This I Believe: A great way to start your personal statement

The current “One Book, One Campus” selection is This I Believe: The personal philosophies of remarkable men and women. I’ve read this book (and several other volumes of This I Believe) and I regularly listen to the podcasts, which challenge ordinary people to distill their personal philosophies into very brief essays.

What do you believe? This could be a great way to begin writing your personal statement. I recommend checking out the book and the podcasts to spark your thinking. (You can get the book for $10.50 at the Illini Union Bookstore, and the podcasts are free if you search for them on iTunes.) It’s very hard to distill our core beliefs into one brief essay, but the value of this exercise is that it forces you to pick what beliefs are the most important to you and then try to concisely articulate why. What better way to introduce yourself to a law school than by speaking to your core values?

The Executive Director of This I Believe, Dan Gediman, is also coming to campus next Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 at the Illini Union. To find out more about this lecture and upcoming events related to the One Book, One Campus program, visit I hope I see you there. And I hope that this exercise helps spark your thinking about what to write on the personal statement.


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Yale Law admissions pointers

Yale Law School recently shared with us some helpful advice and pointers about applying to their program. We are in the process of scheduling a Yale Admissions webinar for University of Illinois students, but in the meantime, check out these helpful resources for future Yalie success.

The Associate Dean of Admissions, Asha Rangappa, writes a very candid and extremely helpful blog called the (203) Admissions Blog. She writes, for example, about how to write an effective personal statement, including what she dislikes seeing.

Yale also posts a helpful Incoming Class Profile at  They also indicated that roughly 80% of Yale’s incoming students have been out of college for one or more years.

In addition, Yale Law shared with us the following tips and suggestions for applying to their school. Enjoy!

Application Tips 2012, from the Yale Law Admissions Office

1.         Timing

  • All applications must be submitted electronically.
  •  We encourage you to take the October LSAT.  If you choose to take the December or February LSAT, we will not be able to begin reviewing your file until late January or late February, respectively.
  •  We cannot hold or re-review a file for an updated LSAT score.  If you will be retaking the LSAT, please wait to release your LSAC report until all scores are on file with LSAC.
  • Your chances of admission to Yale are not affected based on when you apply.  However, applying later will mean a longer processing time and later notification of a final decision.
  • In order to avoid delays with your financial aid package, please submit your financial aid applications (FAFSA and Need Access) by March 15, 2013, even if you have not yet received a decision from us.
  • Due to our lengthy (and thorough) review process, Yale releases its decisions much later than most other law schools.  Mid-March is a typical time to receive your decision.  Our goal is to have all decisions completed by mid-April.

2.         Letters of Recommendation

  •  We strongly recommend that you submit your letters of recommendation through the Law School Credential Assembly Service (CAS).  Please do not have duplicate copies sent to the Law School.
  • Academic letters of recommendation are given the most weight in our admissions process.  We strongly recommend that students submit at least two recommendations from professors who can evaluate their academic work.
  • Once we receive all application materials and two letters of recommendation, your file will be reviewed.  We cannot hold a file for review for additional letters.  If you want to ensure that additional letters of recommendation are in your file before it is reviewed, please wait to submit your application until all of the letters are on file with LSAC.
  • Be sure to include your full name and LSAC number on all materials and correspondence (including letters of recommendation).

 3.         Personal Statements

  •  Your 250 word essay (Question 7) can be about any subject.  Some essays that have been successful in the past have been about subjects studied in school (string theory, French opera, historical movements), current events (local elections, national controversies), and personal anecdotes.  Topics like “Why I want to go to Yale,” creative writing, or abbreviated versions of personal statements are typically less successful.
  • Please note that the personal statement (Question 8) is a required part of the application.  Most students submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law schools.

4.         Other Materials

  •  You may include a resume with your application, but please answer questions 4 (scholastic honors), 5 (activities outside of school), and 6 (activities since graduation) separately.  Not providing these answers will delay the completion of your application.
  • Yale does not require a dean’s certification form as part of the application.  Admitted students will be required to submit a Dean’s Certification after deposit; all admission offers are contingent upon the student’s Dean’s Certifications matching the self-disclosures provided in the character and fitness section of the application.




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Legal Internship at University Counsel’s Office

We are pleased to announce this excellent opportunity for pre-law students–a new legal internship on campus!

The Office of University Counsel at the University of Illinois seeks an undergraduate intern to work in its Urbana office approximately 10-20 hours per week during the academic year.  The University of Illinois serves the people of Illinois and the world through missions of excellence in teaching, research, public service and economic development. The Office of University Counsel provides a broad range of legal advice and representation to the Board of Trustees, the University President, the Chancellors at each campus and other University and campus administrators.

This paid position presents an excellent opportunity for a student to be exposed to the everyday workings of a dynamic in-house legal office and develop a greater understanding of the practice of law.  Responsibilities may include: (1) document organization (e.g. filing, scanning, copying) for a wide variety of transactional, litigation, corporate governance or other matters; (2) supporting attorneys and administrative staff in comprehensive filing reorganization project (paper and electronic); (3) occasional information gathering and general research tasks; (4) delivering materials/documents to clients, courts of law, law offices and other locations; (5) assisting with organization and management of substantial legal library and research resources; and (6) other general support of various office functions.

