you will need to open in order to have your recommendation letters processed. Once you set it up, your account is good for five years. You can read all about it here.
  • Mark your calendars. We have upcoming workshops just for you that you should plan to attend. Find them all on our Event Calendar.

Seniors taking a gap year (or two) prior to law school:

  • It’s still a good idea to decide who on campus can write your recommendations, and approach them by the end of this semester. If you wait a year or more the professor is sometimes gone, on sabbatical, retired, etc., so it’s better to get them now. Register for the Credential Assembly Service as listed above so that you can send the letters in to your account.
  • We will have a special workshop about Taking a Gap Year Before Law School on March 29 at 5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.  This workshop will cover how you can maximize your postgraduate time to make yourself an even better law school candidate, and we will share a timeline and game plan for applying to law school as a working professional. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from current law students who worked prior to law school.

Seniors and alumni headed to law school this fall:

  • Complete your FAFSA! Your federal loans will not be disbursed without it.
  • Make final visits to law schools/attend admitted student days. If you’ve decided where to attend, then withdraw from the other schools that have admitted you so that they can offer that seat/scholarship to someone else.
  • Apply for scholarships. We’ve posted lots of scholarships in our blog and over on our Compass page! When you know which law school you are attending, ask your law school financial aid office about scholarship opportunities.
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Course Selection for Pre-Law Students: Part 2

We previously shared a list of possible Spring 2018 courses of interest to pre-law students (click here to see that post). What else should you know about building your semester schedule? Here are several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. 

What academic skills should you build? Pre-law students must demonstrate strong research, writing, reading, and speaking skills, which can be accomplished both in and out of the classroom. These are the core skills that law schools truly care about, so take a look at your DARS and ask yourself: How many courses have you taken that develop and reflect these skills? Take courses that demonstrate those skills–they can be in any discipline. Popular options include English, History, Political Science, Philosophy, or Communication courses, but don’t feel limited to only those.

Balance academic challenge with success. Law schools want to see students who demonstrate academic success while taking a challenging courseload. Ideally, pre-law students would take an academic course load that is challenging both in terms of rigor and credits while still doing performing well. What does this mean, and how can you achieve it?

  • A challenging but not overwhelming course load suggestion is 15-17 credit hours. (This can vary due to individual factors, and is only a general guideline, not a mandate. Think carefully about the right course load for you.)
  • Be strategic in your course selection. Don’t take your 5 hardest classes in the same semester to get them out of the way. Work with your major advisor to determine how you can distribute those courses throughout your remaining semesters. Likewise, don’t take your 5 easiest classes at the same time–use those to give you some relief from the harder classes each semester.
  • For juniors and seniors–Move up from 1 and 200 level courses to 3 and 400 levels in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of challenge. A good general rule is no more than one 1 or 200 level course per semester for juniors and seniors (unless you must do so to graduate on time). Taking easy classes to pad a GPA is obvious to law school admissions, who know what a challenging semester looks like.

Use your major(s) and minor(s) to complement each other. If you have a major that does not necessarily demonstrate lots of writing or research skills, then selecting a minor or secondary major that does is a smart balance. Unusual combinations of majors/minors can also show a law school someone who is intellectually curious and able to succeed in a wide variety of coursework.

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes on Tues/Thurs so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I only wanted afternoon classes so I didn’t even consider anything in the morning;
  • I wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

What, then, are good reasons to take a course?

  • It demonstrates the skills that law schools prefer to see;
  • I like the topic and find it interesting or it is required for my major/minor;
  • It fits in well with my remaining coursework in terms of balancing rigor and the ability to do well; and
  • I talked with my academic advisor who agreed it is a good fit for me.

You must prioritize academics if law school is your goal. Don’t get distracted from your goal of law school admission. If being president of a social organization or volunteering too much affects your grades, it’s time to dial back your extracurriculars and rededicate yourself to your role as a student. Law schools will not care that the reason your grades suffered is because you were planning a big fundraiser…that shows them a lack of prioritizing and time management skills.

