Taking Your Time – Gap Years


Unfortunately, the time between graduation and law school is often referred to as “gap years”. This term often invites an impression that this time lacks substance, is unintentional or is void of value. Perhaps, as a result, many students have an inaccurate impression that taking time prior to law school is inherently negative or a disadvantage to their ultimate goal of attending law school. The reality is that taking time to pursue opportunities prior to law school can contribute significantly to an applicant’s success, and can ultimately offer an individual tremendous benefits personally, academically, and professionally.

Whether you ultimately decide to pursue an opportunity prior to law or go “straight through”, every future applicant should consider how a timeline that includes a “gap year(s)” might enhance their application and contribute to their ultimate success as a law student!

Below is a collection of resources to assist in your decision-making!

View this brief virtual workshop discussing Gap Years!

Learn more about the many benefits of taking a gap year and possible opportunities to pursue!

Watch! Gap Year Perspectives Panel

PLAS welcomed a panel of UIUC pre-law alumni to share perspectives and insights about their experiences taking time to pursue opportunities prior to law school. The Gap Year Perspectives Panel was hosted on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 5:30 pm via Zoom. To register for this event, please click here. Learn more about our accomplished groups of panelists below!

Meet the Panelists

Chandler Cathey ’16

“By taking these gap years and finding what makes me happy in life, I was able to figure out how to intertwine that with my passion for the law, (hopefully) setting me up to have a career after law school that I can be proud and happy with.”

Haydn Lambert ’19

“I wanted to get a better sense of what the world was like outside of school so that my time in law school would be more informed by experience.”

Skylar Rolle ’20

“I wanted to make sure that law school was the right choice for me. In addition, I wanted to take the chance to work in politics so that I could go into law school with some real-world experiences.”

Matthew Krauter ’22

“I wanted to have the opportunity to make a real impact with my undergraduate education and be able to navigate law school admissions better and position myself for success.”

Application Dos and Don’ts…

We are reaching that point in the cycle where many applicants are moving into the final stages of preparing their applications. Whether you are looking to apply in a few weeks, or later this application cycle, below are some helpful tips based on actual applicant experiences to assist in your final preparations!

DO:

1. Follow all directions closely! When asked for their best advice, we routinely hear law admissions deans say “follow the application directions” as their #1 tip. Follow the application directions as written and provided – full stop!

  • Example: if the personal statement page limit is 2, don’t submit a 2.5 page document and assume they won’t mind – even if it is well written.
  • Each application may have slightly different criteria or directions, it is important to confirm specifics for each school.

2. Triple-check mentioned school names in essays to match the school you’re submitting the individual application to. If you choose/are required to individualize documents for each individual school based on their directions (see above) – be sure to confirm you have submitted the right draft to the right school. This mistake really happens…every year.

3. Choose recommenders wisely. Those with whom you have a strong relationship and will write about specific experiences and qualities will be most effective.

4. Use your resources! There are many resources to help you succeed in this process. Be sure to utilize the PLAS Office! Whether we help you directly or connect you with the necessary resources – we are here to help!

5. Explore a wide variety of schools. You may be surprised at what you find! Be sure to check out the Researching Law Schools blog post for tips on identifying schools!

  • Be sure to attend a law fair and meetings with schools – there is an LSAC Digital Forum occurring on November 19!

6. Get Organized! Create a spreadsheet, google doc, or other means to organize your information and track your application tasks. PLAS has put together an Excel spreadsheet that you can use to get started. To see the example, click here.

  • Don’t forget about your email! Set up folders to organize communications as you receive them!

7. Apply to a range of schools where you feel your LSAT/GPA are very competitive, competitive, and less competitive (some may refer to this as safety, target, and reach schools). This will open up the most opportunities for admission and potential scholarships, it will also help provide as much choice in the admission process as possible.

DON’T:

1. Forget to proofread all your application materials. Be sure to plan time to give every application a comprehensive and thorough review before submitting.

