Summer 2015 Pre-Law Programs

Still trying to figure out what to do this summer to either make yourself a better applicant or prepare for law school?  Several law schools have summer pre-law programs with deadlines approaching. We have provided information for some of these below. For more info about other summer pre-law programs, go to the PLAS Compass page and click on “Summer Pre-Law Programs.”

Harvard/NYU Trials Program: Harvard Law School – June 28-August 7, 2015 Applications DUE NEXT FRIDAY, February 27, 2015

Trials is a unique partnership of NYU School of Law, Harvard Law School, and the Advantage Testing Foundation. It is a fully subsidized/full scholarship summer study program for students of modest means whose backgrounds are currently underrepresented at the nation’s top law schools. Students are not responsible for any tuition, fees, or related expenses. In addition, each Trials student also receives a $3,000 stipend to replace or supplement summer employment income.

In addition to the academic curriculum of the program, every Trials student will receive:

  • Transportation to and from the host university campus (Harvard Law School in 2015)
  • Campus housing for the duration of the five-week program
  • Three daily meals at the campus dining hall
  • Access to the host university’s library, computer centers, and gym

Each week, senior instructors from Advantage Testing prepare Trials students for the LSAT by deconstructing the test and presenting a step-by-step approach to each question type. Students maintain a rigorous practice testing schedule, frequently sitting for full-length official LSATs under simulated testing conditions. Working closely with their instructors, students learn to develop an individualized study plan, focus their preparation, and apply the core principles they master.

Trials students also attend lectures presented by prominent lawyers, public figures, and legal scholars, including distinguished faculty from both NYU Law and Harvard Law School. These lectures provide a wide-ranging introduction to the study and practice of the law while giving students the opportunity to ask specific questions related to their particular fields of interest.

Perhaps most important, Trials allows students to experience communities similar to those they will encounter in law school. Students form study groups to challenge, motivate, and inspire one another. In lunches with instructors and speakers, students can take part in informal discussions to learn more about the law, their peers, and themselves.

Finally, Trials is committed to taking full advantage of the resources of its host locations. Students enter the field in Boston and New York City to meet with and observe lawyers at work, garnering practical experience that complements the academic curriculum.  This year’s program will be held at Harvard Law School June 28- August 2, 2015.  Applications are due February 27, 2015. Click here for more information or to apply.


ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law PLUS Program: May 31-June 19, 2015.  Applications due March 2, 2015

The IIT Chicago-Kent Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars program (“PLUS”) offers a unique and unforgettable experience for college students who are interested in the legal profession. This rigorous three-week program is designed to provide students with a “taste” of the law school experience. The program is primarily directed at undergraduate college students from disadvantaged groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession.

The PLUS program is a three-week summer institute which will: (1) introduce participants to law school and the legal profession; (2) provide participants with substantive skills to strengthen their preparation for law school; and (3) educate and prepare participants for the law school application and admission process. Students must attend all classes and participate in all program activities to receive a stipend. Because this is a full-time commitment, students must agree not to have any outside commitments that would prevent them from giving the program their full attention.

The PLUS program targets college students who have just completed either their first, second or third year in college. All students are encouraged to apply who will not have received their bachelor degree by the start of the program, but preference will be given to those who will have completed their first and second years of college by the start of the program. Students who have already completed a bachelor degree are not eligible for the program. For additional information, please download the application packet or contact Theda Mickey, Administrative Director-PLUS Program, at if you have any questions. Applicants must submit a $30 application fee.  In addition, accepted applicants will be required to submit a $70 seat deposit.  Both of these fees are non-refundable. Download PLUS Application

Download PLUS Brochure

2014 PLUS Program Schedule


CLEO Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) Prelaw Seminar:

John Marshall Law School, July 11-12, 2015

Applications Due: April 1, 2015

Goal: To prepare talented, motivated, yet under-represented students to successfully gain admission to and succeed in law school.