Build important academic skills. Right now you are building academic skills and habits which you will rely on when you transition to law school, where the work is much harder and infinitely more time consuming than your undergraduate studies. Now is the time to master discipline (not procrastinating), effective note taking, reading comprehension and speed, attention to detail in your writing, citing your work appropriately, giving an effective speech, and managing your time. All of these are skills that you will be expected to bring with you into your law school classroom.

Remember that grade replacement will not help for law school (click here for a refresher), so take the time to carefully consider your best course options and seek help when you need it.

 

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Spring 2018 Course Options for Pre-Law Students: Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on course selections for pre-law students. This post will present many different course options to consider. 

As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. Law schools do not require any particular major or coursework. However, given an interest in law, here are some spring courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. 

Some of these courses have prerequisites;  check Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning. Understanding financial instruments, records, and tax implications is critical for nearly all lawyers.

BTW 263: Writing in the Disciplines teaches very practical writing skills for aspiring professionals.

Community Health 101: Introduction to Public Health is a good option for those interested in pursuing healthcare law. (See posted restrictions.)

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills. Here are some examples of helpful courses:

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 220: Communicating Public Policy
  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ENGL 310: Unprotected Speech. Description from the instructor:

This semester, we will study the workings of our language through the lens of protected and unprotected speech and writing: what we can say without fear of legal consequences, and what we can’t. Starting with the murderous attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the recent clash between the First and Second Amendments in Charlottesville, and free-speech issues at Yale, Berkeley, Missouri, and the U of I, as well as other campuses, we’ll look at the history of censorship, speech bans, and government surveillance of speech. We’ll see how the boundaries between permitted and banned speech shift over time and with context; how advances in technology change the border between public speech and private speech; whether speech codes are desirable or indefensible; and how the concept of intellectual property informs and limits what we can do with our words, and with the words of others.

All readings will be available on line. Students will be asked to write several short papers on the topics covered, and to participate in a moot court on a current free-speech court case.

ENGL 360: Environmental Writing for students interested in environmental law.

HDFS 120: Intro to Family Studies and SW 200: Intro to Social Work. Both of these courses may be of interest to students who want to be advocates for families and juveniles.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media, a skill that all legal careers integrate and value.

LAW 199:The Judicial System. Enrollment in this class, which meets on Fridays from   1-4 pm, is limited to 12 students. Here are course details and application procedures directly from the course instructor:

The purpose of the class is to take a deep dive into the criminal justice system.  Every other week we go off campus to visit state and federal judges, prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers, and other legal professionals.   We learn what they do, how they do it, and what is both challenging and rewarding about their jobs.  We also observe court proceedings, and see what happens in state and federal courts.

On the alternate weeks, we gather in the College of Law classroom to review the textbook content, take short quizzes, discuss prior visits, and prepare for upcoming visits.  We also ponder the social and legal inequalities that pervade the justice system through movie clips describing cases of particular noteworthiness.  In short, we work to become familiar with the justice system and the people who support it, and we think about the many challenges it must address.

If you are interested in applying, please prepare a document with the following information:

1) Your name and email address;
2) Why this course interests you;
3) What you hope to learn during the semester; and
4) How you will manage your schedule so that you will be available Friday afternoons for our class meetings and field trips.

Please bring a paper copy of your application document–by October 27–to the College of Law, Room 338  (for our Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Ellen Rund).  If no one is in the office, you may slip the application under the door.  (Documents often come to us that way.) Students will be contacted the following week with offers of admission. 

NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science would be a helpful course for students interested in pursuing environmental law.

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning. Especially helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics.  Basic exploration of ethics, including the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and the State. Explores broad philosophical legal issues.

Political Science options to gain a foundational understanding of our legal system and its role within broader political structures include:

  • PS 220/321: Intro to Public Policy/Principles of Public Policy
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are both helpful primers for law school
  • PS 303/313: The US Congress/Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations

PSYC 341: Advanced Community Projects. Gaining experience with clients in a human services context can build client-related skills as well as introducing students to the legal needs of a community or a specific population.

Sociology has introduced its Criminology, Law and Society minor. These courses may be helpful for students exploring criminal legal issues and crime in society, such as:

  • SOC 226: Political Sociology
  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 378: Law and Society

Other courses to explore different areas of law include the following. Some have restrictions; check Course Explorer.

