Going to a law conference? Law student perspective. . .

Thanks Arian, for being so practical and confident and reminding me of the important factors in attending and making the most of a law conference!  Pre-Law students . . .as you’re exploring your potential areas of interest you might consider attending a local legal conference!

1. Become friends with the organizers, email them, ask for assistance with defraying costs, sharing a room at a hotel. You can simply inquire about other persons or students who will be attending from a specific region you are interested in.

2. Ask to be paired with a mentor, especially if it’s your first time. Make use of that mentor. You may be interested in being paried with someone practicing in a certain area/focus or geographic region.

3. Get a list of the attorneys attending beforehand. You can contact them and plan to meet at the conference. Lots of people attend and not always the same sessions so don’t take it for grated that you’ll run across them.

4. Have an elevator pitch. “Hi my name is _, and I’m a 2L at _.” Ask for their name, ask what they do, and find a connection. If none is forthcoming, speak a little bit more about yourself.  Tell them why you’re interested, tell them why you’re here. Ask where they work, ask what types of issues they see in their line of work.

5. Try to have background information on the people you approach – doesn’t have to be extensive, for example, where they’re from, or where they work. This helps with the quantity vs. quality question – do you try to collect more business cards or have quality communication? Try to have a quality conversation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be long.

6. When you approach people and get their business card, tell them you’d like to remain in touch with them and ask if that’s ok. It shows your intent, and you’re not blindly asking for their business card as part of a collection. Try to gauge whether you could form a mentoring relationship with the person.

7. Take notes. You can make little notes on the back of the business cards you get. Things like what you spoke about or facts you want to remember about the person that can inform future conversation.

8. The follow up email is key. People often forget who they’ve met when they re-enter their routines. A great idea is to include in the follow up email a professional picture of yourself so that they can readily connect the name with a face.

9. Let people (the organizers, your mentor, others you meet) know that you are interested in meeting attorneys in a specific field, or from a specific geographic area.

10. Adhere to the attire requirement. One guy wore red pants, another girl wore hot pink wedges – don’t do that, especially in the legal field. You will stand out for the wrong reasons. Dress so that you will be complimented.

11. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I live my life by asking for what I want.

12. Be confident. Be confident. You’ve got this.

Financing Law School: Heather Jarvis Webinar Monday, March 4!!

I know, I know — I sound like “Debbie Downer” when pre-law students come into my office with stars in their eyes, excited about law school admissions offers and I ask: “Have you figured out how you are going to pay for it?”  But folks, this is a huge issue!  Law school debt and the student loan crisis have made it imperative that pre-law students thoroughly understand financial aid processes and options at the law school level. As such, PLAS has put together a two-part series on financing law school.  Our first program in the series is a webinar set for next Monday, March 4, 5pm, entitled “Financing Law School: Understanding Debt and Student Loans” featuring financial aid and student loan guru Heather Jarvis. 

Heather Jarvis is a nationally recognized expert and speaker on the complexities of financial aid and student loans. During this webinar, she will provide a detailed overview of student loan options at the law school level, and share information about recent changes to loan repayment options, including loan forgiveness programs. This is a must-see for students entering law school. Find out more about Heather and her excellent resources at http://askheatherjarvis.com/This event is FREE and exclusively for UIUC students.  Note — PARTICIPATION IS LIMITED and participants must register in advance. To register, click on this link to the PLAS event calendar: http://illinois.edu/calendar/list/2508. Once there, select the March 4 event and then select register and follow the instructions which will ultimately direct you to Ms. Jarvis’s registration system. This is a must see, not to be missed opportunity so register today!!!!
So just exactly who is Heather Jarvis?
As she shares on her website, Heather graduated from Duke University School of Law cum laude owing $125,000 in student loans and facing 30-years’ worth of $1,200 monthly payments.  No one ever told Heather that she couldn’t afford to go to Duke, even though, um, she couldn’t.  Her mother was a modestly paid executive assistant and her father a mostly unemployed Shakespearean actor.  Heather didn’t realize she couldn’t afford an expensive education until after she got one.  

