Application Preparation: Building A Timeline

 

For those anticipating application in the upcoming 2022-2023 cycle, the summer is an excellent time to take steps to prepare for a smooth and successful admission process.  Two of the most important steps are to create a general timeline and to set goals for the upcoming months to ensure you stay on track and keep the application process as manageable as possible.

Below are a few recommendations on creating an application timeline and plan to enhance your success.

Step 1: Set up a System: 

You will be navigating a large volume of information and communications over a long period of time.  It is important to have a system to organize these details.  Your system should include the following components:

        • Document Storage:  You should have an online storage space or backup system for all the application materials you are crafting – resume, personal statement, etc.  You should also have a place to organize documents or information that you receive.  You will want to have a physical space to store and organize, as well as an electronic space.  Most information will be communicated electronically, but you may also accumulate materials at visits or fairs, or through mailings.  Consider investing in a container for all law school materials.  For digital material, consider utilizing “Box” and setting up folders to organize information by school, type of information, or whatever makes sense to you.
        • Email Correspondence:  Almost all communications regarding applications will be received via email, with some mail and phone communications possible.   Evaluate your available email accounts.  Determine now which one you will utilize for your applications, you could even create a new one!  Once you determine your “application email” plan to utilize that for all applications and application-related matters.  Set up folders in your inbox now to organize and respond to communications you anticipate receiving.  Determine a plan for checking and managing incoming communications – will you check every day? (yes), how many times a day?  Start utilizing your system now to make it a habit, it will make managing your email communications during the busier months feel more manageable.
        • Information Management:  As you get further along in the application process you will begin developing a potential list of schools to apply to, eventually you will apply to a definitive list of schools, and later you will begin receiving offers.  Having a comprehensive place to track and notate information about each school is critical to the process of comparing and contrasting each institution, ultimately deciding on your best fit.  This type of information tracking also helps ensure you do not forget or overlook any information you acquired along the way.  We recommend creating a spreadsheet that you can tailor to your own individual priorities, goals, and school attributes you are seeking.
Step 2: Establish Target Goals:
  • Part of building a timeline is having targeted goals for completing tasks.  For a successful application timeline you should consider the necessary tasks for applying to law school, but also other obligations you will have during this time period including family, academic, and extracurricular responsibilities.  Below are some examples of areas where you may want to set goals:
      • LSAT Preparation and LSAT attempts (first and second)
      • CAS Registration
      • Transcript Submission
      • Researching Schools
      • Completing Application Components
      • Submitting Applications
      • Visiting Schools
      • Academic Projects
      • Leadership Programs and Events
Step 3: Prioritize and Plan Ahead:

It is a wonderful thing to have a timeline and goals, but you only have 24 hours in a day and only so much attention or energy to give to any one task, opportunity, or obligation.  Being able to prioritize so that you can be successful in all aspects of your life is important.  Good prioritization requires establishing what is most critical and when.  Your first step in doing this is establishing the goals we mentioned above.  The second step in doing this is keeping yourself accountable, and finally, it is planning ahead to ensure you have set yourself up to be successful.  Create your semester calendar now.  Add in any family or personal obligations you are aware of – discuss holiday and other plans now so you know what time commitments will be necessary.   Begin dividing obligations by daily, weekly, monthly or one-time only events.  Review your course syllabi as soon as possible – map out large projects and due dates.  Begin researching important application dates and events now.

      • TIP:  Give yourself individual deadlines for projects and other work.  Set your individual deadlines several days or more prior to the actual deadline.  This will help you accommodate any unexpected issues.
      • TIP:  Begin thinking about your time each week.  Evaluate how much time you will spend for class, essential personal items (groceries, meals, health, fitness), study, and other leadership activities.  Determine when these items will take place in your weekly schedule and how much time remains after for other uses.
      • TIP:  Set expectations for yourself and others.  Realistically evaluate how long things usually take you (i.e. writing a paper), and build those realistic timeframes into your goals.  Let others that are important in your life know that the upcoming semester will be a critical one and talk now about how that may limit your time.

Join Us! Application Roadmap Workshop

To learn more about setting goals and specific timeline recommendations, consider attending our Application Roadmap Workshop.  The workshop will be offered multiple times in the upcoming months.  Get a head start by attending a workshop this summer on July 20 @ 6 pm or August 9 @ Noon (via Zoom).  To learn more, visit the PLAS calendar online.  PLAS programs are open to all UIUC students and alumni.

