Are you thinking about going to law school?

February 12th, 2014 No comments

If you are thinking about going to law school and entering the legal profession, then I invite you to follow me on our Admissions Blogs.  Not too long ago, I was sitting in your seat.  I remember anxiously awaiting my LSAT score, and then waiting to hear on my acceptance into law school.

By way of introduction, I graduated from Widener University School of Law in 2004.  As a student at Widener, I worked in the Admissions Office and really enjoyed representing my school to prospective students.  I then began my career as a prosecutor.  Thereafter, I spent several years practicing civil litigation.  This past fall, I returned to my alma mater, as the Assistant Director for Admissions. My degree has taken me full circle  I hope that my experiences as a law student, a lawyer, and now a member of the Admissions Committee will help you in taking the next step in the application process.

Please check back in a few weeks for more to come…

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Law School Application Process – The Basics

December 5th, 2013 No comments

Travel season is over and I am back in the office! One request that pops up time and time again when I interact with prospective law students is to describe the overall application process to law school.

Here are the basics:

First and foremost, reach out and get to know lsac.org. This is your “one-stop shop” for the law school admissions process. You will need to create an account there, if you haven’t already. Here, you will register (and then PREPARE) for an LSAT. You can also track the rest of the process from here, such as when they receive your other materials, including your transcripts and letters of recommendation which are sent directly to LSAC. Widener Law does not require letters of recommendation, but we do recommend them since they strengthen an application.

Once you have your materials submitted and LSAT score in hand, it’s time for the application. The only way to apply to Widener Law is online at lsac.org. A personal statement is a required part of the process, so make sure you have a good one ready to go (please no more than 2 or 3 pages). The review committee takes a holistic approach to application review, so make sure every aspect of your application is sound.

The turnaround time for applications is typically 4-6 weeks, but a decision could be reached by the committee sooner or later depending on many factors. The last part of the process is patience. We live in an age where things move and change so quickly, but law school applications still take time to be reviewed and the timetable is a tricky thing to predict. Remain patient and professional in all communication you send to a law school.

That’s the process in a nutshell. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment or email me at jjwilkinson@widener.edu.

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Am I Ready? – Thoughts from 1L Darryl Green

September 9th, 2013 No comments

The start of law school can be daunting. 1L Darryl Green weighs in on preparing for the great undertaking:

 

As the days get crossed off my calendar, I find myself getting closer and closer to my law school’s orientation week.  As excited as I am, I can’t help the nervousness that grows stronger within me each passing day.  I am about to get a full on taste of what it’s like to be an actual student in his first year of law school.  The only question is, am I ready?

For me, it’s the one question that‘s repeated over and over again.  It’s well known that law school is no walk in the park. The undergraduate mentality that a lot of students come in with, have to be reevaluated immediately upon entering law school.  I am sure this will be explained in depth during orientation in every law school in the country.  But even so, the worries one may face when starting law school may come before one even sets foot on a law school campus.  Here are three of my main worries about starting law school:

1. The Work Load

By now, entering 1L students have probably received packages from their respective schools. These packages may include orientation information, class schedules, first assignments, required readings, suggested readings, etc.  ”First Assignments? Required readings? Suggested reading?  The school semester hasn’t even started yet and I already have work to do?” Yup, there are books that need to be read and assignments that need to be done before classes even start. A small work load compared to what will be handed to students at the start of classes.  As a full time student, my schedule consists of five classes that are (so I’m told) generally standard for 1L students.  Property, contracts, torts, civil procedures and legal methods.  All of which require a lot of individual attention, lots of reading, analytical thinking, understanding, briefing and outlining.  It’s definitely a step (or two, maybe three) up from years as an undergrad.  It’s something I know I’ll have to get a grip on.  I know it could  be very overwhelming and stressful, but if I don’t, it can be a full on disaster.