2. Skip directions. Yes – it’s so important we’ve included it on our list twice!

3. Submit applications to law schools that you do not see yourself attending. Every school you apply to will not necessarily satisfy your goals/wish list to equal measure as another. However, don’t waste your energy or time with options that you know you will not pursue. Instead, look for a better-fitting option that meets at least some of your most important goals and that you could see yourself attending.

4. Write optional statements/addendums that 1. don’t apply to your personal situation; or, 2. that you feel compelled to write simply to “add more” to your application. Only include addendums where required, relevant, and that add new, substantive information.  Doing “more” can take away from your application if it doesn’t contribute something relevant, meaningful, or helpful!

5. Apply late without a strategy. Most law schools admit students on a rolling basis with final deadlines in the spring semester. You should balance carefully having a strong application with the submission timing of your application. Sometimes applying a bit later in the cycle can result in submitting a superior application overall, however, if you will be submitting after December you do want to take timing into account and adjust your strategy.

6. Put all your eggs in one, super competitive, basket! In other words, don’t apply only to schools where acceptance rates are low or where you are at the low end of their GPA and LSAT ranges.

7. Lose touch! You should be making connections with schools throughout the application process, both before and after you apply. This will help you gather important information and perspectives to assist you with final decisions and also in creating more opportunities for you to leave a positive impression with schools. Be sure to make time for programs, events, and visits (virtual and in-person) at the schools you are applying to!

  • Stay Tuned! We will have great programming upcoming this winter and spring to help you navigate the post-application process!

Meet with a pre-law advisor…

The Pre-Law Advising Office is designed to help you achieve success in your goal of attending law school (seriously – it’s kind of the reason for our existence…). Whether you are a senior Illini or an alum planning to continue your education in law school, we are anxious to meet with you!

Schedule an appointment online to meet with an advisor or attend an upcoming workshop or event. We hope to see you soon!

Spring 2023 Course Recommendations

It’s time to get excited for Spring courses! Each semester we receive many questions from pre-law students regarding courses helpful in preparation for law school in advance of course registration.  To assist in this process, Pre-Law Advising has made a helpful chart with suggested classes pre-law students might find useful and interesting in planning and exploring a legal education.

In general, students interested in going to law school should take classes that focus on analytical and critical thinking, communication, research and writing, and when possible – legal topics of interest. The recommended course list includes classes from many different disciplines that might serve one, or more, of these goals.  Take a look at the chart to find courses that are both interesting to you and will help build the necessary skills for law school.

Click Here for the list of Spring 2023 Recommended courses!

Please keep in mind that this list should not be viewed as exhaustive as there are many beneficial courses offered each semester.  This list should be used to highlight courses of particular interest and give a broad overview of options. 

Want to learn more?

See what fellow Class of 2023 Illini say are some of their favorite pre-law related courses at Illinois…

Justin Davis

Justin is currently the Class of 2023 Representative of the PLAS Advisory Council and president of UIUC Accounting Club. He shared the following perspectives on his favorite pre-law related courses…

  • PHIL 102 – Logic and Reasoning – It was a great introduction to applying critical thinking to a text and then writing down your analysis.
  • BADM 300 – The Legal Environment of Business This was my first perspective on what laws apply to corporations. It also provided a glimpse into liability, constitutional law, and the hierarchy of federal vs state laws.

Jack McNabb

Jack is currently a pre-law student of the Class of 2023, studying Sociology and Business & Informatics. Here are his perspectives on his list of favorite pre-law related courses…

  • SOC 364 – Impacts of Globalization – Professor Dill is my other favorite professor at Illinois and his globalization class combined economic and sociology theory to explain globalization trends throughout the world. This course was also reading and discussion intensive.
  • BADM 340 – Ethical Dilemmas of Business – I am currently taking this course and I have enjoyed it thus far. As the name states, this course explores some at large ethical issues facing the current business world and could be valuable to students interested in business law.

