Planning on Taking the LSAT in October or November (or even January)? REGISTER NOW!

Fall 2019 Test Takers: As we discussed in our August 14 PLAS blog post, the new format and schedule for the LSAT have significantly reduced the number of available slots for test takers.  Consequently, the stated registration deadlines of September 10 for the October LSAT and October 10 for the November LSAT are almost meaningless. In fact, as of today THERE ARE WAIT LISTS FOR SEVERAL TEST LOCATIONS FOR BOTH THE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER EXAMS! If you plan to take the LSAT either in October or November (or possibly even January – see below), you need to register ASAP – do NOT wait until the registration deadline!!  Here is a link to the test center search portal to allow you to determine where there are still open spots for the exam. Remember: the next LSAT administration here at UIUC isn’t until February so you need to consider the best time and location for you with that in mind.

July 2019 Test Takers: Scores were released last week.  You have until next Wednesday, September 4, to cancel your score.  After that, it remains in your LSAC/CAS account and all law schools to which you apply will see it. If you opt to cancel your score, you should be able to schedule your free retake through your LSAC/CAS account. As noted above, you should plan to register for your retake ASAP! Registration is now open for all administrations of the exam through April of 2020. If you encounter any issues with scheduling the free retake, contact LSAC directly at (215) 968-1001.

Some final thoughts/reminders:

(1) Given what we are seeing with wait lists for fall registrations, those of you considering the January LSAT should also register as soon as possible to make sure you get a seat! Do not wait until the December 3 deadline!!

(2) Applicants who took the LSAT in either June or July (and all future test takers), do not forget to complete the writing portion of the LSAT.  Your law school applications cannot be processed until the writing section is submitted!

(3) For more information about the latest developments concerning the LSAT, go to the LSAC’s website.  You can also search our blog by using the search tool in the upper left corner of this page as we have covered these topics in several previous posts.

Quad Day and Building Your Pre-Law Resume

Quad Day is coming! Sunday, August 25 from noon to 4 pm, the Quad will be hopping with hundreds of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs).

Pre-law students often ask: What is the best RSO for law school? Here are some considerations for how to use your free time in a productive, fun, and useful way with an eye toward law school in the future.

What are law schools looking for?

Law schools like applicants who are well-rounded (not one dimensional), productive (manage their time well), and interested in contributing to their communities or committed to certain issues (like the environment) or populations (like children or the elderly).

You can use your RSO experiences to highlight: transferable skills (like working with money or managing teams), time management skills, commitment to causes or populations in need, working with different kinds of people, and leadership experience.

  • How many? Think quality over quantity here. That’s why we recommend 2-3 meaningful activities. It’s just not possible to be president of 15 organizations and work and volunteer and carry a full course load and retain your health and sanity. Law schools do not expect that, and trying to achieve that much can lead to crashing and burning.
  • What is meaningful? By meaningful, we mean:
    • You actually find it interesting and productive (or fun) OR you’re working for the income or the skills
    • Ongoing engagement (over multiple semesters, not just one and done or one evening each semester)
    • It provides some benefit to you–learning a new skill, networking, improving academics, or even a health or social benefit

What kind of RSOs are “best” for pre-law students?

There is no one magical RSO that will guarantee your admission to law school. Think about how many different kinds of law there are–from environmental to corporate to healthcare. Those lawyers have different skills, interests, and backgrounds, and that’s okay. With that in mind, here are some considerations…and keep in mind that these are only suggestions.

A reasonable approach to student activities is: One professional, academic, or volunteering organization and one “fun” organization. (Add more if and when you have time and interest).

Professional/Academic organizations include: Professional, networking, or skills-based clubs and fraternities, clubs within your major, honor societies (if you’re actually involved and not just inducted and done).

Pre-law organizations can be a great way to meet other pre-law students (with whom you can prep for the LSAT and commiserate), network with the legal community, and explore the profession. There are many, from the Pre-Law Club, Pre-Law Honors Society, Minority Association of Future Attorneys, Illinois Trial Team, and many others. (Visit this website to explore all RSOs at Illinois.)

Social organizations can add fun and help you build community and look like a well-rounded student. Illinois has countless options including Greek life and clubs for all sorts of fun hobbies from music to skiing.

Volunteering is also a great way to network, build community, and explore a particular topic or population. It shows a law school that you are a concerned citizen willing to contribute your time to important causes. As lawyers we are expected to contribute pro bono (free) legal services to people or causes in need, so law schools like to see that you are already someone who understands the importance of helping.

Volunteering is especially helpful to prepare for a career in a particular legal area. For example, if you think you’re interested in environmental law, join an environmental organization. If you think you’re interested in family law, volunteer with children.