2. Studying

We all have different methods of studying and retaining information for quizzes and exams.  A lot of the time, the information we stored was only to be regurgitated during test time.  It’s something that as an undergraduate I’ve gotten used, and it has pretty much worked.  But all good things must come to an end. To some extent, at least what I’ve been told and experienced a little is, law school requires more than learning new information and reciting it verbatim.  Sure, I will spend countless hours studying and memorizing new words, rules, and other information needed for the law school exams. Doing my best impersonation of Mike from Suits (good show by the way) to help me through.  However, it takes more than just being able to recite the information you come across.  As a law student, I will have to be able to take what I learn and figure out how to apply it to a given scenario or fact pattern and then explain how I arrive to such a conclusion.  From my understanding, this is an important part of studying in law school.  It’s one thing to know the information, but it’s another thing to know the information and be able to apply it properly.  This is quite different from what I am used to.

3. Exams

If you love multiple choice tests, raise your hand. (Ok, let’s see. I get to choose between four, maybe five answer choices.  I know one of them has to be right and I’m pretty sure if studied hard enough, I can spot the answer when I see it. Yup, my hand goes up.) What about short answer questions? (Hmmm… ok. It’s a bit more time consuming than multiple choice, but hey,  Just read the question, write a sentence or two and I am golden.  I guess I can put my hand up here too. Reluctantly though.) Okay, now essay exams? (… and cue the cricket noise.)  No, I am not a big fan of essay style exams but from my understanding, it’s going to be what I am faced with come test time in law school.  Professors don’t really want to know how many times you can correctly guess an answer on a scantron.  And although, simply writing out two sentences, answering a question with yes or no and why is okay, it will only be a piece of a bigger question that needs to be answered on an exam. Professors want to see what you’ve learned throughout the semester and the best way for them to see that is through an essay style exam. It’s pretty much the norm in law school, It’s going to take some getting used to.

Those are a few of my worries with starting law school. Am I ready for it? Only time will tell, but I am preparing for what’s to come.  Since I know there is going to be a massive workload, I am trying to figure out the best way to go about getting it organized and how I can get a handle on it early.  Studying is going to take up a lot of my time, granted.  So setting up a schedule and sticking with it will be key.  Regarding the exams, one of my required readings is a book entitled Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School.  So far, its been very helpful and It’s a good book for essay exam writing.  (For your reference, it is listed in my Good Reads.)

 

What is it about starting law school that worries you?

Putting Theory Into Practice – Advice from Joshua Wilkinson, Admissions Counselor

April 29th, 2013 No comments

environmental lawYou obtained that elusive J.D. and studied hard for the Bar Exam – but once you meet with your first client, all of that legal knowledge and heightened sense of what makes a persuasive written argument suddenly becomes insignificant. When you find yourself face to face with a live person and you have to deal with them, you realize that no amount of case briefing or essays written in CRAC format can prepare you for this moment. So how do you interview clients? How do you write a contract? What does it take to mediate between parties?

Fortunately, Widener Law offers a robust menu of courses that focuses on the basic, pragmatic skills of lawyering that can easily be overlooked as one prepares for the practice of law. Classes such as Interviewing & Counseling help student develop the skills necessary to meet and greet clients through sheer practice and role play.

Negotiation & Mediation: Theory and Practice is another class that teaches how to navigate client relations, and reinforces its lessons through simulation exercises. These simulations are also analyzed by peers to help inform the student about how effective their mediation techniques are.

Law school is already great for preparing students to tailor their writing to a variety of situations, but Widener Law also offers classes that focuses on how to write for specific instances. For instance, Legal Methods III – Contract Drafting provides students with the opportunity to learn the basic principles of contract drafting, interpretation, and negotiation.

Are you interested in helping shape the future of our public policies? Legislation is a class that explains the processes by which legislation is passed, enforced, and interpreted, while Administrative Law teaches how this country’s various administrative agencies function and make decisions.

law 097As far as preparing students for the nitty gritty details of lawyering, perhaps nothing can come close to participating in one of our Civil Clinics. Here, students have the opportunity to represent real clients with real legal problems while under the supervision of experienced attorneys. In the clinic, students will interview and counsel clients, frame legal issues in cases, draft pleadings and litigate (under the third year law student practice rule). I’m not sure there is a better way to make a difference in your community while pursuing your J.D. than the clinics!

Students love that we offer opportunities for hands-on training, as a recent survey based on the Classes of 2011 and 2012 showed that Widener Law students take an average of 2.5 skills-based courses before graduation. Which ones are right for you largely depends on which path you choose to take. How can we help you along your path?

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LSAT Fun!

