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Welcome to CLEO!

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.

Most importantly, this blog will give voice to our valuable assets...CLEO participants like you!

On this Blog you will:
1. get advice from current CLEO Scholars
2. learn about the CLEO Scholars Program, A.S.A.P., Sophomore Summer Institute, and CLEO Connection
3. share your profound moments

The CLEO Diversity in Legal Education Blog is an open space for us to talk about our experiences, to plan our next steps, and to support one another. The road to law school is rigorous, but as students, advisors, and professionals we can reach our goal.

Now, bookmark our page and create your username so we can get started!

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January 1, 2013
  PreLaw NEW Ye@r's rZlution! The CLEO blog

What's your New Year's prelaw resolution . . . So the world did not come to an end on December 21st.  New Year's Eve has come and gone and it is time for resolutions. We all know someone who resolved to Happy New Year lose those annoying pounds, only to quit a week or two later when they lost steam. Prelaw students start the new year with the same good intentions, but give-up when they try to do it alone and don't see immediate results.  Don't be a New Year casualty. . . be a CLEO success story!

Each year hundreds of students across the nation use College Scholars Programs to prepare for law school.  They know you can't wish your way to better LSAT scores.  You can reach your goal of becoming a law student if you make a clear plan and use the resources around you.  Any good plan starts with a timeline to mark your progress, a clear set of tasks designed to fit your level of readiness, and a team of friends and mentors to keep you motivated.  CLEO's prelaw experts and resources are ready to help you reach your goals.  All you need to do is choose the right program for you . . . and then get involved!

Acheiving Success in the Application Process: Juniors, Seniors, Post-Graduates

  • See ASAP Highlights and Photos here
  • When: Weekends (Saturday & Sunday) in July 2013
  • Where: Cities throughout the U.S.:
  • How: Click here to: Apply online

CLEO Connection: All law school applicants

  • When: January 2013 - March 2013
  • Where: Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, New York, NY, Washington, D.C.,
  • How: Register online

CLEO Scholars: Road to Law School (Freshmen), Sophmore Super Saturday (Sophomores), Juniors Jumpstart the LSAT (Juniors, Seniors, Post-Grads)

  • When/Where: San Francisco, CA (Saturday, January 26, 2013)
  • When/Where: Baltimore, MD (Saturday, February 16, 2013)
  • When/Where: Washington, DC (Saturday, March 23, 2013)
  • How: Register online

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 01/01/2013 06:02 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

December 13, 2012
  Prelaw Paparazzi & The 25 Greatest Legal Movies!

A prelaw fall semester is like the red carpet at a movie premiere!  Everyone is watching and judging each other - what is she wearing?, who is he with?, are they back again this year? 

LSAT scores, Letters of Recommendation, and Applications are your wardrobe and entourage while the LSAC and Deans of Admissions are the paparazzi and the critics.  Let's see if you have what it takes to be voted "Best-Ever"!

Let's start with "what did the camera see" ...  Your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score are a snap-shot, but they will be picked apart and interpreted as the first statistics to be judged.  Do your scores make you an A-list star or a D-list Diva?  Use LSAC's UGPA/LSAT Search to compare your numbers.

Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors get new pics each semester.  How will you improve your GPA and LSAT before the next photo shoot?  Seniors and Post-Grads need to maximize every "interview".  Think of yourself as a Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep - Older and Wiser actors with depth of experience.

Next, let's look at your entourage...  Your LOR, Application & Resume follow you everywhere you go.  Will they open doors or will they attract TMZ and tabloid magazines?  Did you choose a professor from this semester to write a current recommendation?  Does your application list all of your Box-Office hits (awards, organizations, conferences, degrees), does your resume describe a starlet or a Shakespearean Actor?

Finally, everyone needs a good agent... When you shout "show me the money", CLEO will be your Jerry Maguire. CLEO programs like: CLEO Scholars, CLEO Connection, and A.S.A.P. are the best "acting classes" and "community theaters" to perfect your skills.  CLEO will teach you how to be competitive in the application process with legal experts, professors, and law school deans.  Choose your next CLEO event right now!

Now it's time to feed your prelaw soul...You are going to need a break from time-to-time.  Bring your friends  and family together (they'll keep you sane) and watch one of the American Bar Association's  25 Greatest Legal Movies, read Great Legal Thrillers and articles in the preLaw Magazine, and stay connected with CLEO scholars on Facebook.