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Summer Tips for Prelaw Students!

The summer is an excellent time to reconnect, gain new experiences, move forward with your academic progress, or simply relax and rejuvenate.  With the summer officially underway, this is an excellent time to evaluate your goals for the summer and set some priorities as they relate to your prelaw plans.

You have completed another academic year and it is something to be celebrated.  This summer spend some time planning and considering the following:

    • Is your academic curriculum set (major/minors)? Do some research as there is an incredibly diverse set of programs to choose from at Illinois!
    • How is your academic performance? Now is the time to evaluate and reflect.  What worked and helped you succeed? If you experienced challenges, what were they and why?  Use the summer to identify what practices you will continue into next year to contribute to your success and where adjustments are necessary.  Research resources to assist in the areas where you would like to improve.
    • Use the summer to research. What type of internships might you be interested in next year?  Are you interested in study abroad, Illinois in Washington, or other unique learning opportunities?  Learn more about internship opportunities with the PLAS Internship Newsletter!
        • Stay Tuned!  Check back later this summer for our post on unique and prestigious opportunities at UIUC, perfect for prelaw students!
    • Network! Talk to individuals in the legal profession or to upper level peers who have pursued opportunities that you would be interested in.  Use these conversations to gain insights and perspectives about your future goals.
        • Alumni Attorney Talks – catch up on our Alumni Attorney Talk series featuring practicing attorneys and judges.  The series can be found on this blog!  Just search on “Alumni Attorney Talks” or visit our Canvas page for a comprehensive list.
    • Think ahead.  Planning ahead is key for prelaw students.  It allows you to monitor progress and seek resources if necessary; manage competing obligations with success; and pursue unique opportunities that will benefit your goals for law school. If you will be applying during your senior year, you will likely begin your LSAT prep no later than the spring of your junior year.  How does that semester look in terms of course load?  What will your academic progress/achievements be at the beginning of your senior year (if this is the year you will apply to law school)?
        • For those applying to law school during senior year, you will ideally be submitting applications during the Fall semester (approximately 1 year prior to when you would like to begin law school).  It is important to evaluate what achievements, academic work, and other opportunities will be included in your resume for consideration by law schools.
    • Take time to rejuvenate!  The summer should be utilized to take some time for yourself, tending to your wellness and recharging for the upcoming year.  Keep reading for some fun summer suggestions!

Just for Fun…

As mentioned summer should be utilized as a time to enjoy and relax.  

Here are some suggestions on some fun law-related books, movies, podcasts, and TV shows to check out!

Books:
    • The Color of Law
    • Thieves of Book Row
    • Crime and Punishment
    • The Rainmaker
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • In Cold Blood
    • I’ll Be Gone In the Dark
    • Radium Girls
    • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    • Becoming

Check out this list of recommended books for more options!

Movies/Documentaries:
    • The Staircase (documentary)
    • Find Me Guilty
    • Marshall
    • RBG
    • Erin Brockovich
    • On the Basis of Sex
    • Philadelphia
    • Legally Blonde
    • The Firm

Check out this list of recommended movies for more options!

TV Shows:
    • How to Get Away With Murder
    • Damages
    • Bull
    • Better Call Saul
    • The Good Wife
    • Law and Order

Check out this list of recommended shows for more options!

Want to share your favorites?

Visit us on Instagram to share your top picks!

 

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Reflections from a Law Student

 

Each year, May brings important endings and new beginnings.  It also presents a perfect opportunity to reflect back and gain insights from past accomplishments, challenges, and experiences.  As we celebrate our Class of 2022 graduates we took the opportunity to gain some valuable insights from our graduating students.

Part I: Reflections from a Law Student

Courtney Koenig

Courtney has served as the Pre-Law Advising Services Graduate Assistant since Fall 2020.  Following graduation from the University of Illinois College of Law in May 2022, she will begin work at Thompson Coburn, LLP in St. Louis focusing her practice in Corporate and  Business Law topics.

A conversation with a law student…

Check out the video below to hear insights from Courtney about her pre-law journey, law school experience, professional opportunities, and her advice for pre-law students and alumni, including tips for individuals beginning their law school journey in Fall 2022!

