PAC Tip:

Are you taking UH summer courses, and are eligible for finanial aid? Apply for summer financial aid at http://www.hawaii.edu/fas/

mymanagement/summer.php. The deadline to apply is April 17th.


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Contact PAC

QLCSS 101
2600 Campus Road
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Honolulu, HI 96822

 

(808) 956-4045
uhpac@hawaii.edu

 

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Pre-Law Advisors!

Our Pre-law advisors, Eliza and Lauren, are currently third and second year law students at the William S. Richardson School of Law here at UHManoa. They are currently available at these times or by appointment.

 

Lauren

Eliza

Monday

10 am - 11 am

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Tuesday

11:30 am - 4:00 pm

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Wednesday

 

8:30 am -12:30 pm

Thursday

11:30 am - 3:00 pm

 

Friday

By appointment

 

Please e-mail prelaw@hawaii.edu to make an appointment and for other pre-law questions.

 

Law Week:

 

Law Week will be held at the William S. Richardson School of Law from March 4th, 2014 - March 6th, 2014. Please see the event calendar below for more information!

The powerpoints will be posted here for your convenience after the presentations.

 

Previous Presentations

How to Apply to Law School & Tour of UHM's School of Law

Click to Download the Presentation. Delivered on February 5th 2013.

LSAT 101

Click to Download the Presentation. Delivered on February 6th 2013.

 

Spring Pre-Law Events

 

March

Event

Location

4th
5:30-6:30 pm

How to Apply to Law School,
Come and listen to a comprehensive breakdown of important dates, procedures, and strategies from the advisors at the UH Manoa Pre-Law Advising Center. RSVPs appreciated at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PreLawMar4.

More info:https://www.law.hawaii.edu/event/pre-law-week-how-apply-law-school-0

Law Classroom 3  
Contact: prelaw@hawaii.edu

5th
5:30-6:30 pm

LSAT 101
An LSAT instructor will explain the different sections of the LSAT and how to best prepare for this critical component of your law school application.   RSVPs appreciated at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PreLawMar5.

More info:https://www.law.hawaii.edu/event/pre-law-week-lsat-101

Law Classroom 1
Contact: prelaw@hawaii.edu

6th
5:30-6:30 pm

Law Student Panel
Get valuable advice, helpful tips, and answers to your questions about law school! Walk-ins welcome.  RSVPs appreciated at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PreLawMar6.

More info:https://www.law.hawaii.edu/event/pre-law-week-law-student-panel

Law Classroom 5
Contact: prelaw@hawaii.edu

8th
10AM to 2:15 PM

Free Practice LSAT
The University of Hawaii Alumni Association (UHAA) and Kaplan Honolulu will conduct free, full-length practice tests for LSAT, GRE, and MCAT.  To register, see https://www.law.hawaii.edu/event/free-practice-lsat.

Shidler School of Business,  Room TBD

 

April

Event

Location

1st
5:00 – 6:00 PM

Manoa Pre-Law Student Association Meeting
Topic: What Makes a Good Candidate for Law School

Law Library 118
Contact: mpla@hawaii.edu

3rd
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

UH Law: Part Time, Evening JD Program Info Session
Walk-ins welcome.  RSVPs appreciated at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PTApr3.  For more information about the program, please see https://www.law.hawaii.edu/part-time

Law Classroom 5
Contact: Liam Skilling, at lskillin@hawaii.edu or (808) 956-3000.

4th

ASUH Test Prep Scholarship Deadline
Full-time, undergraduate, classified students at UHM with at least Junior class standing (55+ earned credits) and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 may apply for a $750 scholarship to cover the costs of preparing for the LSAT.  .

Contact: ASUH.hawaii.edu
ASUH@hawaii.edu

 

 

Pre-Law Preparation at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from the websites of the U.S. Department of Labor, American Bar Association http://www.abanet.org,
Law School Admissions Council http://www.lsac.org, William S. Richardson School of Law,
and the UHM 2012-2013 Catalog.