Do I have to be a member of any certain RSO in order to be a successful law school applicant? 

NO. Law schools are not looking for cookie cutter applicants who all have the same resume and experiences. Take advantage of this by pursuing RSOs that actually interest you! Whether you are interested in the environment, animals, immigration, or entrepreneurship, pursue your interests.




July LSAT takers: A Guide to All of Your Free LSAT Retake Options

July test takers: As you know, this is the big “transition to digital” exam, and ONLY for this exam, takers will be able to see your score, cancel if you choose, and retake for free until April 2020. It’s smart to think through your retake options now, especially if you intend to apply to law school this cycle (to enter law school in Fall 2020).

Tip: Before reading this, you may want to read our earlier blog post on 5 Things to Know & Do For the July LSAT

Let’s talk about 2 important details for considering any LSAT retake options.

  1. July LSAT scores will be released on August 28, and takers will have until September 4 to cancel that score. Given that information, let’s consider all of your LSAT retake options.
  2. The July LSAT is nondisclosed, meaning that takers will not receive a full report of questions you got correct and incorrect. Takers will only receive a score, nothing more, to study from for a retake.

Let’s consider all of the free LSAT retake options for July takers. 

September 21, 2019 LSAT. Registration is currently open here and closes on August 1.

    • July scores will be released long after the September 2019 LSAT registration deadline (August 1), so this will not be a realistic free retake option. Also, takers would have less than 1 month after July score release to prep for a retake, and that’s not a realistic time frame to see improvement.
    • This LSAT is offered on our campus. It is also the last LSAT of 2019 to be offered on a Saturday.
    • IF you really want this option because pushing to a later LSAT won’t work, then you may want to go ahead and pay to register for the September LSAT prior to August 1. You won’t get the advantage of the FREE retake, but you will still have the advantage of cancelling your July score if you aren’t satisfied with it.
    • Those who take this route would be wise to keep up with the LSAT studying until your July score is released (so that you don’t lose ground if you decide to retake), knowing that if you like your July score, you can just cancel your Sept registration and be done.
    • This LSAT is disclosed, meaning that test takers will get a full report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

October 28, 2019 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on September 10.

    • This is the most realistic next LSAT for July retakers. (Demand will probably be high for that reason.) July takers will have 2 full months after July scores roll to prepare for October, which is a more realistic time frame to see improvement.
    • Note that this exam is on a Monday, which may mean making arrangements to miss class or work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • IF you plan to apply Early Decision, then this may be the latest LSAT accepted. It depends on the law school. Check the application of the law school where you plan to apply Early Decision to see whether they will accept November scores…many will not.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

November 25, 2019. Registration is currently open here for this LSAT and closes on October 10.

    • IF you are planning to apply to law school this cycle (to enter in Fall 2020), then this is the latest LSAT we advise taking. (Why? The next LSAT isn’t until January 2020, which is getting late in the cycle due to rolling admissions.) This LSAT may also be too late to apply Early Decision–see the note above.
    • This exam is on a Monday, but it’s also during our Fall Break, so current students won’t have to miss class. It may be necessary to miss work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • For current students–This exam is very close to finals, and LSAT prep will need to be carefully balanced with academic performance throughout the fall semester.
    • This exam is disclosed, meaning that test takers will receive a full report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

January 13, 2020 LSAT. Registration is currently open here for this LSAT and closes on December 3.

    • This exam is possible for those who want to enter law school in fall of 2020, but it is getting late. Remember that in a rolling admission cycle, law schools begin accepting people–and awarding their scholarships–in September.
    • LSAT takers who are applying to law school this cycle would be wise to complete all other elements of the application as soon as this exam is over in order to apply ASAP once scores are released.
    • This exam is on a Monday, but it falls during our Winter Break, so current students will not have to miss class. It may be necessary to miss work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

February 22, 2020 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on January 7.

    • This exam is very late in the cycle for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. Applicants may even miss some law school application deadlines by the time February scores are released; check the deadlines of law schools you’re applying to if considering this option.
    • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break to focus on LSAT prep. And, you’d be done with the LSAT before midterms–always a plus. You can spend the rest of the semester focused on your classwork.
    • This exam is on a Saturday, so current students don’t need to miss class. Alumni may not need to miss work, either.
    • This exam IS offered on our campus. Current students and local alumni can avoid travel costs and logistics.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

March 30, 2020 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on February 11.