 

Stay Tuned! Part II – Reflections from Pre-Law Seniors!

 

 

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Alumni Attorney Talks

Alumni Attorney Talks is a virtual series which aims to provide prospective law students with helpful insights about attending law school and pursuing a legal career. This series features interviews with University of Illinois alumni working in a variety of diverse settings within the legal profession.

Bianca B. Brown

Chicago transit authority- Chief Attorney,    Torts Litigation 

QUICK FACTS ABOUT Bianca Brown:
    • Law School: Thomas M. Cooley Law School
    • UIUC Undergraduate Major: Political Science and Government
    • Bianca’s Three Words to Describe an Attorney:

Advocate | Insightful |Innovative

CHECK OUT Part 1 and 2 of THIS INSIGHTFUL INTERVIEW BELOW!

Part 1

Part I features a discussion on Ms. Brown’s educational and career background.

Looking for an internship?  Read and listen below in Part 2 for more information on the CTA and their internship program!

Part 2

Part II features Ms. Brown’s role in the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA),  internship information at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and more!

The Chicago Transit Authority has a variety of paid internships available for college and graduate students! This is a great opportunity to gain invaluable experience from the nation’s second largest public transportation system. Internships are available during the summer and school year. There are internship opportunities for students majoring in a variety of majors from engineering to media communications to law to human resources and many more!

Click here for more information about Chicago Transit Authority Internships!

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Alumni Attorney Talks

Alumni Attorney Talks is a virtual series which aims to provide prospective law students with helpful insights about attending law school and pursuing a legal career. This series features interviews with University of Illinois alumni working in a variety of diverse settings within the legal profession.

Featuring: Aja Carr-Favors

Associate General Counsel for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

QUICK FACTS ABOUT Aja Carr-Favors:
    • Law School: Valparaiso University School of Law
    • UIUC Undergraduate Major: Pre-Law and History
    • Aja’s Three Words to Describe an Attorney:

Challenging | Gratifying Impactful

CHECK OUT THIS INSIGHTFUL INTERVIEW BELOW!
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Selecting A Law School

Making the Right Choice for You…

You’ve applied, you’ve waited, and you’ve been accepted – now you have to decide.  Although this might feel like the easiest part of the process, many applicants are surprised to feel unsure, anxious, and overwhelmed once they face making the final decision on where to attend law school.  It’s important to know that these feelings are normal!

As you advance through the application process you gain more knowledge and insights about the schools you have chosen to apply to, what it means to attend law school, and what the most important aspects of a law school are to you.  As a natural result, your priorities and perspectives about the schools you applied to may have also changed.  A school that may have been in the middle of your list – could now be your top choice.  A top choice school, may no longer feel like the right fit for you.

One of the most important things you can do at this stage is to reevaluate! 

In addition to your personal rankings and perspectives, you are also now working with more information about the realities of what your choices may be.  Some schools may no longer be options (aka you received a denial), you may have received generous scholarship offers you weren’t expecting.   This is an important time to step back and assess your situation – reevaluating your goals and seeking out information you need to feel confident in your decision.

Take a look at the following slides for perspectives on navigating your selection process:

Need to Talk? Join Us…

SOUND OFF @ 7: March 23|April 6

Many applicants seek peer perspectives through online discussion platforms and social media as way to help navigate the application process and create community.  Sound Off is a discussion group which aims to create a community unique to UIUC students and alumni who are participating in this year’s application cycle.  Sound Off provides an opportunity to discuss personal experiences, share insights, offer advice, and connect with one another. This is a great way to meet new people and establish a network of UIUC students who will be attending law school after graduation.  We hope you can join us!

Discussion are held at 7 pm via Zoom, visit the PLAS calendar for Zoom link and to learn more!

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January Snapshot

Welcome 2022!  As we start the new year and begin the spring semester, please check out the upcoming dates, deadlines and events for January!

 

January 1: Happy New Year!

January 3: Deadline! Last day to apply for Odyssey Project Internships. Find more information here.

January 5:  February LSAT Registration Deadline

January 7: Deadline! Last day to apply for the White House Fellows Program. Click here for more information.

