Effective Advocacy

I had the privilege of attending a LEAD seminar at the College of Education last week where graduate students hosted disability advocates Sarah Castle and Ann Cody.  These women described effective advocacy and the policy making process.  A crucial component is a lucid legal understanding.  Advocates need legal expertise, and you can build a better understanding of legal and social policy by engaging in these groups in your local community.  Check out their advice for being an effective advocate in the PowerPoint link below, and please email me this summer to let me know how you are advocating in your community – I’d like to spotlight these endeavors by Pre-Law students next Fall.


Ann Cody, MS, CDSS:  As Director of Policy and Global Outreach for BlazeSports America, Ann Cody oversees the Washington, D.C. office, develops relationships with major national and international partners, shapes the organization’s policy efforts, and supports the organization’s sport development initiatives overseas.

As a Washington veteran and Paralympic sport expert of two decades, Ann has extensive knowledge and experience in sports management and governance, community-based sports, policy and advocacy, international development, as well as governmental and international affairs.

Ann is widely known and respected throughout the world as a leader in sport and human rights. She has led a number of national and international advocacy initiatives on sport with a focus on girls and women with disabilities. Through her leadership, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) established a policy on gender equity and several initiatives aimed at increasing participation by women in Paralympic sport and the movement. Ann’s significant international sport network and project experience anchors BlazeSports’ international programs in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Ann serves on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board and is the highest ranking American and highest ranking woman in the IPC worldwide. She is a member of the International Olympic Committee 2018 Evaluation Commission.  Ann holds a bachelor of fine arts and a master of science degree in leisure studies and therapeutic recreation from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. She is a Paralympic Gold Medalist in Athletics and competed on three U.S. Paralympic Teams (Basketball ’84, Athletics ’88, ’92).

Prior to joining BlazeSports Ann served as a Vice President with B&D Consulting where she designed federal affairs strategies for amateur sports, health, and disability-related organizations and provided representation before the United States Congress and the Executive Branch. (from: http://www.blazesports.org/about/our-team/)

 An interview with Ann: http://youtu.be/Vp13KA2PoyU

Sarah Castle, J.D.:  Current Position: Special Assistant, United States Attorney.  Education: Doctor of Law (J.D.) at University of Missouri at Kansas City – 2012.  M.A. in Political Science and Government (emphasis and certification in Civic Leadership) – UIUC 2008.  B.A. in Political Science and Government (emphasis in Disability Studies and Civic Leadership) – UIUC 2008

Sarah Castle is a four-time Paralympian, as well as a recently licensed attorney. Sarah is presently employed by the United States Attorney’s Office as a Special Assistant US Attorney. She also serves as a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Board of Directors, and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Athlete Advisory Council. She was recently asked to be a panel speaker at the NCAA National Convention, and spoke on the importance of inclusion of adapted athletic programs in the NCAA.

In 2002, Sarah began college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While there she was a member of the Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team and won 5 National Championships, in addition to earning her Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts in Political Science and Civic Leadership. As a part of the Civic Leadership Graduate program, Sarah interned for United States Senator Ken Salazar (presently Secretary of the Interior) and for B & D Consulting, where she worked on disability issues. In 2008, Sarah joined the Campaign for Real Choice in Illinois as a Community Organizer, and helped organize initiatives around the state of Illinois promoting the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

Sarah is also a four-time Paralympian. She competed in the 2000 Sydney and the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games in swimming, and in the 2008 Beijing and the 2012 London Paralympic Games in wheelchair basketball. While unsure if she will pursue a fifth Games, Sarah is presently spending her free time coaching a junior wheelchair basketball team in Kansas City and working with the University of Missouri Wheelchair Basketball team on development. She is also actively involved in working with children with disabilities and their families, teaching skills and providing guidance about ways to help children with disabilities achieve independent lifestyles.

Finals Prep – Like a 1L

There’s no better time to build the habit of solid finals preparation than now.  So as you prepare for this round of finals see if you can implement these strategies so that 1L . . . and 2L . . . and beyond . . . don’t seem so overwhelming.

Here’s another sip of coffee and another hour of prep – thinkin’ of you 😉


Attention Seniors — Chicago Law Firm Kirkland & Ellis Looking to Hire Project Assistants

Attention Seniors!

Decided not to go to law school but still want to explore the field? The Project Assistant (PA) Program at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, in Chicago (www.kirkland.com) is a 1-2 year program where the PAs work with legal assistants and attorneys on specific projects in any number of departments within the law firm.  Participants in the program are typically individuals that are thinking about going to law school but who want to work in a legal setting first.  No prior legal experience is needed, but the K&E folks want people who are not afraid of technology, who are comfortable working with Excel, PowerPoint, etc., and who are willing to work hard, take initiative and be creative.   The salary is described as competitive. There is no identified deadline for submitting a resume, but as openings occur (late spring/early summer is a big turnover time for this program so they are looking now) candidates are contacted.  If you are interested in this program, please email your cover letter and resume to:  Nicole Kopel, Recruiting Specialist, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP (nicole.kopel@kirkland.com)  and mention your interest in the Project Assistant Program in your cover letter.