  • This exam is not a realistic option for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. Applicants will miss many law school  application deadlines, and many scholarships will already be awarded.
  • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break AND spring break to study. And, you’d be done with the LSAT before finals. However, balancing of LSAT prep and classwork would be necessary throughout most of spring semester.
  • This exam is on a Monday (and does NOT fall during our spring break), so current students would need to miss class, and alumni may need to miss work.
  • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
  • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

April 25, 2020. This is the final FREE LSAT retake option for July 2019 LSAT takers. Registration is currently open here and closes on March 10.

  • This exam is not an option for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. It is well past most law school application deadlines.
  • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break AND spring break to study. However, this LSAT is so late in the spring that it requires balancing LSAT prep and classwork essentially the entire semester. And it’s close to finals, which is not ideal.
  • This exam is on a Saturday, so current students don’t need to miss class. Alumni may not need to miss work, either.
  • This LSAT IS offered on our campus. Current students and local alumni can avoid travel costs and logistics.
  • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

How to select majors, minors, and classes: A Guide for Pre-Law Students

I don't know (Good Luck Charlie) | I DON'T EVEN KNOW | image tagged in i don't know good luck charlie | made w/ Imgflip meme maker 

The eternal question for both incoming and continuing pre-law students is: What major/minor/classes should I take? 

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Law schools don’t require any particular undergraduate major, and the American Bar Association lists skills and values, rather than particular courses, that law schools are looking for in a candidate.

You really can major in anything–but you must create an academic record of success and you should build the skills recommended for law school. Read on for what that means.


Law schools want to know that applicants have demonstrated success in the classroom so that they can predict your success as you transition to much harder work in law school. A record of academic success in general means that you’ve done well, taken challenging courses, are intellectually curious, and possess certain academic skills (more on that below).

Law schools vary considerably in what they consider a “strong” record of success. Check the median GPA of the law schools that interest you here…you’ll see that the median may be anywhere from a 3.3 to a 4.0 at any particular law school. To be a strong candidate for that school, ideally you would be at the GPA median or higher.

But a GPA isn’t the whole story. Law schools also want to see that you’ve challenged yourself by taking upper level classes when appropriate, taking a rigorous (but not crazy) courseload, and taking a variety of coursework.

Balance academic challenge with success. Law schools want to see students who demonstrate academic success while taking a challenging courseload. Ideally, pre-law students would take an academic course load that is challenging both in terms of rigor and credits while still doing performing well. What does this mean, and how can you achieve it?

  • A challenging but not overwhelming course load suggestion is 15-17 credit hours. (This can vary due to individual factors, and is only a general guideline, not a mandate. Think carefully about the right course load for you.)
  • Be strategic in your course selection. Don’t take your 5 hardest classes in the same semester to get them out of the way. Work with your major advisor to determine how you can distribute those courses throughout your remaining semesters. Likewise, don’t take your 5 easiest classes at the same time–use those to give you some relief from the harder classes each semester.
  • For juniors and seniors–Move up from 1 and 200 level courses to 3 and 400 levels in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of challenge. A good general rule is no more than one 1 or 200 level course per semester for juniors and seniors (unless you must do so to graduate on time). Taking easier classes to pad a GPA is obvious to law school admissions, who know what a challenging semester looks like.

Use your major(s) and minor(s) to complement each other. If you have a major that does not necessarily demonstrate lots of writing or research skills, then selecting a minor or secondary major that does is a smart balance. Unusual combinations of majors/minors can also show a law school someone who is intellectually curious and able to succeed in a wide variety of coursework. (Example: History and Chemistry represent two different skill sets. As long as the overall GPA is still strong.)

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework. Getting Cs (or below) is a sign of concern that should make a pre-law student carefully consider their choices.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • I heard from a friend/roommate/sibling/the internet that this class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes on Tues/Thurs so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I only wanted afternoon classes so I didn’t even consider anything in the morning;
  • I wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

What, then, are good reasons to take a course?

  • It demonstrates the skills that law schools prefer to see;
  • I like the topic and find it interesting or it is required for my major/minor;
  • It fits in well with my remaining coursework in terms of balancing rigor and the ability to do well; and
  • I talked with my academic advisor who agreed it is a good fit for me.

You must prioritize academics if law school is your goal. Don’t get distracted from your goal of law school admission. If being president of a social organization or volunteering too much affects your grades, it’s time to dial back your extracurriculars and rededicate yourself to your role as a student. Law schools will not care that the reason your grades suffered is because you were planning a big fundraiser…that shows them a lack of prioritizing and time management skills. If you must work a lot to support your education, then do your absolute best to perfect your time management skills, which will set you up well for law school and practicing law! And definitely tell law schools how much you were working during undergrad in your application so that they appreciate your balancing skills.