Sruthi Navneetha

Sruthi is currently the At-large Representative of the PLAS Advisory Council, president of Phi Alpha Delta, and president and founder of Women In Law Pre-Law Society. She shared the following perspective on her favorite pre-law related course…

  • ECON 437 – Game Theory This can really help with other pre-law-related classes as topics in this class reappear in almost even Political Science class. It also helps people think critically, which is essential to scoring well on the LSAT.

Alex Nevarez

Alex is currently the Class of 2023 Representative of the PLAS Advisory Council, president of Pre-Law Honors Society, and vice-president of Kappa Alpha Pi. These are her favorite pre-law related courses…

  • PHIL 103 – Logic and Reasoning QR 2 – This is the most important course I have taken because it is directly applicable to the LSAT. In this course, you learn logic, symbolic logic, and essentially a new way of thinking. This new way of thinking is directly applicable on the LSAT as there are two logic sections. Because I had already taken this course when I started LSAT studying the logic sections came easy to me because my brain already had logic thinking background.
  • PHIL 104 – Intro to Ethics – In this course it is logic, ethics and writing combined. You cover three hot topics and read from philosophers coming from both sides and then you will write a paper on who you believe is right for each topic. The material is extremely in-depth and eye-opening and it aided me in helping me create good and sound arguments. I grew as a thinker and a writer.

James Weigel

James is currently the At-large Representative of the PLAS Advisory Council studying Aerospace Engineering with a Political Science minor. He shared the following perspective on his favorite pre-law related course…

  • PS 370 – Justice in the Law – In this class, students work through supreme court cases and brief them. The brief style has a heavy emphasis on legal reasoning and other skills important for prospective lawyers. The professor (Ben Miller) is one of the best professors that I have ever had and cares deeply about the educational development of his students.

Considering a minor?

Check out this informative video about the Legal Studies Minor, including Q&A with Professor Jennifer Pahre: 

Visit the Legal Studies Minor website to learn more or email:  

law-undergrad@illinois.edu!

Still not sure what to take? 

Schedule a pre-law advising meeting to discuss course options!

Researching Law Schools

Whether you are planning to apply during the current application cycle or are beginning to prepare for a future year, determining what is important to you in a law school and assessing what individual law schools can offer is an important step in your admissions process. 

What to look for…

Deciding what to look for in a potential law school requires an assessment of your goals and priorities.  As you consider your choice in law school you should include the following in your list of potential goals:

  • Academic Opportunities
  • Geographic Location Present & Future
  • Affordability
  • Career Goals
  • School Size

Learn more about each of these goals and more at our prior blog post “Where to Apply”.

Getting started…

In setting your ultimate goals for your law admission process, the first step is often getting familiar with law schools to more fully understand what legal education has to offer.  Every school has its own unique strengths and characteristics.  Learning about different law schools is an excellent place to start in developing a list of goals that are important to you. Here are a list of resources and tips for getting started in your research.

Connect at a law fair!

Law fairs can provide one of the best ways to begin your exploration and research into law schools.  It provides you the opportunity to gather information and insights from a large number of diverse schools, from across the country, in a short amount of time!

There are many options to attend law fairs each year in both in-person and virtual format!  UIUC students can attend the Illinois Law Fair on September 28 at the Illini Union!

Not on campus?  Not a problem!  LSAC hosts both in-person and virtual forums each year at locations around the country. Check out the list of 2022-2023 dates online.

LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools:

The LSAC Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools is a wonderful database that allows you to search for law schools based on a number of criteria including location, your GPA/LSAT, and program.  LSAC also offers a few specifically targeted resources to help students in their research:

ABA 509 Disclosure Reports

Law schools must report data to the American Bar Association (ABA) each year which is then compiled into what are known as “509 Reports”.  This data includes information regarding career placement, bar passage, admissions, scholarship and financial aid, academics, and student body profile information.  These are one of the best resources for reaching schools.  We encourage you to look up 509 Reports on any school you are interested in.  Please note profile data for students beginning in Fall 2022 will be reported by October 5 and published publicly in the following weeks.

