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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

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.

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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.

Meet Jason Ploppert – Rising 3L

April 27th, 2012 No comments

Jason Ploppert, Widener Law Student

My name is Jason Ploppert, and I am going into my third year of law school at Widener.  I am Penn State alumnus, where I majored in Crime, Law, and Justice.  Since coming to Widener I have become an active member of the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honors Society and the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law.

As an incoming 1L my biggest fear was the immense amount of reading, and the inherent competitive nature of law school.  Your first year in law school is unlike any other experience you have had in your life.  The pressure you face your first year is palpable, however, the professors and students at Widener make first year a much less harrowing task.  Professors and other students are more than willing to lend a helping hand, and unlike other schools there is less of the typical “me-first” mentality.  In my first year I had some of the best teachers I have had in my entire life.  My civil procedure professor, Patrick Johnston, was able to take a subject that many consider the hardest in law school and make it much less convoluted, while adding in a great deal of humor.  Another personal favorite of mine, Leslie Johnson, makes students feel so comfortable by being so approachable and teaches in a way that could make the most complex subject seem like third grade math.

At the end of the day law school is what you make out of it, in my two years here I have probably learned more than I did in the other 23 years of my life combined.  If you come here willing to put in the work, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Thanks for your thoughts Jason!  Learn more about him on our Student Ambassadors Page.

Which Area of Law Should You Pursue?

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Law schools offer an overwhelming array of concentrations, certificates and diplomas.  Do you feel out of the loop?  That’s okay, specialties and interests bloom as more classes and organizations fill your schedule.  Just like college, some students arrive with a specific interest; some will stay the track while others will deviate.  Still, a majority of incoming students have no clue where their degree will lead.

So how will you decide?

Your classes will guide you.  Although every foundational course has its value, students typically find a niche within their first two years.  For example, contracts might not be your path if you prefer trial advocacy.  Or maybe you have a strong scientific background that compliments patent law.  Take your time, reflect on your interests and network!

Ask professors.  Yes, meet your professors during office hours.  Most will be more than happy to talk about your interests – especially if it’s a similar field.  Don’t be shy, explore your options.

Meet Career Services.  Career counselors are paid to know about legal job options and market availability.  They are a great resource for guidance on landing a job in your preferred field.  They can candidly discuss job options.  Furthermore, they offer resume and interview coaching to give you an edge in the job market.  Again, network, explore and learn.

Join professional organizations.  Do not just join student groups, become involved.  Meet guest speakers or better yet seek out speakers for the group.  Attend conferences and professional organizations.  You might meet a future employer.

Participate with a clinic.  Clinics offer pro bono experience to law students.  At Widener Law, students represent a client from swearing in to a settlement or verdict.  The interviewing, case briefing and research skills provided through clinics are extraordinary.  If you are considering traditional attorney work, seek out clinical opportunities.

Overall, take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.  Your skills and talents develop in time.  As always, feel free to contact me with questions: asdelpuerto@widener.edu

Choosing a Law School

March 22nd, 2011 No comments

The Admissions office is bustling with activity as we fill our incoming class.  If you are still thinking about applying, it’s not too late!  Our application deadline is May 15 and yes, we do accept June LSAT scores.  Just list your registered test date in the LSAT portion of our application and the Admissions office will review your file upon receiving your score.

For those who already applied, congratulations, you’ve accomplished an arduous task and it’s commendable.  As decisions roll into your mailbox (or inbox from Widener Law), I hope you find yourself challenged with selecting a school.  Consider your options carefully, there’s more to a school than its price tag or ranking.  Do some serious self-reflection; your choice will impact your future.

Research the faculty.  Does anyone stand out?  Align with your interests?  What classes are offered?  Are they accessible and helpful?  Faculty have a profound influence on your education, networking and training.  Widener Law’s faculty ranges from judges to CEOs with strong ties to Pennsylvania and Delaware legal communities.  What do you want to do and how can the faculty help you achieve that?

Consider the school’s location.  Is that where you want to practice?  What are the internship and clinical opportunities?  Will you be able to network and build your career while in law school?  Widener Law is optimally located in the epicenter of major cities (Philadelphia, New York City, DC) offering a wealth of opportunities.  We are also uniquely able to offer an education in an urban/suburban or more rural setting with the Harrisburg and Wilmington campuses.  Where do you feel most comfortable?

Review the programs.  Along with specialties, what core courses are required to graduate?  Talk to students and alumni, how do they feel about their preparation?  Widener Law prides itself in a practical orientation that prepares students to pass the bar and fully integrate in a professional setting upon graduation.

