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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!

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!

Getting in: International Law

November 3rd, 2011 No comments

In my travels this fall, many prospective students showed interest in International Law.   First – about specializations:

Take your time to select an area of law you wish to practice – if you select one at all! There is no requirement to focus on just one area, in fact, most of our students graduate with a wide variety of electives on their transcript. Some stress that specializations arise in internships and first year employment as you recognize your strengths through law school. Furthermore, you don’t really know what you’re getting into until you try it. Reflect on what your strengths REALLY are as opposed to what you THINK they are.

The number one, most important aspect of law school is to prepare students for the bar. Take the classes that are emphasized on your state bar exam. Don’t get distracted from your purpose for attending law school – passing the bar exam!

A few students, however, know which firm or specialty they will pursue upon graduation. They have no doubt in their goal and no interest in other options. In that case, there are certificates you can earn while obtaining your J.D. Visit our Certificate Programs page for more information.

I mentioned International Law for a reason; Widener offers great opportunities :

The Global Externship program prepares students to practice on an international level. Students have been placed with the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, International Trade Agency, the US Department of Commerce and United Nations Development Office.   Click here for a video introduction.

The Institutes offer a variety of international perspectives; particularly in business, environmental and health law.

Study abroad programs in Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Kenya and China. There are a variety of comparative law courses each year to suit your interests.

Renowned professors assist students in developing their legal skills and teach electives in Comparative or Global Law.

Student Organizations on both the Harrisburg and Delaware campuses promote networking and learning about current trends.

The Career Development office assists students in honing interviewing and networking skills to find and land jobs and internships.

As always, email me with comments, questions, suggestions, etc. – asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu. Thanks for reading!

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!

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!

New Year, New Applicants!

August 24th, 2010 No comments

Classes are in session and our new class is officially inaugurated.  We wish our incoming and current students the best of luck!  A brand new year brings a brand new admission season.

This year, we transitioned into a paperless format.  That means that you can apply online for free beginning in September.  Our portal is comprehensive and walks you through each step of the admission process.  We will also be traveling the country answering your questions and offering advice.  Check out the events calendar to see if we will be near you!

Additionally, I came across some excellent articles starting on page 32 of the latest PreLaw Magazine issue.  The articles “Law School Admission Secrets”, “6 Big Mistakes” and “4 Common Admissions Myths” all offer the same advice I give applicants.  These are broad comments that apply to most schools so take advantage of the quotes from the experts!

As always please do not hesitate to contact me as you tackle law school admissions!

Jurist Academy

June 14th, 2010 2 comments

Last week concluded Widener Law’s annual Jurist Academy, which is an invaluable program for rising Juniors and Seniors in college.  The Delaware campus hosted a diverse, dynamic and highly qualified group of college students from around the country.  Over a two week period, participants took introductory law courses, LSAT prep work, networked with prominent attorneys, tweaked their writing skills and learned about admission to law school.  What an amazing opportunity to boost your application and add experience before law school!

If you are curious about JD classesl, I highly encourage you to apply.  Please visit the Jurist Academy Admissions page for more information.  And, as always, feel free to contact me with questions!