  • ACE 403: Agricultural Law
  • JOUR 311: Media Law
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport
  • SE 400 Engineering Law
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law

Business classes can provide a helpful foundation for those interested in corporate careers, however, most are restricted to College of Business majors or minors. Some courses will release any leftover seats after a restricted period; check Course Explorer for more details.

  • BADM 300 Legal Environment of Business
  • BADM 303 Principles of Public Policy–also cross-listed as PS 321.
  • BADM 314 Leading Negotiations

Remember that these are only suggestions.  Further, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify other good options.

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Online Tips for Aspiring Law Students

As a pre-law student, it is important to refine your online etiquette skills and online presence before you go to law school. Here are a few tips for aspiring law students and what you can do now to make sure you are following the do’s and dont’s online.

1.Use your ILLINOIS email account (the one that ends with @illinois.edu) when emailing University staff, professors, and other University officials.

  • However, your University of Illinois email account does expire a few months after you graduate.
  • You should have a back up email that is JUST YOUR NAME.
    • Example: If your name is John Doe, you should have a back up email that is not a University of Illinois email. Some appropriate examples are: jdoe@gmail.com, johndoe1@gmail.com, or john.doe@gmail.com

2. Have a clear subject line. If you title an email “Question” or “Inquiry” that is too general and may not get the attention of the person you are emailing.

  • Example: “Scheduling a Law School Tour at the University of Illinois College of Law” or “Meeting to Discuss Possible Letter of Recommendation” are better examples than “Tour” or “Meeting.”

3. Use the correct TITLE for the person you are emailing. When in doubt, be formal. Address emails using people’s titles (ex. Professor X, Dean X, Mrs. X, Mr. X.)

  • Especially when emailing law school professionals, double check the titles.

4. Introduce yourself when emailing new people at the beginning of the email. Introductions will help your email recipient understand the reason for the email and understand who you are, too.

  • Example: My name is John Doe and I am a sophomore in Political Science. I am emailing you about ___________.

5. Use a signature in your email. Email signatures let the recipient know the easiest way to contact you and provide some background information.

  • Example:

John Doe, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2021

email: johndoe@illinois.edu

phone: 217-555-5555

6. Get a LinkedIn Account! LinkedIn is a great way to get connected with employers, connect with professionals, and find job and internship opportunities.

  • The Career Center will review your LinkedIn profile and provide feedback for free. Visit their website for more information.
  • Reviews take place on Mondays and Wednesdays 7:00 – 9:00 pm
  • Undergraduate Library, Consultation Corner 1402 W Gregory Drive UrbanaIL
  • For more information, click here.

7. Can’t find the University of Illinois employee, professor or advisor you are looking for? Your first step should be to use the University of Illinois Directory.

8. Think carefully about what is publicly available about you–what is your online media presence on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Many employers and graduate schools will do an online search before hiring or admitting you. What are your privacy settings? What pictures are posted? Would you want everyone in the world to have access to those? Unfortunately, bad online decisions can live forever, so make sure you are proactive about what information you share.

 

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Grade Replacement and Law School

It can be confusing how grade replacement works in light of law school applications. This Q&A guide will help to clarify how grade replacement impacts law school applicants. It is critical that pre-law students understand how grade replacement will be viewed by a law school admissions team.

Students: Discuss your particular situation carefully with your academic advisor before making any decisions about re-taking a course!

Q. What is the campus Grade Replacement Policy?

A. You can find the Grade Replacement Policy in the Student Code, §3-309.

Students who meet the qualifications set forth in the Policy may now re-take up to 10 hours of UIUC courses and replace a grade of “C–” or below with the grade received the second time the course was taken. The original grade will no longer be factored in to the UIUC GPA. However, the original grade will still appear on your transcript, and it WILL impact law school applications (more about that below.)

An example to illustrate:

Taylor took Math 220 at UIUC in Fall 2015 and earned a D+. Taylor decides to re-take the course, gets departmental approval for grade replacement, and re-takes Math 220 in Spring 2016. Taylor earns a C in the course this time.

In Taylor’s UIUC GPA, only the C from the Spring 2016 Math 220 will be calculated. However, both grades will appear on the transcript.

Q: How does this impact a law school application?