At one time, people who earned fancy grades at fancy law schools got offered fancy jobs with fancy paychecks.  Having become all fancyfied, Heather had to decide: take the job she had been dreaming about all her life that only paid $25,000 per year (representing people facing criminal prosecution), or make a boatload of money.

Duke Law’s generous loan repayment assistance program made it possible for Heather to eschew the money without defaulting on her student loans.  She will always be grateful that Duke enabled her to continue ignoring her own financial security in pursuit of her irresistible urge to stand up for people in trouble.

Heather has practiced public interest law for more than a dozen years.  Beginning in 2005, Heather focused her advocacy work on reducing the financial barriers to practicing public interest law.

Heather has contributed to student debt relief policy for the House Education Committee and others in Congress, and has dedicated her professional efforts to advancing public service loan forgiveness which allows recent graduates to dedicate their careers to the greater good.  Heather leads efforts to establish and expand student debt relief programs and to inform borrowers, schools, and employers about how to benefit from available debt relief programs.

Widely recognized by school professionals and media representatives as an expert source of information, Heather has trained thousands of students and professionals and is sought after for her sophisticated legal knowledge and accessible teaching style.  Mark your calendars now and register for this event ASAP!!

Career Connect Networking Opportunity — Saturday, March 2!!

Still not sure what to do about a summer internship?  Or are you interested in talking with someone about your longer-term career goals?  Then this Career Connect event is for you! 

On Saturday, March 2, 11am-1pm, Illini Union 314 B, you can network with members of the Dads Association and other parent volunteers.  Learn about their career paths and how to find job and internship opportunities in the fields of Law, Business, Engineering, Education, Computer Technology, Philanthropy, Medicine, Government and more! Talk one-on-one with these mentors and get valuable tips and advice regarding your own major and career interests.  Here’s your chance to build up your network!  Space is limited so register by February 25 at http://is.gd/CareerConnectThe event is FREE and refreshments will be provided!  For more info, contact uofiparents@illinois.edu or 217-333-7063.  This event is co-sponsored by the Career Center, the Illini Union and the U of I Dads Association.

Financial Focus – Join us for an ongoing focus on law school finances – Kick-off tomorrow!

With the significant media attention and the enhanced awareness of legal realities since the recession, increased attention is being devoted to the financial components of attending law school and the related impact on the availability of legal services to all individuals in our state.  The Illinois State Bar Association has been proactive in addressing this issue, and most recently completed a series of hearings across the state to bring together practitioners in both small and mid-size firms, non-urban communities, current law students, scholars, and law school leaders.  Jamie and I were fortunate enough to attend the hearing in Champaign back in November, and the ISBA President John Theiss will be at the law school tomorrow (Tuesday, February 19) to discuss the findings and hopefully present some proactive options.

If you are considering attending a law school in Illinois or practicing in Illinois you should absolutely be in attendance at this event!  When we talk networking this is exactly the kind of event that won’t necessarily network you into an opportunity but will be the talking point for future networking opportunities.  It is from 12:00 – 1:00 in the College of Law Auditorium.  A lunch will be provided for attendees.  What we hope is that increased education and awareness around these realities will not only impact law students but that you can impact this incredibly important movement.

I will be there – and will certainly update you on the information presented – but I truly hope to see a huge Pre-Law presence.

Our next event in this financial focus will be a webinar for UIUC Pre-Law students from the nation’s leading expert in all things financial for law school, Heather Jarvis.  She has been spotlighted in a recent four part cover series in the ABA Student Lawyer magazine and she frequently covers the issues in major media.  You should not even be considering signing up for the webinar – if you are even considering law school this should be a top priority for you.


Looking forward to an in-depth focus on all things that can help develop your legal pursuits with clarity about the financial implications!

Free LSAT Lessons!

This week seems to bring a focus on LSAT prep, and with the number of June test-takers we have it’s time to stop any delay on your LSAT prep.  Not only does the score play a significant role in your admissions profile, but it can really make the difference in terms of scholarship offers!  So don’t delay – start your study routine today!

This website was a dear friend of mine (and clearly on the screens of many of my peers 1L year!) when we were “on call” our first year.  I just realized it had a wonderful LSAT series and thought you might find it helpful as a free starting point.


Let us know if there is any way we can help you in your LSAT preparation!