OUTLINE
1. The Legal Profession
2. Preparing For Law School
3. Extracurricular Experience
4. Researching Schools
5. Applying to Law Schools
6. The LSAT
7. Writing a Personal Statement
8. Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation
9. Financial Aid
10. Available resources

Downloadable Pre-Law Packet

1. The Legal Profession

There is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education.  Students who are successful in law school and who become accomplished professionals come from many walks of life and educational backgrounds.  Some law students enter law school directly after their undergraduate studies without any post-baccalaureate work experience.  Others begin their legal education significantly later in life, and they bring to law school the insights and perspectives gained from those life experiences.  Legal education welcomes and values diversity because students benefit from the exchange of ideas and different points of view that colleagues bring to the classroom.

Laws are a product of our history, governmental structure, social, religious and political norms, and past and present technological developments.  Therefore, a broadly educated person with an aptitude for critical thinking and analysis is a student well-prepared to appreciate and understand the function of legal analysis, planning, and advocacy in our modern society.

Generally, law schools look for bright, well-rounded individuals who have a strong interest in law and a desire to give back to the community. Although not all law school graduates will practice law, they may still use their degrees in fields that are affected by law’s pervasive reach.

What is law?

In practice, law is the application of abstract rules (laws) to concrete situations in order to resolve actual or potential conflict.  Law impacts every aspect of society.  Lawyers work in all areas of society, from public practice to private firms, from trials in court to teaching in academia, and from general law to specialty areas of law such as corporate, entertainment, copyright, criminal, family, environmental, international, tax, and so on.

Lawyers work with clients from all segments of society to help resolve problems in the most civil manner available.  A lawyer must have analytic, creative, and logical reasoning skills, as well as reading, writing, and debating skills.  Lawyers must know how to analyze legal issues in light of constantly changing laws and public policy.  Within the context of the legal system, they must be able to advocate for individuals and diverse interest groups, represent viewpoints other than their own, and give accurate, intelligent counsel.  In particular, lawyers must be able to write clearly, communicate effectively, and negotiate persuasively.

Observe a law school class

From August through May, you can sit in on a law school class in progress at the William S. Richardson School of Law on the UH Mānoa campus.  This is a good way to get first-hand exposure to what law school is really like.  Click here to check out the law school’s schedule for class times and to set up a tour: Schedule a Visit

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2. Preparing For Law School

 

What does law school entail?

In order to practice law, lawyers must earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and then pass a state licensing exam, called “the bar.”

Acquiring a J.D. requires approximately 7 years of education:

            Bachelors Degree (~4 years)
            Law School (~3 years)

Some law schools offer part-time programs in the daytime and/or evenings that accommodate those who wish to continue working while taking courses.  Keep in mind that most part-time programs extend the course of study from 3 to 4-5 years.  Some schools also offer combined degree programs (such as a JD/MBA), which often extend the course of study beyond three years.

First-year curriculum usually begins with the fundamentals of legal practice and includes general law courses such as civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property law, torts, professional ethics, and so on. Second and third-year curricula are often elective courses in areas of interest. Law school teaches students how to think like a lawyer and how to apply rules logically.  Young lawyers typically learn the details and logistics of practicing law (filing briefs, forms, the legal system, etc.) through internships and work experience.  Some schools offer “clinical” opportunities to help students acquire such skills and to transition smoothly into a career in law.  In addition to clinical experiences, law students often participate in extra-curricular activities, including law reviews (academic journals by students), Moot Court, and Client Competitions.

Most U.S. law schools rely on a casebook method combined with Socratic teaching: in preparation for class, students research assigned cases and related judicial opinions, then in class, instructors ask students to clarify details, highlight underlying theory, and define rules in order to determine how well the students have understood the material.  

Graduates from accredited law schools are eligible to take state bar exams. Although some states have reciprocal agreements that allow lawyers to practice in several states after passing one bar exam, most states require lawyers to pass a bar exam specifically for the state in which they intend to practice. All lawyers must be bar-approved in order to practice law.

What should I major in?

You should explore majors that interest you, as there are no preferred majors for law school.  Law schools look for a diverse class of bright, motivated, and accomplished students.  Students should choose a major that matches their strengths and interests.  While your major may help guide which area of law to pursue, again there is no “best” major for law school.