Access Lex – Xplore JD

Access Lex provides many resources to assist aspiring law students, including Xplore JD! Xplore JD is a free, online database that allows users to search for potential law schools based on five primary factors/goals including Location, Cost, Academic and Student Experience, Diversity, and Outcomes. Your answers to questions on these five criteria will be assessed and you will be matched with potential law schools that match your goals! This is an excellent tool to discover new law schools and assess how suited certain schools are to your goals and needs.

Law School Transparency

Law School Transparency (LST) has long compiled and made available important data and information on law schools to assist law school applicants in navigating the law admissions process. Recently acquired by LSAC, LST continues to provide extremely helpful data and information to applicants. Through LST you can build a customized list of schools by providing details and information about your goals. Your personal report will provide suggestions on law schools and also allow you to do quick comparisons amongst your top choice institutions on data related to cost, job placement, bar passage and more! Please note you will be required to log-in to your LSAC account to utilize the personal search options.

Ranking Lists

Choosing a school based on ranking alone can result in a very unbalanced decision that leaves you attending a school that ultimately does not best support your individual needs and goals.  However, organizations that provide such rankings do gather a large amount of information about individual schools which can be researched quickly including specialized programs, average starting salaries, and average debt for graduates.  Ranking lists can be a good way to get a broad perspective on schools or quickly find more specific details about programs.  Use these resources with caution and be sure to understanding the basis for the conclusions that ranking lists make – researching the details further to make your own conclusions. Always keep in mind that many schools can support your success amongst the nearly 200 ABA-approved schools in the U.S. and ranking should not lead your analysis of whether a law school is a good fit for you!

TIP:  Research a few schools you know nothing about, never heard of, or that are located in a completely different region than you think you would like to be.  Even if you may not ultimately apply to these school, challenging yourself to explore something different is an excellent way to discover different options and possibilities that law schools may offer!

Back to School Checklist!

Welcome home to ILLINOIS!  Whether you are a returning student or joining campus for the very first time, we hope you are prepared for a wonderful start to the academic year!  As you say good-bye to the summer and look forward to classes beginning next week, we wanted to share a few beginning of semester check-list items for a successful start to the academic year!

Update Your Resume…

For returning students, this is an ideal time to review your resume and make sure it is current and ready to go for the academic year.  As you review and update, be sure to include:

  • any experiences from the summer – get these items locked in while it is fresh in your mind!
  • upcoming and new leadership positions or campus involvement, and
  • updated academic status or information including GPA, scholarships, awards, and honors.

For individuals applying this application cycle, be sure to set up a time with the PLAS Office to have your resume reviewed.  You can schedule an appointment online at any time!

For new students to campus, be sure to add your new status as an Illinois student to your resume and make room for anticipated activities and experiences this fall!

TIP! If you don’t currently have a resume or feel your resume needs improvement, the Career Center offers a number of resources and advising opportunities to help you get started!

Set Goals…

Being proactive and setting goals is an excellent way to help you prioritize throughout the semester and bring you closer to your overall long-term goals.  Pursuing a path to a legal education takes many years of preparation and development.  Consider setting three goals in areas related to academic, personal, and professional development for this semester.  Whether it be improving your writing through a successful grade in a writing course, creating a consistent exercise plan, or taking on a leadership role, determine a few ways in which you can enhance your skills and experiences this semester.  Keep in mind that whatever goals you set, it is important to be realistic and set expectations that are proportional to the time you have to accomplish them.  

  • Not sure what to do? Feeling overwhelmed?  Don’t hesitate to set up a time to speak to a Pre-Law Advisor – we are happy to help you think through important priorities and goals for this semester. 
  • Tip!  Don’t forget to utilize your department advisor(s) and talk to your professors!  These individuals are exceptional resources to help you manage your academic progress, learn about new opportunities, and plan your future goals!

