ROAD MAP FOR LAW SCHOOL: EXPERT ADVICE FOR THOSE CONSIDERING LAW SCHOOL

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1 ROAD MAP FOR LAW SCHOOL: EXPERT ADVICE FOR THOSE CONSIDERING LAW SCHOOL Our webinar will begin promptly at 4:00 p.m., EST For audio, please use audio via your computer or dial followed by

2 OUR PRESENTERS Daralyn Gordon Arata -Pre-law Advisor at Kansas State University where she provides assistance and counsel to both current students and alumni throughout all phases of the admissions-application cycle. -A member of the Washington, DC and Virginia bars; Ms. Arata earned her JD. from the College of William and Mary and an LLM in Tax from George Washington University Law School. Gregory Shaffer -Coordinator of pre-law advising at the University of Maryland at College Park since Practiced with law firms in Washington, DC -Graduate of Notre Dame Law School Charles Roboski -Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Michigan State University College of Law -Dean or Director of Admissions at six law schools and has reviewed more than 45,000 applications for admission since

3 WHAT WE LL COVER Deciding to Earn a Law Degree Fundamental skills relied on by attorneys Employment options and compensation Is Law Right for me? You know you want to go: Assembling a Competitive Application for Admission to Law School Building a Strong Foundation for Law School and the Legal Profession Developing a Financial Plan for Law School Timeline and Resources 3

4 DECIDING TO EARN A LAW DEGREE What do lawyers do? What skills do lawyers rely on? What are the rewards and challenges for a legal career 4

5 CONDUCT RESEARCH Learn about what lawyers do and like and dislike Meet and/or shadow attorneys Pursue an internship or obtain paid legal employment Visit an area court Join a prelaw society Visit a local law school 5

6 FUNDAMENTAL SKILLS FOR AN ATTORNEY Research Writing Analysis Communication/Negotiation Conflict Resolution Advocacy 6

7 THE REALITY OF LEGAL PRACTICE Only a small percent of attorneys appear in the courtroom Large law firms have been hit hard and are seeking options for reducing costs The pressure of billable hours 7

8 TRADITIONAL CLASSIFICATIONS OF LEGAL EMPLOYMENT Private Practice Judicial Clerkships Government Employment and Military Business and Industry Public Interest 8

9 OTHER CAREER OPTIONS Federal, State, or Local Government Work Lobbyists Not-for-Profit Work Real Estate Development Human Resources Law Firm Administration Education 9

10 SELECT STARTING SALARIES Employment Type Avg. Salary 2-10 attorney firm: $50, attorney firm: $65,000 Government: $52,000 Public Interest: $45,000 Business: $65,000 Salaries Vary by Locale Source: National Association of Law Placement 2011 Salary Survey 10

11 IS LAW RIGHT FOR ME? Reflect on what you enjoy: PEOPLE Clients in crisis Being on call WRITING READING (primary sources) RESEARCH 11

12 ASSEMBLING A COMPETITIVE APPLICATION TIMING The OPTIMAL time to take the LSAT The OPTIMAL time to apply Crafting Your Personal Statement Obtaining Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) 12

13 ASSEMBLING A COMPETITIVE APPLICATION Primary Factors for Admission to Law School Undergraduate performance No preferred major Rigor of courses considered Score on Law School Admission Test Most schools take the highest of multiple scores Secondary Factors Letters of recommendation Work experience/leadership/service Personal Statement 13

14 Assembling a Competitive Application Questions Asked by Law College Admissions Committees 1. Does this candidate have the ability to succeed academically at our law school? 2. What qualities, skills, or experiences does this applicant possess that we consider to be important to the study/practice of law? 3. How does this candidate compare to others? LSAT and academic record are primary; LoRs are secondary Personal statement, resume are primary from the lens of the law college Impact of National and School s pool

15 BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION Classes in ANY major can strengthen analytical skills Break down arguments into elements Evaluate assumptions underlying arguments Lots of logic and analytical books to teach how to do that are available 15

16 BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION Writing is the tool lawyers use to practice their craft A grammar error can change the meaning of a contract 16

