Q and A with Law School Admission Experts

Meet the Law Admission Experts:

Nicole Vilches

Assistant Dean for Admissions
Chicago-Kent College of Law

Janet L. Hein

Director of Admissions
Indiana University – Maurer School of Law

Rebecca Ray

Assistant Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid
University of Illinois College of Law

Katherine Scannell

Vice Dean for Institutional Success
Washington University School of Law

Read the Q & A:

Q: What do you wish more applicants would do (or not do) in the application process?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “You should create a timeline for applying since advance planning is key in the application process. You should plan to devote about six to eight months to the process, including time to study for the LSAT, prepare your personal statement and resume, request letters of recommendation, research schools, attend law school information sessions, and visit schools in person. It is also important to allocate sufficient time to prepare for the LSAT. You should plan to take the test once and only retake the test if you are fairly certain that your score will improve. You should also take the test early enough in the application cycle that you have time to register for a later exam without significantly delaying your applications. As you complete your applications, you should carefully proofread all of your application materials and make sure that you have fully answered all of the questions. You should also anticipate questions the Admissions Committee might have (for example, a period of weak undergraduate grades) and address those in an addendum. We would much prefer to hear directly from you rather than be left wondering about something in your application.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “DO: Plan ahead and create an “applying to law school” timeline. DO: Speak with a variety of people involved in legal education from a variety of perspectives (pre-law advisors, admissions professionals/counselors, current law students, faculty, alumni, and lawyers) DO: your own self-assessment about your ultimate goals, and is law school the path to achieve them DON’T: use social media for law school research – seek out the experts including your pre-law advisors and law school admissions professionals DON’T: ignore the non-statistical pieces of the application, particularly the personal statement. This is your opportunity to make your “case” for admission by expertly communicating your passion for this path. DON’T: wait late in the cycle to apply! Don’t rush either, but make sure you have a well-planned application timeline so that you apply well before law school priority deadlines.”

  • UIUC:

    “I wish more applicants would take advantage of the resources available to them. UIUC students are very lucky to have a robust and expert Pre-Law Advising department. The flip side of this is that I wish students wouldn’t put so much stock in what they read on the internet about the law school application process. In short, I wish students would rely on the bona fide experts, i.e., Pre-Law advisors, and less on anonymous message boards.”

  • WashU:

    “Apply early! Like most law schools, our application opens on September 1, and our admissions committee makes decisions on a rolling basis. Although we review applications in the same way throughout the cycle – quite frankly, schools have more capacity – and more seats to fill – early on. Confirm whether the schools you are applying to make admissions decisions on a rolling basis, or wait to review applications until later in the cycle. We encourage candidates to supplement their application throughout the cycle with updates to their resume, letters of recommendation, accomplishments, LSAT score, etc. Supplementing also gives candidates an extra touchpoint with an admissions team, and a way to express continued interest. While there are certain pieces of the application that do need to be in final form before submitting – I encourage candidates to view their application as a living document – apply early and supplement, rather than waiting to apply when every piece is complete. WashULaw appreciates knowing about your interest early, even if we need to hold your decision until your application is complete. Be sure to check the preferences of other schools on your list.”

Q: What do you think is the most important thing for freshman and sophomore students to focus on if they have ambitions toward law school?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “It is very important to confirm that the legal profession is the right career path for you before you reach the point of applying to law school. You should look for opportunities to learn about the legal profession. This can be done through joining prelaw groups, attending presentations, conducting informational interviews with attorneys, and through internships and work experience. In addition, many law schools allow prospective students to visit first-year classes. This is a great opportunity to learn what the law school academic experience is like. It is also very important to take classes that will develop the skills that you will use in law school and legal practice. You should take classes that will develop your writing skills as well as your research and analysis skills. Finally, there are costs associated with applying to law school and visiting schools, so it is never too early to start saving funds for this purpose.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “ACADEMIC AND PERSONAL SUCCESS. Grades are extremely important in the application process of course. But take advantage of everything your college has to offer both in and out of the classroom.”

  • UIUC:

    “We are looking for students who make the most of the opportunities in front of them. Your first two years of undergrad are a great time to start doing that! Keeping undergraduate grades as high as possible should be a focus, but not to the exclusion of other activities. Students should be well-rounded. That will look different for every student, but it could be a part-time job, extra-curriculars, or volunteering. None of this needs to be law-focused unless the student wants it to be.”

  • WashU:

    “Pursue curiosities and try different things! Your freshman and sophomore years are opportune times to try your hand at a variety of subjects, and see what fits best. This advice is two-fold: first, if you are interested in the subject area, you will be more motivated to study it; and second, if you study hard, you will (usually) do well in the subject, which translates in your performance….. (do you see the connection here?!) You do not need a political science or history degree to go to law school. WashULaw is looking for students with unique backgrounds who will bring a dynamic perspective to the classroom and broader community. It is not unusual for us to have an entering class with 50 plus different undergraduate majors!”

