Scholarships, scholarships! Over 200 scholarships for undergrads and incoming law students!

Whether you’re heading off to law school this fall or staying here to continue your pre-law education, you’ll want to see this: Scholarships! Could you use an additional $500, $1000, or even $40,000 towards your undergrad or legal education? Then take a look at this resource. We have compiled over 225 scholarships available for BOTH incoming law students and pre-law undergraduates.  Below are some examples. Head over to our Compass page to find the full listings–but hurry, because some have upcoming deadlines! The full spreadsheet with 200+ scholarships is the very first item posted on our Compass page.

All UIUC students can access our Compass page. Here’s how:

  • If you are an Illinois student who is designated pre-law: All students who are designated pre-law already have access to our Compass page. Log in to Compass and under “My Courses” look for OPEN LEARNING: Pre-Law Advising Services.
  • If you are an Illinois student who is not designated pre-law: Click here for instructions on how to add yourself to our Compass page.

Here are just a few examples of the scholarships available. Go to the Compass page for more details on how to apply.

The American Injury Attorney Group is sponsoring a $1250 scholarship for an undergrad or law student who submits a 500+ word essay on creative marketing strategies for personal injury lawyers. Deadline: April 30.

American Association for Justice’s Richard D. Hailey Scholarship provides $5,000 to an incoming or continuing minority law student. Applications due May 1.

The Baumgartner Law Firm Law Student Scholarship awards $3,000 to an incoming or continuing law student based on need and commitment to helping others. Due August 31.

Burke & Eisner offers two scholarships: One for single mothers who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate education, and a second scholarship for law students. Due July 30.

Coil Law, LLC offers a $500 scholarship for undergrads with a 3.0 GPA who plan to go on to law school. Applications due May 31.

Dwyer Williams Dretke is offering a $1,000 scholarship for an incoming law student. Deadline to apply is July 1.

McNeely Stephenson’s Legal Scholarship Award provides $1,000 to an incoming law student who has written an article that has been published in print or digital media. Deadline to apply is May 1.

Head over to our Compass page to explore over 200 more scholarship opportunities!

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Taking a Gap Year: Decisions, Timing, and General Advice

The decision to take a gap year is a personal one and the choice is up to you. There are many factors to consider when you are thinking about taking a gap year versus going straight through to law school. Here are some questions and answers commonly associated with taking a gap year.

First, what is a gap year?

A “gap year” is a year (or more) between finishing your undergraduate degree and beginning law school. Students take a gap year for many reasons, such as:

– financial considerations

– retaking the LSAT, and

– to determine whether law school is the correct choice.

Second, if you decide to take a gap year, where should you work?

University of Illinois students have chosen different jobs for their gap year(s). There is not a perfect job to take during your gap year, so do something you enjoy or a job that will provide you with transferable skills. These can include:

  • Project Assistant/Legal Assistant
  • Paralegal
  • Teach for America
  • Peace Corps
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Engineering
  • Campaign work/politics
  • Nonprofit work
  • Anything you want!

Third, if you decide to take a gap year, what should you do before your graduate?

– Find a professor that you are willing to keep in contact with for a letter of recommendation. Ideally, you want to have a recent letter, so keeping in contact with a professor during your time off is the best choice. When asking your professor for a letter of recommendation – provide information about how you did in their class, work from that class you completed, and give the recommender enough time to write a letter.

– Try to take the LSAT! It is much easier to take the LSAT while you are in school than when you are working. Your LSAT score is good for 5 years.

– Set up a CAS (Credential Assembly Service) account and make sure to submit your official transcripts from the University and have them on file with the LSAC.

– Start networking early! Don’t be afraid to reach out to lawyers/others in the legal sector early on, even as an undergrad. A diverse and broad network will help you later on in your legal career and can provide for opportunities for mentorship.

Fourth, what skills should you focus on during your time off that will be helpful in law school?

  • Attention to detail
    • proofreading, if possible
  • Setting professional and personal goals and deadlines
  • Maintaining a good work ethic
    • showing up on on time
    • being accountable for your work product
  • Working with different personalities and understanding your audience
  • Networking

Also, keep in contact with Pre-Law Advising Services. We happy to make appointments with alumni as well as current students. Call 217-333-9669 to schedule an appointment with us.