At this time of year, when deadlines and responsibilities are piling up, please remember that you don't need to apply to law school alone.  CLEO and your professors, advisors, friends, and family can help.

Happy Holidays!

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 12/13/2012 09:28 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

December 2, 2012
  Law School Admissions: An Uphill Run

The race has started . . . the runners are hitting their stride . . . are you leading the pack or are you still tying your running shoes?  Most of the 200 ABA Approved Law Schools have begun accepting and reviewing applications.  Does your application have what it takes to be a winner?

The law school admissions marathon started on September 1st, but you've been training for months.  Your workout included writing and rewriting your personal statement, the mini-marathon called LSAT, and gathering your cheering squad through Letters of Recommendation.  You still have hills still to climb, but an acceptance letter will be your reward for crossing the finish line.

Let's look at the ground you covered so far.  You have your LSAT scores (or you will soon if you took the December 1st exam) and you compared your scores to the profile of your top 5 schools.  A quick check of your competitiveness can be done by using the LSAC's LSAT search engine.

Next let's check your vitals . . . do you have what it takes to go the distance?  Personal Statement, Letters of Recommendation, and your Application.

               Click here for the Personal Statement blog post.

               Click here for the L.O.R. blog post.

               Click here for more application information

If you prepared well and practiced hard the next few months will be like running downhill.  If you got off to a shaky start, or if you need coaching and encouragement along the way; then CLEO's got your back with CLEO Connection, College Scholars, and ASAP!

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 12/02/2012 09:05 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

June 28, 2012
  Start Choosing Your Best Law School ASAP!

Choosing a law school is a monumental decision.  You are about to create a world overwhich you will have influence like never before in your life.  You will decide 

  • where you will live. . .
  • who you will meet, study with, and play. . .
  • what you will learn, and who will teach you. . .
  • how much it will cost to live. . .

Click the image below or here to begin the PowerPoint and to find Your Best Law School!


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    Posted By: lyndacevallos @ 06/28/2012 11:10 AM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

May 22, 2012
  Bring It! The CLEO Blog

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  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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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 05/22/2012 02:39 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

May 1, 2012
  #Fun-n'-Sun w/CLEO

The ocean is calling . . . and so is your prelaw summer. . . You deserve to feel the warm sand between your toes! But, remember: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Law School!

Use your summer break to "break away from the crowd"! The summer is short, CLEO can help you maximize your Internships, LSAT exams, Summer Readings & Movies and networking at the regional ASAP programs.

Internships pay the bills & fill-out your resume: You can take that lifeguard position, but how is it going to improve your law school application?  At this point you need to build the skills that promote success in law school.  Internships and volunteer projects are the "real-life" demostration of your commitment to a legal education and legal careers

Don't get stuck looking in all the "old places" fighting your peers for boring internships.  Be creative in your search: law school clinics  and  law school summer programs  can be a model for building and measuring the value of your internship.  Read their descriptions and look for internships with similar tasks or goals.  Many of the prominent and paying internships in prelaw have deadlines in February and March.  A google search for prelaw summer programs will identify programs like American Bar Foundation Diversity Fellowship, Wake Forest School of Law pre-law program,  and the American Indian Law Center's Pre-Law Summer Institute. Try these links for current prelaw internships:

The June LSAT is the Mt. Everest of Prelaw Summer:  The June LSAT (Monday, June 11) is all uphill climb and nothing else compares to its demands on your time during the first 6 weeks of the summer semester.  You need to be ready, you need to pack your Test-Day Packet, and you need to know what to do when the dust settles and the crying/cheering is done. 

After the LSAT you have 21/2 months until the fall semester begins.  While you wait for your scores, you can:

CLEO's Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) regional seminars teach you how to be a competitive applicant with direct support from law school admissions staff and prelaw advisors.  Apply for ASAP, today . . .

Feed and care for your prelaw soul:  You are going to need a break from time-to-time.  Bring your friends and family together (they'll keep you sane) and watch one of the American Bar Associations 25 Greatest Legal Movies, read articles in the preLaw Magazine, and stay connected with CLEO scholars on Facebook.

Law school and the application process are long and arduous.  It's important that you carve out time for a personal life and that you stay grounded in the real-world.  Good luck, and have a great summer!

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 05/01/2012 05:48 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

April 10, 2012
  Vote 4 Me!

CLEO's Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) program can help you master every aspect of your application including Letters of Recommendation.  Apply online today! 