Q: What is one of the simplest ways an applicant can stand out in a positive way?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “Put together a thoughtful and compelling application package. Everything you include should enhance our understanding of you as a candidate for admission. You should also be strategic about your extracurricular, internship, and work experiences. Think about why you are pursuing those activities and how you are developing as a result of the experiences you are gaining.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “We are not looking for applicants to stand out. We are looking for the best fit for our law school and applicants are also looking at the best law school fit for them. Applicants need to be honest, open, and detailed in all aspects of the application. This can take the form of many things, depending on the context of the applicant’s situation, experiences, and life. This will be apparent in letters of recommendation, resume, and personal statement.”

  • UIUC:

    “Applicants stand out positively for lots of different reasons. The best way to do that is to be authentic to who you are and not try to fit any kind of mold of who you think we’re looking for. Be yourself, and you’ll end up at a law school that is the right fit for you.”

  • WashU:

    “The little things matter! It sounds obvious, but make sure your written materials are typo-free. If you are offered an interview or visit a law school, make sure you put your best foot forward and show that you are happy to be there. Positive energy spreads!”

Q: What is one of the simplest ways an applicant can stand out in a negative way?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “Submitting an application without giving it the proper time and attention. This includes things like typing the entire application in lowercase letters, poor proofreading (especially in supplemental statements), failure to follow the application instructions, and failure to provide full and complete information in response to the application questions. You should take each aspect of the admissions process seriously.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “A poorly communicated application. There are many ways this can go negative such as descending grades (with no explanation), negative letters of recommendation, and/or a poorly written personal statement.”

  • UIUC:

    “The easiest way to stand out in a negative way is to not follow the application directions.”

  • WashU:

    “Project confidence, not arrogance. Also, admissions offices understand candidates are typically applying to more than one school – make sure your written materials include the name of the school you are applying to (and not the name of another school where you are applying…believe me, it happens!).”

Q: What is an example of a good experience or activity to engage in as an undergraduate student to prepare for law school and why?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “As I mentioned earlier, it is important to make sure that the legal profession is the right career path for you before you apply to law school, so anything that will give you insight into the day-to-day practice of law will be helpful. In terms of the admissions process, we don’t have specific activities and experiences that we are looking for since our applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds. You should pursue activities that are meaningful to you and that align with your interests and career goals.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “An experience that is outside of an applicant’s comfort zone, and communicating that expertly to an admissions committee. This can also take the form of a leadership or leading role in the activity. If the experience was tried and ended up not being a desirable one, that is a lesson as well.”

  • UIUC:

    “Students should be intentional about getting to know their faculty. I’m not a fan of doing things just because you think it will help you get into law school, but this will help you no matter what you decide to do post-undergrad! Go to office hours. Take a second (or third!) class with a professor you enjoyed. From a practical standpoint, this will lay the groundwork for letters of recommendation down the road; however, I suspect most students will value these relationships for reasons beyond a positive letter of recommendation. Being intentional about this process is especially important for students at larger universities, such as UIUC.”

  • WashU:

    “Any opportunities that require extra writing or public speaking experience. Research or TA positions are great. Try out moot court or mock trial. Speech and debate organizations, any publishing opportunities, writing competitions – really any activities that allow you to hone research, writing, analytical, and communication skills. Substantive internships and work experience will also be beneficial. Work experience doesn’t have to be legal.”

Q: What is one thing that many applicants may not know about your school, but you wish they did?

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “Chicago-Kent has outstanding faculty members who excel in teaching and involve students in their research. Our faculty is ranked 40th in the nation based on scholarly impact and we are one of only three law schools in Chicago to be recognized on this assessment of faculty scholarship. As a student at Chicago-Kent, you will have the opportunity to study with professors who are recognized thought leaders and who are dedicated to training the next generation of lawyers. Read more here.

  • IU Maurer:

    “The high level of intellectual engagement coupled with the overwhelmingly strong bonds between students as well as students bonds with faculty, staff, and alumni. Our students are extremely engaged in activities outside the classroom including projects (within the first month of their 1L year), involvement in student organizations, and community involvement. And all in one of the best college towns in the country.”

  • UIUC:

    “Despite being in Champaign-Urbana, we have strong ties to the Chicago legal market. Most of our students work in Chicago post-graduation. That’s not to say that they don’t end up in other markets around the U.S., but Chicago is the third-largest legal market in the country, it is our largest alumni base, and we have a lot of positive brand recognition there. Our students can spend their last semester in Chicago through our Chicago Program.”

  • WashU:

    “WashULaw is adept at helping each individual student find their best path, and being flexible as that path changes. A part of that is our Career Center, which starts working with the incoming class as soon as the applicant is fully committed to WashULaw. This is important because legal recruiting starts very early, and our students go all over the country – typically to over 30 states and several countries each year, including Washington, DC, New York, Texas, California, and Illinois. Because students go everywhere, it is critical that students have an individualized career plan. Speaking of individualized strategy – if you have any questions about WashULaw, the dynamic city of St. Louis and what makes it great, or the law school application process generally, schedule a pop-in or a consultation. No question is too small!”