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Application tips from the University of Chicago Law School: A guest post

This week we are kicking off a new series of guest posts from law school colleagues. These posts will give you a peek into what’s new at their schools, share tips on the application process, and let you get to know the people reading your application.

Today we are happy to present this post from fellow Illini Dean Ann Perry from the University of Chicago Law School. You can also visit UChicago Law’s table at the Law School Fair here on campus next Tuesday, October 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Illini Union A, B, C Rooms.

Dear Fellow Illini—-

My name is Ann K. Perry, and I am the Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Chicago Law School. Though I have been in this position for over 14 years, as a double alum of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign my blood is still orange and blue. I enjoy getting back to campus and meeting with prospective law students. I already met with some students a couple of weeks ago when I was in town for an athletic board meeting. I wanted to reach more students so your great pre–law advisors invited me to write a blog post. You can find out a lot about the University of Chicago Law School on our website, so I won’t bore you with all of those details but do check out our website here. UChicago Law is a wonderful place to study law with a very engaged and active learning community where interaction with your professors happens daily both inside and outside the classroom! If this sounds like a place you would like to study……APPLY!!

I want to give you some just-released information about the Class of 2019. They have recently arrived on campus and classes start September 26 (we are on the quarter system). There are 186 students and University of Illinois is represented! Their median LSAT is a 170 and median GPA is 3.9, BUT it is always more helpful to look at the ranges—our LSAT range is 154-180 and our GPA range is 3.21-4.20. As you can see, these ranges are wide, which shows that we have a holistic review of all of our applications. The personal statement, resume, LORs, and transcripts are as important as the numbers. So as you are putting your application together, don’t take any short cuts and make each part as strong as you can.

And as you prepare to apply, I wanted to give you some tips regarding Letters of Recommendations (LORs), which might seem difficult to get on a campus as large as UIUC. As an alum, I am familiar with the size of some of your classes—I had over 1000 classmates in my Econ101 class many moons ago! You should think about the professor or teaching assistant who knows you the best, perhaps someone who taught you in two or more classes. Those are the people who can write strong letters about how they have seen you develop academically. Make sure to give them plenty of time to write the letter. When you ask them, it is helpful to bring them a copy of your resume so they learn all the other things you do on campus or the kinds of part time work you are doing while in school. Finally, don’t hesitate to clearly ask if they are able to write you a strong letter… want to give them an out if they just are too busy at the time to write the letter.

I hope you have found this information and tips helpful. We look forward to reviewing your application, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.

Go Illini!!
Ann Killian Perry
Associate Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid
The University of Chicago Law School

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3 Ways to Build Your Pre-Law Resume

When you apply to law school, the admissions deans will be taking a close look at your resume to see how you spent your time as an undergrad. Law schools aren’t looking for hundreds of cookie cutter applicants who all do exactly the same thing–you should feel free to explore your interests and passions while building your pre-law resume. Here are some tips on building a pre-law resume that will allow you to explore your interests while impressing a law school admissions dean.

1. Go somewhere.

What it is: Illinois now has tons of study abroad opportunities over summer, winter break, and semester or yearlong programs all around the world worth checking out. Or consider Illinois in Washington to gain federal government/political contacts.

How it helps your law school resume: Like every industry, law is increasingly global in its reach. Law schools and legal employers like to see candidates with exposure to international cultures and issues, along with language skills. It shows not only an awareness of the global scale of local issues but a willingness to work with a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds and an interest in other cultures. Language skills are a big plus to a multinational legal entity. If your goal is to work in federal government or politics domestically, getting those contacts and experiences early will be a huge plus in the competitive world of federal government work.

2. Do something meaningful with your time.

What it is: Illinois has literally hundreds of student organizations (called RSOs) about every imaginable topic. Whether your passion is music, art, volunteering, kids, the environment, or sports, something exists for everyone. Don’t see an RSO about your passion? Start one!

How it helps your law school resume: Law and legal issues are part of nearly every facet of life, so it is possible to link almost any passion to a career in law. First, law schools like to see people with passion, and they want to see applicants that actually spend time working on their passions rather than just reading about them. Second, law schools like to see applicants who demonstrate effective time management outside of the classroom. Third, law schools and the board of admission to the bar want to see people join the profession who understand community/social issues and the importance of giving back through pro bono (volunteer) work…in many states it is required of licensed lawyers.