There are three (3) key parts a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) needs to have if it is going to do anything other than fatten up your application. It needs WHO - WHAT - WHEN. Keep in mind, admissions staff read hundreds of applications, and in this case more is not better.  Effective, efficient, and engaging is better!

Start with WHO: A good LOR writer is someone who understands academic progress and can accurately & concisely evaluate your in-class success. Remember, law schools are educational institutions and they measure success in terms of GPA, LSAT scores, Bar Passage rates, and the size of their graduating class.  Choose a writer who speaks their "language". Law schools also reward contribution - which means involvement in student organizations, writing for college and department journals, and engaging in "major" related internships.

  • Professors, Teaching Assistants, and Instructors who have taught more than one of your classes and can emphasize your classroom strengths and academic maturity are your best choice.
  • Internship & professional supervisors who focus on your ability to complete projects in a demanding time-sensitive environment are a second source.
  • Celebrities are only helpful if you worked with them directly.  You need to be chosen for admission based on your accomplishments, not on someone else's accomplishments.     

Explore the WHAT: Content is King when applying to law school.  Don't waste precious space in an application repeating yourself.  Personal Statements, resumes, and addenda should always add new perspectives on your experience. 

Your LOR should focus on skills that predict success in law school.  Encourage writers to focus on academic excellence, organizational skills, and contribution to your community.  Details and specific examples will always hold the attention of the reader better than vague references.

Your LOR writer may need to review your resume, personal statement, transcript, or class assignments with comments in order to flesh-out a detailed letter.  Be sure to have these things available for the writer along with the dates, location, and special circumstances in which you interacted with the writer.

Now for WHEN: You need a LOR that is timely.  So, choose writers carefully but quickly - applications are due soon!  A LOR that describes events from years ago does not address the person that you are today - the candidate being evaluated by the law school.  But, if a LOR relating to your recent past can illuminate changes in your life - ask the LOR writer to tie that experience to what s/he knows about you today.

  • Professors are very busy at the end of the semester, and your LOR is not their only task.  Give your LOR writers a clear deadline that fits both of your schedules . . . and follow up.
  • Don't be a pest, but be persistent in communicating with your LOR writer and provide all the necessary forms (with your specific LSAC ID #), and submissions instructions to speed-up the process.
  • Post-grads may need to use professional supervisors as LOR writers.  Help your writer match successful law school skills with the language of your duties and job description.

Finally, use your resources: The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) provides excellent services including the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to process your application and attachments efficiently.  LSAC will also help you identify what your law school specifically requires in your application.

Keep in mind, that if an individual is judged by the company they keep . . . then it is safe to assume law school applicants are judged by the LOR writers they choose.  What is your choice saying about you?

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 04/10/2012 06:44 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

April 4, 2012
  ASAP: Achieving Success in the Law School Process

Edited: 04/04/2012 at 10:29 AM by matthewniziol

    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 04/04/2012 10:10 AM     Free Prelaw Programs     Comments (0)  

March 21, 2012
  Work It Out! CLEO's 90-Day LSAT Regime
ARE YOU FIT ENOUGH FOR THE LSAT? Do you have the endurance for a 3 ½ hour test? Can you do more than 100 reps of multiple choice questions? Do you know how to start an LSAT "work-out"? It's time to whip your LSAT score into shape and Coach CLEO's got your plan!
First and foremost . . . the LSAT is a big deal. Law Schools have only two standardized measures with which to compare students - LSAT and GPA. Your workout goal is to master the questions and score as close to 180 and as far from 120 as possible.

Get started by learning what LSAT muscles you need to flex. Read sample questions & explanations to learn how to solve each question so that when the particulars change your strategy does not.

Plan to Study as much as you Practice. An LSAT workout needs 1.5 hours of study and 1 hour of practice repeated 3 times a week for a good start. You'll need to step-up the intensity and frequency of your work-out as the LSAT gets closer. Here is your 4-week workout regime!

* 4-Weeks in May - Now you need to repeat the LSAT training program for speed and accuracy. Each week in May you should increase the number of questions you complete correctly!

Finally, seek experts to coach you. You do not need to train alone. CLEO is an excellent resource for LSAT questions and answers. You can also search online for the Test Preparation program that is right for you.

