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  • Rachel Lindsey 5:08 pm on December 8, 2016 Permalink  

    Should I Go to Law School? Four Questions to Help You Decide 

    Questions to ask yourself

    There are a few important questions you should ask yourself in deciding if law school is the choice for you. Some of them are philosophical, and some are practical. All of them are important, but this fir  imagest one is essential…

    Do I want to be a lawyer?

    Before you decide to attend law school, ask yourself: do I actually want to practice law? That is the core of the profession – representing clients. If the idea of working with clients doesn’t excite you, then this might not be the right career for you.

    Why do I want to go to law school?

    Be honest. There are many reasons people attend law school.  Some have always known this was their path. Some have friends and family telling them they will be a great lawyer. Maybe someone, somewhere, told them, if all else fails, you can always try law school. Whatever your motivation, you should be able to identify it. That’s the only way to decide if law is the right choice for you. Before applying to law school, seriously consider your interest in becoming a practicing attorney and how that balances with the cost, the employment prospects, and the minimum three-year intensive academic commitment required to graduate.

    REASONS to attend law school include knowing what lawyers do (and wanting to do it) and having a sense of how prepared you are for law school and the practice of law.

    REASONS to keep considering your options include not knowing what else to do after graduation, making your parents happy, thinking it sounds like fun, or planning to figure it out later (when you get to law school, or after graduation).

    Am I in it for the paycheck?

    If you answered the first or second questions with Maybe, I’m not sure, or No, but the salary…, keep reading. Even if you score the job that brings that check you dreamed of, if you don’t love (or even like) the work, you may find you aren’t long for the field, but you might still be paying the loans from that JD.

    Many students are drawn to the legal profession by the promise of future income. But like any career path, your decision needs to include more than the salary prospects. A law degree doesn’t guarantee of a high salary. According to a Washington Post article from April 2015, “nine months after graduation, a little more than half of the class of 2013 had found full-time jobs as lawyers, down from 77% of 2007, according to the most recent data from the American Bar Association and the National Association for Law Placement. Those who did find jobs had starting salaries that were 8% below the 2009 peak, averaging $78,205 in 2013.” In recent years, bar passage rates have also declined creating a challenge for new graduates hoping to begin their legal practice.

    Doing your research will go a long way in helping you manage your salary expectations. Look at the employment statistics and average salary for students from schools you are likely to attend (based on your GPA and LSAT – if you have taken it). Factor the specialty you wish to practice, and the region.

    What do I know about the practice of law (In other words, have I talked to any lawyers)?

    Answering this question requires you to research and talk to actual lawyers.

    Current law students and pre-law advising can help with your law school application, but lawyers – those practicing law every day – are the ones who can help you decide if this is the path for you. They can tell you how muctumblr_m8pdufqi3b1rzwfx8o1_500h their legal education cost, what they actually do on a daily basis, how many hours a week they work, how much they make, and what they like (or don’t) about their careers. You should ask about personal attributes needed to be successful in a legal career and the impact of a legal career on personal lives. If law school still sounds like the right plan for you, you can ask for advice about where to go from here.

    Learning about the practice of law from lawyers (as many as you can, from different practice areas) will spotlight the different career paths in the legal profession, and which might be right for you. You may notice that lawyers with very similar experiences may have very different thoughts on their careers. Ask them why. This is your chance to get a feel for what type of people like what types of legal jobs (e.g. litigation or public interest law), and what that might mean for you. Thinking proactively about your potential place in the legal profession will help you in choosing a law school, finding funding for school, and planning your job search.

    You may not know any lawyers firsthand, or they may all be relatives or family friends. Talk to them, and lots of other lawyers, also. If you don’t know how to begin, making an appointment to see the pre-law advisor in the Career Center is a great start.

    What’s next?

    Now that we’ve talked about the philosophical questions, if law school still sounds like the thing for you, consider meeting with your Career Advisor to discuss the practical considerations of applying for and funding law school.

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  • Rachel Lindsey 11:59 pm on November 8, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: admissions, , , , personal statement   

    Five tricks to preparing your Personal Statement, from the Admissions Committee 

    It’s early November, September LSAT scores have arrived, and if you plan to matriculate in the fall of 2017, you are probably deep in the work of law school applications. If you’re like many students, the part of the application you dread most, and may even be avoiding, is the personal statement. This blog offers some guidance to help you through that process.

    Last week, admissions representatives from Berkeley Law, Northwestern Law, USC Gould School of Law, and Texas Law were on campus speaking with AU students about the admissions process, and turned to the topic of Personal Statements. If you weren’t able to join them, here is a taste of what they shared.why-i-want-gq4ub0

    First, the basics. Follow the directions. This includes responding to the exact prompt posed, the page limits, the specific information requested, and any other guidance. Don’t cheat with tiny fonts – admissions committees are wise to that trick. They will use your personal statement to judge your writing skills, for sure. They will also use it to assess your judgment, decision-making, and ability to read and follow specific instructions.