What academic skills should you build? Pre-law students must demonstrate strong research, writing, reading, and speaking skills, which can be accomplished both in and out of the classroom. These are the core skills that law schools truly care about, so take a look at your DARS and ask yourself: How many courses have you taken that develop and reflect these skills? Take courses that demonstrate those skills–they can be in any discipline. Popular options include English, History, Political Science, Philosophy, or Communication courses, but don’t feel limited to only those.

Build important personal and study skills. Right now you are building skills and habits which you will rely on when you transition to law school, where the work is much harder and infinitely more time consuming than your undergraduate studies. Now is the time to master discipline (not procrastinating), effective note taking, reading comprehension and speed, attention to detail in your writing, citing your work appropriately, giving an effective speech, and managing your time. All of these are skills that you will be expected to bring with you into your law school classroom. Utilize campus resources like tutoring, the Writers Workshop, the Counseling Center, and the many workshops and programs about building these skills. Not sure where to look? Ask your academic advisor.

Remember that grade replacement will not help for law school (click here for a refresher), so take the time to carefully consider your best course options and seek help when you need it.

Starting law school this fall? What to know, do, and buy this summer!

Congratulations to all Illini who are completing the law school application cycle! It feels like it’s over, but actually, a whole new stage is just beginning. What should you do now and throughout the summer to make sure you are ready to enter the legal profession?

First Things First: Final Application Tasks

  • Seat deposits. Now is the time for making those final seat deposits to save your seat. While some people will submit multiple seat deposits, if you’ve done your research and completed your visits, you need to only place one seat deposit at your selected school. Remember that starting May 15, every law school can see each deposit that applicants have made–meaning that they will know if you’ve put down multiple deposits.
  • Follow up on wait lists. It is very common to be on one (or more) wait lists. Revisit this blog post for tips on what to do.
  • Withdraw your other applications. By this point, applicants have narrowed down their law school to one or two top choices. Contact the schools you know you won’t be attending to formally withdraw. This allows those law schools to offer your seat/scholarship to someone else. Some law schools will have a webform to do this, whereas at others, a simple email like this will do. Dear Dean of Admissions, Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend Your Law School. However, after careful consideration I have decided to attend X Law School (or, I’ve decided to attend law school in the midwest/east coast/elsewhere), so I will not be placing a deposit.  I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my application. Best wishes, Applicant.
  • Send a final transcript. After graduation, you must provide a final transcript to the law school you are attending.

Professional details–You are taking an important step toward beginning your professional life. Start off on the right foot.

  • Get online.
    • Clean up your social media presence like your Facebook and Twitter sites. Would you want an employer or law school representative to see every picture or post of yours? If not, take them down, and set privacy restrictions.
    • Set up a new, professional-sounding gmail account (not cubbies14 or hotty100). Learn how to use google calendar–if you haven’t been much of a planner until now, this is a good time to start getting in the habit of planning your days/weeks. Here’s a good video to learn some starter tips and tricks.
    • Create a Linked In profile or update your profile.
    • Update your resume. Keep it simple and classic–legal employers tend toward the traditional, so focus artistic creativity elsewhere and make this resume succinct and clear.
    • Subscribe to online news and legal resources such as the New York Times and the National Law Journal to get into the practice of keeping up to date on legal issues.
  • Follow up with your professors/recommenders. You will continue to need recommendations for scholarships and for applying to jobs at the end of 1L year and beyond. Plus, it is simply good practice to begin developing long term connections.  At minimum you should:
    • Send a thank you note to your law school recommenders and let them know where you’ve decided to attend law school.
    • Provide your gmail or other non-Illinois email so that they can stay in touch with you after you graduate.
    • Ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
    • Extra credit for delivering an inexpensive token gift such as a coffee gift card or chocolates. You don’t have to spend a lot of money–and shouldn’t–to express your appreciation.
  • Network. Ask lawyers you or your parents know if you can take them to coffee and learn about their practice area. You can use the Illinois Lawyer Finder here to locate lawyers near you (if you live in Illinois) by practice area. Use your networking skills and begin reaching out to any contacts in legal fields that interest you. Remember, everyone needs a lawyer eventually, and most people know or have hired a lawyer. Plus lawyers know lots of other lawyers and can introduce or recommend you. You can already start thinking about what kind of 1L summer job you’d like and start building your network for that.
  • Create a Google Doc to help with your bar exam application. List every address you’ve ever had, every landlord you’ve ever had, and every speeding and parking ticket you’ve ever received. Get all the records you can for these and for any academic or disciplinary action against you during your undergraduate years. You’ll be applying during your 2L or 3L year to sit for the bar in your chosen state and you will not remember these old details! If you’d like to know what details you’ll be obligated to report on your Illinois Character & Fitness application, visit the Illinois Board of Admission to the Bar application here–be sure to click on the drop down menu to see all the questions in Sections A through J. Click here to explore other states’ bar application requirements.