3. Gain transferrable skills.

What they are: Transferrable skills refer to skills you can learn on the job or in an internship that carry over to other areas–in this case, the legal field. Take a look at employers’ top 10 attributes they want in a candidate. You don’t have to work in a law office to learn the transferrable skills necessary to be an effective lawyer: ability to work in a team, communication skills, problem solving, strong work ethic, technical/computer skills, in addition to working with clients, giving presentations, marketing, managing people, working with budgets/handling money, resolving conflict…all of these are necessary skills that law school does not teach you.

How it helps your law school resume: Law schools and legal employers want candidates who understand how a business functions and who possess the professional skills mentioned above. Importantly, work experience also allows you to explore different jobs and work environments to begin to identify what your priorities are in a career. Do you want a fast-paced work environment with lots of deadlines or do you prefer open time to prioritize yourself? Do you like working closely with clients or do you prefer a less people-oriented environment? Are you looking for a job with lots of independence or do you like being part of a team? These are all elements of the work experience that can help you identify your career priorities moving forward. Now is the time to explore!

For more information on pre-law resumes:

If you’re in the early stages of drafting a resume, explore the Career Center’s workshops and resume review offerings.

Attend a Perfecting Your Personal Statement and Resume workshop this fall. Follow the link for our workshop calendar and register there.

Check out our online resume resources on our website here.

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Tips on Building Relationships with Law School Admissions Offices

ICYMI: Recently Nicole Vilches, Assistant Dean for Admissions at IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law visited to share her insight about how to effectively build relationships with law school admissions office professionals. Here are some highlights and tips she shared.

Why should you make an effort to build these relationships?
For prospective students–You can gain more insight into an institution and enhance your chances of admission.
For admitted students–You can develop your networking skills and begin to build your legal reputation.

Making a good impression at a law fair

  • Dress well–casual but neat is fine at a fair. Business casual is a good bet for most events.
  • Make eye contact and use a firm handshake.
  • Bring specific questions–beyond what you could easily get from a website. (For example, instead of asking for median LSAT scores, ask about a clinic or externship offered by the school.)
  • Don’t approach representatives as salespeople or challenge them to “tell me why I should attend” their school. They want to share information and help you make the right choice.

Tips for law school open houses or school visits

  • Realize that everyone you interact with–from the receptionist to the dean of the law school–can influence the decision of whether to admit you.
  • It’s okay to bring parents, but don’t let them dominate the conversation. It’s your career–you should be the one asking questions and engaging with the law school community.
  • Don’t overindulge (in alcohol) at admitted student events. View it as a business function rather than a happy hour.
  • Pay attention to titles and roles so that you can ask appropriate questions in a respectful way. (Don’t ask the dean about campus parking–ask him/her about the school’s employment outcomes or recently developed programs.)
  • Don’t ask very personal questions in a public forum. Ask for a private conversation or appointment.


  • Create an appropriate email address (meaning one that is not offensive or unprofessional) and check it regularly.
  • Take care to edit all of your written correspondence the same way you would edit your personal statement. Remember that you are still making an impression and typos or overly casual emails will be remembered.
  • Proofread. Make sure to submit final versions of all of your documents rather than drafts.

Linked In Etiquette

  • Don’t send Linked In requests to admissions professionals of schools where you were denied admission. This is very awkward for them.
  • Realize that many professionals only accept Linked In requests from people they know. Don’t be offended if your request is not accepted.
  • Don’t request admission status or information from admissions office professionals via Linked In.

Our thanks to Dean Vilches for sharing her insight during her visit. For more information about law school admissions, visit her website at

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Best Financial Aid Resources for Law School

It’s that time of year again! Applicants have gotten their acceptances and thoughts now turn to “how will I pay for this?” Great financial aid resources are out there, and we’ve done the work of finding them for you. Here is our Best Financial Aid Resources roundup.