    Now that you have the formatting down, consider the statement itself – what you will share, how you will share it, and what it will tell admissions committees about you. Use this moment to be genuinely introspective and tell a story – your story, in your own words. Think of your life as a path. You don’t want to write about where you are now on the path, or where you plan to go next. Instead, consider your backstory. How did you get where you are now? Avoid starting your statement with a quote – the best stories are in your own words and voice, not someone else’s.

    Give the admissions committee the opportunity to get to know you beyond your LSAT score. Don’t repeat your transcript or your resume in narrative format. Instead, share how you got here from there. Write in more depth about that experience from your resume and why it matters. Explain how it has become part of your story.

    Treat your personal statement as if it is an admission interview. Answer the questions you wish they would ask. Share something new that the admissions committee can’t learn elsewhere in your application. This is your chance to make your case for admission and to communicate what law schools should know about you, but otherwise won’t. writing scrabble

    Avoid answering questions asked elsewhere – for example, if there’s a supplemental question that asks Why Our Law School? don’t use two paragraphs of your personal statement to explain that. Use the optional questions as clues to what is best covered elsewhere. Each part of the application is a chance to enhance the committee’s sense of who you are, and how you will fit into their community of scholars. Use each and every piece you can to your best advantage. And when you have done that, hit Save, and walk away.

     
  • Rachel Lindsey 4:22 pm on April 21, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

    More Than the Registration Fee: Reasons to Invest in LSAT Prep 

    There is a lot of conflicting advice out there about the best strategy for taking the LSAT – how long to study, how many times to take the test, and even about how “good” a predictor it is of anything at all. The one thing everyone seems to agree on? The LSAT is not just a test; it’s an investment. And it’s an investment that can significantly impact how much you palsy for law school down the line. One major theme that emerged for hopeful law students who attended The True Cost of Law School: Budgeting Beyond Tuition on April 6: Invest in a quality LSAT prep program.

    You’ve probably heard that law school admission is based on two things: LSAT and GPA. Of the two, many admissions officers will say the LSAT score is their priority in assessing how aid will be distributed. This is also true for merit-based aid. As the number of law school applicants has dropped, schools have begun to compete more actively for the best-qualified applicants – often using merit-based financial aid as incentive to attract those applicants. In this competitive environment, the higher your LSAT score, the better your odds not just for admissions, but also for scholarships. According to Benjamin Leff, professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, a three-point bump on the LSATS can mean the difference in thousands – or tens of thousands – of dollars in financial aid.

    Another reason to commit your time and your money to preparing for the LSAT? It’s an opportunity to spend small (relatively – compared to law school tuition down the line) early in the process and figure out if law school is right for you. Though it’s often debated, research suggests that the LSAT is a key predictor of bar performance. Law schools often claim that your score is the most consistent predictor of how well you will do the first year in law school and on the bar exam. If studying and then sitting for a test like the LSAT isn’t something you’re willing to do, consider how you’ll handle the three or four months of studying you’ll eventually need to commit for preparing to pass the bar and become a practicing attorney.

    For the budget-conscious law school hopeful, investing $1500 or more in an LSAT prep program might seem like a lot to ask. Be creative, and use all of your resources. Above the Law suggests online options like podcasts and videos, which may cost nothing. The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) makes available (for free) Official Prep Materials, including sample questions with explanations, old tests, and videos. There are even free apps you can download to practice exam questions, connect with instructors in a community forum, and more. However, even if your hope is to get your LSAT prep for free, Above the Law still recommends that you invest in real LSAT materials to use for practice. At a minimum, take your LSAT prep seriously. Don’t try to take the test cold, or with only minimal preparation. Look for high quality test prep materials with strong reviews from actual test takers at every price point.

    If you decide to enroll in a commercial preparation course, do your homework – before and during the class. Talk to others who have taken the same course at the same location, ideally with the same instructor. Be skeptical of any course that makes outrageous claims about raising your score. Commit to the program – showing up for the classes is not the same as participating and will not be enough to improve your score. You’ll need to devote significant time outside the classroom to master the material. And lastly, ask about discounts or scholarships. Though not widely advertised, some of the larger prep companies provide discounts to students with demonstrated financial need.

    Most importantly, remember that becoming a lawyer is embarking on a career, not just finding a job. Taking the LSAT is one of the earliest steps in beginning your legal career on solid ground. Take it seriously, and invest your resources accordingly.

     
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