Overview: The ASAP program curriculum will focus on aspects of the law school application process that are commonly overlooked or undervalued by students when applying to law school.

The ASAP curriculum seminar includes the following sessions:

  • Selecting a law school
  • Drafting an effective personal statement
  • Choosing sources for letters of recommendations
  • Preparation strategies for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
  • The impact of LSAT scores and Grade Point Averages (GPA) in the selection process
  • The significance of the early application process offered by many law schools
  • Debt management and developing credit worthiness
  • Common errors committed by law school applicants

Advantages of being an ASAP participant include:

  • Provides a head start on the law school admissions process
  • Establishes mentoring relationships with CLEO students in law school
  • Nominal fee
  • Meals provided
  • Opportunity to network with Attitude Is Essential (AIE) participants from around the country
  • An opportunity you don’t want to miss

Targeted Students:

  • ASAP is open to college juniors and seniors, as well as post-graduates.

Click here to Register online for the ASAP program.

CLEO Attitude Is Essential Seminar

John Marshall Law School — July 11 & 12, 2015

The first year of law school is the most important year.  Employers hire second year law students primarily based on their first year GPA. If you want to hear them say “You’re Hired,” and you want to be more than a law school survivor, then you need the right attitude to take control of your legal education.

At the “Attitude is Essential” (AIE) seminar, you will:

  • Develop the skills you need to take control over your own law school learning process
  • Learn how to:
    • Read and brief opinions
    • Prepare for law school exams, including the best practices for memorizing all the law you need for your exams
    • Write exams using the IRAC form
    • Conquer your workload, time, and stress in law school
  • Experience the Socratic Method by participating in a Mock Law School Class
  • Write a contracts essay exam and debrief the experience
  • Discover the benefits of study groups and how to make sure your groups are productive and not dysfunctional
  • Begin to build a network of other successful law students

Who should attend? All students who intend to begin law school in the fall of 2015.

What is required?  Applicants must have been admitted to a law school, submit an online application, and pay a $200 registration fee.

Click here for more information or to register online for the AIE Seminar.


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The Law School Decision, Looking Back: Attorneys’ Reflections

As undergraduate students with a pre-law major or membership in a pre-law society, you no doubt have heard how critical it is for you to make a sober and reasoned decision about whether you want to go to law school, and, perhaps more importantly,  whether you want to be a lawyer. It is rightly framed as an important decision, but it is one that people handle in different ways.

Below, six attorneys from different legal fields discuss how they felt and what they thought when making the decision to go to law school. We ask them for one piece of advice they wished they had known, or heard, when they were younger and facing this monumental decision.

Participating Attorneys:

Tony Munter: A whistleblower and False Claims Act attorney in the DC-metropolitan area, who primarily handles qui tam actions fighting fraud against the government. For more information about Tony Munter and qui tam actions, click here.

Kaveh Miremadi: A federal criminal defense and OFAC sanctions attorney. He provides clients with compliance, requests for reconsideration, SDN list removal, risk assessment, and internal audits. To learn more about Kaveh Miremadi’s background and OFAC law, visit this page.

Edward Tayter: A Maryland criminal lawyer who focuses on traffic and drunk driving cases, including DUI, DWI, driving while suspended, and restricted licenses. Information about Edward Tayter is available here.

April Cockerham: An immigration attorney who works out of DC. She represents clients in deportation proceedings, family and humanitarian-based petitions for visas and asylum, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) applications for domestic abuse victims. More information about April’s background and practice is available here.

Peter Biberstein: A personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer who represents clients in Virginia and DC. He handles a variety of personal injury cases, dangerous product cases, and disability claims. Visit this page for more information on Mr. Biberstein.

Terry Eaton: A DC and federal criminal defense attorney who handles white collar and government investigation cases. He is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, and he was also a commercial litigator. Learn more about Terry’s background and practice here.

What one piece of advice do you wish you had known, or heard, when you were younger and facing the monumental decision of whether to apply to law school?