Final Thoughts

Click on the arrow to see the responses:
  • Chicago-Kent:

    “Founded in 1888, Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology is the second-oldest law school in Illinois. Chicago-Kent’s forward-thinking approach to legal education combines academic rigor with practical training, readying graduates for a rapidly changing legal industry. Our students receive a comprehensive and practice-focused legal writing foundation that empowers them to be successful at every step of their careers. With faculty who are both scholars and practitioners, a dynamic legal externship program, pioneering legal clinics, and award-winning moot court and trial advocacy teams, Chicago-Kent provides students with skills-based learning opportunities that prepare them to practice law in one of the largest legal markets in the U.S. and beyond.”

  • IU Maurer:

    “As a top 20 public law school, we have earned national acclaim for our programs in business, criminal, environmental, intellectual property, tax, and international law. Our unique Legal Professions course is one reason we are considered a top innovative law program. The collegial community fosters an environment in which our students learn about the roles law plays in structuring society. From day-to-day transactions to the most controversial topics of the moment, our remarkable students come together to learn from our faculty and from one another. We have 10,000+ alumni, located across the country and around the world, and include the first African American to serve on any state supreme court, the first Japanese American admitted to the bar in the US, the first woman chief justice of Wisconsin, and the first woman chief justice of Indiana. IU is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses and college towns in the country!”

  • UIUC:

    “Students are welcome to make an appointment to meet with a member of the admissions team, take a tour with a current student, and/or sit in on a first-year class. Email law-admissions@illinois.edu to schedule an appointment!”

August Snapshot


WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WELCOMING YOU BACK TO CAMPUS later this month! as you prepare for the semester, be sure to Take advantage of the various pre-law events happening in AUGUST!

August 1: NEW! Application open for the Pre-Law Advisory Council for more information and to apply, please click here.

August 3: Seton Hall Law School: Virtual Social Justice Summer Workshop Series – Networking plus Meet and Greet Session – In-Person (3:00-5:00 p.m. CST) To learn more and register, please click here.

August 6: DEADLINE! Legally BLK Fund Scholarship – Click here to learn more.

August 9: PLAS Workshop: Application Roadmap at 12:00 pm. Click here for additional information. 

August 10:  JD Advising – Free Law Prep Course for Students – The course is designed to support pre-law students in achieving greater academic success in law school. The course is offered on-demand. It is recommended for individuals beginning law school in an upcoming academic year but can be taken by students in any class year.  To learn more, click here.

August 12: Luce Scholars Information Session online at 9:00 am. To learn more, click here.

August 12: August LSAT Begins – Best wishes to all of our students taking the LSAT this weekend!

August 16: PLAS Workshop: Drafting Your Application at 5:30 pm. Click here for additional information. 

August 16: Kaplan Campus Brand Ambassador Hiring Event – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm CT. To learn more and apply, click hereThis position is also posted on the UIUC Handshake page.

August 17: Kaplan Campus Brand Ambassador Hiring Event – 11:00 am – 1:00 pm CT. To learn more and apply, click hereThis position is also posted on the UIUC Handshake page.

August 19: New Student Convocation – Welcome to Illinois!

August 21: QUAD DAY on the Main Quad from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Quad Day is a great opportunity to meet with current student leaders from registered student organizations (RSOs) here on campus. To learn more, click here.

August 22: First day of class! Welcome!

August 22: Application Deadline! Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell Scholarships Campus Deadline. To learn more, click here.

August 25: Application Deadline! Schwarzman Scholarship Priority Deadline. To learn more, click here.

August 28: Save the Date! 2022 Law School Fair will be on September 28 at the Illini Union. For more information, click here.

August 29: Application Deadline! Fulbright Campus Deadline. To learn more, click here.

August 31: October LSAT Registration Deadline is tomorrow, September 1! To learn more, click here.

August 31: PLAS Workshop: Application Roadmap at 4:00 pm. Click here for additional information. 

Be sure to check back soon…

The Monthly Snapshot is updated weekly throughout the month, be sure to check the Snapshot regularly for new events and programs!

July Snapshot


We hope you are having a safe and enjoyable Summer Break!
Be sure to Take advantage of the various pre-law events happening in July!

 

July 1:  Application Deadline! The Harvard Junior Deferral Program: Application is today! To learn more and apply, click here.

July 1:  Citizens Scholarship Deadline.  Click here to learn more – this is just a quick form to apply!

July 1:  Good Lawyers / Good People Scholarship Deadline.  Click here to learn more.

July 2:  Save the Date! 2022 Law School Fair will take place on Wednesday, September 28! The law fair will be held at the Illini Union (1401 W Green St, Urbana, IL) from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. For additional information about this opportunity, click here.

July 4:  Independence Day and University Holiday (offices closed/no classes)

July 4 – 8:  PLAS Office will be closed the week of July 4.  Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July holiday!

