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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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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!

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.

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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.