Tony Munter: Unfortunately, I think it is a much more difficult environment for young people attempting to get a law degree now to make a career through the law than it was when I was younger.  Now law degrees cost much more than in the past, and the legal market is much more competitive. Therefore, an analysis of the costs and benefits makes sense.  It would be most helpful to know what area of law a young person wants to pursue and or what other skills or job experience a person can add to a law degree. One thing that is almost impossible to prepare for is the degree to which going to law school, any law school, will take over every aspect of life. It’s a major commitment.  So, think about what you will do with the degree when you finish. It may not work out the way you plan but even a bad plan has more chance of a serendipitous result than no plan.

Kaveh Miremadi: Be true to yourself and focus on an area of law that interests you.  Don’t let yourself be distracted by the people in law school who think there is only one path to success.  Identifying and then acting towards your true interests will help you succeed and find a satisfying career.

Edward Tayter: The best advice that I can give for deciding whether or not to go to law school is to really understand what the day-to-day work-life of an attorney is.  Very little of a lawyer’s work is correctly portrayed in popular media.  It’s extremely important to know what you are getting into, before committing three years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars of your money to a legal education.

April Cockerham: Do an internship or get a job in the legal field before you start and consider where you want to be after you graduate when choosing a law school. Often, the friends and connections you make while you’re a law student can be extremely important when you’re starting out as a new lawyer. If you’re really committed to ending up in a particular geographic region, it’s definitely something to take into consideration.

Peter Biberstein: Go work for a year or two before going back to school. Work experience will make you more a more marketable candidate, will give you a better perspective on life, and will provide a financial cushion for your future.

Terry Eaton: If I could go back and give my younger self some pre-law school advice it would be this: take your time, relax, breathe, and learn to smell the roses.  I spent way too much time in law school obsessing over grades and wondering if I was smart enough.  The zero sum game of cold calling on students in law school lectures and high stakes all-or-nothing final exams only breads the ultra-competitive law student behavior Scott Turrow famously characterized in his book One L.  It turns out that law school is not random and the people who study hard actually do make good grades.  I truly wish I had spent more time exercising, having a good diet, and spending time on the weekends with my family.  My law school grades were good and at graduation I had earned a federal clerkship followed by a job at a prestigious and big Washington, DC law firm.  Had I slowed down and enjoyed my experience more, I don’t think the outcome would have changed one bit. Mark Twain said it best: “I’ve been through some terrible things in life, some of which actually happened.”  My advice to future law students is to study hard, but take time out for yourself to enjoy life.  Believe me, you’ll be happy you did it.

Submitted by: Oliver Krischik

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Summer Pre-Law Programs

Interested in participating in a summer pre-law program?  Here is some information about opportunities that we have heard about and are passing along to you.  Applications for most of these are up and due in the next few weeks.  In fact, the application for the Chicago Kent PLUS Scholars Program is due next Monday, March 3!  Scroll down for more information!! Also — if you are still looking for summer internships, take another look at our Internship Newsletter, which we first posted in December and have re-posted several times.

Legal Education Access Program (LEAP)

Prelaw Summer Institute (PLSI)


The John Marshall Law School will be offering two summer pipeline programs for prelaw students. Both programs will run from Monday, July 28, 2014 through Friday, August 1, 2014 on The John Marshall Law School campus

Legal Education Access Program (LEAP) is a program for college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates interested in pursuing a legal career. This program will support diversity in the legal profession by inspiring students from groups historically under-represented in the law to become lawyers.

The program will bring together students from diverse backgrounds and provide them with the training necessary to successfully prepare and navigate the road to law school. The program will also introduce students to the law school application process and extinguish any apprehensions about applying and gaining admission.  (Housing and some meals will be provided.)