LSAT Test Prep — Free Practice LSATs

Hello pre-law students! Planning on taking the June LSAT?  Have you taken a practice LSAT yet?   Scroll down to find out about some free practice LSAT opportunities this week and next. This is a great opportunity for you to see how you might score on the real thing, and also to become familiar with the kinds of questions that will be on the real test. Note: PLAS does not endorse or support any specific test prep company.  We are simply passing this along for your information. 

Kaplan is holding a FREE Practice Test for the LSAT. The next LSAT campus event is taking place on Wednesday, February 20,  at the Kaplan Center on Green Street.  

If you would rather take the LSAT practice test from home, the library, a coffee shop, or even an open computer lab on campus? Then take your practice test live and online in the Classroom Anywhere environment, available from anywhere you have internet access.  Reserve your spot at:  bitly.com/UofIPracticeTestSpring2013

Each test will last up to 4 hours and will be proctored like an actual exam. Immediately following the exam, you will be able to receive your score report, with full comprehensive feedback on your individual performance. To register for this free event, sign up at the following web form: bitly.com/UofIPracticeTestSpring2013Before the event, we will send you an email confirming your registration and providing you with instructions for how to get started.

Princeton Review is offering a free live practice LSAT tomorrow, February 12, beginning at 6:30pm, at the University of Illinois College of Law.  To register for this practice LSAT, go here: http://www.princetonreview.com/ChooseProducts.aspx?&zipcode=61820&testtype=TFA&producttype=FRE&productdetail=LSATEventsNearYou.

PowerScore offers a free online practice LSAT.  Click on the link for more information. http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/LSAT-Starter-Kit.cfm.


New Opportunities!

The Illini Union Office of Volunteer Programs (OVP) Ambassador Program applications are due Tuesday, February 12th.

This 8-week non-credit course is open to first-year and sophomore students from any college or major. The program focuses on introducing students to the fields of volunteerism, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship from a theoretical perspective with experiential learning opportunities.

Students will volunteer, assist in planning volunteer opportunities for other Illinois students and community residents, provide support to the Campus and Community-Wide Day of Service recently promoted in the Chancellor’s January 22nd email, and complete a project related to the field. Sessions include training on leadership, communications, diversity, career development, innovation, and planning large-scale service events. 

Course meets Wednesdays February 20th-April 27th from 5:30-7:30p (excepting March 20 and 27). For more information contact OVP at ovp@illinois.edu or call 217-333-7424 and ask for Kati.

 To apply, complete the form at: http://go.illinois.edu/ambassador.      

Illinois College Advising Corps

Attention University of Illinois Seniors or December 2012 graduates: Are you still thinking about working for a year or two before going to law school?  Here is an opportunity to consider!

The Illinois College Advising Corps (ICAC), a non-profit organization run through the University of Illinois, is looking for people interested in working as college advisors at several Illinois high schools. ICAC is a unique college access program that seeks to increase the number of low income and underrepresented students applying to and attending a post secondary institution. Daily advisor work includes reviewing personal statements, helping students apply to colleges, understanding FAFSA and Award Letters, advising on retaking the ACT, and making sure students graduate on time. The advisor benefits include a $30,000 salary and an additional $5,000 towards your graduate school of choice.

If you would like to become a College Advisor, and you are a University of Illinois senior who will graduate in May or  who graduated in December 2012, then you are eligible to apply. ICAC recently began its fifth year and has expanded its reach to include 23 high schools across the state. 
Feel free to go to the ICAC website at icac.uillinois.edu, and apply! The final date for applications is  FEBRUARY 22nd, 2013.

Please feel free to contact Dan Choi via email at dchoi23@uillinois.edu or by phone at 630-270-6658 if you have any additional questions.


 Deadline: Noon, Friday, March 1, 2013

The English Department sponsors and administers two annual undergraduate literary competitions in Short Fiction and Poetry.  Depending on available funding, there will be 3-4 prizes in Fiction and 2-3 in Poetry this year.  Past prizes have ranged from $100 to $1000.  As soon as we have specific funding numbers available, we will announce them at our website: http://creativewriting.english.illinois.edu/undergraduate/awards/

 Contest rules are as follows:

 Short Fiction:  no contestant may submit more than one story (7500 words, maximum length)

 Poetry:  no contestant may submit more than 200 lines, as a single poem or a group of poems

 Only University of Illinois undergraduate students are eligible to compete. 