March 12th, 2013 No comments

February LSAT scores were recently released! What does that mean for you? Hopefully you’re score is amazing and you can breathe a sigh of relief. In that case, consider scholarship opportunities on your list of law schools. What are the criteria? What are the retention rates? Widener Law offers funding based on LSAT score and undergraduate GPA. The higher your scores, the more competitive you become for scholarships and grants.  Be careful with scholarship offers and make sure to read the small writing.  What are the requirements to retain the scholarship?  Is it renewable?

What are your thoughts about the LSAT?  Any helpful tips to prepare?

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Beginning the last semester of law school….. – Thoughts from 3L Amira Khan

January 11th, 2013 No comments

As classes start again, I asked our work study, Amira Khan, to share her thoughts about her final semester at Widener Law.  Here’s a glimpse in the life of a 3L!

 

It seems like I have been waiting for three years to finally get to this point… I am FINALLY in my LAST semester of law school! As I finished off all my prerequisite courses last semester, I am left with a pretty light schedule, only taking 10 credits and switching from regular to extended division.

The drive to school Wednesday morning felt surreal. I couldn’t believe this was my final first day of school. The past two and half years seemed like a blur. I vividly remember my first day of law school back in 2010. I was a scared, nervous 1L and did not have any idea what to expect. Looking back, it is amazing how quickly I acclimated to law school. I became accustom to the routine of going to class, doing the assigned reading, and praying that I was not going to be called on that day in class. One thing that I never got used to, however, was the Socratic method. I spent most semesters living in fear each day, keeping my head down and avoiding eye contact with the professor in hopes that I could dodge the bullet. I found that when I got called on early in the semester, I got it over with and it was not actually as bad as I had made it seem in my head. I often felt relieved to get it over with.  But in those classes where I had not yet been called on yet, it was painful waiting each class, anticipating that today could in fact be “my day”. However, by my third year of law school, I had surprisingly gotten used to the Socratic method. It did ensure that I was prepared for class each day, and after being in classes with the same students for three years I no longer feared getting inevitability of getting called on.

People often ask me if I knew back then what I know now, would I do it all over again? My answer is always yes. My experience here at Widener has been great. The staff and faculty are eager to help and the professors always respond to my frequent emails during the reading period before finals. The people are friendly and there are so many networking events and student organizations to get involved with. While law school in itself is tough, Widener Law is a wonderful place to attend, as there are small classes and several job opportunities in the legal community in Wilmington as well as Philadelphia. Widener Law also offers a bar preparation and strategies course that I am currently taking to prepare for the Bar exam. Overall, Widener Law is a great place to attend law school as the faculty and administration are helpful and friendly and the school does its very best to prepare students to take the Bar exam and to become skilled attorneys.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Amira!  Happy last semester to you.  Do you have questions for Amira?  Email asdelpuerto@widener.edu, call 302-477-2703 or post a comment below!  She’ll respond to you directly.

 

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About that Tuition Bill……

November 27th, 2012 No comments

Financing your legal education ranks among the top worries for applicants.  Scholarships and grants are a best case scenario but in reality most will be taking out loans.  What does that mean for your future?  Well, consider that most law students graduate with a $100,000 bill or more.  This is also a major investment in your future which in most cases pays off within a few years.  Law can be a fulfilling and lucrative career for those who master legal skills and follow their calling.  It’s not a direct path to riches but it can certainly be a path to personal fulfillment.

So moving on, how do you pay for law school?  Here are important considerations:


  •  Ask about scholarships and grants.  Figure out whether you’re competitive for funding and if there are endowed
    scholarship or outside sources available.  If you are competitive for a merit scholarship, then consider a school’s reputation vs. debt load.  Would you attend a lower ranked school in order to graduate with no debt?  What does that mean?  What kinds of jobs could you consider if you graduate with no debt?  Where could you live?  What could you afford?
  • Meet with a Financial Aid Counselor!  Most law schools offer counseling upon acceptance.  Call the Financial Aid office to learn about different loans, deadlines and processes.  Paying for law school requires planning (if you paid for your undergraduate degree then you know this is true!).
  • MINIMIZE  YOUR DEBT!  Try to borrow the least amount possible.  Remember there is interest on loans.
  • Consider your cost of attendance.   Some things, such as a car loan or credit card payment, cannot be included in your budget.  How will you pay for these bills?  Remember full-time students are allowed to work a MAXIMUM of 20 hours per week.
  • Yes, there are a few work study positions in law school.  They are competitive but it’s an option.
  • Watch LSAC’s Paying for Law School on YouTube.  It’s long so set up 45 minutes to watch this.  You’re welcome in advance :)

 

What do you think?  How will you pay for law school?  Maybe follow this guy’s lead and ask for $10,000?