For more information please visit:

Pre-Law Summer Institute (PLSI) prepares historically under-represented minorities for the legal profession by introducing students to the rigors of law school. PLSI is designed to simulate the academic challenges of the first year of law school. PLSI concentrates on giving students law classes, LSAT preparation, resume preparation, career orientation, and exposure to various areas of the law. Students will learn skills on legal research and study, analysis, legal writing, and trial advocacy. PLSI is essentially a pre-law orientation that is based on teaching sound legal education principles.  (This is a non-residential program.)

For more information please visit:

These programs are designed to be rich in content that will assist students in preparing for the rigors of law school.  Note: admissions are rolling for both programs so interested students are encouraged to apply ASAP!  Your $25 application fee will be credited toward your registration fee if you are accepted and you register before Friday, May 2, 2014. Questions? ContactTroy A. Riddle, Director of Diversity Affairs and Outreach
The John Marshall Law School 312-987-1412

Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

PLUS Scholars Program — June 1-20, 2014

Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is sponsoring a Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program from June 1 through June 20, 2014.   The “RECEIVED” by deadline to submit the application is this Monday, March 3, 2014. 

The PLUS program is a unique and rigorous three-week experience for current college freshmen, sophomores or juniors interested in the legal profession.  The goal is to provide students with a “taste” of the law school experience and introduce them to the admissions process.  Students will attend classes taught by IIT Chicago-Kent law professors, recognized as some of the most productive and accomplished law professors in the nation.  The program is designed to attract disadvantaged students and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.  The program will cover the cost of tuition, room in a residence hall, required course materials and other expenses.  Participants are paid a stipend to offset some of their meal and other expenses.  The program does not pay for any transportation expenses.

For more information and to download the application, go here: If you have questions, please contact Theda Mickey at 312-906-5133 or

 Florida State University College of Law — Summer for Undergraduates 2014 Program: May 19 – June 12, 2014

The Florida State University Law School is currently accepting applications for its 2014 Summer for Undergraduates program, which provides students with an inside look at law school and the legal profession. All undergraduate students, except graduating seniors, are eligible to apply. Applicants will be notified of admission decisions around mid-April. 

Approximately 60 students will be selected to participate in this four-week program.  Daily lectures by an Florida State Law professor will familiarize students with the functions of the American legal system.  In addition, participants will also be exposed to LSAT overview workshops and a simulated exam, law school admissions sessions, visits to local state and federal courts and law offices, and guest lectures by prominent attorneys in a variety of practice areas.

The FSU College of Law provides free room and board, course materials and a travel stipend to all participants.  There is no program tuition but participants are responsible for their travel expenses to and from Tallahassee.  To apply, students must complete the online application and submit a resume, one letter of recommendation, a personal statement and a current transcript.  Applications must be submitted by Friday, March 28, 2014.  For more information or to apply, visit  

Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) — July 19 – 20, 2014 

The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois

Preparing talented, motivated, yet under-represented students to successfully gain admission to and succeed in law school.  Sponsored by the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), the ASAP program curriculum will focus on aspects of the law school application process that are commonly overlooked or undervalued by students when applying to law school.

  • Selecting a law school,
  • Writing an effective personal statement,
  • Choosing sources for letters of recommendations,
  • Preparing strategies for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and understanding the impact of LSAT scores and Grade Point Averages (GPA) in the selection process,
  • Understanding the significance of the early application process offered by many law schools
  • Managing debt and developing credit worthiness
  • Common errors committed by law school applicants

For more information about ASAP go here! Interested in applying? Apply online NOW!

CLEO is a non-profit project of the American Bar Association.  Since 1968, CLEO has helped more than 7,000 low-income and minority students become successful members of the legal profession.  The College Scholars Program seeks to continue this standard of excellence through a collaborative effort between CLEO and colleges and universities throughout the United States.   

Other Summer Programs

Some universities also offer summer pre-law programs that include a wide range of tuition and other fees.  Make sure you carefully research all of the costs associated with these programs before you commit to anything.  