Mark Your Calendars…

The semester is always full of unexpected opportunities and experiences but creating a strong semester calendar now with important anticipated events, academic work, and obligations can be extremely helpful to your overall goals and success.  Be sure to start the semester off with the following items on your semester calendar:

  • Review your syllabus for each of your classes and mark your calendar now with due dates for big projects and assignments.  Be sure to schedule upcoming reminders several weeks prior to the deadlines to help you manage your various workloads. If you are applying this application cycle, be sure to include goal dates and important LSAT and admission deadlines!
  • Connect with student organizations and be sure to review their schedule of events and programs for those groups you belong to or are interested in. Put event dates on your calendar.  If dates are tentative, but you know the month – mark a reminder for the first day of the month and be sure to update details as they become available.

Join Us! If you are looking to learn more about pre-law organizations, join us on Monday, August 29 at 6 pm for our Pre-Law Student Organization Panel.

  • Participate in Activities on Campus!  One of the most exciting parts of being a student at UIUC is the incredible opportunity to participate in a wide spectrum of activities and events!  Check out the following links to plan ahead for things you would like to participate in!
  • Plan the Personal Stuff:  You will inevitably have important commitments to friends and family throughout the semester.  Be sure to mark important dates on your calendar now so you can plan around these important commitments later.  It is also important to take care of yourself through the semester and make time for things that will contribute to your overall well-being and success.  Be sure to research the many campus resources to help you stay well and be sure to schedule the time to invest in yourself!

Connect with Pre-Law Advising Services! 

Whether you are a freshman student or senior completing your last semester of classes, the PLAS Office is here to help and has something to offer to support you on your pathway to a legal career.  Don’t miss out on these exciting opportunities upcoming the Fall!

  • Want to get involved?  Join us on Monday, August 29 for the Pre-Law Student Organization Panel and learn more about pre-law organizations on campus, how to join, and engage with some of our pre-law student organization leaders.
  • In your freshman or sophomore year?  Check out the Pre-Law 101 Workshop series offered through the fall and spring semesters specifically designed for freshman and sophomore students!
  • Looking for a unique opportunity?  Consider applying for the inaugural Pre-Law Advisory Council.  Applications are due September 1, learn more online!
  • Stop by for a chat!  We are anxious to meet with you and discuss your plans and goals.  Be sure to set up an individual advising session!
  • Save the Date!  Be sure to mark your calendar and plan to join us for the Illinois Law School Fair on September 28.  Join us as we host law schools from across the country here at the Illini Union!

Be sure to check out the Pre-Law website to learn more about the many resources and services available for students and alumni!

Have a Fantastic Start to the Semester!

Application Perspectives

A look at past UIUC applicants…

One of the most helpful tools for any applicant to law school is good research.  With approximately 200 law schools to choose from and a very competitive application process, it is important to have good information to help guide your efforts and choices.   With the 2022-2023 Application Cycle quickly approaching, we have compiled some helpful insights from recent years to assist in your information-gathering efforts!

When to Submit?  Law admissions is a rolling admissions process, meaning law schools will be extending admission offers throughout the application period.  Most applications will open in September and close in mid-spring (typically March) – be sure to check specific deadlines for the schools you are most interested in!  While it is not necessary to submit applications within the first few weeks of the application period, you do want to be strategic with your submission timeline.  We highly recommend submitting applications during the first half of the cycle. Last year, 65% of all UIUC applications were completed and submitted prior to February 1.

Where to Apply?  Determining where to apply is an important part of the application process.  Any school you apply to should be a school that you would potentially attend.  In determining where to apply, you should first clarify your individual admission goals and priorities – these can range from academic offerings to geographic location to cost.  Once you have determined your individual preferences, you can begin looking for schools that will fit these needs and goals.  UIUC applicants applied to over 150 different law schools from across the country last year alone! 