Financial considerations

  • Follow up with the financial aid office of your law school to make sure they have all the documents they need, such as your FAFSA, and that you haven’t missed any opportunities to apply for school-specific scholarships.
  • Apply for scholarships this summer! We posted a Scholarships Spreadsheet over on Compass listing over 200 scholarships for incoming law students (and many which are available to undergrads also).
  • Most federal loans will not be disbursed until AFTER classes begin, so you will need to pay security deposits and the first month of rent as well as buy books and necessary items (below) all before getting your loans. Save up this summer!
  • Buy some important items if you do not already own them.
    • You will need a suit and dress shoes the very first week of class. To get the most bang for your buck, your suit should be classic business formal: gray, black, or navy blue in a conservative cut and year-round fabric.
    • You should also bring at least 2-3 business casual outfits that you can wear to networking events.
    • You may need a new or upgraded laptop–check with your law school to see what technology they recommend and what is compatible with their IT systems. Your law school may also offer discounts. A printer is very helpful but you could speak to your roommate(s) to see if they have one before purchasing.
  • Make a budget. Each law school is required to provide a budget in your financial aid package, or you can find it online. You are not required to take the full loan amount; remember that your loans start accruing interest from Day 1 so any amount you do not borrow will save you the interest too. Sit down and carefully consider your living expenses so you can budget accordingly. Remember that your loan disbursement is only designed to pay for tuition/fees and 9 months of living expenses, and it is not designed to cover costs like car payment/insurance, credit card debt, or travel (for example, if you need to fly to your new law school or ship your belongings there).

Personal details

  • Make living arrangements. Whether you are living in an apartment, with parents, or staying in on-campus housing, you should be figuring out where you will live as soon as possible. Additionally, you should be trying to locate a roommate if you plan on renting an apartment with someone else. Join social media groups for your law school class or speak directly with your school to see if they have a roommate matching system.
  • Take care of anything and everything in your personal life that you can. Get your car serviced, change your cell phone plan, go to the dentist, book necessary travel arrangements, open a bank account in your new city…do anything that you can take care of now. You will not want to spend precious free time on these things later.
  • Go to the doctor and update your vaccinations–law schools will require it. Start or maintain good exercise and eating habits–it’s easier to maintain these than to start them during the semester!
  • Embrace starting over. You have been given a clean slate, so use it wisely. Don’t start law school by being the person who brags about their big scholarship/LSAT score/undergrad accomplishments. Conversely, don’t be intimidated by people in your class with a higher LSAT score/scholarship–frequently the people who will end up at the top of the law school class are not who you would have predicted. You have made it here, you deserve to be here, now embrace the opportunity to start with a clean slate!
  • Finally, WORK HARD from Day 1! 1L grades and class rank are VERY important and will determine things like: whether you can write for a law journal, whether you can participate in moot court, and whether you can interview with law firms before your 2L year in On Campus Interviews (OCI). Start developing a consistent study schedule and the discipline to stick to it. 1L year is not the time to sit back and coast while you adjust to a new life. Remember that law school classes are curved, so by design, everyone will NOT get an A. It is critical not to fall behind on your coursework during the first semester.


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

Note – we originally published a version of this blog in 2014.  Since we continue to experience and hear about email etiquette gaffes (from law school admissions deans – yikes!), we thought we would run an updated post on this topic.

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?!  And, by the way, if you receive a reply to your inquiry, always write a quick thank you for that response!

For more info on these suggestions and for other tips about composing professional emails, read “10 Professional Email Tips” by Elizabeth Hoyt, May 8, 2018, at


Fall 2019 Course Suggestions

Still looking for some fall courses? As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. However, given an interest in law, here are some fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. CLICK ON THIS LINK for a handy chart version of Fall 2019 course options. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. Check out Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

For more info on selecting courses that build academic skills for law school, visit this blog post.

AAS 370/LLS 372: Immigration, Law, and Rights. Exploration of the histories, cultures and experiences of immigration to the US by examining cultural production (literary and visual narratives and texts) alongside legal discourses (legislation, federal court cases).

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning–Understanding financial instruments and tax implications is critical for many lawyers

ACE 306: Food Law and ACE 406: Environmental Law

ADV 310: Intro to Public Relations: Introduces the student to the practice and profession of public relations. Course material covers topics such as the history of public relations and the role of law and ethics in public relations.