  • The University of Kansas offers its six-credit Legal History Program in Cambridge, England, July 5-August 1. Students will, among other things, take courses that explore the deep connections between the cultural and legal history of England and America, and study and compare the origins, purposes and current controversies of contemporary legal regimes in the United States and Great Britain. The application deadline is THIS FRIDAY, March 1.  Questions? Contact Professor Kim Warren, Program Director and Associate Professor of History,  Go here for more information about the program, the cost and to apply:  
  • Cornell University hosts its Summer Pre-Law Program in New York City, June 2-July 11. The program features a four-credit course, “Introduction to the American Legal System,” taught using the Socratic method used at most U.S. law schools and offers a limited number of selective internship placements. Admission to the program is on a rolling basis. Because enrollment is limited, you’re encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications will be accepted until the program is full. For more information about Cornell’s program, the cost to participate and to apply, go to:
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Finals Prep – Like a 1L

There’s no better time to build the habit of solid finals preparation than now.  So as you prepare for this round of finals see if you can implement these strategies so that 1L . . . and 2L . . . and beyond . . . don’t seem so overwhelming.

Here’s another sip of coffee and another hour of prep – thinkin’ of you 😉

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A Few Thoughts for Future 1Ls from a UIUC Alum at Yale Law School

This posting was written by Stanley Richards, UIUC Class of 2012. He graduated with a BA in Political Science and BS in Public Policy in Law. He is a Student Director for the Yale Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and Online Editor for the Yale Journal of Regulation. He is currently trying out for the Yale Law Journal.


I am glad I did not consult many online “resources” before coming to law school. Any basic Internet search on “law school preparation” or some variant of this yields a plethora of links to websites and posts created by people and institutions of questionable credibility. Much of the advice and “myth-busting” does more to encourage anxiety than to mitigate it. I was excited by this opportunity to blog because I want to tell those of you who are applying to law school or that have already been accepted a little bit of inside knowledge that I have gained as a Yale 1L. Most of this will ease any concerns you future lawyers have; I have selected mostly those things I wish I knew before going to law school.

I think the most important discovery I have had is this: three years in law school is a very short amount of time. The timeline for firm jobs and clerkship placement makes this time even shorter and more hectic. If you are gunning for a firm job you will be likely be interviewed for it the summer before your 2L year and be extended a permanent offer of employment the summer before your 3L year. Interviews for clerkships in the federal courts continue to be moved further and further earlier in the calendar. Law students, therefore, will have only about one year to really make their mark and build their resumes to impress their future employers. For instance, the firms that will interview me this coming summer will only have two semesters worth of grades to look at (in fact, only one semester of “real” grades because Yale Law does not do traditional grades first semester 1L year)! So, 1Ls are well advised to be prepared to do a lot their first year. It is not like undergrad wherein one can cruise the first year doing Gen-Eds and getting acclimated to campus life, planning to pull up their GPA in subsequent years if need be. You will be rewarded later for getting involved in clinics, secondary journals, and doing meaningful substantive research your 1L year.

Secondly, there are so many opportunities in law school. Popular myth has it that law school is a combative and a zero-sum game. This is just not true. Do not get me wrong, there are passive-aggressive people. There are “gunners” who just ask too many questions in class and do not give others a chance to talk. But, on the whole, considering law schools tend to be full of ambitious people, the atmosphere is relatively collaborative. With the numerous journal offerings, research opportunities with professors, clinics, and courses, there are plenty of places where people can succeed and make their mark. I remember being concerned that I would lose in this zero-sum game and being intimidated by the numerous students from very elite schools or who seemed to have saved the world three times over before coming to law school. I realized within a few weeks such anxieties were ill-founded and that there was plenty of opportunity to succeed.

Third and finally, write early and write often. Student scholarship is a big deal and it is not limited to the particular institution’s law journal. Professors are often eager to work with equally eager students, and it is excellent in interviews to be able to speak about one’s research.