If you’re trying to understand how law school financial aid works:

If you’re entering law school this fall–even if you don’t know where just yet:

  • It all starts with filling out your FAFSA. Grab your W-2s if you worked last year, and submit this as soon as possible. Priority deadline is March 15 for many schools. If you don’t know where you’re going yet, just list each law school that you might attend or each one that has admitted you.
  • It’s time to check your credit report! Many law students will receive both federal (government-backed) loans and private (lender) loans, and private lenders will base your interest rate on your credit score. Check your credit report and correct any errors that may exist BEFORE your lenders see it. Go to the only government-provided free credit report:
  • Make sure to visit the financial aid websites of all the law schools where you’ve been admitted. There you will find scholarships specific to the school–and many have deadlines NOW, before you may even have committed. Go ahead and apply–it is always better to turn down a scholarship than not to apply for it at all because you haven’t decided where to attend law school yet!
  • Spend some time searching for other scholarships offered by the American Bar Association or local bar associations or other legal organizations. (John Marshall Law School provides an excellent scholarship listing here.) Searching for “your county” and “bar association” is a good start too.






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I decided on a law school. What now? A checklist.

Many Illini have already gotten their admissions offers and decided on a law school. Congratulations! So…now what?

Post-decision Checklist
1. Follow instructions from the school to tell them you’re accepting their offer. Usually this is done online, followed by making a seat deposit payment.

2. After you’ve accepted Law School A’s offer of admission, contact the other schools to let them know that you’ve made your decision. They are waiting on you to decline your offer before they can extend offers to more applicants. Either follow their online instructions for declining admission or send them an email with your decision. This can be brief: Thanks very much for your offer of admission, but I have chosen to attend Law School A. Best wishes, Me.

3. Complete your FAFSA and any other scholarship materials that Law School A requests.

4. Join your law school’s incoming class Facebook or Google group. Ask the admissions office for leads on new roommates or information on housing. Many law schools will offer a guide on housing options and roommate matches.

5. Make sure to submit all seat deposits on time. Usually there are 2 seat deposits, and failing to pay either one by the deadlines given will not secure your law school seat.

6. Explore all of your housing options. Think carefully about what you need from housing: Where will you study? If you plan to study at home, you must consider roommate interruptions and how quiet you will need it. If you plan to study at school, you will want to consider proximity to school and how much time you want to spend commuting.

7. Follow up with the financial aid office. Make sure you understand your financial aid offer. Is your scholarship contingent on maintaining a GPA? Is it renewable? How and when will it be disbursed? Remember: You will need to make a rent deposit and buy books before your financial aid will be disbursed. Budget accordingly.

8. Send a final UIUC transcript after you’ve graduated to your law school.


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Top 5 Professionalism Tips for Law School Applicants

As you begin the law school application process, you now have increased opportunities to interact with law school professionals. This can be a great way to make a strong impression on the people who will be deciding whether to admit you and award you precious scholarship dollars. It can also mean more opportunities to make those same people doubt whether you’re ready to enter the profession! Here are 5 simple and effective ways to make sure you maximize your chances to make a great impression.

1. Clean up your online image. Many law schools we know will search publicly available Facebook, Twitter, and other online records. Sometimes a law school rep will be interested in an item on your resume and will look for more information online. It is also not uncommon to check up on a candidate before offering a significant scholarship. Make sure your online image is clean–not only of profanity and alcohol, the usual suspects, but also consider whether your image looks professional. Make sure that your online presence doesn’t raise any questions about your judgment.

2. Take care to communicate professionally throughout the entire application process. It seems that applicants know this prior to being admitted. Once admitted, though, those same people sometimes think it is now acceptable to make scholarship demands, call relentlessly, and even insult the school in an effort to get more scholarship dollars. So many law school deans have told me stories of a once-polished applicant acting like a completely different person after being admitted. Make sure that you are taking care to communicate professionally throughout the entire application process. This includes responding in a timely way to any requests from the law school, such as whether you want to be included on their wait list.

3. Dress carefully for visits.  Like the old adage “dress for the job you want rather than the job you have”, your look should demonstrate that you know that law school is not like undergrad. (There is a reason it is called “professional school.”) Although law students at some schools dress casually (jeans, t-shirts, button down shirts, sandals, etc.), when you visit, you want to make a good impression. Business casual is a good compromise between not being overdressed (in a full 3 piece suit, say) or under dressed (flip flops and shorts are not the look you’re going for). A button down shirt or sweater and non-jean pants are always appropriate for a law school visit, or a nice blouse and pants or skirt of appropriate length for ladies. For a good guide to appropriate dress in any situation, visit this website.