July 5:  Seeking Scholarships?  There are many scholarships available for aspiring law students.  Check out the Access Lex Database for upcoming opportunities!

July 8: Coming Soon! Pre-Law Advisory Councilto learn more about this unique opportunity, click here.

July 11 – 29: University of Miami School of Law – Summer Legal Academy: For more information, click here

July 12:  Finding Your Get Up and Go | Lessons for Living:  This webinar from the University of Illinois Extension will help you learn how to give your enthusiasm a boost during challenges.  Click here to register.  The program is offered online at 2:00 pm.

July 12:  Access Lex | 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting Law School  webinar at 2:00 pm (CT)

July 13: Seton Hall Law School: Free Virtual Social Justice Summer Workshop Series – Mass Incarceration and the Constitution – Virtual (12:00-`1:00 p.m. CST) To learn more and register, please click here.

July 15:  Application Deadline! Latino Justice PRLDEF – LawBound: LawBound is a summer program (in August) for pre-law students.  Click here for additional application details.

July 15:  Avnet Law National Scholarship Deadline.  Click here to learn more.

July 16 – July 17:  CLEO 1L Prep – Attitude Is Essential (AIE) Seminar for Fall ’22 first-year law students.  Click here to register. Can’t make the July dates? AIE will also be offered on August 13 & 14.

July 18:  The Career Center Virtual Summer Hours: No appointment is needed. Log on to Zoom at the appropriate time.

        • Virtual Career Advising: Monday – Thursday, 11 am to 1 pm. Zoom link.
        • Virtual Resume and Cover Letter Drop-In Reviews: Monday – Thursday, 1 pm to 3 pm. Zoom link.

July 20:  PLAS Workshop: Application Roadmap at 6:00 pm. Click here for additional information. 

July 20: Seton Hall Law School: Free Virtual Social Justice Summer Workshop Series – Police Accountability and Qualified Immunity – Virtual (12:00-`1:00 p.m. CST) To learn more and register, please click here.

July 23:  Washington, D.C. Law School Fair: Consider attending the in-person law school fair at The Catholic University of America from 11 am – to 3 pm ET. To learn more, click here.

July 26:  Registration Deadline! Last day to register for the September 2022 LSAT. Visit LSAC to register. Prices have increased! The LSAT is now $215 (up from $200).

July 20: Seton Hall Law School: Free Virtual Social Justice Summer Workshop Series – Business Planning for Social Justice – Virtual (12:00-`1:00 p.m. CST) To learn more and register, please click here.

July 28:  Access Lex | 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting Law School  webinar at 4:00 pm (CT)

July 28 & July 29: Pre-Law Diversity Fellowship program hosted by Davis Wright Tremaine | 11 am (CT) To learn more and register, click here.

July 31:  ABC Law Centers Disability Advocacy Scholarship Deadline. Click here to learn more.

Campus Opportunity Highlights

The University of Illinois is rich with opportunities such as prestigious scholarships, internships, externships, international experiences, and research opportunities. Below is a compilation that may be of particular interest to pre-law students looking to enhance their experiences and opportunities during their undergraduate studies.

TIP:  If you are not eligible for an opportunity now due to class year or other criteria; that’s ok!  Planning ahead is an important aspect to your pre-law journey and identifying opportunities now can help you be successful later.  If you see an opportunity that interests you, look at the criteria and qualities listed for successful candidates. Determine what can you do now to develop those qualities to enhance your candidacy later.

Academic Opportunities and Internships:

      • National and International Scholarships:  NIS (a/k/a Top Scholars) assists UIUC students in applying for prestigious opportunities such as Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholars, Fulbright, and more. Opportunities include undergraduate and graduate study, research, and teaching–often in foreign countries. This is an excellent opportunity for a summer or semester as an undergrad or a gap year before law school!
      • Illinois in Washington: IIW is the Washington, DC-based academic program for UIUC. Participants live in Washington, DC for a semester, where they intern and take classes taught by UIUC faculty. The program is offered in the fall, spring and summer and is open to all UIUC undergrads. This is an excellent opportunity to enhance your curriculum and resume, not to mention immerse yourself in the unique vibe of the Nation’s Capital!
      • Internships: Internships may be department-sponsored, coordinated through the Career Services office, or procured independently by the student. Internships could be paid, unpaid, and/or for credit. Some examples of internships are listed below. Don’t worry if your major is not listed below, check with your advisor to learn more about major-specific internship opportunities. This is an excellent opportunity to apply your knowledge to real-work scenarios and enhance your resume!
          • Champaign County Public Defender Program: In collaboration with the Champaign County Office of the Public Defender, the Political Science Department directs an internship in the Public Defender’s office for up to five undergraduates per semester for academic credit. Applications are generally due in October for the spring semester and April for the fall semester. For more information, click here.
          • Political Internships in Illinois: A student doing an internship while enrolled on campus can earn three credits through the PS 491 internship course. This program runs in fall and spring only. Typical placements are the district offices of our state and US representatives, local and county government, legal aid, non-governmental organizations, and social service programs. For more information, click here.
          • Department of Psychology | Community Internships: These internships require at least a one academic year commitment. Principles of psychology applied to service problems in the community; students serve as nonprofessional mental health workers in supervised experiences in schools, hospitals, and other nontraditional settings.  To learn more, click here.
          • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Internships: LAS has multiple internship opportunities within the College. Develop effective communication, boost your leadership skills, and learn new technologies through these internships. Experiences include LAS 100, LAS 101, LAS 201, LAS 122, LAS Student Success Coaches, Hood Internship, ATLAS Internships Program, and the Data Science Scholars. To learn more, click here.
          • Check out the PLAS Internship document for additional opportunities! To learn more, click here.

