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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?

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!

Pre Law Advisors, Alumni and Professors Offer Valuable Advice

November 17th, 2011 2 comments

PRELAWADVISOROn November 11, 2011, Widener Law invited Pre-Law Advisors from regional colleges and universities to visit the Harrisburg campus and discuss recent trends in law school admission and education.  Topics included the worth of law school, alumni occupations, and advice to offer undergraduates.  Since this blog serves prospective students, I’ll focus on the information most pertinent to you.  And, since there was a wealth of information, this post is long but worthwhile!

First, Professor Ben Barros proficiently addressed the controversy over law school tuition, debt and salary statistics.  If you graduate from law school, you will likely leave with a great diploma and a debt around $90K-$100K, unless you have alternate means like a scholarship or sponsor.  Yes, that’s daunting.  But recall that you have decades to pay off your debt and initial salaries increase within a few years.  Consider the investment you are making, this is your life and you will very likely find a job within law that will cover your debt load.  Dean Linda Ammons reminded us that professional schools in general require a hefty investment, take a look at the tuition rates for medical programs (how about dentistry?).

But don’t take my word for it, take a look at statistics.  The website Law School Transparency uses American Bar Association (ABA) data to formulate reports about salaries, job characteristics, credential requirements and geographies.  Professor Barros encourages everyone to consider the wide range of salary data and look at the whole picture.  What is the cost of living within the region?  Where do graduates obtain jobs?  Typically, law schools are regional.  Plan to practice where you study, that’s where you network, secure internships and learn the law.  It makes sense to place location high on your list of criteria that determine your choice of schools.

The following session showcased alumni addressing their experiences at Widener Law and finding employment.  Once again, networking was a general theme since most, if not all, of the graduates secured a job through friends, colleagues and mentors.  LeaNora Ruffin, Assistant Dean for Career Development, added that Widener offers a mentoring program between alumni and students to learn more about important skills and network into the profession.  She also addressed the difference between J.D. preferred and J.D. required jobs.   J.D. preferred positions tend to require the skills developed in law school, such as leadership and writing.  The jobs, such as lobbyists and executives, associate with the law but are not directly involved in proceedings.

In regards to undergraduate preparation, the panel stressed the importance of writing persuasively. English was an excellent choice of major for several panelists.  Specifically, they mentioned rhetoric and persuasive writing classes as more beneficial than creative writing.  Additionally, public speaking classes can help define the skills necessary to support and argue a legal position.

During the question and answer session, Pre-Law Advisors asked what characteristics are necessary to succeed in law school.  Professor Ben Barros and Vice Dean Robyn Meadows stressed the importance of focus and dedication.  Too often they see students in class wasting time on facebook or attending because it is expected by Mom and Dad.  You should attend law school because it is your dream and passion.  If you don’t like what you do, it becomes obvious in time.  With dedication, most students succeed.  Widener Law professors feel it is their job to train future attorneys and, while a few students are simply not capable of “thinking like a lawyer”, the majority do succeed if they truly desire.

Additionally, when considering scholarships students should ask how many scholarship recipients retain their award.  At Widener Law, the vast majority keep their scholarship since the Admissions office strives to award funds only to those most likely to show extraordinary performance in their first year of law school as illustrated through the LSAT and undergraduate GPA.

Overall, professors, advisors, administrators and graduates encourage incoming students to really consider their professional skills.  Professors are transitioning into practical, versus doctrinal, teaching to develop students into professional attorneys who do not need significant orientation upon entering their first job.  For this reason, they expect students to seek opportunities as they arise.  Don’t wait for a test to find out you don’t understand the material, ask questions often.  As an attorney, you will be expected to dig for information.  That is only achieved by asking questions.  So start now, what is your goal?  How do you get there?  What are the details involved?  Who can guide you?  What questions can you ask them?

As always, I’m a resource to you if law school admission is your goal!

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

Legal Employment

May 18th, 2011 No comments

Wondering about legal job opportunities? Many applicants ask about our employment placement rate (which remains at 93%) and career options.  There’s a lot of talk in the media about the economy and lawyers, but with work, commitment, dedication and a bit of networking law school graduates can find a fulfilling career.

Certain legal fields continue to offer lucrative opportunities.  Specialized attorneys in corporate and health law, which are concentrations on the Delaware campus,  often secure positions in firms, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and businesses.  A background in administrative or legislative law offers excellent preparation for government careers.  Our Harrisburg campus holds numerous resources to help you network towards state or federal positions.

Widener Law’s esteemed alumni work as judges, district attorneys, mayors, representatives, partners in law firms and a variety of other areas.  How can you find similar jobs?  Start by meeting graduates.  Use the resources available to build a professional network, it will help immensely when seeking internships and jobs!  Also, advice from recent law graduates may help you.

But a law degree does not mean you must practice.  Our Multicultural Affairs Officer, Dean of Admissions and Director of Admissions received a J.D. (all from Widener!) but pursued alternate paths.  Besides law school administration, graduates may become financial planners, mediators or consultants.  Check out some stories from law school graduates pursuing alternative careers.

The U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook holds a wealth of information about work descriptions and job outlooks.  Our Career Development Office also assists students to seek out opportunities, build strong resumes, ace interviews and succeed in fulfilling positions.

I hope this helps you with your journey to law school.  As always, do not hesitate to email me at asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu with questions!

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!

Happy Holidays!

December 10th, 2010 No comments

As the semester winds down, I wish you all the best in your finals and papers.  If you’re not currently in school, I wish you luck in navigating through those packed malls.  The Delaware campus is situated in the heart of the tax-free shopping district and traffic doubles during this time of year!  For the rest of the year, it is a convenient location for corporations and organizations due to the tax laws.  Interested in this legal specialty?  Read more about our Corporate Law Institute.

Happy holidays and see you in 2011!

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.