January 10:  Winter Break is a great to to research and plan for the upcoming semester and summer.  Be sure to check out our Internship Newsletter, Scholarship Newsletter, and Course Recommendations on our Resource Page!

January 11: Marshall-Motley Scholars (for aspiring civil rights lawyers) Program Information Session 11:00 am CST.  Click here to register.

January 12:  AccessLex Webinar “Applying to Law School: A Strategic Approach for Underrepresented Students” at 3:00 pm CST.  Click here to register.

January 14:  First Day of Testing – January LSAT

January 14: Deadline! Last day to apply for the Sidley Austin LLP Summer Pre-Law Scholars Program. Click here for more information.

January 14: Deadline! Last day to apply for the National Public Radio Internship. Click here for more information.

January 14: Deadline! Last day to apply for the Stinson Diversity Scholarship/Diversity Fellowship. Find more information here.

January 17:  MLK, Jr Day Observed – University Closed.  Check out the 2022 list of events celebrating MLK, Jr. and his legacy at UIUC!

January 18:  First day of instruction – Spring 2022 (virtual)

January 18: Deadline! Last day to apply for The Point Foundation Scholarship. Find more information here.

January 21: University of Houston Pre-Law Pipeline Program Information Session at Noon.  Click here for additional information.

January 22: Northern Illinois University College of Law Virtual “Student Life” Open House at 10:00 am. Click here to learn more.

January 23: Deadline! Last day to apply for the Summer 2022 Heritage Internship in Washington, DC. Find more information here.

January 24:  Spring 2022 in-person instruction resumes – welcome back!

January 24: UIUC Career Center Event– “Creating Your Powerful Resume” The Career Center Conference Room 143 at 5:00 pm. Click here for more information.

January 25: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Online Lecture– “Education for Revolutionary Non-Violence” with Dr. Hakim Williams at 12:00 pm. Click here for more information.

January 25:  Virtual Event – “Finding Justice: How Attorneys Help Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking Across the U.S.”.  2:00 pm CST, click here to learn more.

January 25: LSAC LawHub Webinar– “The Year Ahead: The LSAT, Law School, and Beyond” at 3:00 pm. Click here for more information.

January 26: UIUC Career Center Event- “Creating Your Powerful Cover Letter” The Career Center Conference Room 143 at 5:00 pm. Click here for more information.

January 26: LSAC LawHub Webinar- “The Year Ahead: Getting Ready for 1L and Beyond” at 12:00 pm. Click here for more information.

January 27:  PLAS Workshop: Application Roadmap (for those contemplating 22-23 application cycle or later) at 4:00 pm.  Click here for additional information.

January 27: Kappa Alpha Pi-Info Night at 6 pm at the Digital Computer Lab Room 1320.

January 27: Pre-Law Club-Welcome Back Event in room 1035 at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) at 7pm.

January 28: Deadline! Last day to apply for Teach for America for the current application cycle. Find more information here.

January 29: Rolls-Royce Innovation i-Program from 10am to 4pm. Lunch is provided. Click here to register and for more information. Register by January 26th.

January 31: Registration closes for Illinois Leadership Center’s (ILC) i-Program: Blended Ignite. Click here for additional information.

January 31: University of Houston Pre-Law Pipeline Program Information Session (encore) at 6:00 pm. Click here for additional information.

January 31:  Full semester course add deadline

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the U.S. Department of  Transportation Internship in Washington, DC. Find more information here.

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the Office of Legislative Affairs Internship in Washington, DC. Click here for more information.

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the DDR Lawyers Legal Scholarship. Find more information here.

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the fall Driggs, Bills & Day Law Firm Scholarship. Click here for more information.

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the Kevin T. Early Memorial Scholarship. Find more information here.

January 31: Deadline! Last day to apply for the McAndrews Diversity in Patent Law Fellowship. Click here for more information.

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Alumni Attorney Talks

Alumni Attorney Talks is a virtual series which aims to provide prospective law students with helpful insights about attending law school and pursuing a legal career. This series features interviews with University of Illinois alumni working in a variety of diverse settings within the legal profession.

Featuring: Judge Katherine Kern

Judge Kern is a Federal Administrative Judge with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  The Merit Systems Protection Board examines important issues related to the federal workforce. The Board is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems.  The mission of the MSPB is to “Protect the Merit System Principles and promote an effective Federal workforce free of Prohibited Personnel Practices.” 