Campus Leadership and Volunteer Opportunities:

      • Pre-Law Registered Student OrganizationsThe University of Illinois has several pre-law RSOs. Visit the blog for a highlight of pre-law student organizations and contact information. This is an excellent opportunity to gain leadership experience while connecting with your UIUC peers.
      • Illinois Leadership Center: Explore the various opportunities presented by the Illinois Leadership Center. There are opportunities for research, to participate in different programs and services, and even to obtain a minor in leadership studies!
      • Volunteer with UIUC: The Office of Civic Life (formerly the Office of Volunteer Programs) cultivates community partnerships that are designed to give students multiple entries to explore pathways to community involvement, global awareness, and civic responsibility. Explore the many ways to volunteer with UIUC by clicking here.
      • Office of Student Engagement: Explore the many opportunities to get involved at UIUC as a student through the Office of Student Engagement. Participate in a student organization, volunteer opportunity, or with a campus committee. To learn more, click here.

Study Abroad and International Opportunities:

      • Education Abroad (Study Abroad): UIUC offers hundreds of opportunities to study abroad. Options include Exchange Programs, Direct Enroll Programs, Provider Programs, and Faculty-Led/Short-Term Programs. With some pre-planning, pre-law students can experience education abroad and enhance their perspectives and resumes. This is an excellent opportunity to try something different, make connections abroad, and learn something new!
      • Off-Campus Political Science Internship: It is possible to earn credit in association with a political internship anywhere in the world, during fall and spring only and subject to departmental approval. The most common example is US State Department internships. The student enrolls in PS 491 and participates long-distance in the same class as the on-campus students. We have had students in Vienna, Paris, Dhaka, St. Petersburg, and at the US Mission to the UN in New York. Plan ahead! For more information visit the State Department website or contact your advisor.
      • Don’t forget! Additional international opportunities exist with the National and International Scholarship programs! To learn more, click here.

Research and Writing Opportunities:

      • Research: UIUC is a world-class research institution which means there are plenty of opportunities available for students to develop their research skills.  These are incredibly valuable skills to develop prior to law schools and an excellent way to expand your learning opportunities. Consider approaching a faculty member in an area you enjoy,  or your academic advisor, to see if any research opportunities exist. This is an excellent opportunity to work closely with faculty, learn new research and writing skills, and contribute to a body of work.  The Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research is an excellent resource to explore.  The Office of Undergraduate Research provides tools and information on how to find research opportunities, develop your own research projects, and highlights successful undergraduate research projects each year in April.

 

As always, reach out to the Pre-Law Advising Office for more information on opportunities that might be right for you!

Congratulations Class of 2022!

“Everyone has some gift, some one thing he can do better than anything else, whether it is teaching, dancing, dramatics, cooking, or some other skill. Find that one thing and give of it to humanity if you want a well-rounded happy life.”

~ Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield | Class of 1906

We would like to offer our congratulations to graduating members of the Class of 2022.  Whether you are continuing your education in law school next year or planning to start your professional work after graduation, we congratulate you on the hard work, perseverance, and determination it has taken to realize this milestone in your life.

Congratulations graduates! We wish you all the best!

Warmly,

Pre-Law Advising Services

Don’t lose touch!

Don’t forget, PLAS is here to support you and your law school goals once you graduate.  Whether next year or several years from now, we are here to help!

Wellness for Pre-Law Students

Wellness. Balance. Meditation. Mindfulness. These are big buzzwords. Everyone is talking about how to feel better, but why does it matter? And why should you, a future lawyer, consider incorporating these tools into your life?

“In its purest form, wellness involves doing whatever you need to do to feel better and be healthier on a day-to-day basis. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving a general sense of well-being and overall health, and anyone who claims otherwise is selling you something.”

Lawyer Mental Health and Wellness: Why It Matters (clio.com)

As this quote shares, wellness is whatever makes you feel better, day-to-day. And it is important to feel as good as you can so that you can really show up for yourself, your studies, and your (future) clients. When you feel good, your mind is clearer, you process information better, communication increases, and your overall sense of purpose and satisfaction rises.

Let’s explore different types of wellness and how you can incorporate those that align with you into your life.