17 BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION PERSONAL PREPARATION When to apply and begin law school: Other goals/interests Emotional/relationship readiness Physical and mental readiness Financial readiness 17

18 DEVELOP A FINANCIAL PLAN PUBLIC LAW SCHOOL EDUCATION $10,000-$25,000/year Living Expenses: up to $20,000/year PRIVATE LAW SCHOOL EDUCATION $30,000-$50,000/year Living Expenses: up to $20,000/year Understand the full cost of earning a law degree 18

19 DEVELOP A FINANCIAL PLAN TYPICAL LAW SCHOOL SOURCES OF FUNDING Law Schools scholarships and grants Federal Government -- loans External Organizations scholarships and grants Savings and employment 19

20 DEVELOPING A FINANCIAL PLAN Columbia University School of Law School Michigan State College of Law 20

21 BE AN INFORMED BORROWER The average debt for graduates of a private law school is $115,000 The average debt for a graduate of a public law school is $75,000 High levels debt have consequences: Stress and distraction during law school Accepting employment that is not satisfying Delay or inability to achieve other life goals purchasing a home, starting a family, saving for retirement Loans are readily available, but you need to be an informed and thoughtful borrower 21

22 Freshman Year TIMELINE Keep appropriate focus on your academic performance Be aware of character and fitness qualifications relating to admission to law school and licensure Join prelaw society and/or attend events hosted by prelaw advisor/advising center Sophomore Year Explore/research legal careers Shadow/informational interviewing Online research Take skills/interests test offered by Career Services Office Attend prelaw society or prelaw advising center meetings relating to legal careers Continued focus on your academic performance 22

23 Junior Year Fall Semester TIMELINE Externship or volunteer experience with legal employer Attend prelaw society or prelaw center meetings Visit a law school(s)/attend law school fairs or LSAC Law Forum Develop relationship with faculty members who you might ask to provide a letter of recommendation Network/connect with attorneys who are graduates of your university or with whom you share some other common bond Junior Year Spring Semester Thoroughly prepare for and take June LSAT (if possible) Begin to develop a financial plan for law school Investigate alternate post-baccalaureate options, if you are unsure about law school 23

24 TIMELINE Senior Year (if you are certain about law school immediately after graduation): Early Fall Months Request letters of recommendation from faculty Re-take October LSAT, if appropriate Draft, circulate, and revise Personal Statement Research law schools (academics, admission, scholarships, etc.) online, area law fairs, prelaw advisor, etc. Formulate list of 6-10 law schools where you will apply Late Fall/Early Winter Submit applications Finalize financial plan, with appropriate attention to issue of educational debt 24

25 PREPARING FOR THE LSAT Methods of Study Preparation Course Offers structure Classroom versus Online Self-Taught Pros and Cons Commit 4 5 months to Studying Will Vary Depending on Student 25

26 RESOURCES American Bar Association s/pre_law.html Report on the Value Proposition of Attending Law School Statement on preparing for legal education Internet Legal Research Group Reports on legal salaries, hiring trends, law school rankings, and more National Law Journal Subscribe for free and keep current on legal issues, trends, and hiring 26

27 RESOURCES Law School Admissions Council: LSAT registration LSAC Law Forums and Law Fairs Should You Really Be a Lawyer: The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During & After Law School 27

28 RESOURCES Sources of Information LSAC Web Site: Law School Narratives ABA Accreditation Data Placement Data states/foreign countries Judicial Clerkships number/percentage Bar Passage Information NALP (The Association for Legal Career Professionals): Rankings Prelaw Advisor at your undergrad college Graduates who are currently enrolled 28

29 Join Us for Future Webinars Summer and Fall 2013 Crafting an Effective Personal Statement 10 Tips for Strengthening Your Law School Application An Insider s Guide to the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Process Spartan Strong: an Introduction to Michigan State Law Meet the Lawyers (MSU Law Career Panels) Developing Your Financial Plan for Law School To receive an invitations to these and other events, MSU Law Admissions at 29

30 THANK YOU FOR JOINING US! QUESTIONS? 30

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