Pre-Law Advising

Report
PRE-LAW BASICS
Mattie Stevens, J.D.
Senior Academic Advisor/Pre-Law Coordinator
University Advising Center, 132 Strong Hall
http://prelaw.ku.edu
[email protected]
(785) 864-2834 (appts)
WHAT’S COVERED. . .
• What is law school? What can you do with a law
degree?
• Decision-making process
– What should you think about when deciding on
law school?
– What do law schools consider when evaluating
your application?
• Ways to prepare for law school
WHAT’S LAW SCHOOL ALL ABOUT?
• Three Year Program after Bachelor’s Degree
– Four if getting a joint degree (J.D./MBA) or going part time
• Typically divided into “sections” first year – small groups who take all the
same classes together
• Start immediately after undergrad or wait a few years
– Average age of a first-year law student is 26!
• Graduate with a Juris Doctorate (J.D.)
• Take Bar Exam in the state in which you want to practice law after you
graduate!
– You must take a different bar exam for each state in which you want to
practice law (some states waive this if you’ve passed in another state,
but you have to check with that state’s Bar Association to be sure).
WHAT CAN I DO WITH A J.D.?
• Traditional Law Practice as an Attorney:
– Criminal Law
– Estate Planning
– Corporate Law
– International Law
– Family Law
– Environmental Law
– Intellectual Property Law
– Entertainment Law
– The list goes on and on!
• Alternative Careers
– Education Administrators
– Professors
– Business Executives
– Lobbyists
– CIA/FBI Agents
– Government Officials
– Public Service
– Consulting
– Anything you want
• Skills gained in law school
are quite versatile!
SHOULD I GO TO LAW SCHOOL?
DO YOU HAVE ALL THREE? DO THE COGS TURN?
Interest in
Public
Service
Ability to
Express
Yourself
Strong
Desire to
Learn the
Law
IF THE
COGS ARE
TURNING…
• Explore
– Trends in the Profession
– Contacts in the Profession
– Opportunities on KU Campus
– Your Skills, Interests and
Abilities
START THE CONVERSATION…
• Stay Informed!
– Pre-Law Update Emails – go to Strong 109, update major
interest code
– Law School Application Seminar
• Attend during your senior year to get help applying!
– Individual Pre-Law Advising Appointments
• Meet with Pre-Law Coordinator
• Schedule by calling (785) 864-2834
• Discuss: application, LSAT, choosing schools, legal careers, etc.
– Pre-Law Advising Website: http://prelaw.ku.edu
LAW SCHOOL REALITIES
Law school is different than undergrad in many ways, including:
– Exams/Grading/Rankings
• Many first year courses only have one final exam
• Your grade in the course is based solely on that final exam
• There is a class rank, and employers often ask for a student’s rank
– Culture
• Many “type-A” personalities – can be a competitive climate
• Normally, all classes are housed in one building
• Many things from high school – lockers, bells, class officers, prom
– Yes, most schools have a law school prom!
– Socratic Method
• A teaching style which challenges the student to question his/her
belief in a stance he/she is taking
• Professor often asks questions instead of providing right answers
LAW SCHOOL REALITIES
Major Commitments of:
• Time
– Three years, 90 credit hours required to graduate
– Many hours spent in the library reading or studying
– Students often report reading more their first year than all through
undergrad
– Students can either take a general course of study, or choose to
specialize in a specific area of law
• Energy
– Finals time is often stressful, as students often start studying a month
before final exams!
– Ensure you eat right, develop a workout regimen, and get sleep!
LAW SCHOOL REALITIES
Major Commitment of:
• Money
– Graduate Tuition - different costs,
depending on in-state vs. out of
state
– Do you want loan debt after
graduation?
• Most students pay for law
school, at least partially, with
loans
– Can you afford to live off financial
aid for 3 years?
• Check your credit history
• Don’t force yourself to live off
ramen noodles, but be thrifty!
– Tip - parents love
homemade holiday gifts!
Image: American Bar Association
LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION FACTORS
WHEN EVALUATING APPLICANTS, ADMISSIONS COMMITTEES LOOK AT MANY THINGS,
INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING:
• Objective Factors
– LSAT score*
Law
School
Admission
Test
• Subjective Factors
– Letters of recommendation
– Personal statement
– Extracurricular activities
– Rigor of undergraduate
curriculum
– Grade trends
– GPA*
* Looking at medians
If you want to go straight from undergrad to law school, apply to
law school the Fall semester of your senior year!
LSAT
• Sections
– Reading comprehension, logical reasoning, analytical
reasoning
• Scoring
– Scores range from 120-180; 154 is the national median
– Different schools have different median scores they desire
• Timeline
– Take test June after Junior year or September/October of
Senior Year
• Test dates in June, September/October, December and February
– Law schools generally take your highest LSAT score.