To learn more about the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board visit their website: U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (mspb.gov).

Quick facts about Judge Kern:

    • Law School: University of Illinois College of Law
    • UIUC Undergraduate Major: Political Communications
    • Judge Kern’s Three Words to Describe an Attorney:

Representative | Story-Teller | Officer-of-the-Court

Be sure to check out this insightful interview!

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Wellness + Professionalism

Wellness has many important dimensions...

But…You may wonder what wellness has to do with law school?

In fact, taking a careful approach to wellness will not only help you succeed personally and in both college and law school, but is essential to being a successful legal professional.

Law students and lawyers live very busy, and at times, very stressful lives. They are expected to maintain high levels of personal and professional behavior, even in the face of time pressure and stress. Keeping your body in good shape is an essential first step in managing a busy, stressful schedule, but other skill sets need to be included in your wellness routines to help ensure your short and long-term success as a student and professional.  Successfully studying law and becoming a legal professional means that you have attend to other forms of wellness as well.

In recent years, efforts have been made to examine the overall well-being of the legal profession.  As a result, we now have a much greater understanding of the direct connection between the state of individual wellness to issues within the legal profession.  These issues include professional happiness, professional ethics, incidents of malpractice, and personal health.  In response, many steps have been taken to help support wellness in the profession, provide resources to practicing attorneys and judges, and to foster a mindset of wellness in working professionals.  To demonstrate the commitment to these goals, wellness in now considered an aspect of legal professionalism with many jurisdictions requiring attorneys to regularly complete continuing education training on wellness topics as part of their ongoing obligations for licensure.

In addition, the ABA also found a direct relationship between wellness and successful law students.  To help you begin thinking about wellness as part of long-term goals and readiness,  we have articulated a few important aspects of wellness for you to consider as you plan for pursuing a legal education.

*Keep in mind the topics below are only a highlight – there are many aspects to wellness and you should investigate them all as you think about your overall well-being and health!

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

There are many, many aspects to your mental and emotional wellbeing – but one area that is very common amongst high performing individuals is stress management.  In terms of study and work, stress can distract focus, decrease efficiency, and increase mistakes. Stress can also harm your judgment in ways that can have negative effects on your professional and personal life.  Stress has also been proven to have significant impacts on our physical health if not managed properly.  Maintaining your emotional health and preventing the negative effects of stress is extremely important.

Unfortunately, the reality is that pursuing a legal education and law profession will create opportunities of stress and challenge.  The good news is, stress can be managed.  Knowing you may encounter challenges of this nature provides you an opportunity to be purposeful and proactive in taking steps to develop methods and skills to manage through these times successfully.

There are many strategies you may employ to tackle stress and developing these skill sets now can have benefits throughout your life.   It is important to make sure you are developing healthy stress management techniques and avoiding relying on sources of outlet that might provide temporary relief, but can create long-term damaging habits (such as substance abuse).   As you begin developing healthy management skills you may need to try different tactics and approaches to learn what works best for you.  Some individuals mange stress through relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, socialization, spiritual practice, and simple exercise.  Some seek a more structured approach through therapy and counseling to cope.

Whatever healthy approach to stress management works for you is right.  What is important is that you identify how stress impacts you and what methods create relief.    Some aspects of stress management to consider include:

      • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a particularly useful skill to develop. Mindfulness allows you to maintain relative emotional calm, even in stressful situations, and helps you sharpen mental focus. Techniques for enhancing mindfulness are simple and can be practiced every day.
      • Relaxation & Exercise. Appropriate forms of relaxation can refresh your mind, and renew the energy and focus you bring to your tasks. If you build a reasonable amount of relaxation into your busy schedule you will benefit with better results in your work. Relaxation can take many forms, from reading, to watching TV, to enjoyable hobbies and socializing.  Exercise has long been proven to provide an outlet for managing overall health – including stress.  Explore and discover health exercise activities that work for you.
      • Spiritual practice. Spirituality can take many forms and does not necessarily refer to an organized religion (although it may for you). If spirituality or religious faith is part of your life, attending to it can help you manage stress. In the busy life of being a law student or legal professional it is important not to lose touch with the spiritual part of yourself. Caring for your spirituality will provide you with many benefits.
      • Positive Thinking and Positive Self-regard. Having a positive outlook is important and has been tied to overall health benefits, but you also need to be kind to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, or fails from time to time. Learn to forgive yourself for your perceived failures, be mindful of setting positive and realistic goals, and work to silence any negative self-thoughts.  We all need a pick-me-up sometimes, in a pinch – consider an emergency compliment to lift up your day!

