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Welcome to the CLEO Diversity in Legal Education Blog! On this site we will talk about the reality of a prelaw education, the programs that CLEO sponsors, and the challenges and triumphs you encounter as you diversify the legal field. CLEO staff and colleagues will share practical insights and discuss how to become a competitive law school applicant.
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LAW SCHOOL -THE BIGGEST DECISION OF YOUR LIFE - BRING IT ON! Prelaw is all about the Big Choices: What major ... Which law school ... How am I paying for this ... Who am I and where am I going ... Committing to be a law student is complicated and full of tough choices. But the rewards are just as great.
Let's look at some facts: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) reported approximately 78,900 law school applicants in fall 2011, but only 55,800 admitted students. Every major under-represented group had a decline in admissions from 2010 to 2011. And, women made up 46% applicants. What are you doing to stay out of the 23,000 "lost" applicants?
Let's get started with: "Is Law School Right for You." Read this eye-opening article and answer the questions raised within it. It is time to consider the reality versus the myths of law school and a legal career. Find insight and inspiration in the real-life moments of lawyers practicing in four very different ways - in a law firm, in the military, in a law school, and in a corporation.
The Freshmen Questions: Who am I, where am I going, and what's important to me? Your goal is to understand the prelaw structure. Freshmen and first-year students need to start taking control of their future. Choose to attend every class. Choose to meet with your professors during office hours. Join clubs and attend special events. Ask "how can I improve what I've already done?" Advisors and professors work to help you build not re-build your college success. If you doubt the power of a GPA in the law school admissions process; type your GPA into the LSAC law school search (use the median LSAT score of 150) and see what happens.
Freshmen To Do List:
The Sophomore Questions: Am I doing this right, and who's paying the bill? Your goal is to engage in the academic and prelaw community! In this year you will "earn your stripes" academically and co-curriculaly that make you a competitive applicant. This year you should choose your major. There is no single major for prelaw, but a few majors represent the majority of law school applicants (English, Political Science, History, Philosophy, Business). The real academic goal is to develop strong reading, writing, communication, critical analysis , and organizational skills. Choose a major that engages your interests and encourages your GPA.
Prelaw is most often a "program" not a major. Prelaw programs are constructed to giude students through the process. You will often find your prelaw advisor in counseling centers, career centers, political science departments. Search yor Student Activites office forPrelaw clubs. Older students should look for an Older Wiser Law Students (OWLS) affiliate near you.
Investing in your education (academic & financially) happens in small amounts over a long period of time. Unless you hit the lottery, now is the time to start saving for law school. Look for scholarships and grants to pay for your college classes and books so that you can save for your law school tuiton over the next three years. It is much harder to find scholarships at law school.
Sophomore To Do List:
The Juniors, Seniors & Post Grads Questions: What's an LSAT, and what do I do with 200 law schools? If you don't know what an LSAT is at this point; then you have a lot of work ahead of you. Law schools like to use two numbers that all applicants have in common to determine potential eligibility for admission (Undergraduate GPA & LSAT). With an LSAT range from 120-180 and a national mean of 150, competitive students need to prepare early and intensly for the 4.5 hour test. The June 2012 LSAT is around the corner, and if you have not already completed 3-4 practice exams you should seriously consider waiting for the October 6, 2012 test date.
In addition to the LSAT (the scariest part of JR, SR, and Post Grad year), you will focusing on academic and co-curricular success. Choose classes not only by time-of-day, but more importantly by the challenge each professor provides. Junior year professors will ultimately be your Letter of Recommedation Writers. Juniors and seniors should focus on clubs, internships, and volunteering that provides practical expereince to the classroom learning. Clubs, internships, and volunteer events will become part of your law school application and personal statements. It is time for a profound experience.
Seniors and Post Grads, your goal is to find the best law schools for you. Keep in mind, not every law school is for eveyone. Out of 200 ABA approved law schools you may need a list of 5-7 (safe, stretch, and dream schools). Use the LSAC resources to focus your search using undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, and location. In addition to looking for schools that meet your needs, take 20 minutes to delete the schools not on your list. The "Hell No" excercise eliminates clutter and helps focus your attention. Next, read the ABA Law School Data sheet and LSAC Law School Description pages for each of your possible law schools. Remember that space on these pages is limited, so a law school will write about its priorities. Finally, plan a school visit. Seeing the school, its students and faculty, and the greater community is critical if you will eat, sleep, and live there for three years.
Junior, Senior, and Post Grad To Do List:
One last note: Your fellow students are talking to each other. Are you in the conversation? Go to CLEO on Facebook at Facebook.com/Cleo.Scholars. Learn from the experiences of others and start building your network now. You don't need to apply to law school alone. CLEO and your professors, advisors, friends, and family can help.
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