Whichever major you select, you should take advantage of opportunities to develop your research, writing, and public speaking skills.  Taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for a legal education.

Core Skills and Values:

Your coursework in your undergraduate major, electives or extracurricular activities can reflect your area of interest in law.

What types of classes should I take?

All ABA-approved law schools require a completed baccalaureate degree.  Schools look for a variety of courses that will help you develop the kinds of skills that will be important in practicing law, such as analytic reading, fluent writing, clear ethics, and strong oral communication.  Words are the tools of the lawyer, and students who can express themselves with confidence and clarity will be well prepared for law school. Across the curriculum, in departments from every college and school, UH Mānoa offers courses that afford you opportunities to hone these essential skills.  See PAC’s list of recommended courses, which comes out before registration.

As a pre-law student, you should plan on taking more “Writing Intensive,” “Ethical Issues,” and “Oral Communication” Focus requirement courses than the minimums required for graduation. The importance of these courses for a legal education cannot be overstated.  Be sure to take as many of these courses as possible at the upper division level, and be sure to take full advantage of the courses to hone your skills. 

In addition, take courses that require extensive reading, analysis, and research, which are vital to the study and practice of law.  Courses in English grammar and persuasive writing are also highly recommended.

Law and Society Undergraduate Certificate.
UHM’s Political Science department offers a Certificate in Law and Society, which involves courses directly related to law and its application. See Law and Society Certificate .

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3. Extracurricular Experience

 

PAC maintains a list of optional law-related extracurricular activities  - check them out here!  

Unsure whether to pursue law school?

If you are unsure whether to apply to law school, consider taking time off after you graduate from college. Both practicing lawyers and administrative directors recommend taking time off after college to work, travel, and experience life outside of school. During this time, you may find that law school is not right for you, or you may confirm that it is exactly what you want.  Law school demands a tremendous commitment of time, effort, and money; it is imperative that you think through the decision. Work experience and maturity can also be very beneficial to your law school application.

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4. Researching Schools

 

Every ABA-approved school provides sufficient basic training in U.S. law to qualify its graduates to take the bar exam in any state. It is advantageous, however, to attend a law school in the area where you hope to practice, in part to build profile contacts within the legal community in the area, and in part to become familiar with regional variations in the law.

There are now more than 150 public and private law schools in the U.S. and Canada, each one unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths.

Although there are resources that “rank” schools (The Gourman Report, U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, etc.), rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. Most importantly, there should be a good “match” between applicant and school.

To find schools that are good a fit for you (PAC pre-law advisors can help with this process):

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. List ALL schools you would consider attending, which may be limited to the schools in one state or region;
  3. Use the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools to create your “Long List” by omitting schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, or personality.  PAC offers a list of 7 factors to consider, found here.
  4. Create your “Short List” once you have your LSAT scores by categorizing the schools into “Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety,” ranking the schools by preference.  Finally, choose how many schools to apply to.
  5. If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to Admissions Directors, and chat with students.

As with choosing your undergraduate school, do your homework when searching for a law school. Decide which factors are most important to you (size of school, location, course offerings), assess your personal resources, consider family obligations, and confer with people you trust: college professors, prelaw advisors, law school admission professionals, and current law students.

It's never too early to start thinking about law school.  The decisions you make today will determine your career choices down the road.

What are law schools looking for?

Law schools are seeking mature, well-rounded individuals who demonstrate the aptitude to excel in legal analysis.

While there are common criteria used by most law schools, there are also criteria unique to individual schools, which you will discover through direct contact with the school.  Criteria that are considered important by most law school admission committees include:

 

 

  • State of residency (for schools that give preference to residents)

 

 

Tuition, especially for public institutions, often covers only a part of the cost of educating a law student, which means that each new student represents an investment by the law school.  Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the law school curriculum and are likely to become good lawyers.

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5. Applying to Law Schools

1) The first step in applying to law school is to create an account with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), which you must do before registering for the LSAT.

You can register with LSAC through the mail or online at the LSAC website www.lsac.org. You should register at least three months before your schools’ earliest application deadline; even earlier is better.  For LSAC, you will need to complete application information and submit transcripts, LSAT scores, and a personal statement.