Below are some additional resources to help you begin thinking through stress management techniques:

Find what works for you! There are also tremendous online resources and apps to help with daily mindfulness, relaxation and stress  – consider trying out a few and adding theses practices into daily life.  Consider trying this online breathing exercise from CALM as a start!

Time management

Time management is an obvious companion to stress management and a key part of wellness.  It is also an incredible tool that can be an invaluable asset to helping you achieve goals in all aspects of your life!

Although you have been busy as a college student, law school will provide new challenges for managing your time. Law students are under incredible time pressure, and professional attorneys tend to be under such pressure as well. Building time management skills now will help you rise to the challenges of law school and professional obligations and provide the structure necessary to tend to all aspects of your life whether it be academic, personal, or professional.

It is a good idea to build a systematic time management scheme that is suited to your life and your personality. There are many time management systems out there, but they all build on a few basic concepts or skills. Here some things to consider when building time management skills:

Organization and Planning. A key to effective time management is staying organized. A good time management system will allow you to manage and schedule  important tasks, activities, and information in your life so that it is easy to manage and execute.  It is important that you think of time management at different levels including daily, monthly, by semester, and yearly.   As you consider your system – keep in mind the following:

        • Deadlines. It is essential that your time management system allow you to keep abreast of the deadlines and obligations in your life, both the upcoming ones and those further in the future.  Don’t forget to plan for the unexpected – consider giving yourself internal /pre deadlines a few days or a week before critical/final deadlines.
        • Format. Because a time management system is essentially an information management system, the format will be important. Many people manage their time using online calendars, apps, or other tools, but paper-based time management tools are also popular. Whichever format you choose, it must work in a way that feels natural to you and be readily available throughout  your day/week/month.

Tracking/Accountability. A good time management system will allow you to both see what is coming up in your life, but also what you have done in the past.  It is also important to find systems to hold yourself accountable to the schedule and goals that you set, being realistic and making adjustment when you miss a goal.

        • Assess Your Time Needs:  Sometimes we don’t truly understand how long tasks actual take us to complete (especially in a distraction free setting).  Spend a week actively tracking the time it takes you to prepare for class, read assignments, commute, make dinner, grocery shop, etc.  Once you have specific understand of your time needs, you can make a good plan!
        • Be Realistic!  One of the easiest ways to become discourage with your time-management efforts is to be overly ambitious and unrealistic.  Set yourself up for success by planning more time than you think necessary for tasks such as homework, papers, class projects, or academic prep. Plan for the unexpected by building in time to your schedule for things you do not anticipate, emergencies, or delays.

Personalization. Finding a time management system that works seamlessly for you is essential. There are many, many time management systems available, but the one you choose should work for you, including being easy to modify to suit your particular needs.

Learn More about Time Management…

Financial Wellness

You may not normally think of your finances as a wellness issue, however,  developing an understanding of your personal financing and obligations is essential for long-term success and opportunity.  This may include taking steps to fully understand your current financial situation, having a reasonable personal spending plan or budget, appropriate saving habits, and planning for the future.  Law school is expensive and most students will incur some level of debt to manage these expenses.  Developing your financial wellness skill set and knowledge will assist you in preparing to assess your financial obligations as they relate to your legal education, increase your eligibility for assistance options (law school loans), and set your long-term career goals.

Below are important skill sets you can begin developing now as an undergraduate student!

Develop Good Financial Habits.  Being a good steward of your financial health and credit history will be invaluable to ensure the widest possible opportunities to you as a law student and law graduate.  Below are some simple steps to begin fostering your financial wellness.