Networking Tips from a Dean of Admissions

Networking is such a buzz-word we fear it has lost its true value.  What is the value of networking?  It is purely about learning.  Building relationships, pushing yourself to strike up conversations, asking meaningful questions, and getting a personal store of contacts cannot possibly be over-rated.  Students who push themselves to do these things well continue to find opportunities – even in markets like today.  The Pre-Law Advising Center hosts many networking events – ones to learn effective strategies and EVERY event that we hold which leads to another contact.  Place yourself at the top of the networking game by attending ones like the one where we recently hosted Pam Bloomquist.

Dean Pam Bloomquist, Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, visited UIUC on March 7th. She stressed the importance of networking and the impact it can make for students interested in law. She gave an example similar to the following: You decide to shadow an attorney and you arrive and he/she gives you a business card. One contact. You ask a question about litigation but the attorney thinks another associate could better answer your question so he/she passes you to another associate. You get another business card. Two contacts. This process could go on the entire time you are shadowing. At the end of the day, you could have multiple contacts. This is something so simple but so significant. Thus, here are some quick tips you can use to build your network:

  1. Ask for business cards: even if you know you don’t want to do that particular job or work at that company, you never know when you might want or need to contact that person
  2. After a job shadowing experience or meeting a professional, take a few notes down about what you talked about or things you had in common. Your notes will come handy in tip #3
  3. Follow-up with e-mails: email the professionals you met, even if it is just to thank them for your conversation. This will help the professionals remember you, allow you to stick out, and could open opportunities for you in the future,
  4. Address an email with a title. Example: “Good morning Ms.______”. This is more professional and appropriate than  “Hello” or “Hey”
  5. Take advantage of opportunities to meet law school deans, professors, and professionals.  When they come to campus, go meet them. They might remember you and thus take notice of your application above other applications.

Suzi Blanco is a graduate intern in the Pre-Law Advising Services office and Division of General Studies where she has focused on social media and outreach to students. She will graduate in May 2013 with her Master’s degree in Higher Education and will continue working with students as an academic advisor in the School of Chemical Sciences. 

A Few Thoughts for Future 1Ls from a UIUC Alum at Yale Law School

This posting was written by Stanley Richards, UIUC Class of 2012. He graduated with a BA in Political Science and BS in Public Policy in Law. He is a Student Director for the Yale Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and Online Editor for the Yale Journal of Regulation. He is currently trying out for the Yale Law Journal.


I am glad I did not consult many online “resources” before coming to law school. Any basic Internet search on “law school preparation” or some variant of this yields a plethora of links to websites and posts created by people and institutions of questionable credibility. Much of the advice and “myth-busting” does more to encourage anxiety than to mitigate it. I was excited by this opportunity to blog because I want to tell those of you who are applying to law school or that have already been accepted a little bit of inside knowledge that I have gained as a Yale 1L. Most of this will ease any concerns you future lawyers have; I have selected mostly those things I wish I knew before going to law school.

I think the most important discovery I have had is this: three years in law school is a very short amount of time. The timeline for firm jobs and clerkship placement makes this time even shorter and more hectic. If you are gunning for a firm job you will be likely be interviewed for it the summer before your 2L year and be extended a permanent offer of employment the summer before your 3L year. Interviews for clerkships in the federal courts continue to be moved further and further earlier in the calendar. Law students, therefore, will have only about one year to really make their mark and build their resumes to impress their future employers. For instance, the firms that will interview me this coming summer will only have two semesters worth of grades to look at (in fact, only one semester of “real” grades because Yale Law does not do traditional grades first semester 1L year)! So, 1Ls are well advised to be prepared to do a lot their first year. It is not like undergrad wherein one can cruise the first year doing Gen-Eds and getting acclimated to campus life, planning to pull up their GPA in subsequent years if need be. You will be rewarded later for getting involved in clinics, secondary journals, and doing meaningful substantive research your 1L year.

Secondly, there are so many opportunities in law school. Popular myth has it that law school is a combative and a zero-sum game. This is just not true. Do not get me wrong, there are passive-aggressive people. There are “gunners” who just ask too many questions in class and do not give others a chance to talk. But, on the whole, considering law schools tend to be full of ambitious people, the atmosphere is relatively collaborative. With the numerous journal offerings, research opportunities with professors, clinics, and courses, there are plenty of places where people can succeed and make their mark. I remember being concerned that I would lose in this zero-sum game and being intimidated by the numerous students from very elite schools or who seemed to have saved the world three times over before coming to law school. I realized within a few weeks such anxieties were ill-founded and that there was plenty of opportunity to succeed.

Third and finally, write early and write often. Student scholarship is a big deal and it is not limited to the particular institution’s law journal. Professors are often eager to work with equally eager students, and it is excellent in interviews to be able to speak about one’s research.

These are just a few of the many things about Yale Law that have surprised me. I will admit that some of these observations may speak more to the reality at Yale than at law schools generally, but I think many law students who were very anxious before 1L year will agree with a lot of what I am saying.


Financing Law School – Presentation Links

Financial Aid Presentation for Open House13

Thanks to those who came out tonight for our event between the UIUC College of Law and the UIUC Pre-Law Advising Services Center!  We hope that everyone left feeling more empowered in the process of navigating the financial issues that accompany attending law school.

We post this link here for you to take advantage of the incredible resources hyperlinked within – all you will need to be educated and empowered!  Remember that the Heather Jarvis webinar is available through our recent blog post!