These are just a few of the many things about Yale Law that have surprised me. I will admit that some of these observations may speak more to the reality at Yale than at law schools generally, but I think many law students who were very anxious before 1L year will agree with a lot of what I am saying.


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Spring Break Edition: Things To Do

Spring Break starts at the end of this week.  Here are some suggestions for how to use the break wisely.  

Seniors Applying This Cycle

1. Applications. If you haven’t already done so….submit your applications!!!!!  I know several law schools have extended their deadlines but this is a rolling process and many schools have few if any seats (or financial aid) left to give to applicants.

2. Decision Time.  For those of you that submitted applications much earlier this cycle and consequently are now weighing all your options — really evaluate your offers and try to come to a decision in the next couple of weeks.  Those of you who have been in to see me have been advised to create a table or spreadsheet listing the items most important to you (i.e., cost/scholarship, employment numbers, bar passage rate, location) to help you decide among your offers.  Also make plans to visit the law schools if you haven’t already done so — you would be surprised about the number of students who love a school on paper but are not thrilled with the school once they visit.  Law school is a HUGE investment — find the time to visit the schools!!!!

Juniors Applying in the Fall

1. Letters of Recommendation. Start thinking about whom you should ask to write your letters of recommendation and plan to request your LORs BEFORE you leave campus for the summer.  Applicants frequently make the mistake of waiting until fall to approach their professors and then find themselves waiting quite a while.  Your professors are busy so you need to plan ahead to give them enough time to write your letters… and the letters that others are requesting.

2. Attend PLAS Programs! Attending our upcoming PLAS programs will help you get a jump start on your applications.  Remember — most law schools admit applicants on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better!

  • Financing Law School, Monday April 1, 5-6pm, College of Law, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue, Classroom A. Our Financial Aid Series continues! With so many different aid offers from various law schools….how do students choose? Julie Griffin, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the College of Law, and Donna Davis, a current 2L and Pre-Law Advising Graduate Assistant, are here to walk you through it! Ms. Griffin and Ms. Davis will show you what a law school financial aid offer looks like and demonstrate how to evaluate aid packages and make fair comparisons among schools. No registration required. 
  • Applying to Law School — A Workshop for Fall Applicants — Monday, April 15, 4-5:00 pm, Room 1027 Lincoln Hall. Applying to law school early in the application cycle can result in more admission offers, more aid, and much less stress. This workshop is designed for students who will be applying to law school this fall and want to maximize their law school opportunities. We will provide an overview of the law school application process and share a timeline for optimal application results. No registration required.
  • Personal Statement Workshop for Fall Applicants — Thursday, April 18, 12-1:00pm, Room 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.  Law school applicants consistently say that the personal statement took much more time to write than they expected. This workshop will provide an overview of the personal statement and the resume for law school applications. Please register by clicking on this link to our Event Calendar. Once there, please select this event and then click on “register.”  Registration is required so that we can provide enough seating and materials for everyone.

All Pre-Law Students

1. Find and apply for summer internships NOW.  Not sure where to start?  Go here,, to access our Internship Newsletter that was originally posted on December 20.  It contains 17 pages of information on internships and jobs.  Many of these postings have March deadlines so start looking now!

2. Stay informed… about all of our PLAS Programs, information sessions, updates on the legal profession, etc.  How???

 Enjoy your break!

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Today at 4pm — Dean Pamela Bloomquist of the Loyola University Chicago Law School

Interested in attending law school in Chicago?  Join Pamela Bloomquist, Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, TODAY at 4pm, Room 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building, as she provides an overview of information about life at Loyola. She will talk about what Loyola is looking for in applicants, what the student body is like, and what’s new at Loyola. Dean Bloomquist will also answer any of your questions about life at Loyola. No registration is necessary for this event. All students interested in learning about Loyola are welcome.

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Going to a law conference? Law student perspective. . .