      • Learn to Budget. Creating a workable spending plan, or budget, helps you understand the relationship between your expenses, income, and overall needs.  Developing budgeting skills should be important for anyone considering law school, regardless of your current financial circumstances.  This process will help you think long-term about goals as a professional (salary) and long-term debt prospects associated with educational loans.  This skill will also be critical as you enter law school as you may be require to create individual projected budgets for determining loans, financial aid, and grants.  Consider budgets in terms of monthly and yearly needs and goals.
      • Develop and Manage Credit.  Having good credit is an important priority.  Take small steps now to avoid any unnecessary challenges in this area.  Invest in mastering the following simple steps:
          • Create a bill payment system/tracking process to ensure payments are never missed.  
          • Make all payments on-time.
          • Avoid “bad” debt wherever possible (credit cards) and be mindful of interest rates!
          • If you have debt (credit cards, car loans, etc) make meaningful efforts to bring balances to zero prior to law school.
      •  Saving. As a student the idea of saving may seem impossible. However, building a saving habit, even of a very small amount, on a regular basis will have immense benefits down the road. Consider starting a small emergency fund or general savings to help offset unexpected costs and expenses and reduce potential stress down the road. 
  • Having an understanding of your finances and necessary skills to manage, will allow you to reach for the things you want in life and set you up for a successful financial future.  Below are some additional resources to explore as you tend to your financial wellness.

Final Thoughts

One thing that can be a tremendous benefit no mater what aspect of wellness you are exploring is your relationships with others – whether friends and family; your professors, advisors, and campus leaders;  or connections you make professionally – healthy and fulfilling relationship can serve as a fantastic source of support and benefit to you.

Interpersonal skills are also an essential tool for practicing attorneys.  Creating and maintaining positive relationships will serve as the building blocks for your future professional relationships as well.  Keep in mind that good relationship building can often come down to the simplest steps remembering that professional and work relationships benefit from the golden rule: Treat others as you would wish to be treated. Respect, courtesy, civility, and consideration for others are not just formalities. They are important to your success.

As a law student or legal professional you will be leading a complicated, busy life. Maintaining wellness, in all forms, is essential to being successful. By caring for yourself in these ways you make it possible to achieve what you want in life, and also to make the best contribution to you can to society and the lives of others.

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Where to Apply?

Deciding which law schools to apply to is an important and complicated decision. Unfortunately, some people let their decision making process be dominated by one or two factors, such as ranking or location, when there are many other important things to be considered. The ultimate goal should be to apply to law schools that will be the right fit for you based on multiple factors that will ultimately contribute to your success.

Let’s look at some strategies to approach this decision and factors you should consider as you decide which law schools might be the right fit for you…

The first cut: General indicators

GPA and LSAT is a good place to start in narrowing your list as these are some of the clearest indicators of credentials common for prior successful applicants.  Your GPA and LSAT scores will help you decide which schools are reasonably likely to take a close look at your application.   Medians are reported in the annual ABA 509 reports for each school and can always be found on the law school websites.

TIP:  There is no secret formula here. Being at or above the median doesn’t mean automatic acceptance and being below it doesn’t mean automatic rejection. However, comparing your LSAT score and GPA against reported medians can help you determine if your application has a reasonable chance of success, understanding that the closer to at or above medians you are – the more attractive application you will be.

Once you have a list of possible schools, think about the factors that are most important to you. What do you want from a legal education? Here are some factors to consider:

    • School Size.  Law school class sizes can vary from around 100 to 400 +.  Do you thrive in larger or smaller environments?  Do you prefer smaller classes or larger ones?  What type of school community do you think you would enjoy?  Does having greater access for one-on-one experiences with your professors, administrators, and other resources appeal to you?
    • Location. Geography can be important. Where would you like to be while in school, and where would you like to end up after graduation? Is being near family important,  what  impact does location have on living expenses? Schools with greater national reputations will traditionally have greater success in placing students at a wider-range of locations.  If you know where you would like to live following law school – perhaps schools more regionally located will position you well for success.
    • Scholarships and Financial Aid. Law school is expensive and affordability is an important factor to consider not only during law school but for your financial future. Research a school’s scholarship history, keeping in mind that most schools are awarding the majority of scholarships based on LSAT and GPA (merit based).  Also consider what type of earning potential a degree from a school would offer you – what are the median starting salaries for recent grads.
    • Career Goals. Do you know what type of career you would like to have – public interest, big law, government?  Schools report very helpful details about post-graduation employment for their law graduates.  Research and ask questions to learn more about how schools have supported prior graduates – keeping in mind questions about geographic placements as well.
    • Academics. Look for schools that have the right academic fit for you and your interests. Some school’s approach law study from a more traditional viewpoint, while others may place more emphasis on practical learning opportunities – most law schools will have a balanced curriculum between the two.  Consider all types of academic opportunities that you might be interested in such as legal clinics, moot court and trial advocacy programs, study abroad, class structure, multi-disciplinary classes, and internships or externships can all be important parts of your legal education.

