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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!

What to Do During Your Law School Visit

August 17th, 2012 No comments

As we start a new school year, some of you may be scheduling campus visits as you apply.  Here’s a few suggestions to make the most out of a visit.

  • Do your homework first

I understand that some people prefer talking to someone rather than doing research.  But you give off a much better impression toAdmissions representatives if you visit a law school knowing the basics.  Research is a major aspect of law school after all, show that you are already savvy with it.  Take a look at Widener Law’s website before you stop by.  All of our application requirements and procedures are listed there.  Create an account through our portal and see what the process looks like.  Also, visit lsac.org for information about the LSAT and creating a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report.  These are the basic application procedures.

  •  You interview us, not the other way around

Widener Law does not interview applicants so do not consider a visit as an interview for Admission.  No, a campus visit will not sway the Committee’s decision.  We will gladly help improve your application but any requests for reconsideration or clarification should be submitted in writing (email or letter).

On the other hand, this is your opportunity to gauge whether Widener Law is a good fit for you.  Make a list of questions that you feel are important and ask them during your visit.  If anything is unclear, ask again!  We are here to give you a full picture of our programs and atmosphere.   About.com has a good list of questions to ask, but ask anything you want!  If your tour guide can’t answer a questions, then someone else probably can.  Feel free to request another contact for further information.

  •  When should you visit?

Widener Law welcomes visitors any time of the year.  But I usually suggest waiting until you receive a decision.  I recommend applying to a wide variety of law schools (if you can afford it).  After receiving piles of acceptances (hopefully), narrow down your most likely choices.  Then visit those schools.

  • Meet students, faculty, staff, etc.

Visit a class, request to meet a student, stop by our cafeteria (Crown Court) and stroll through the library on your own.  Make sure to meet as many people as you can to get an accurate picture of student life.  We regularly schedule class visits and have an active Student Ambassador group to answer your questions.  US News offers a great suggestion:

“During your visit, try not to let the awe-inspiring (or underwhelming) facilities distract you; stay focused on what really matters. While a grandiose library may be impressive, pay closer attention to how happy and collaborative the students are and how involved they are in the school and in extracurricular activities. Is there a sense of community, both within the law school and within the broader university?”

  • Don’t rush to judgement

Just as when you visited colleges (if you didn’t then, you should visit law schools now), don’t rush to judgement.  I was highly disillusioned with my college visit.  It was a dreary, rainy day.  The campus was enormous and overwhelming.  The food was barely edible.  The location was not exactly “happening”.  And I had trouble really seeing myself there.  Despite the visit, they had great programs and a good price so I chose that school anyway.  I had some of the best years of my life there and I would choose that school again – I’m glad I didn’t rush to judgement!  Sometimes visits don’t give an accurate picture of three or four years worth of education.  Weigh your options.  We all have bad days, classes are not always lively and interesting, and rainy days happen.  Remember what’s important and take visits into account along with the bigger picture.

  • Now you’re ready to stop by!  

I hope you can all take a look at both the Harrisburg and Delaware campuses.  They both offer more than just a building, it’s an entire community.  For the full experience, call 717-541-3903 to visit the Harrisburg campus or 302-477-2100 to visit the Delaware campus or email lawadmissions@widener.edu.  Further details are available on our website.

What do you think?  What additional advice can you offer?  Comment below!

Advice from a 3L to Incoming Law Students

August 8th, 2012 No comments

Incoming students and applicants alike wonder what the law school experience is all about. Although curiosity is normal and even helpful, there are a few that go above and beyond to prepare for law school. Most of you aspiring lawyers students already have good testing, studying, reading and writing skills. So keep up your good habits, prioritize your time and focus on the present moment. The rest will come in time so don’t stress before you need to. Take time to do the best you can with what you have. Tom Trettel, third year Student Ambassador, offers the following advice for new students:
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Tom Trettel, 3L

As it gets closer to time to start law school, I (as a 3L) have a few words of advice. As always, take what you find helpful and leave the rest.
1) Breathe.
2) It will all fall into place and in a year you will wonder, “Was I really stressed about That?”
3) Enjoy the next couple of weeks. Hang out with friends and family. Let them know that the next few months will probably be filled with school and little else.
4) Know that having the right kind of computer, highlighter, or dictionary is really not very important. You just need pen, paper, and yourself. (And you can borrow the pen and paper.)
5) Put in the time, do the work and you will be fine. Really. We have all been through it. We survived and so will you.
6) Do not hesitate to ask questions of people who have been through it. We really are offering to help.
7) See #1.

Work, Life and Law School: How Do You Balance It All?

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Troy Riddle, Multicultural Affairs Officer

Working full-time and attending law school can be a scary notion.  However,  Troy Riddle, Widener Law’s Multicultural Affairs Officer, is living proof that it can be done.  Mr. Riddle is an alum of Widener Law’s Extended  (part-time)  Division, his entry below describes his experience and tips that helped him through.

________________________________________________

Law school is challenging for a student of any age or academic pedigree, but I believe it is exponentially more challenging for students trying to balance a full-time job and/or family. The sense of accomplishment one feels, however, when the four year’s are over is euphoric.

As an Extended Division student, I was employed full-time as a middle manager in the healthcare industry, managing a staff of more than forty. The nice thing about my work situation, however, was that my boss and the staff knew I was in law school, and provided a lot of support and encouragement to me. This support system proved invaluable to me. Especially on those days where I hadn’t completed all of my assigned readings and needed to steal a few extra minutes at lunch time to try and cover the material before making the drive from Philadelphia to Delaware.

Four years later, it was all over, and to be quite honest, I was a little sad. I actually enjoyed law school. The rigors of legal education challenged me in ways that I didn’t know I could be. I learned a lot…not just about the law and how to craft ingenious arguments, but about life and how the world really works and how the law influences it. Because law touches virtually every aspect of human existence, it’s almost impossible to leave law school without having at least one “light bulb” moment regarding something you previously thought mundane or ordinary.
There are many ways to approach law school if trying to balance it with work and/or family.

Here are a few tips/advice I’d like to share with you:
• Don’t make any life-changing moves or decisions.
• Know that at times you’ll have more reading than humanly possible to complete.
• Know that the people you always see in the library aren’t necessarily getting the top grades.
• Understand that your family and friends won’t understand the demands being place upon you.
• Talk to your professors when you don’t understand a concept/case covered in class.
• Take as many practice exams as you can and get feedback.
• Take time for you (both mentally and physically); exercise, spend time with the family.
• Take at least one day during the week for a reprieve. (I made Friday my “me day.”)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (It doesn’t make you a poor law student.)

Much success to you as you embark upon what I think is the most transformative education one can obtain!

Thank you, Mr. Riddle, for sharing your experience!  If you have further questions about the part-time program please feel free to email the Admissions office at lawadmissions@widener.edu.