Preference will be given to applicants who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and who demonstrate strong communication and research skills. Interested applicants should submit: (1) a cover letter expressing interest and sharing relevant skills; (2) a current résumé ; and (3) a list of three references to Pre-Law Advising Services by Wednesday, September 26 at 12:00 noon at the address below.  Aplicants may drop off application materials to the receptionist anytime between 9:00 and 4:30. We cannot accept email submissions.

Pre-Law Advising Services
Re: University Counsel Internship
807 S. Wright Street, Floor 5
Champaign IL 61820

Questions only may be directed to with “University counsel internship” in the subject line.

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More opportunities for pre-law students: Jurors, witnesses, and an internship fair!

Here are three great opportunities for pre-law students.

1. This is a great opportunity to help a law student and see what trial advocacy classes are like!
Volunteers are needed to sit as jurors and hear opening statements from U. of I. College of Law students enrolled in the Trial Advocacy Program from 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 & 18 at the Champaign County Courthouse. You can volunteer for one night or more. Opening statements are from a homicide & a serious personal injury case. Contact: Julie Campbell, or 333-5842

2. And, for those of you who enjoy acting…College of Law Trial Advocacy volunteer witnesses are needed. Volunteers are needed to play expert witnesses for the U. of I. College of Law Trial Advocacy class from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 2, 3 & 4 at the Champaign County Courthouse. You can volunteer for one night or more. You will be given a script for your role and all the information you need the night you volunteer. No outside work or info is needed. Contact: Julie Campbell, or 333-5842.

3. Looking for an internship? Check out the Sociology Internship Fair this Friday, Sept. 21, 1-3pm in 3057 Lincoln Hall.  All Majors Welcome! Spring and Summer Internships available in a variety of settings –check out a list of who’s coming on the website:


Gifts to the first 25 students who arrive!

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“What should I be doing now?” For fall applicants

The most common refrain we hear this time of year is from applicants asking “what should I be doing now?” We’re glad you asked!

1. If you are taking the October LSAT then right now is all-LSAT-and-nothing-but-the-LSAT-time! We’re  less than three weeks from the LSAT, which means that you will want to really focus on your LSAT prep above all else. At this point, we suggest that you set aside those personal statements and essays to focus exclusively on LSAT prep. The only exception is…

2. Get your letters of recommendation NOW, whether you are taking the October LSAT or not. If you are applying this fall and you still don’t have your letters of recommendation locked up, do this immediately! Right now! Don’t even finish reading this paragraph. Just go talk to your recommenders this very second. Expect it to take at least 4-8 weeks for the recommender to write the letter, send it in, and for the LSAC to process it.

3. Explore the admissions websites and blogs of schools that interest you. Many law schools host VERY helpful blogs and even tweet updates about their admissions process. (For example, the Dean of Admissions at Yale Law School recently wrote some blog entries about what she likes/doesn’t like in personal statements here .) It is important to understand that while there are qualities that every law school likes to see, each law school is also a bit unique in what it values. Some schools may value work experience, others are more community service oriented, and still others may prefer to see international experience. These admissions websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts can give a LOT of insight into what the school–and the admissions dean–is interested in hearing, as well as what’s “been there, done that” for them.

4. If you are finished with the LSAT (yay!), then it’s time to work on your personal statement and your supplemental essays. Log into your CAS account and open the applications of the schools that interest you. (It’s okay, the schools won’t see your application until you click “submit”, so you can open the application as many times as you want.) Look at the prompts each school gives for personal statements and look at the supplemental essays they want you to submit. Make a list of all the supplemental essays you will need.

Brainstorm about your personal statement. What do you have to offer a law school? What are your career aspirations? What meaningful experiences have you had? If you’re having trouble getting started, attend one of our Personal Statement Workshops; you can view them all and register at

5. When you have written a draft, set up a personal statement review appointment. The challenge for applicants is that you haven’t done this before, and you don’t know what the rest of the applicant pool’s essays look like. As Pre-Law Advisors, we’ve read hundreds (maybe thousands?) of essays, and we can tell you exactly how this essay compares to the pool. We can also help troubleshoot, brainstorm ideas, offer suggestions for better structure and flow of the essay, and comment on the tone of the essay. (Note that we do not edit the essay or provide proofreading services. Mechanics and grammar are at the discretion of the student.)

To set up a personal statement appointment, call 333-9669. Then, email your personal statement to the advisor two business days before the appointment so that we can review it and give it some thought prior to appointment time. You can also email your resume for review at the same time.

6. Order your transcripts. Remember that you must provide a transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended, even if you just took a summer class at a community college. It can take some time to coordinate with all of the Registrars at other colleges; do yourself a favor and start now. You can find more information about that process here

We are hosting a workshop on Applying to Law School on Monday, September 24 at 4:00 in 161 Noyes to discuss specific details about the application process, working with the LSAC, and strategizing about your application plan. Check it out at See you there!