However, some schools still average scores! CAS provides
schools with all of your scores.
• Check with each school!
LSAT PREPARATION
• Practice, Practice, Practice!
– Take practice LSATs under simulated conditions
– KU Pre-Law Office offers an official LSAT Practice Test every
semester
• Analyze Weakness Areas
– After 2-3 practice tests, pick out weakest area and go in
depth!
• LSAT Preparation Resources
– You can study on your own, or take a prep course
– Should match how you study for classes (alone, study group,
structured class setting, etc.), figure out what works best for
you.
– The Pre-Law Coordinator can talk you through this decision
and has information about LSAT Prep options in Lawrence.
OTHER
PARTS OF
THE
APPLICATION
•
Personal Statement
– Two-three page essay to admissions committee,
letting them get to know you better. Think of this as
your interview.
•
Resume
– Activities and employment summary. This is where
internships and part-time work in the legal or policy
field come in handy.
•
Letters of Recommendation
– Two-four letters from professors, work supervisors,
and mentors
•
Addendum Statements
– Statements to the admissions committee that address
application concerns (lower grades due to sickness,
legal troubles, etc.)
•
Transcripts
– You must send in transcripts from each university or
community college you’ve attended
Visiting with the Pre-Law Coordinator when you’re applying
will help you prepare these materials in the best way possible!
HOW DO KU STUDENTS FARE?
(LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION COUNCIL ACTION REPORTS)
2011-12
Total Applicants
Number Accepted
to at least one
school
Average LSAT
Average UGPA
KU
National
193
67.865
161
(83.4%)
50.647
(74.6%)
155.9
3.26
153.6
3.25
ACADEMIC CONSIDERATIONS
• Major
– No pre-law major/minor/concentration at KU
• Major in something in which you’re interested and in which you can
excel!
• No “best” major
• GPA
– The higher the GPA, the better!
– Admissions committees understand that a lower GPA doesn’t always
mean less knowledge.
– You will submit transcripts from every college/university you’ve attended,
so admissions committees look at both KU and transfer grades!
• Classes
– No required “pre-law” classes
– You can take courses related to law and public policy as electives.
ACADEMIC CONSIDERATIONS
• Skills You Need to Strengthen While at KU:
–
–
–
–
–
–
Writing
Reading comprehension
Critical thinking and logical reasoning
Understanding the human experience – PSYC, SOC, ANTH, etc.
Basic understanding of financial/economic principles
Basic understanding of American government
• KU Academic Policies
– Credit/No Credit (NC) – “NC” counts as an “F” in your law school GPA!
– Course Repeat – law schools do not honor it – both grades factored!
– “W”s – no effect on law school GPA
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
• Campus Organizations – no organization is “best,” but make sure to get
involved! Leadership positions also add depth to a resume.
– Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity
• Email the P.A.D. president at [email protected]
– KU Mock Trial
– www.ku.edu/organizations
• Volunteering/Community Service
– Center for Community Outreach (CCO) (KS Union, 405)
– United Way (http://www.volunteerdouglascounty.org/)
• Part-time Work – not required, but adds depth to resume
– University Career Center (UCC) (110 Burge Union)
– Business, Engineering, Journalism, and Music have their own career
centers
• Study Abroad – not required, but adds depth to resume
ITEMS TO CONSIDER BEFORE APPLYING
• Responsible behavior
– You must report criminal/civil offenses when applying for law school and the Bar
– An offense, by itself, probably won’t keep you out of law school, but a pattern of
trouble can cause concern for an admissions committee
– The most concerning offenses are those that reflect on a candidate’s honesty
• Interactions with faculty & staff
– Get to know professors – you’ll need letters of recommendation
– Treat law school admissions officers with respect!
• Email address & voicemail greeting – make sure it’s professional!
– Schools will often call or email admissions decisions and scholarship offers
• Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn
– Remove anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see!
– Set up a LinkedIn page, and ask friends and coworkers to post
recommendations.
THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW!
• Focus on Academics
– A 4.0 isn’t required, but grades are important!
• Get Involved
• Start self-exploration about law/legal profession
– Official Sites/Resources
• “U.S. News and World Report” Graduate Program Rankings
• Meet with Pre-Law Coordinator
• www.lsac.org
• www.findlaw.com
• www.americanbar.org
• CLEO and other summer Pre-Law Institutes
• Ask Questions!
– Contact the Pre-Law Coordinator with questions about anything you just read!
– Meet with the Pre-Law Coordinator to discuss your interests and goals
QUESTIONS?
Mattie Stevens, J.D.
Senior Academic Advisor/Pre-Law Coordinator
Undergraduate Advising Center
132 Strong Hall
(785) 864-2834 (appts)
[email protected]
https://prelaw.ku.edu

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