Below is a list highlighting the 50 schools* where Illini students submitted the most applications during the 2021-2022 application cycle. The top ten are in bold.

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
BOSTON COLLEGE LAW SCHOOL
BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
CORNELL LAW SCHOOL
DEPAUL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW
DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
FORDHAM UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
INDIANA U ROBERT H. MCKINNEY SCHOOL OF LAW
INDIANA UNIV SCHOOL OF LAW-BLOOMINGTON
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO SCHOOL OF LAW
MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL
MICHIGAN STATE UNIV COLLEGE OF LAW
NEW ENGLAND LAW- BOSTON
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
NORTHWESTERN PRITZKER SCHOOL OF LAW
NOTRE DAME LAW SCHOOL
SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIV SCHOOL OF LAW
STANFORD UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS CHICAGO SCHOOL OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-DAVIS
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON LAW CENTER
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA CAREY LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN LAW SCHOOL
VANDERBILT LAW SCHOOL
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
YALE LAW SCHOOL

*School names appear as reported by LSAC. Data as of April 2022.

Generally speaking, you should apply to a variety of schools to maximize your opportunities for success!   Be sure to speak with a PLAS advisor or attend an upcoming workshop for more information on creating your list of schools!

A great way to explore and learn more about law schools is by attending a law school fair. UIUC is hosting an in-person law fair this fall.

Don’t Miss out!

Illinois Law School Fair | September 28, 2022

How will my academic program be measured? Law schools are looking for academically accomplished candidates from all majors.  Ideally, your major has allowed you to explore your interests, engage in professional learning opportunities, helped you develop necessary skills for law school, solidified your interest in the legal profession, and provided an opportunity for you to excel academically.  The social science majors make up the largest portion of law applicants each year, but UIUC applicants hail from a wide range of disciplines.  Below is a list of some of the majors* represented amongst the 2021-2022 UIUC applicants.

  • ACCOUNTING
  • ADVERTISING
  • AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
  • ANIMAL SCIENCES
  • BIOLOGY/BIOMEDICAL
  • BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
  • CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
  • CHEMISTRY
  • CIVIL ENGINEERING
  • COMMUNICATIONS
  • COMPUTER SCIENCE
  • ECONOMICS
  • ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
  • ENGLISH
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
  • FAMILY RELATIONS/CHILD DEVELOPMENT
  • FINANCE
  • FRENCH
  • GERMAN
  • HEALTH/KINESIOLOGY
  • HISTORY
  • HOSPITAL/HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION
  • INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING
  • INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
  • INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
  • JOURNALISM
  • LINGUISTICS
  • MARKETING
  • MATHEMATICS
  • PHILOSOPHY
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE
  • PSYCHOLOGY
  • RECREATION AND LEISURE SERVICES
  • RUSSIAN
  • SOCIAL WORK
  • SOCIOLOGY

*Majors are picked from pre-determined titles and may not reflect exact titles of academic majors at UIUC.

How successful are UIUC applicants?  The short answer is – VERY!  Each individual applying to law school should shape their application strategy and process to fit their own individual needs and goals.   UIUC is consistently ranked as one of the top US feeder schools to ABA-approved law schools in the country.  In addition, during the 2020-2021 admission cycle, approximately 88% of UIUC senior applicants were admitted to law school compared to approximately 68% of all applicants nationwide, with the 2020-2021 admission cycle considered one of the most competitive application cycle in the past 10 years (and possible beyond).   Stay tuned for additional details regarding applicants from the 2021-2022 cycle or check out our Instagram to see our featured ILLINI beginning law school this fall!

Meet with a Pre-Law Advising Expert!

Each year UIUC applicants present a diverse set of credentials and qualities to law schools across the country. We welcome the opportunity to support you on your individual journey to law school and hope to speak with you soon!

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.

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!

 

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!

 

 

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!