Thanks Arian, for being so practical and confident and reminding me of the important factors in attending and making the most of a law conference!  Pre-Law students . . .as you’re exploring your potential areas of interest you might consider attending a local legal conference!

1. Become friends with the organizers, email them, ask for assistance with defraying costs, sharing a room at a hotel. You can simply inquire about other persons or students who will be attending from a specific region you are interested in.

2. Ask to be paired with a mentor, especially if it’s your first time. Make use of that mentor. You may be interested in being paried with someone practicing in a certain area/focus or geographic region.

3. Get a list of the attorneys attending beforehand. You can contact them and plan to meet at the conference. Lots of people attend and not always the same sessions so don’t take it for grated that you’ll run across them.

4. Have an elevator pitch. “Hi my name is _, and I’m a 2L at _.” Ask for their name, ask what they do, and find a connection. If none is forthcoming, speak a little bit more about yourself.  Tell them why you’re interested, tell them why you’re here. Ask where they work, ask what types of issues they see in their line of work.

5. Try to have background information on the people you approach – doesn’t have to be extensive, for example, where they’re from, or where they work. This helps with the quantity vs. quality question – do you try to collect more business cards or have quality communication? Try to have a quality conversation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be long.

6. When you approach people and get their business card, tell them you’d like to remain in touch with them and ask if that’s ok. It shows your intent, and you’re not blindly asking for their business card as part of a collection. Try to gauge whether you could form a mentoring relationship with the person.

7. Take notes. You can make little notes on the back of the business cards you get. Things like what you spoke about or facts you want to remember about the person that can inform future conversation.

8. The follow up email is key. People often forget who they’ve met when they re-enter their routines. A great idea is to include in the follow up email a professional picture of yourself so that they can readily connect the name with a face.

9. Let people (the organizers, your mentor, others you meet) know that you are interested in meeting attorneys in a specific field, or from a specific geographic area.

10. Adhere to the attire requirement. One guy wore red pants, another girl wore hot pink wedges – don’t do that, especially in the legal field. You will stand out for the wrong reasons. Dress so that you will be complimented.

11. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I live my life by asking for what I want.

12. Be confident. Be confident. You’ve got this.

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Maximizing Dean Visits: Part I (Or, How to Make a Good Impression on a Dean)

We’ve already hosted one law school dean on campus this semester, and we’ll be hosting several more in the coming months. (Coming up in February: Dean Mitchell from Case Western Reserve and Dean Burns from DePaul. Visit our calendar here for more details on each.) In this post, let’s examine just how students can maximize dean visits. (We will look at how to maximize law school visits in Part 2.)

Students should go to these events. Frankly, I’m shocked that more pre-law students do not take advantage of the opportunity to meet an admissions dean who has come to campus. Why don’t they? Let’s do a brief cost/benefit analysis.

Admission Dean visit to campus
Cost: No money, an hour of your time
Benefit: Making a good impression on the dean can result in admission or scholarship offers. You’ll probably learn something valuable about the law school admissions process, or about the school itself. At the very least, you’ll give the dean a face to associate with your application, making your file more personal than the thousand files of people s/he has never met.

Many students think that attending a law school open house or meeting an admissions dean won’t influence their decision about whether to admit you to their school, or whether to award you a scholarship. In my experience, that is totally wrong. Why?

First, I think many people would be surprised to know how much power an admissions dean has over the final admissions decision. Many deans can make admissions decisions entirely on their own, or override a veto by a committee. I know deans–more than one–who have made an on-the-spot decision to admit an applicant–with a scholarship–while that applicant visited during an open house. Why? Because the dean was impressed by the applicant’s professionalism, passion, and maturity. In other words, a positive personal impression by someone with a lot of power over your admission can weigh heavily in your favor. After all, admissions is a human process–if it were ALL about the numbers, then machines would do it.