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University of Iowa Prospective Student Day September 21

We just received this information about the University of Iowa College of Law Prospective Student Day. Note that RSVPs are due this Monday, Sept. 17.

From the Dean of Admissions at the University of Iowa College of Law:
The University of Iowa is coordinating a Prospective Students’ Day at the College of Law on Friday, September 21, 2012.  This event is a wonderful opportunity for you and your students to visit our facilities, receive a tour of the College of Law, and learn more about our career services process, our curriculum and the admissions process.  You will also have a chance to interact with faculty, staff, current students and the vibrant community of Iowa City.  More information about Prospective Students’ Day can be found at

To send an RSVP for Prospective Students’ Day, please contact Ms. Amy Beier at by September 17.

Also, I hope that you or your students will visit the University of Iowa College of Law’s web site:  You will find it both comprehensive and informative.  You can also contact the Office of Law Admissions directly to arrange for a visit to the Law School.  Our email address is  You can also contact us by telephone at 319-335-9095.  We will be able to set up a law school class visit, an individual tour of the College of Law, or a meeting with an admissions officer.

Students who are interested in UIowa are encouraged to attend or set up another visit.

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Open House Round Up

The law schools are beginning to announce their fall open houses as well as their tour and information session schedules.  This is an excellent opportunity for you to visit some of those schools on your list  and get a sense for what the student experience is like at each institution. Check the law schools’ websites for more information about open houses and tours.  Here are some Illinois law schools that have begun advertising their events.

The John Marshall Law School — Open Houses Based on a sample itinerary, it appears that these sessions begin around 9am and go to approximately 1pm, featuring mock classes, tours and opportunities to chat with current JMLS students. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012; Saturday, November 17, 2012

For more information and to register for an open house at JMLS, go to:

In addition, the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the John Marshall Law School is inviting interested UIUC students to participate in an “All-Star Advocacy” workshop at their Chicago campus on select Fridays during the fall semester from 11am-3pm.  Participants will have the opportunity to participate in this specially designed workshop, tour the newly-remodeled JMU facility, be treated to lunch and then observe one of JMU’s trial teams in pre-competition preparation.  This program will be offered on the following dates:

September 28; October 5; October 12; October 19; October 26; November 2; and  November 9.  If you are interested in attending any of these events, please contact Chase Grusczka at either: or (630) 319-3942 with your R.S.V.P.

Northern Illinois University Law School — Open Houses 

For more information, go to:

September 22: 

October 26:

  • Fall Open House and Class Visit
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    8:30-11:30 a.m.

November 3:

  • Fall Open House and Mock Class
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

November 9:

  •  Fall Open House and Class Visit
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    8:30-11:30 a.m.

Most of the remaining Illinois law schools have information on their websites about upcoming information sessions and tours.  Several schools require the completion of an online form to schedule a visit.  Make sure you follow the instructions given by each school.


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CLEO/ABA Offering Free Pre-Law Seminars

The Council on Legal Educational Opportunity of the American Bar Association has designed some courses to help identify, motivate and prepare students for a career in the legal profession. Committed students can learn how to successfully navigate the law school admission process and underwrite their success in law school by participating in the College Scholars program.

Click here for directions.   25 East Jackson Boulevard · Chicago · Illinois · 60604 

 For FreshmenThe Road To Law School seminar aims to provide Freshmen an overview of the key components of the law school application process.

For Sophomores:  The Sophomore Super Saturdays seminar aims to help students further develop logical reasoning, reading comprehension and writing skills – the skills needed to become a competitive law school applicant.

For Juniors, Seniors/Post Graduates: Juniors Jumpstart the LSAT seminar aims to help participants understand the importance of systematic and timely preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Accordingly, juniors will be granted priority enrollment for the seminar

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.

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Georgetown Law Group Interview and Info Session

Georgetown Law just announced its fall Group Interview/Info Sessions. Dean Andy Cornblatt will be hosting a Group Interview (open to Illinois students and alumni who are applying to law school this fall) on Thursday, September 27 in Chicago. He will also host an Information Session that same day, open to all who are interested. The time will be late afternoon/early evening but has yet to be set. The location is also yet to be announced, although Chicago is a confirmed site for Sept. 27.

Those interested in attending either of these events should RSVP online at

Questions may be directed to Georgetown Law Admissions at 202-662-9015 or



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Introducing our blog!

WELCOME BACK to campus! And welcome to our new blog!

Farewell to our newsletter, the Pre-Law Informer. For four years we have been sending it out every week. Now, we’re happy to be joining the Blogosphere! Just like our newsletter, our blog will still cover information about the application process, upcoming event information, interesting articles about the legal field, book reviews, and more. Plus, the blog is searchable and archived for easy reference!

This blog will be updated throughout the week. To subscribe to our feed, click on the orange icon in the upper right corner of our page and add our site to your Google Reader or whichever reader you prefer.

Our event calendar is also linked to our blog. Upcoming PLAS events are listed in the upper right corner of the blog, and you can click the link to find out more or to register.

We’ve added some of our favorite helpful links as well–browse through the listings on the right, grouped by topic.

We’ll be adding more links and details to the blog over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy reading it, and we look forward to hearing your feedback!

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