Community Health courses are helpful for people interested in healthcare law, such as

  • CHLH 100: Contemporary Health
  • CHLH 101: Intro to Public Health

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 310: The Rhetorical Tradition
  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ECON 484: Law and Economics Applications of economic theory to problems and issues in both civil and criminal law and the effect of legal rules on the allocation of resources.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School & Society

English courses help develop writing, research, and analysis skills.

  • ENGL 199: Career Planning for Humanities Majors
  • ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (same as ESE 360)

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues and ESE 466: Environmental Policy for those interested in environmental law

FIN 241: Fundamentals of Real Estate A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics.

FSHN 101: Intro to Food Science & Nutrition Discusses the evolution of the food system to meet the needs and desires of a complex, heterogeneous society. Provides an overview of food in relation to nutrition and health, composition and chemistry, microbiology, safety, processing, preservation, laws and regulations, quality, and the consumer.

Geography courses may be particularly engaging for students interested in environmental issues, global politics, and/or international legal issues

  • GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment 
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies; GLBL 260: Global Human Rights; GLBL 340: Policy & Governance

GWS 387/HIST 387: History of Sexuality in the U.S. Explores a wide variety of sources to understand how notions of sexuality have emerged and been contested at key moments in U.S. history. Our guiding questions include: How have “official” or governing discourses of sexuality (in law, medicine, religions, science) been formulated? In turn, how have “ordinary” people understood and practiced their sexuality? How has the meaning of particular sexual practices changed over time?

INFO 303: Writing Across Media, a skill that all careers integrate and value.

LAW 301: Introduction to Law
Serves as a general foundation course for those interested in applying to law school.

Labor & Employment Relations offers multiple courses for undergraduates on labor law and employment law issues, including:

  • LER 100: Introduction to Labor Studies
  • LER 290: Introduction to Employment Law
  • LER 320: Gender, Race, Class, and Work

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning This course is particularly helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics This course includes some basic exploration of ethics, including looking at the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State

Political Science options to explore specific legal areas include:

  • PS 101: Intro to US Government & Politics
  • PS 199: Politics, Power and Protest
  • PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 225: Environmental Politics & Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are helpful primers for law school
  • PS 306: Judicial Politics
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship
  • PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project completed in conjunction with the internship itself for academic credit, credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office. Applications are due Thursday, April 4, by Noon.  To apply, click on this link: .  For more information, go here:

PSYC 468: Psych and Law
Examines relationship of the administrative, civil, and criminal justice systems to educational and mental health institutions; individual rights, social issues, and psychological well being.

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 373: Social Inequality
  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law

SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work studies systemic social issues and resources, working with vulnerable populations

Other courses to explore different areas of law include:

  • JOUR 199: Free Speech & the Right to Offend (2nd 8 weeks) What is the law of Hate Speech? Cross Burning? Flag burning? Can you say the F-word? The N-word? Can a judge or the government do anything about it? This course separates the law from the B.S. and informs you in clear terms what you do and do not have a Constitutional right to say and do in America.
  • JOUR 311: Media Law Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age.
  • REL 214: Introduction to Islam History of Islamic thought from the time of Muhammad to the present, including the prophethood of Muhammad, the Qur’an, theology and law, mysticism and philosophy, sectarian movements, modernism and legal reform, and contemporary resurgence.
  • RST 225: Environmental Politics & Policy (cross listed as PS 225) Examinations of the political, economic, ecological, and cultural trade-offs between the use and the preservation of the environment, with particular emphasis on the preservation of land and water resources in national parks, forests, and other reserved lands.
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport A study of legal principles and their impact on the sport industry; the course examines the application of different areas of law including tort, contract, constitutional, anti-trust, and intellectual property law to professional, amateur and recreational sport.
  • SE 400: Engineering Law – note – only prerequisite is Rhet 105. Course covers: nature and development of the legal system; legal rights and duties important to engineers in their professions; contracts, uniform commercial code and sales of goods, torts, agency, worker’s compensation, labor law, property, environmental law, intellectual property.
  • TE 450: Startups: Incorporate, Fund, Contracts, Intellectual Property Explore legal tools used in constructing and operating companies. Topics include: issues with business formation, intellectual property, NDA, contracts, and other corporate legal issues impacting startups.
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law Provides students with a basic understanding of the governmental structure, legal aspects, and practice of local municipal planning, with special emphasis on case law, constitutional principles, zoning, subdivision regulations and comprehensive planning. Gives an introduction for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in land use law and local government planning.

Remember that these are only suggestions and that none of these courses is required for law school.  Further, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify courses that are the best fit for you.