Ask.  Research.  Review.  Do not rely solely on rankings or publications to make your decision.  Visit law schools and sit in on classes.  Talk to professors, lawyers, students, alumni and anyone else associated with the law.  Your intuition will tell you which school will best prepare you for your path.  Choose wisely!

Fastest Growing Law Specialties

September 13th, 2010 No comments

The September issue of National Jurist showcased an article about the “Specialties with greatest growth” in law and I was thrilled to see Corporate and Health Law on the list.  Widener Law offers institutes on the Delaware campus for both concentrations.  In fact, our highly respected faculty in both health and corporate fields continually develop new programs, publish regularly and attend international conferences.  Their guidance and mentorship is second to none, involving practical methods and personal attention.

National Jurist also recognized Environmental law as one of Widener’s strongest programs.  The dual campus Environmental Law Center handles issues surrounding sustainability, climate change and energy, toxic torts, community service, government action.  The highly active environmental law clinic estimates that more than $ 20 million dollars in compliance, facility upgrade and Supplemental Environmental Project expenditures have resulted from citizen suits.

Widener Law is at the forefront of legal developments.  To learn more about our programs please visit law.widener.edu/Academics.aspx or meet an Admissions representative at a college near you.  We will be traveling extensively this fall so please do not hesitate to stop by our table!

Assistant Dean of Career Development – LeaNora Ruffin

July 12th, 2010 1 comment

Widener Law offers a wealth of resources to their students.  In this feature, LeaNora Ruffin, Assistant Dean of Career Development, discusses her staff’s initiatives to help students secure internships and employment after law school.

Before arriving to Widener Law, Dean Ruffin practiced in Philadelphia as a products liability and medical malpractice attorney.  In 1998, she moved to Widener Law’s Career Development office.

Dean Ruffin encourages students to develop skills outside of the classroom to give themselves an edge in this tough job market.  She finds that employers seek savvy students who understand the importance of meeting bottom lines.  They favor new associates with leadership and people skills.  Those armed with these qualities are at an advantage.

She also encourages students to think outside of the box.  While it is important to create a legal interest during law school, you should also consider new, developing fields.  Dean Ruffin suggested watching legislation and news events and ask how law offices would be involved.  If a new bill is passed, where do the lawyers come into play?  Who would fight the bill?  Who would defend it?  She suggests considering bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosures, federal government regulations, environmental regulations, healthcare regulations and compliance, family law, criminal defense and general practitioner fields as options with consistent job openings.

The Career Development has offered a variety of resources for students.  In the past, they held workshops with prominent speakers from the area, on-campus interviews and job fairs.  In addition to updating prior initiatives, they will also start a blog which allows students to see new programs and encouraging student feeback.  Dean Ruffin hopes the blog will increase the communication among the law school community and her staff.

The new blog will release in the fall.  It will follow a newspaper format and include advice on leadership, professionalism and networking.  Dean Ruffin will also incorporate real-life scenarios so students can prepare.  For example, what if your boss asks for a case brief the night of your friend’s rehearsal dinner?  What do you do?  Examples like these illustrate the real-life situations attorneys handle every day.

For alumni, the Career Development office will hold a three session workshop for the most recent graduating class.  Those who are still seeking employment will be offered additional guidance and training to secure a full-time position.  Dean Ruffin will focus on teaching professionally aggressive job search skills while stressing that students need to go one step beyond what graduates formally did to find jobs.  In the past, students were able to send out e-mails and find jobs fairly quickly.  Today, students need to engage prospective employers in ways which the Career Development office will describe.

For Extended Division (part-time) students, Linda Shopland, Senior Counselor, holds after hour table discussions in the Atrium (our main hallway on campus).  She answers questions and encourages feedback to expand office functions.

Overall, Dean Ruffin hopes to keep improving and expanding the Career Development office.  She encourages students to contact her or her staff with questions, concerns and comments.  While Career Development assists students in their job search, it is still up to the student to find and secure a job.  Dean Ruffin suggests thinking strategically and creatively through this process.  When you see an opportunity, what is the origin?  Ask questions, be proactive, get involved.  This is excellent advice for not only law students, but anyone seeking employment.

For further information please visit http://law.widener.edu/CampusLife/CareerDevelopment.aspx.

Damiano del Pino – Student Bar Association President

June 24th, 2010 5 comments

For the next few weeks, I plan to showcase some of our students, administrators and professors so you can see what Widener Law offers.  Although this post is focused on the Delaware campus, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the Harrisburg campus.

Damiano (Dom) del Pino, president of the Student Bar Association (SBA), is in his fourth year as an Extended Division (part-time) student.  He has been highly active in the Widener Law community and gladly shares his experiences in different programs, classes and organizations.  During a break in his busy schedule, he offered a few comments about Widener Law.