4. Shake hands, look people in the eye, and practice your telephone skills. It’s disappointing how many people have a limp dog handshake or avoid looking directly at the person with whom they are speaking. Similarly, an overly casual, rambling, or vague voice mail message isn’t going to help convey your professionalism. (Hint: Practice what you want to say and make sure to include the basics: clearly enunciated name, telephone number, why you are calling.) It’s the absence of these small but important behaviors that really gets noticed. It might feel a bit awkward being so formal at first, but these are expected courtesies in a professional (not undergrad) setting.

5. Consider the law school’s perspective. The essence of etiquette is to consider the other person’s side. How might a law school interpret this email/phone call? What might they consider a reasonable time frame for a response? What information can you provide that might make this conversation flow more smoothly? Are you requesting rather than demanding action? Always be as polite and as prepared as possible when interacting with a law school.

Do these things really matter? Yes, yes, yes. We know LOTS of applicants who were admitted on the spot during a law school visit, or who were admitted from a wait list because they made a strong, professional impression. Remember that law schools still have a lot of discretion to decide who they want to admit and who to give their precious scholarship money to, so applicants should maximize every opportunity to interact professionally.

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So you’ve selected a school . . . NOW WHAT!?

Congratulations!  Many Pre-Law students have evaluated their law school offers and have selected the law school where they will start in the fall!  If this is you, you are probably enjoying checking off your last major responsibilities as an undergraduate!  Here is a practical checklist of the actions you should take this summer!

1.  Professionally let other schools know that you have made your selection.  Follow the Email Etiquette advice from our recent blog post!

2.  Start looking for housing / a roommate.  Usually the school you’ve selected will provide a resource for you in completing this task.  Consider the major financial benefits of having a roommate.

3.  Join the facebook group of your class – or ask the admissions office what other media groups exist where you’ll see some social opportunities once students arrive to the area.

4.  Check your new email account.  Decide whether you want to connect the new account to your personal email or maintain an entirely separate account.  Get in the habit of checking the account.

5.  Prepare your finances.  Assure you have the money to buy books, pay a security deposit and your first month’s rent, and any moving expenses BEFORE the first loan disbursement – which is usually well after these expenses have occurred.

6.  Send your undergraduate final transcript to your new law school.

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Email Etiquette — “Hey” Doesn’t Cut It!

Email etiquette is a critical skill whether you are communicating with law school admissions officers, potential employers, professors or your pre-law advisors! Remember: these contacts are formal and therefore VERY different from emails sent to friends or family members. A lack of professionalism and/or respect can create very negative impressions, which then likely lead to unhappy admissions or employment outcomes.  Want to avoid common email pitfalls? Read on for some practical and easy tips.

1. Salutation: DO NOT begin your email with “Hey” or “Joe”.  You should ALWAYS err on the side of being more formal: “Dear Dean Jones” or “Dear Ms. Smith.”  First names or casual openings are for friends and family only. NEVER address individuals you encounter in a professional setting by their first names until you have been invited to do so!

2. Subject Line:  Never leave this blank.  Instead write a brief but accurate description of the content of the email.  Examples: “Application Status Inquiry” or “Interview Follow Up.”

3. Organization:  Collect your thoughts (what are you trying to say?) and then organize your email into an introduction, body and closing.  The introduction states your reason for contacting the person.  The body details the information you are trying to convey.  The closing wraps up your email, including whether you will be contacting them in the future or if you would like them to contact you.

4. Proofread:  Nothing leaves a bad impression like a careless typo or typos.  Draft your email and reread it, checking it several times for any spelling or grammatical errors.

5. Manners:  Say “please,” “thank you,” and sign your emails with a courteous sign off, such as “sincerely” or “best.”  Remember: anything you put in writing is there forever.  Do you want to be remembered as the polite, interested candidate or the clueless jerk?!

For more info on these suggestions and for other tips about composing professional emails, read “10 Professional Email Tips” by Elizabeth Hoyt, March 10, 2014, at

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