Water: Our bodies absolutely need water to survive. And our bodies need to be properly hydrated to thrive. Consider evaluating your water intake and increasing it if it is not enough.

Movement: Our bodies need to move! Perhaps that is going for a walk or taking a HIIT class, make sure you move your body to keep it (and your mind!) strong and sharp. Consider visiting the ARC on campus Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) – Campus Recreation (illinois.edu) to explore different ways you can move.

Mental Health: Mental health is everything. When you feel better, you do better. Stress and anxiety can impact your ability to focus and work at your best level. There are many wonderful resources on campus such as counselors, group therapy, workshops, and more! Visit the UIUC Counseling Center website for information. Looking to attend a workshop? Explore the Outreach Series here.

Meditation: Meditation has been shown to provide wonderful benefits. Healthline states that meditation may reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance self-awareness, improve sleep, enhance memory, and more. Consider getting started with daily mindfulness sessions on campus! Here’s a great meditation resource for Test Anxiety from Northwestern: Test Anxiety: Breathe – Northwestern University.

Financial Health: Learning how to manage your finances is very important to your overall wellness! According to the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans are worried about money. Being stressed about money can lead to poor sleep, decreased mental health, and more. Learning how to work with your finances is going to pay dividends! Explore UIUC’s Financial Wellbeing program to learn how you can enhance your financial wellness!

At PLAS, we are committed to supporting your academic and professional growth and that means supporting your overall wellness, too. Visit our Canvas page for additional Wellness resources!

Tips for Maximizing Spring Break

Spring Break Top Ten Image with Butterfly

Spring Break is right around the corner and is a wonderful opportunity to make some progress towards your law school goals. Here is our “Spring Break Top Ten” list to help you maximize Spring Break!

#10: 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 a returning undergrad or planning on being an incoming law student next year, be sure to get this done ASAP!

#9: Think about what classes you want to take

Spring break is a great time to begin researching classes and upcoming academic opportunities. Check out our blog post: Guide to selecting Pre-Law coursework for Illinois students! Also, stay tuned for a future blog post about our suggested courses for the Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 semesters!

#8: Start thinking about your summer plans

Will you be working or completing an internship? Will you be taking summer classes?  Perhaps a Pre-Law Summer program is exactly what you need! Start making a plan for how you will maximize your summer. Check our internship newsletter and Handshake regularly for new opportunities!

#7: Research and Connect

Job shadow, or ask a law student or lawyer to spend 30 minutes doing an informational interview with you. Don’t be intimidated; this is an informal opportunity for you to have coffee with someone new and ask about their educational and/or professional life. Here’s a resource for planning your informational interview. 

#6: Get a head start on LSAT Prep

If you are in the early stages of your application process, consider using this time to take a practice LSAT. 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.

#5: Visit Law Schools

Have you started receiving letters of admission to law schools? Consider using this time to visit (virtually or in-person) your top choices! This is also a good time to begin narrowing your list and withdrawing from schools that you know you are not going to attend.

#4: Start Planning

Are you getting ready to apply to the 2022-2023 cycle? Think about when you will take the LSAT. You’ll want to consider how much time you need to study and the possibility that you may choose to take the LSAT twice. June, August, or September are good test dates to consider.  Start building out your overall timeline for law school applications considering when you will submit an application and planning for big events in the fall!  Be sure to mark important deadlines and dates now!

      • Consider registering for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) if you will be applying to law school during the 2022-2023 application cycle.  This is the account you will need to open in order to have your recommendation letters processed, submit transcripts, and compile your application materials. Once you set it up, your account is good for five years. You can read all about it here.  We recommend setting up your account no later than August if you will be applying this cycle.
#3: Decide who will be your recommendation writers

Letters of recommendation will be necessary for many different opportunities throughout college including scholarships, leadership roles, internships, and other positions.  This is particularly true as you enter your upper-level years and prepare for your law applications.  If you are a junior or senior, you will want to consider approaching potential recommenders by the end of THIS semester for upcoming opportunities this summer or fall (including your law application). 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.

#2 WORK AHEAD

The end of the spring semester is fast approaching. Consider carving out an hour or two a day to work ahead on a project or assignment, internship and/or leadership application, or your resume. By working ahead you are setting yourself up to make your last few weeks go really smoothly! Your future self will thank you.

#1 Recharge!

Returning from spring break not only means the final weeks of the semester are approaching, but the end of the entire academic year – it will be busy! Get some rest, reconnect with friends and family, catch up on your favorite shows, read for fun, get outside! Use this time to reflect, rest, and regroup!

Tips and Tricks on Navigating Any Interview Process

As a pre-law student, you will likely come across many opportunities to interview. Perhaps you are interviewing at the law school of your dreams or for a summer internship. Maybe you have started networking and have a few informational interviews scheduled. Regardless, interviewing is an important aspect to many opportunities you will have as an undergraduate student and will be an essential skill as you look toward a career in law.

No matter what type of interview you have coming up, we are here to help! In this post you will find helpful insights and information you need to know about interviews–what they are, how to prepare for them, and what to expect. Happy Interviewing!