Summer 2019 Course Options

Many summer classes are offered either in person or online through the University of Illinois. Take a look at Course Explorer (available here) and you’ll see lots of great options for pre-law students, like these that we’ve highlighted below. CLICK THIS LINK for a handy chart version of summer course options: Summer Classes for Pre-Law 2019.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

Law 199:  The Best of American Case Law (in person)

This is a 10-day summer course designed to introduce undergrads to some of the most important and exciting law school cases. Students will come to understand how the law school classroom works, experience a broad range of different areas of the law, and engage with nationally renowned law faculty as they present some of the most important legal cases. Following class, students will have the opportunity to eat lunch with the professor and learn more about the class and/or law school. Afternoons will be spent engaged in a focused study and briefing of the next day’s cases, optional social outings, and informational sessions. All students will receive a certificate for successful completion of the course. Current University of Illinois students will also receive 3 credit hours.

SCHEDULE: July 23 – August 2, 2019; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily.

PS 100: Introduction to Political Science (online)

Surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Note: Credit is not given for both PS 100 and PS 200.

PS 224: Politics of the National Parks (both in person and online)

Credit: 2 or 3 hours. This class surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Class meets online. Class meets June 11 to August 2. This course takes a two-week field trip to the Greater Yellowstone Area to study the politics of wildlife, wilderness, natural resources, and tourism, among other topics. Students will learn about sustainability in the region, the effect of stakeholders on national parks policies, and the legal and administrative environment of the National Park Service. There is a course fee of $800 to cover all transportation, lodging, and meals. For more information, see

Political Science 280: Intro to Intl Relations (online)

3 credit hours; Structure and processes of international relations, trends in international politics, and the future of the international system.

CMN 101: Public Speaking (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. Preparation and presentation of short informative and persuasive speeches; emphasis on the selection and organization of material, methods of securing interest and attention, and the elements of delivery.

CMN 210: Public Comm in Everyday Life (online)

Credit: 3 Hours. Introduces concepts useful for the critical analysis of public communication in everyday life. Drawing on communication theory and practice, especially theories of rhetoric, the course investigates techniques of persuasion, offers tools for critical analysis of public discourse, and considers the political and ethical implications of various forms of public communication.

CMN 340: Visual Politics (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Explores the role of visual images in U.S. culture, paying special attention to the ways that images function persuasively as political communication. Provides tools for analyzing historical and contemporary images and artifacts, such as photographs, prints, paintings, advertisements, and memorials. Emphasis on how visual images are used for remembering and memorializing; confronting and resisting; consuming and commodifying; governing and authorizing; and visualizing and informing.
BADM 300: The Legal Environment of Business (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to law and the legal system, litigation, contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, employment law and governmental regulation of business.

EPS 310/AAS 310/AFRO 310/LLS 310: Race and Cultural Diversity (online)

Credit: 4 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp. Study of race and cultural diversity from Colonial era to present; the evolution of racial ideology in an ethnically heterogeneous society; the impact of race on the structures and operations of fundamental social institutions; the role of race in contemporary politics and popular culture.

ESE 360/ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp that may be a good choice for students interested in environmental law. Equips students to write about the environment for various audiences, with a focus on specific current efforts to promote sustainability on the Urbana-Champaign campus. We will practice effective techniques for each stage of the writing process-from defining topics, to gathering information, to crafting active, engaging prose. Readings will include models of effective environmental writing and “how to” pieces by experts. Research will include visits to campus sites and student-conducted interviews with subjects.

GEOG 210/ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to the complex relationship between people and the natural environment from a social science perspective. Explores different approaches to environmental issues, and examines the role of population change, political economy, technologies, environmental policymaking, and social institutions in causing and resolving contemporary social and environmental global issues.

GWS 100/HDFS 140/SOC 130: Intro Gender & Women’s Studies (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Interdisciplinary introduction to the study of gender, women, and sexuality. Addresses issues such as social experience, representation and popular culture, femininities and masculinities, family structure, education, employment, economics, literature and the arts, religion, history, and technology. Explores interrelationships of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, and age from a transnational perspective.

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Foundation course for understanding a range of contemporary issues and learning to analyze them from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students consider globalizing trends within themes of wealth and poverty; population, cultures, and human rights; environment and sustainability; and governance, conflict, and cooperation. Course objectives are to enhance knowledge of human cultures, their interactions and impacts on the world; develop skills for successfully negotiating realities of contemporary societies; and promote values for global learning, diversity, and sustainable futures.