A: Both Math 220 grades will be factored into the GPA when applying to law schools.

When students apply to law school, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) re-calculates the GPA and submits this calculation to law schools. (You can find more information about how the LSAC re-calculates a GPA here: http://www.lsac.org/aboutlsac/policies/transcript-summarization). Basically, applicants will have two GPAs: A UIUC GPA and an LSAC GPA.

This means that law schools will receive both your UIUC GPA and your re-calculated LSAC GPA. Our office has confirmed with the LSAC that they will continue to factor both the original and the second grade for a repeated course into your LSAC GPA, even if you qualified for Grade Replacement, and even if your UIUC GPA does not include the original grade.

In short: Both Math 220 grades will appear on Taylor’s transcript AND both grades will be factored into Taylor’s law school application GPA.

Takeaway: Law school applicants cannot “hide” or remove the original grade from law school admissions, or from their GPA for law school applications.

An example to illustrate: When Taylor applies to law school, the LSAC GPA will factor in both the original D+ AND the C for both of the Math 220 courses. This GPA will be included in the reports sent to each law school to which Taylor applies. The law school will also receive an official UIUC transcript with UIUC GPA.

Q: Should pre-law students ever consider grade replacement?

A: Maybe. Don’t do grade replacement just to improve your GPA for law school application purposes. If your goal is to improve your GPA, you’d be better off taking a class that suits your strengths that is at least the same number of credits as the class you want to replace. You’d have a better chance of doing well and balancing out that low grade.

However, there may be other reasons to go for grade replacement. Two examples: (1) You need to master the material in that course in order to do well in subsequent courses; or (2) you need credit for that specific course to graduate. Talk to the academic advisor in your major to explore if there are other reasons why you should consider retaking.

Questions to consider before making a decision about re-taking a course:

• Do you need the course? Is it required or necessary to master the material for a required sequence?

• Realistically, how much better will you perform in the course a second time?

• Since you cannot “hide” the low grade from law school admissions, might you be better off taking a different course that interests you and suits your strengths?

If you decide to retake the course, carefully and realistically assess what you can do differently this time. What really caused your performance to suffer? What resources can you use this time to improve your grade? Do not assume that exposure to the material a second time will automatically improve your grade–many students get the same grade or only see slight improvement when retaking.

 

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All About Law School Interviews

Many law schools now incorporate some kind of interview process. Here’s what to know and do to prepare.

Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer

  • Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what kind of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
  • By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants by invitation only.
  • Open interviews–Other law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. (To schedule an interview visit their interview calendar here. Hurry, because they will fill fast.)
  • Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities; at this time Georgetown’s interview is also by invitation only.

Preparing for the interview

  • Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “why this law school?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the school’s website, employment data, and any marketing materials like pamphlets.
    • Do be prepared with specific bullet points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
    • Don’t say general things like “you have a national reputation” or “you’re the best ranked school I can get into.” They want to see that your interest goes beyond their ranking.
  • Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it. Many schools will also ask something like “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” so be prepared to discuss your career interests.
  • Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.

At the interview

  • Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands. (You would be surprised how many people skip this. Seriously.)
  • DO NOT BE LATE under any circumstances. The biggest sign of disrespect to lawyers is wasting their time. Allow yourself plenty of time for parking/traffic/restroom. If you absolutely cannot avoid being late, call the office to let them know.
  • Dress up. This is not a business-casual situation; business formal is best.
  • Engage in small talk. How’s the weather, what a lovely office/view, how is your semester going, etc., is not only socially necessary but also gives the interviewer an idea of how good you are at making people feel comfortable talking with you–a critical skill to be a successful lawyer. This might even be part of the interview itself.
  • Bring questions for the interviewer.  Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Use the opportunity. Some examples might include:
    • What are the most important qualities in a Law School X student?
    • How would you describe the student body/atmosphere here?
    • What challenges do you see current law students facing?
    • What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring law student?
  • Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest.

After the interview

  • Follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.
  • Include something specific that you learned or enjoyed about the interview. Examples:
    • Thank you for your advice about _______________; I found that very insightful.
    • It was reassuring to hear your thoughts on the atmosphere at this school.
    • I appreciate your honesty in addressing the challenges faced by current students.
  • Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.
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