The SBA

Dom has a challenging yet rewarding job leading the Student Bar Association.  Widener Law’s chapter is extremely active with over 30 organizations and a strong commitment to community service.  Students are encouraged to assist the local population and give back to Widener Law.  Social networking is also a key component for the SBA, alumni are invited to every event and regularly attend as guests and speakers.  They actively promote Widener and seek opportunities to interact with current students.  Not only are students encouraged to network with alumni, they are also reminded that fellow students are future colleagues who can offer valuable professional partnerships in the future.

Campus Renovations

As a fourth year student, Dom has witnessed many changes on campus.  The dorm room renovations impressed him.  For example, each floor offers a kitchen unit with two stoves and secure cabinets for each dorm room; this is well maintained by campus services.  Also, each dorm room has a micro-fridge unit for easy storage.  Furthermore, both Shipley and Concord dorm buildings will replace their windows for improved insulation.  In Shipley Hall, there is a gym open until 10 pm for students, faculty and staff.  Furthermore, students are given membership to the Jewish Community Center (JCC), located about a mile from Widener Law, offering state of the art equipment and an Olympic style pool.  One night per week, the JCC gym is reserved for Widener Law intramural sports teams.

In terms of safety, new cameras were installed by the townhouses and entrance to the dorms requires an activated campus ID.  Call boxes will also be installed soon, providing immediate response if needed.

Library

As a law student, you will likely spend a good deal of time in the library.  Dom is impressed by Widener Law’s resources.  As a public library, federal and congressional materials are available for students and the community.  Although thousands of publications comprise three levels, our highly trained staff can locate any printed journal not housed in our center.  Many library staff members also hold a J.D., not only can they assist students with research, but also with legal related questions.

Technology

Dom has also seen additions to technology.  Most recently, Widener Law implemented a closed circuit tv network which allows anyone on campus to view events in our main venue – the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom.  The Main Law Building offers outlets by each seat for laptops in every room and the entire campus has wireless internet. Every classroom also has tv and dvd access.

Grading Curve

Some incoming students worry about Widener Law’s grading curve.  Dom understands these concerns but believes the faculty do an excellent job in clearly describing our system.  The grading system is transparent and detailed through two pages in the student handbook.  Dom finds this to be unique at Widener since he heard that other programs allow faculty to develop different curves for each class.  Widener Law has a standard curve for all students.  He finds that the curve becomes less stringent for upperclassmen and is slightly easier now for first year students.  Attorneys in the area know about Widener Law’s curve, especially when interviewing with Widener Law alumni.  It is also well known that Widener Law’s program is very challenging; therefore J.D. graduates are considered extremely well-prepared for practice.

Career Development

Dom mentioned a new Career Development initiative where a counselor provides personal counseling one night per week in the Main Law Building.  Evening students seem to be particularly appreciative of these after hour sessions.  Also, alumni are successfully employed, particularly in clerkships.  He encourages new students to focus on their writing skills when applying for jobs.  Employers care more about writing samples than GPA or class rank.  Fortunately, Widener Law has a strong writing focus with three methods classes and one required seminar with a final paper.

Final Words

New and prospective students should be excited with Widener Law’s growing reputation.  Dean Ammons hired three new faculty with the same vigor and passion as new students and continues to renovate campus facilities.  Dom is excited to see new developments during his final year.

To learn more about Dom, please visit his profile!

Seat Deposit Time!

March 22nd, 2010 2 comments

As decisions roll in, you may find seat deposit deadlines approaching.  How will you decide on a school?

- Visit the law schools on your short list. Sometimes you will just know you’re at the right place during your tour, so make sure to bring your seat deposit with you in case you want to save your seat right away!

- Talk to students.  Visit a class. Meet graduates. These are all ways to gauge the culture and atmosphere of a law school. Do you feel engaged and understood? These are signs that you’re in the right place.  Also, research your interests in relation to the law school’s offerings.  Are graduates employed in your area of interest?  Where do they work?  Where do students intern?  What is the first year curriculum?  What is the law school’s mission statement?

- Walk around the surrounding areas. Our Visitor’s Center offers information about both Harrisburg and Wilmington.  There’s a wealth of opportunity in both cities!  How do you feel in the area?  Can you see yourself practicing nearby?  Although many graduates move far from their alma mater, most stay regionally.

- Keep track of deadlines. Widener Law will release your seat if your deposit isn’t received on time, so stay organized! Make sure to contact the Admissions Office if you encounter any delays or problems.

When in doubt, contact Admissions and we will refer you accordingly.