2) Almost all ABA-approved law schools require that applicants register for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

CAS creates your Law School Report by combining:

3) In addition to the CAS report, each law school also requires its own application form, all of which are available both on the websites of individual law schools and the LSAC.  You can submit individual schools’ applications by mail or electronically, following instructions on their websites. 

 If you have questions at any point in the process, you can contact LSAC via telephone or email. Note: Individual schools have different deadlines and procedures, especially regarding letters of recommendation and personal statements.  It is your responsibility to follow all instructions and to meet all deadlines, so read all of the application instructions carefully!

4) Many schools prefer or require that your letters of recommendation be submitted through LSAC’s Letters of Recommendation and Evaluation Services; others accept letters directly.  Instructions for submitting letters are on the LSAC website.

The Timeline for Applying

Regardless when you graduate from college, the timeline for applying is the same for everyone. Apply early in the application cycle!  Application cycles typically open in early September and run through February, but be sure to research the deadlines for your schools.

Application
Timeline

 

           

Fall

Spring

Summer

Fall

Spring

Summer

Fall

 

Study

 

Take LSAT (June)

Apply

Backup LSAT date (Sept/Oct)

Decisions

 

Enter Law School

Undergrad

Junior year

 

 

Senior Year

 

May Grad

 

Enter Law School

Gap Year

Senior Year

 

May Grad

 

Work

 

 

 

Returning Student (graduated)

 

Work

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: Plan to apply one year before you intend to go to law school. Most law schools admit students on a rolling basis, so applying early gives you an advantage.

 

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6. The LSAT

ABA-approved law schools require applicants to take a standardized test called the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).  The LSAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, Reading Comprehension, and Writing.  The LSAT is a test of endurance: five 35-minute blocks of multiple-choice testing, plus a 35-minute writing sample. 

The LSAT is administered in a paper-based format and is offered four times a year:  February, June, September/October, and December.  Students should plan on taking the LSAT early, either in February or June so they have their score a full year before entering law school (for example, test in June 2012 to enter Fall 2013). A more detailed summary of the LSAT is on the PAC website.

*Note: February test dates are for the upcoming cycle (for example February 2013 LSAT is for Fall 2014 entry); Scores from February exams usually arrive too late for the application deadlines of the same year. 

How is the LSAT scored?

You will receive only one score for the entire LSAT.  Scores range from 120-180 on a bell curve, with 180 being the highest and 150 being average.  Competitive scores begin in the 150s.  The writing sample is not scored but is transmitted to schools along with the score.

How can I prepare for the LSAT?

Remember that almost everyone who takes the LSAT is academically strong, and that many ‘A’ students receive average LSAT scores. On average, students study an hour a day for 6-9 months prior to taking the exam. If you only have 3 months, prepare to study 2-3 hours per day. Consider using prep books by different companies to learn different techniques and perspectives on how to approach the LSAT. PAC offers a lending library program that is a good place to start.
 
Once you are familiar with the test, take as many timed practice tests as possible, imitating the LSAT test-taking environment as closely as possible. Be sure to analyze your results and figure out both how you found correct answers AND why you missed questions.  This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and will help you focus on areas for improvement.

The Only Official Test Preparation Material:           
Guide to the LSAT and Practice Exams, available on the LSAC website.
There are many ways to prepare; choose whichever works best for you:

  1. On your own
  2. Study groups
  3. Prep books
  4. LSAT practice exams
  5. Commercial prep classes

If you need the discipline of a class and prefer in-person and/or online instruction, consider taking a prep course (see Available Resources ).  Even if you take a prep course, to get a competitive score, you must still prepare on your own outside of class.

 

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7. Writing a Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to set yourself apart as an applicant.  Law schools are interested in admitting students for reasons beyond grades and scores.  Your experiences, training, goals, or dreams can demonstrate who you are and your potential to succeed in law school and beyond.  Most Law Schools do not hold interviews, so your personal statement is the best opportunity to showcase who you are and your strength as a writer.

 

What should I write about in my personal statement?

