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Pre-Law Basics Mattie Stevens, J.D. Senior Academic Advisor/Pre-Law Coordinator University Advising Center, 132 Strong Hall http://prelaw.ku.edu M.Stevens@ku.edu (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
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’s Law School All About?
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!
Explore • Trends in the Profession • Contacts in the Profession • Opportunities on KU Campus • Your Skills, Interests and Abilities If the Cogs Are Turning…
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 START THE CONVERSATION…
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 FactorsWhen evaluating applicants, admissions committees LOOK AT many things, including the following: • Objective Factors • LSAT score* Law School Admission Test • GPA* * Looking at medians • Subjective Factors • Letters of recommendation • Personal statement • Extracurricular activities • Rigor of undergraduate curriculum • Grade trends 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!
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. LSAT Preparation
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 OTHER PARTS OF THE APPLICATION Visiting with the Pre-Law Coordinator when you’re applying will help you prepare these materials in the best way possible!
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 Academic Considerations
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 firstname.lastname@example.org • 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 Extracurricular Activities
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. items to consider before applying
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 Things you can do right now!
Mattie Stevens, J.D. Senior Academic Advisor/Pre-Law Coordinator Undergraduate Advising Center 132 Strong Hall (785) 864-2834 (appts) M.Stevens@ku.edu https://prelaw.ku.edu Questions?