INTERVIEWING FOR:
INTERNSHIPS/SUMMER POSITIONS

What is the purpose of the interview? Interviews are generally part of an internship application process. This is also true of summer positions, regardless of whether they are paid. Employers and Internship Hosts want to get to know you and evaluate if you are a good fit for the position. Applicants also have an opportunity to get to know the employer/internship host and ask questions.

INTERVIEWING FOR:
LAW SCHOOLS OR SPRING VISITS

What is the purpose of the interview? In addition to admission, law schools might use the interview to screen candidates for scholarships, research opportunities, or special programs such as law school ambassadors. It is definitely worth an applicant’s time and effort to take the interview seriously.

TIP: Know what kind of interviews your preferred law schools offer.

Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what format of interview is offered. Not all law schools offer interviews as part of their admissions process and the format of interviews can vary between different institutions. It is important to know if interviews might be part of your experience.   We’ve provided some examples of interview formats below for reference!

      • First come, first served interviews–Some law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.
          • Note – IF you are applying Early Decision then you must interview and it must be complete by the ED deadline.
      • Group interviews–Some schools may offer group interviews in selected cities or virtually.
      • By invitation only – Some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants after applications are submitted and by invitation only.
      • Recorded interviews – Some law schools are now offering applicants the opportunity to record an interview. Usually this is how it works: You are given a prompt, and then 2-3 minutes to think about that prompt. Then the webcam records you for a few minutes while you give your answer to the prompt.

INTERVIEWING FOR:
NETWORKING/INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS

What is the purpose of the interview? Informational interviews are a wonderful way to network with professionals and to learn about the profession you are interested in. Typically informational interviews are short and rely on you to come prepared with questions for the expert.  While these may be less formal than a job or law school interview, you still need to be prepared, professional, and most importantly, yourself.

Securing an informational interview can be as simply as  reaching out and asking. Don’t be intimidated; this is an opportunity for you to buy them coffee and ask about their professional life. Here’s a resource for planning your informational interview. Check out this additional resource on the topic from the Career Center.

GENERAL INTERVIEWING TIPS

ALWAYS BE PREPARED:
    • Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “Why this law school or this employer or this opportunity?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the appropriate websites, blogs, videos, and/or news articles. Get to know the place you are interviewing at.
    • Be prepared with specific talking points about the school or employer that interests you. For example, if this is a law school interview, you may want to research a particular journal, clinic, moot court, externship, or certificate program that is interesting to you. If this is an internship or summer position, understand the work they do and how you can contribute.
    • Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it.
    • You may also be asked something like “What are your career goals?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” or even “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” and you should be prepared to discuss your career interests.
    • Decide how you will address the inevitable “What are your strengths and weaknesses” question.
    • Behavioral interviewing – “Tell me about a time when…”. This mode of interviewing will ask you to address a hypothetical or refer back to prior situations and experiences.  For example, you might be asked to tell about a time when you resolved a conflict, managed a team project, made a mistake, or made a big decision.
    • Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you mock questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.
    • Know the format – plan accordingly.  Many interviews are now conducted via Zoom/online format.  It is important to know the format and plan accordingly for best success. Make sure you have equipment that is working and select a location that is a quiet place without interruptions. Also, take a picture with your webcam before the interview so that you can see what’s behind you…you may be surprised to see that pile of laundry or unmade bed in the background.
“At” the interview:

Although many schools, companies, and organizations have moved to online formats for interviewing, almost all of the same “rules” that apply for traditional interviews are true for online formats as well.  No matter what type of interview you have, be sure to follow these important tips. Make sure that you look professional and

    • DO NOT BE LATE under any circumstances. Allow yourself plenty of time for parking/traffic/restroom. If you absolutely cannot avoid being late, call the office to let them know. This applies to online interviews as well. Make sure you are online and everything is working properly. Don’t assume that because it is online that you can hop on 30 seconds before.
    • Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands (if appropriate). (You would be surprised how many people skip this. Seriously.
    • Dress up. This is not a business-casual situation; business formal is best unless the interview parameters explicitly state something else. Even if you are on Zoom or online, treat it just as seriously and professionally as if you were in-person.
    • Engaging in small talk 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.
        • Some interviews may be “recorded” and are conducted by question prompts instead of a traditional back and forth conversation.  Think about ways you can help express your personality if small talk is not part of your interview structure.
    • Bring questions for the interviewer.  Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Use the opportunity to ask some thoughtful questions. Some examples might include:
            • What are the most important qualities in a Law School X student or, in a Business Y employee or intern?
            • 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/lawyer?
    • Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest in the law school or position you are applying to.
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 so interesting to hear your perspective on the unique qualities of this school or position.
        • I appreciate your candid advice on ____________________.
    • Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest.
    • Reflect on the interview. What went well? What could you improve? What did you learn that was really useful?
    • Celebrate! Congratulations, you completed the interview!

 Finally, check out these tips on interviewing from The Career Center.