TIP: Do you know what type of law you are interested in?  While your interests may change as you move thru your legal education, if you are starting law school with a strong area of interest – be sure your schools of choice has academic courses and programs that can help prepare you for this area of law.

    • Reputation. Law school rankings may be relevant in the legal world, but they are not everything. There can be advantages to attending the highest ranked law school that you can, but not if it is at the expense of other factors, such as those discussed above. What you want is the school where you can be most successful.
Do your research!

Once you have decided on the most important qualities of a law school for you – it is time to research to determine if a school is a good fit.  Fortunately there is lots of information available to help you decide where to send your applications. Do your research and really get to know the school you are interested in before applying. Here are some recommendations on resources for your research:

ABA 509 Reports

https://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/Disclosure509.aspx

These annual reports, submitted by each accredited law school, give you lots of information about the admissions process. Things like the number of applications received, percentage admitted, and median LSAT and GPAs of admitted students are included in the reports, along with tuition and scholarships and aid. Another set of reports will tell you about bar passage rates, where graduates were placed geographically, and what kinds of jobs the accepted.  Information is reported to the ABA each year, stay tuned for 2021 data which has been reported and will be available soon.

LSAC Website

https://www.lsac.org/choosing-law-school

The Law School Admission Council website has a wealth of information about choosing law schools. They cover everything from finding schools to evaluating them and financing your education. 

TIP: The Official Guide to Law Schools data search allows you to search geographically or with your GPA/LSAT data comparing your credentials to school medians.  This a great database for doing some early identification of potential schools.

Law schools websites

Once a school is on your radar be sure to check out their website. The admissions pages will have a trove of information about what the school is looking for in applicants, along with profile information about the school and its programs. Other parts of the website can be very informative about faculty, academic programs, and student life at that law school.

US News and World Reports and OthER Rankings

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings

Us News and World Reports ranks colleges and universities, along with undergraduate and graduate programs. Their law school rankings should NOT be considered the authority on what is a “good” law school.  However, US News, and organizations like it, compile helpful information on many different aspects of law programs which are easily searchable, assisting greatly in finding many data points about a school giving you more information to aid in evaluating a school from many different contexts.

Organization is Key!

As you begin compiling a list of schools and researching you will need a place to store and manage this information.  You will need to be able to compare and contrast various information about the schools, including deadlines and other factors.  Keep in mind you will refer to this information not only prior to applying, but once you move into your ultimate decision making process following acceptance. Here is an example* of how that information might be organized:

*Data is for example purposes only, please check current law school websites for current 2021 data and information.

Perspectives from our Graduate Assistant

Courtney Koenig

We spoke to our GA, Courtney Koenig, currently a 3L student at the University of Illinois College of Law, about what the law school application process was like for her. Here are her thoughts on three specific application issues:

Location:At this particular stage, I was focused on where the school was located for assessing whether I wanted to live in that region for the next three years. I looked at job placement location at a later stage, once I had offers of admission.”

Credentials: I looked at schools where I thought I would be a competitive candidate. Schools where my LSAT and GPA were close to the medians. I did have target, safety, and aspirational schools.”

 Financial Consideration: I looked at the price of schools and compared that to the cost of living/cost of attendance (COA) for where the school was located. I also considered what scholarships would be available and if I would be competitive for them. “

Final Thoughts 

Applying to law school is a complicated process with many decisions to make. The most important thing is that you identify schools that will do the most to help you succeed. Careful consideration of the factors that are important to you, combined with careful research about potential schools, will help you make the right application decisions.

Remember, we are here to help! You can schedule an advising appointment with a Pre-Law Advisor.  There are two types of appointments:

      • Pre-Law Advising
      • Document Review (Personal Statement, Resume, and Addendums)

Schedule online at: https://go.oncehub.com/PreLawAdvisingatIllinois

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