 For more information, please contact Steve Davenport at sdavenpo@illinois.edu.



LSAT Prep – Scholarship Announcements and Pre-Law Study Groups!

Congratulations to our 2013 LSAT Prep Scholarship Winners!

Two Pre-Law students were each awarded full scholarships for Kaplan’s LSAT Advantage On Site, Anywhere, or On Demand courses.  Find our more about these Kaplan programs at:  http://www.kaptest.com/LSAT/Home/index.html.

One Pre-Law student was awarded a LSAT Weekend Course from PowerScore Test Preparation.  And EIGHT Pre-Lawers each received one of PowerScore’s popular Logic Games Bible books.  Find out more about PowerScore at:  http://ww.powerscore.com/lsat/content-index.cfm.

Two students were each awarded $500 towards the purchases of a Next Step Test Prep LSAT one-on-one tutoring service.  Find out more about Next Step Test Prep here:  http://www.nextsteptestprep.com/tests/lsat-tutors/.

We look forward to hearing the success stories from these students and from YOU!  Whether or not you participate in one of these professional test prep programs – perhaps you’d like to connect with another pre-law student to form a study group.  If so, email the Pre-Law Graduate Assistant, Donna Davis, at dmdavis4@illinois.edu with your preferred contact information and a general study group interest (1x/2x per week, 2x per month, morning/afternoon/evening) and we will connect you with other pre-law students so that you can have another realm of accountability and partnership as you pursue this important part of the law school application process.

Congratulations Again!  Wishing all our LSAT takers the best!

Resource Review – Careers in International Law

Have you utilized our resource room materials?  Bring your laptop, grab a coffee, and come see if there is a resource that might interest and guide you – and of course – schedule a time to chat with us if you find a legal interest we can help you know how to research.  Just yesterday, Jamie helped a pre-law student take her interest in environmental policy and research to find a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy one-year program that tracks the interest through a program that doesn’t carry the debt-load or non-related studies time that a traditional law degree would mean for her!

Most of our materials are not intended to be checked out, so drop by when you’ve got an hour and we’ll make sure you have a comfy place to read!  Here’s a review of one of our recent purchases.

This fall we saw an increased interest from our pre-law students in pursuit of international law careers and the increased offerings from law schools of J.D. Dual Degree Programs (there are currently at least four that offer dual US (J.D). / Canada (L.L.B.) degrees).  So we invested in a great resource from the ABA Section of International Law, Salli A. Swartz, Editor, Careers in International Law (2008).  The book is in its third edition and is a best seller for law students interested in international law.   It includes authors from many creative and more traditional possibilities in both public and private sector international law.

What we like about the book is the wide variety of practice areas from the many contributing authors.  It reiterates many of the practical practice skills that serve students well in any practice area.  Many of the authors discuss their law school experience and the impact on their international careers – from perspectives where international law was their initial focus and those where international law was more of a career change or something that grew out of their law school experiences.  There are helpful appendixes of the websites and programs that are especially relevant to this area.  The only thing we could have done without is the continued commentary on the ABA and its value in this area – but after all it is an ABA publication, and Illinois is ranked in the top five states of attorneys that have designated themselves into the ABA Section of International Law (along with D.C., New York, California, and Texas).

Some other points for students to consider:

  • Can I further prepare through foreign language study?
  • What will obtaining a work visa be like?  (a NAFTA agreement allows lawyers to obtain work visas in Canada if they have a job offer as long as they properly comply with the procedures for application – BUT – consider possible difficulties in obtaining visas for European or Asian markets and the possible difficulties of obtaining a visa while on the job search.
  • What types of summer exchange programs could I take advantage of during undergrad to demonstrate my serious interest?
  • Do I already have the capability of establishing dual-citizenship?  (a rare but potentially valuable criteria – read the fine print and seek advice from those who have expertise in this area if you are eligible).
  • How can I make this interest apparent in my personal statement?

Come into our office to utilize this resource or the others that might guide you in your interest in a legal education.