Any noteworthy personal experience or accomplishment may be an appropriate subject for your essay; however, be sure to do more than just state it. Describe your experience briefly but concretely and why it had value to you, whether it was a job, a significant accomplishment, or your upbringing. You are simultaneously trying to add information and create structure.

In general, your evaluation of actual experiences and past accomplishments has more value to the committee than speculation about future accomplishments. Also, if you have overcome a serious obstacle in your life to get where you are today, by all means let the admission committee know about it.

Be brief, be factual, be comprehensive, and be organized.

You are a storyteller here. You want the image of a living person—you—to emerge. The personal statement is your opportunity to become vivid and alive to the reader. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to write and to present  prose in a professional manner.

 

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8. Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation

 

Most law schools require 2-3 letters of recommendation, but be sure to check each school’s requirement.

Whom should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

If you're still in school, your strongest letters will likely come from professors, who are in a position to evaluate your academic performance and your potential for law school. 

If you are no longer in school and are working, your strongest letters will likely come from supervisors, professional colleagues, or mentors, who can share their knowledge of you and evaluate your potential in a professional setting.

 DO NOT obtain letters of recommendation from relatives or famous people.

What documents should I give my references?

Your letters of recommendation should be sent to the LSAC, which will include them in your CAS report to schools.  Make this process as easy as possible for your references!  Providing the items in a letter packet will facilitate the process, making it easier for your references to write your letters and avoid delays.
 
Your letter packet should include:

  • Instructions for submitting either online or hard copy. Be sure to include the deadline (at least four weeks before you need the letter).
  • Recommendation form, downloaded from LSAC.org and signed by the applicant.
  • Your Personal statement and your resume, including a clear statement of your intent to go to law school.
  • A list of courses you have taken from the reference, including grades you recieved and examples of work you completed (copies of term papers, essays, tests). 
  • Your transcripts (unofficial copies are fine).
  • A stamped envelope addressed to the LSAC.

Thank your references for writing a recommendation

After your reference has submitted your letter of recommendation, be sure to write a thank you note to show your appreciation.

 

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9. Financial Aid

Attending Law School is an investment in your future, but it can also be a considerable financial burden. Tuition alone can range from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $50,000 a year,  in addition, you will need to calculate selected costs of attending school such as housing, food, books, transportation and other personal expenses. The total cost of a law school education can exceed $150,000. 

How do I finance my education?

Scholarships, grants, and fellowships are available but limited. A majority of law school students rely on loans for their primary funding.  These loans must be paid back with future income, so the more you borrow, the more of an impact debt will have on life after graduation.

Federal student loans usually have the lowest interest rates,  offer the most flexible re-payment options, and offer more opportunities for payment relief than loans funded by private sources.  Typically, students who are ineligible for federal student loans use private sources.

 

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10. Resources

William S. Richardson School of Law
Elisabeth Steele Hutchison, Director of Admissions and Special Projects
2515 Dole Street, Room 225-227
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: 808-956-5557
Fax: 808-956-3813
Email:  esteele@hawaii.edu
Web:  www.law.hawaii.edu/admissions

Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center: PAC offers a lending library of books on law schools and law careers, volunteer opportunities, academic planning, and one-on-one advising by current law students who can help you prepare for and apply to law school.


ABA-Approved Law Schools by LSAC/ABA           

available in PAC

Law School Admission Reference Manual
by LSAC

available in PAC

UHM’s Manoa Pre-Law Association (MPLA)

mpla@hawaii.edu

Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)

www.lsac.org

Law School Admissions Test            

http://www.lsac.org/lsat/about-the-lsat.asp

Law School Credential Assembly Service

http://www.lsac.org/jd/apply/cas.asp

The Law Engine         

www.thelawengine.com

Jurist: The Legal Education Network

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/lawschoolnews

Find Law for Students                      

http://stu.findlaw.com/index.html

American Bar Association (ABA)

www.abanet.org

Check out DiscoverLaw.org to learn how you can make a difference!


Excerpted from LSAC.org   http://www.lsac.org/jd/apply/additional-decision-factors.asp

Information from LSAC.org   http://www.lsac.org/jd/finance/financial-aid-overview.asp


 

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