More resources:

Financial Aid FAQs:

http://law.widener.edu/Admissions/CostsandFinancialAid/FinancialAidFAQs.aspx#24

Loan Calculators:

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml

http://www.yourgfm.com/debt-calculators/college.shtml

http://degreedirectory.org/articles/20_Tools_to_Calculate_Student_Loan_Costs.html

What’s an Information Session?

October 19th, 2012 No comments

Widener Law hosts two information sessions per school year.  The next one is this Saturday, October 20 and we are excited to greet aspiring law students!  An information session is invaluable if you are interested in law school.  You can meet professors, students, and staff and get a feel for the school’s atmosphere.  Information Sessions may include:

  • Admissions presentation
  • Clinical opportunities
  • Tours of the law school
  • Financial Aid information
  • Career options
  • On and off campus housing

Visiting a school is essential before attending but it’s only one part of the process.  Make sure to do your research – how does a school match your interests?  What clinics are offered?  What electives are available?  Are there legal specialties?  What do faculty publish?  Do they participate in conferences?  Where do students intern?  What student organizations are available?  Can you live on campus?  Do you want to live on campus?  What is the cost of living?  What is tuition and what kind of financial aid is available?

The great thing about an information session is that you can visit and answer these questions all at the same time.  Meet a variety of people, network, and make sure the school you choose is in a geographical area you hope to practice and a place you feel welcomed for three (or maybe four) years.

Hope to see you at one of our Information Sessions!  The second one will be held January 5 from 10 am – 1 pm.  Email lawadmissions@widener.edu to register!

What do you think?  Have you attended an information session or open house?  Was it worth while?

LSAT Prep

September 11th, 2012 No comments

Picture this.  A college student, lets name her Amy, dreams of becoming an attorney.  She did her research about admission to law school and bought a pile of books to prepare for the LSAT.  She took practice tests in her spare time at a secluded corner in the library to minimize distractions.  She read through each question carefully and took her time to consider each response.  After a few weeks of studying, she felt comfortable with the techniques and confident in her practice scores.

The day of the test, Amy can’t focus.  The student next to her is tapping his foot.  The proctor doesn’t notice the construction going on outside.  Time flies by as Amy tries to read through each questions and consider each option.  By the end of the test, Amy is exhausted and defeated.  She bombed.

What went wrong?  Here’s some tips:

  1.  Time yourself when you practice for the LSAT.  Get used to reading quickly and efficiently.  Take tests over and over again in the time allotted for the actual test.  Don’t slack on this!
  2. Take the test in a simulated testing environment before the actual administration.  Testing rooms, especially for the LSAT, can vary.  Although all environments are carefully monitored, things happen beyond our control.  There are many prep courses that offer practice tests.  Widener Law offers two Mock LSAT experiences in the Fall (Sept. 22 and Nov. 17).  They are offered at no cost and follow LSAC guidelines for administration (including the check in process!).  It’s better to be over prepared than not so take advantage of these opportunities!
  3. If there is a disturbance during the test (such as construction outside), bring it up to your proctor!  Follow up with LSAC to make sure they are also aware.  You always have the option to cancel your score if things go awry.

What other tips do you have?

For more information on Widener Law’s Mock LSAT visit:  bit.ly/mmThVA

For more practice tests visit: bit.ly/SAVas9 or lsac.org

Email me with questions!  asdelpuerto@widener.edu.

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Why Go To Law School?

August 24th, 2012 No comments

Higher education, as you all know, is an expensive yet fulfilling endeavor. How do the benefits outweigh the cost? The Economical Lawyer offers some great insight. She finds her legal education training helped develop three specific skills – critical thinking, self promotion and marketing, and living with no regrets.  These three skills helped her land a job and find fulfillment in her career.  Curious? Read more at her blog. Law school is worth it, just keep focused and goal oriented!