In the D.C. area, Griffon Prep has a trusted reputation when working with under-represented students. Their website is a treasure chest of LSAT Prep information including:
      1. 5 Tiny Mistakes in LSAT Games that can Cost Big Points
      2. Sample Logic Game with timer
      3. A Few Ideas for Dealing with Test Anxiety

*THE WORK-IT BONUS ROUND! CLEO has 5 more LSAT questions and their answers for you online. (Answers are at the bottom right of the answer page).

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 03/21/2012 01:08 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

February 28, 2012
  CLEO's Rulz 4 Personal Statements
The Voice! has Team Adam, Team Cee Lo, and Team Xtina. You've got Team CLEO! Twitter, Facebook, college essays, and blogs . . . you've been reading and writing mini-Personal Statements for years. Like the amateur singing in the car who dreams of being a star, you've got the talent. Now you need the coach!
Let CLEO be your coach. . . and let A.S.A.P. be your stage! (Apply to A.S.A.P. now!)

Coach's rule #1 - Know your audience . . . Michael States, Assistant Dean of Admissions, University of North Carolina School of Law, Chapel Hill: "There is no preferred format." But every law school separates applicants into piles of "follows instructions" and "does not follow instructions". Start with your personal statement.
Use personal stories to prove your points or examples of your success and challenges. The committee needs to hear your voice when it reads your story.
The admission committee wants to know what you think and wants to know that you can express yourself in detail. Using cliches, vague references, and "inside jokes" does not translate well into a personal statement. Never leave the committee guessing what you mean. To read more of Dean States' advice click here. . .
Coach's Rule #2 - The quickest way to lose your audience is with typos and grammatical errors. Caryn R. Suder's CLEO EDGE Magazine article, " I Can't Believe I Didn't Catch That!" outlines the best techniques for using proofreading to improve your personal statement.

Attorney Katherine Hughes, in her CLEO Edge article "Reading & Writing in Preparation for Law School" gives real world advice for writing.

"In addition to being efficient readers, lawyers must also be able to write clearly and succinctly."
"Becoming comfortable with the process of outlining is invaluable, as is avoiding flowery or excessive language and overly complicated sentence structures."
Clear, simple writing is always better.

Coach's Rule #3 -"legal writing is very structured, and you should ensure that you are not rambling or writing without the necessary structure in mind." - Attorney Hughes. Try this structure:

Ready to start writing? The Reader will give as much attention to your personal statement as you gave it as the Writer. Generic essays are easily spotted and ignored. Your skill in expressing your statement can be as important (and sometimes more so) than the content of your statement. Therefore; CLEO gives you its Top Ten List for writing a clear and concise Personal Statement. Incorporate these suggestions into your writing and you will have a statement that an admissions counselor will find easy to read.

For more Do's and Dont's, read Donald Pritchett's CLEO Edge article The Do's and Don'ts of writing a Personal Statement, by clicking here . . . Good luck, and good writing!

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 02/28/2012 06:41 PM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

February 8, 2012
  The Voice! - Personal Statements
The hit television show, "The Voice," can teach you how to connect using your Personal Statement - if you know what to listen for. Let CLEO be your voice coach. . . and let A.S.A.P. be your stage! (Apply to A.S.A.P. now!)
Just like on The Voice, your judges (law school admissions counselors) can't see you. You need to grab them with your talent, not your look. The talent in your statement will start them reading, the content will keep them reading; and if they connect with a piece of you, they'll want to add you to their team.

You are the talent: Your experiences, your insights, and the "promise" of your future make up the talent. If your statement doesn't sound like you, then it won't sound authentic. But, it takes time and practice to write from your heart. Don't let the voice of your high school English teacher get in the way. Try these three tricks to find your voice . . .

If you found your voice, now bring clarity from the confusion of life. A Personal Statement jumbled with thoughts and activities and goals is too distracting. You need to simplify your message.

Start with the building blocks. . . Take 20-30 minutes to fill-in the in the columns of this chart. Don't worry about editing your thoughts until later.

List any and all accomplishments, challenges, and struggles that resonate with "who you are".
Ask someone you trust to list what they know about you, and combine the lists.
Look for trends, critical moments, or cause and effect relationships across the columns. These connections will help you identify a theme for your Personal Statement.

Talent is raw. Talent gets you noticed. But just like on The Voice you need a coach to help you craft your talent. You need guidance from an expert. You need an insider to give you the Do's and Don'ts!

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    Posted By: matthewniziol @ 02/08/2012 09:32 AM     Prelaw Advising     Comments (0)  

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