HIST 100: Global History (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. Broad introduction to global history, by exploring the global structures and transnational forces that have shaped human history, from the emergence of agriculture and urban centers to our contemporary global village. Note: Summer Sessions 1 and 2 cover different topics and eras.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. The ability to communicate effectively in multiple types of media is a crucial part of literacy in our society. In this course, students will explore the intersections of various media: print, film, images, sound, etc. Students will consider the ways in which writing–as an object and as a practice–is shaped by multimodal interactions. Also integrates practical activities with broader theoretical issues in order to provide effective strategies for designing multimedia presentations, projects, and texts that integrate photography, video, and sound.

Summer Institute for Languages in the Muslim World – SILMW is an annual intensive language institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that focuses specifically on teaching critical languages spoken in the Muslim World. SILMW is 8 weeks long. It runs during Summer II Session. Students can earn anywhere from 3 to 10 credits for these courses.

SILMW offers the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Wolof

Click here for course descriptions and additional details on the Summer Institute.


Application Cycle: The Countdown Is On!

Well folks – with deadlines looming, this application cycle is coming to a close.  If you still haven’t filed your applications, here are some things for your “to do” list!

  1. Get your applications in ASAP! As you know, this is a rolling application process which opened in September. Now the final/priority deadlines for many schools — March 1, March 15, and April 1 — are fast approaching!
  2. It’s important to understand what’s happening on the law school’s end as you complete your side of the application. Applying at this point in the cycle means that many seats in the class are already spoken for– one school described it as very similar to playing the lottery. As a result, it is difficult to predict admission results at this point.
  3. Financial aid may also be more restricted at this point in the cycle, depending on the school. If you haven’t already done so, submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid/FAFSA ASAP! Even though the federal deadline is in June, both the law schools and the individual states have varying deadlines.  Go here for more information:
  4. Plan your VISITS to law schools if you haven’t already. Many law schools have finished their Open Houses, but you can still arrange a one-on-one visit…just call ahead to make sure that an admissions staff person can meet with you and to make sure the school isn’t closed for spring break.
  5. Are you thinking that maybe you are too late this cycle to get the kind of admissions and scholarship results you want?  Are you possibly considering taking a gap year?  Then mark your calendars for the PLAS event, “Taking a Gap Year Before Law School”, Wednesday, April 10, 6pm, Room 319 Gregory Hall.  This panel will feature current law students who took a gap year or more before law school.  They will share the pros and cons of their decisions and be available to answer your questions.  Go here for more information.

Midwest Pre-Law Summer Programs

Midwest Pre-Law Summer Programs

Summer pre-law programs are an excellent opportunity for undergrads to learn more about law school! Some are paid and other programs have fees and a cost for students to attend. These programs are a different way to explore being pre-law during the summer months. These programs are a great addition to a resume, but are in no way mandatory for a pre-law student.

Some universities offer pre-law programs on their campuses. This is a way for you to learn more about law school, visit a law school and campus, and learn more about law school in a structured setting. If you are considering attending law school at any of the schools below, these summer pre-law programs are an excellent way to get your foot in the door and experience what your life could be like there throughout law school.

Here is information about three pre-law summer programs; there are many other programs in many other locations in addition to these three, which are provided on our compass page. (Not a member of our Compass page? Follow these easy steps to add yourself.)

IIT Chicago-Kent

Program: Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program

Dates: Sunday, June 4, to Friday, June 23, 2017

Cost: Free

Location: Chicago, IL

Application Deadline: March 1, 2017 — Click here to access

Program Information:  The PLUS program is a free, three-week summer program that will: provide participants with a deeper understanding of legal education via the program’s rigorous doctrinal and experiential skills-based curriculum; help participants develop essential core competencies needed to succeed in the law school application and admissions process, as well as insight into navigating the process; and expose students to a wide range of career paths within the legal profession.

Students must attend all classes and participate in all program activities in order to be accepted and to receive a stipend. This is a full-time commitment. Therefore, students must be available during the day and some evenings, and have no outside commitments that would prevent them from giving the program their full attention. Students must agree to provide PLUS administrators with education and career updates after completion of the program.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Program: Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy

Dates:  June 16-22, 2019

Location: Indiana University

Application Deadline: April 5th, 2019 — Click here to access

Program Information: The Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy is a one-week experience designed to introduce undergraduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to law school and various careers that they may pursue with a law degree. If you are selected for the Law and Leadership Academy, you will learn about hot topics in the law and strengthen your academic skills.

University of Minnesota Law School

Program: Minnesota Pre Law Scholars Program (MPLS)

Dates:  Early June – Mid August 2019

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: March 1st, 2019 — Click here to access

Program Information: College students considering law school, especially rising seniors and those from groups historically underrepresented in law school are encouraged to apply. The program is open to undergraduate students (and recent alums) from any undergraduate institution.