Make the most of your spring!

Spring semester is here and this is an important time to look ahead at what you can do to best prepare yourself for your future law school adventures, including planning your spring task-list, finalizing summer plans, and setting fall goals.

Below are some suggested areas to prioritize this spring depending on your point in your journey to law school…

Freshmen and Sophomores:

Apply for Summer Jobs and Internships.  Do you have summer plans locked down? If not, apply for jobs and internships. This is a great way to gain valuable experiences and enhance your resume. Check out our internship newsletter here or browse available opportunities on UIUC’s Handshake page.

Apply to Summer Pre-Law Programs These short summer programs are a wonderful opportunity for students interested in the legal profession. They typically last 3-5 weeks and are usually free for qualified students. Application deadlines vary, but are typically in March and April. If you are interested in these programs check out our newsletter here or hop over to LSAC and start your application process as soon as possible!

Sophomores – Start researching the LSAT. Not ready to take the real LSAT yet but wondering what it’s all about? Then it’s time to make LSAC (Law School Admission Council) your best friend! This is the organization that manages the LSAT. Learn how to prepare for the LSAT and even take a free test here.

Job Shadow/Informational Interviews. 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 them coffee and ask about their professional life. Here’s a resource for planning your informational interview. And here’s anther resource on the topic. For more formal interview tips, check out this resource.

Keep up. Use this time to reassess your study plans and goals and prepare for finals–those grades are very important to law schools! Feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious? Consider these student wellness resources to support you.

Juniors and Alumni Applying during the 2022-2023 cycle:

Make your LSAT plans.  Taking the April or June LSAT? Select your prep option and start studying as soon as possible. You want to give yourself the most time to prepare. Ideally, you will study for 4-6 months prior to taking the LSAT. Keep this in mind when selecting your ideal LSAT examination date. Spring break can be a great time to crank up your LSAT studying.

      • Ready to register for your preferred date? Click here for the April LSAT and here for the June LSAT.

Taking a Summer or Fall LSAT? Now is the time to research LSAT prep options. Visit the LSAC website here to learn about resources available including Kahn Academy (free), LSAT Prep, and LSAT Prep Plus  They also include a list of prep books (hyperlink) available and a list of commercial companies who offer services.

      • Stay Tuned for our LSAT Q&A blog post with recent LSAT takers for first-hand advice later this month!

Decide who will be your recommendation writers.  Applications to law school require letters of recommendation. You will want to approach your recommenders by this May/June (at the end of THIS semester) so 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.

Plan to Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).  This is the account you will need to open to have your recommendation letters processed.  The fee to register is $195 so you will need to budget accordingly.  Be sure to get signed up no later than August if you will be applying in the upcoming cycle.  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 including the Exploring Legal Education and Application Roadmap. Find them all on our Event Calendar.

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

Decide who will be your recommendation writers.  It’s a good idea to decide who on campus will write your recommendations, and approach them by the end of this semester to make contact. If you are applying during the 2022-2023 cycle, you’ll want to secure those letters soon. If you are planning on applying in a future cycle, it will be important to make contact with your recommender and ask for support. Your recommender will be better prepared to assist you in a year or two if you keep in touch regularly. Plus, regular contact will help with timing. Remember, if you wait too long to make contact,  your preferred professor may be gone, on sabbatical, retired, etc., so it’s better to get them now.

Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).  If you plan to apply during the 2022-2023 cycle, register for CAS in the summer or early fall. If you plan to apply in a future cycle, hold off on CAS until you are closer to applying.

Gap Year Workshops. We have upcoming workshops just for you that you should plan to attend, including our Application Roadmap/Gap Years workshop in March. Find them all on our Event Calendar.

      • Internship Newsletter – Be sure to check out the Internship Newsletter which includes post-grad opportunities for ideas and available positions!
Seniors and alumni headed to law school this fall:

Get applications in ASAP! If you are still preparing applications for this cycle,  Touch base with our office ASAP – we are here to help!

Continue Researching!  If your applications are in then you will soon be in the decision making phase.  It is time to make sure that you have all the information needed to make your final decision.  Make final visits to law schools and/or attend admitted student days.

      • HousekeepingOnce you’ve decided where to attend, be sure to withdraw from the other schools that have admitted you so that they can offer that seat and/or scholarship to someone else.

Get organized! Mark important dates on your calendar – including seat deposits, admitted student open house days, and scholarship deadline information…

Stay Connected – Attend Programs! Attend upcoming workshops for guidance on successfully navigating your post-admissions process. Here’s a few we think will be valuable to you:

Apply for additional scholarships. We’ve posted a lot of information about this over on our Resource page!  Also, use your favorite search engine to explore other scholarship opportunities. Here’s a list to get you started. There may be some wonderful local, state and/or national scholarship opportunities with your name on it!

 

Planning to be enrolled in school next fall?  It’s FAFSA time!

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.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of where you are on your pre-law journey, remember we are here to support you and you’ve got this!