Second, many students think that the dean won’t remember meeting them. Not only am I impressed by the memories of admissions professionals, but I know that many take great pains to jot down the names of students they spoke with–sometimes during a conversation and sometimes right afterwards. Several deans have told me that as soon as they leave a meeting with students, they immediately review those students’ applications while their impressions are still fresh. At minimum, most deans will have students sign in and then use that sign-in sheet to see who was interested enough to make the effort to come and meet them. This will be noted in the applicant’s file.

Third, many students think that in a roomful of people, the dean won’t notice them, either for positive reasons or negative ones. By nature and by training, we lawyers are detail oriented and most of us are very observant. Trust me–even if we aren’t saying it, we’re thinking it. Here are some simple but powerful positive observations that deans have shared with me about particular students/applicants after visiting our campus:

  • S/he is very personable/pleasant/mature. How simple is that? Being nice gets noticed. Or, as one dean puts it, nobody wants a jerk in their school.
  • S/he speaks very well. A valued skill for a prospective lawyer.
  • S/he seems to truly care about ________. Examples: The environment, helping children, global security…This signals that the applicant has clearly articulated a passion and has asked insightful questions about a legal career in that area.
  • S/he would be a great fit for our school. This one’s a little harder to pin down, but just as applicants get a “feel” for a school by visiting, deans can get a similar feeling by meeting applicants.

The down side to being observant means that deans also sometimes have negative impressions of students and applicants. Some examples:

  • S/he never made eye contact with me/stared at the floor the whole time. Again, another simple gesture. In a first impression, eye contact demonstrates poise, confidence, and good interpersonal skills…all of which a lawyer needs in order to get and maintain clients.
  • S/he is very intense. This could mean that the person fired a barrage of questions at the dean, instantly name-dropped some “connections” (My uncle’s chiropractor went to your school and he’s writing a recommendation for me…), or shared some outrageous expectations (I deserve a big scholarship!) See above, about nobody wanting a jerk in their school.
  • S/he doesn’t seem to know why this law school is a good fit. Deans always like to ask what interests applicants about their school. Telling a dean that her law school is probably the best you can get into, or that it’s close to where your parents live, is a little insulting. Side note: I have observed applicants saying both of these to a dean. In both cases, the dean mentioned it to me afterwards…and not in a positive way.

While we’re on the subject of first impressions, please let me say that etiquette and dress say a lot about you. Two brief observations:

  • I have personally observed many students interrupt the dean of admissions to ask another question while s/he is speaking. This is extremely disrespectful and rude, and it will without a doubt be noticed and remembered by the dean.
  • No one expects you to show up wearing a tuxedo or bridesmaid gown. But wearing your bar crawl t-shirt, or worse, sweatpants, or much, much worse, pajama pants and slippers (yes, all of these actually happened) to meet a law school dean suggests a serious lack of professional judgment. A popular saying is to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” A button-up shirt or sweater and pants is perfectly acceptable and takes no more effort than a t-shirt and jeans. When in doubt, go business casual.

To summarize: Meeting deans of admissions and attending law school visits can actually make a big difference for your application. An admissions dean holds a lot of power over admissions and scholarship decisions, and personal impressions can and will be factored in. Do not make the mistake of thinking that attending these events is not worth your time.

During the visit: Be nice, be pleasant, make eye contact, wear business casual clothes, listen while the dean speaks, and don’t say anything too outrageous within five seconds of meeting the dean. Nothing too taxing, right?

In Part 2, we will examine how students can maximize law school visits.


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Illinois Law Open House Feb. 4

Are you interested in the University of Illinois College of Law? Good news: the law school is hosting an Open House event February 4 at the Law Building from 5-7 pm, and you are invited! This is a great chance to learn more about Illinois Law and get a feel for the law school and the student body.

At this Open House you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Meet current Illinois Law students
  • Hear from Dean Smith
  • Meet professionals from Career Planning and Financial Aid offices
  • Take a tour
  • Share a meal! Food will be served.

Please RSVP to by February 1.

To find out more about Illinois Law before your visit, explore their website at

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