September 28, 2022
Pursuing a legal education is a big decision. What is law school like, and are you doing it for the right reasons? What’s it like to be a lawyer, and how can law school help you achieve your goals? Moreover, how can you achieve a sense of belonging and confidence among your peers and at your school? During this special event, experts from the legal community answered those questions and more.
Collin: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the LawHub Prelaw Success live event series. My name is Collin Takita and I’m the director of prelaw learning here at LSAC. So, I’ve said this before, I’m going to say it again, I’m going to say it a million times this, this live event series is made specifically for you specifically for each of you who are with us today. And it’s made specifically to answer or at least help answer some of the questions that you have critical points in your journey to law school and ultimately the legal profession. Now today, we’re going to work on one of those critical questions. And that is, is law school the right fit for me.
So, we assume that because you’re here at a minimum, you are exploring the option of attending law school in order to pursue a career in law. So, to assist you in your journey toward that goal, today’s session is going to help you to reflect on your goals, your life aspirations, and your concerns about law school to ensure that you are able to make an informed decision about the right fit when it comes to law school. So, it’s my hope that by the end of this session, you’ll be able to reflect on those interests, and how those interests align with your life aspirations over the next, say, 5,10,15 years. In addition to that, I hope you’ll be able to explain at least at a high level, what law school is like. And finally, I hope that you’ll be able to evaluate the right fit when considering law schools based on your goals and your life aspirations. Now, before we get started, I’m going to make a request and that is that you grab a notebook or a piece of paper, piece of mail, anything you can scribble on, because our presenters today are going to be asking you to jot down Some thoughts throughout the course of the presentation over the next hour. Also, I’d like you to note that the Q&A is open, so make sure you use it. Our presenters are going to be doing their best to answer questions throughout the program. And we will have a formal Q&A at the end. So, make sure you take advantage of that because I know you have lots of questions. So, with that, I’m going to stop talking. I’m going to hand things over to our presenters so they can introduce themselves and get us going today. So, with that, Katya. It’s all yours.
Katya: Thank you so much, Collin. Hello, everyone. My name is Katya Valasek. I am the senior LSAC ambassador at the Law School Admission Council, and my pronouns are she and her. I am female presenting with dark hair down to my collarbones wearing a yellow sweater in front of a blue background with a LSAC logo. And I’m thrilled to be here with all of you today, Carwina.
Carwina: Hello, everyone. I’m also thrilled to be here. My name is Carwina Weng, my pronouns are she her hers. And I am the LSAC, senior specialist in professional identity formation, which means I help people like you and me still figure out what we want to be when we grow up, especially if it happens to be in the legal profession. I have short black hair and wearing glasses and a headset with a mic and a green printed scarf over a maroonish top. And my background is blurred because I’m sitting in my home office today. But I look forward to talking with you and hearing what you think about law school and your own career journeys.
We’re going to have on our screen in a moment, a poll. This poll is going to help us shape today’s session because as Collin said, this is about you. So, please take a moment to answer the question. Where are you in your journey, presumably towards law school.
Okay, we are getting the results in I feel like a pollster on election day. I definitely don’t have a really cool interactive board though, to show you everything that’s happening. It looks like the majority of us 56% are 12 months before our one all year. So, you’re getting ready you’re pretty close to doing you may be in the admission process. Now you’ve probably already started thinking about which schools you’re applying to. And FAFSA probably began some applications, far fewer of you are a little bit farther out only 8% More than 24 months away. 18% around 24 months away. So, what that means for us is we’re going to talk a lot about how going through law school affects and interacts with your career goals. There’s going to be some reason why you’ve already decided or close to deciding that you want to become a lawyer. And part of what we want to do is make sure that law school is the right way to meet your career goals. Okay, not that you’re going to law school or to be a lawyer, but that law school allows do a lot of things. And some of those things might not actually require you to go to law school. So, let’s make sure that you are doing what’s best for you and your entire self.
We’re going to start with a self-reflection. Why do you want to go to law school? What are you thinking about? Do you want to become a practicing lawyer? Do you want a degree for other career reasons? Like maybe you actually want to be a judge or a mediator, or you might even be thinking about going to law school. A lot of people use law as a means into politics, financial security, and that’s really based on you. There’s a lot of talk out there about how I want to go to law school so that when I graduate, I can get that high six figure salary. Well, that’s great. But not everybody can get that. And not everybody even wants it. So, what do you think of around financial security? And how is law going to fit into that particular picture? prestige and status? And I do know, given all the lawyer jokes out there that this can really cut both ways. But are you thinking about because it’s a high prestige, high status job the way my parents were? Or is it something that’s just again, something you need to give you some credibility, perhaps, when you’re working on policy, an intellectually challenging job helping other people, all of us who are practicing lawyers, and I have been for most of my career, are working with other people. And we have an obligation to be client oriented in that regard. So, what’s that going to mean for us? Increasing justice, helping change society? Something else? Maybe it’s a business reason, for example.
But think about that, write your answers in your notebook, you don’t have to have only one answer, obviously, because this is about you. Give it some depth. If you want to be a practicing lawyer, what about being a practicing lawyer interests you? What kind of setting can you imagine yourself being?
Are you going to be like someone in Suits? Are you going to be like one of the many lawyers we’re seeing on TV nowadays, in the news, what floats your boat, what really gets you excited about being a lawyer, or about helping other people? The more you think about this in line with what your other goals are, the better you’re going to be able to figure out whether law school is right, and within that which law school is going to be the right fit for you.
While you’re thinking about that, I’m just going to share a little bit about my own story, which is I went to law school for all the wrong reasons, okay. The reasons we put up on the screen are really about internal motivations, why you may want to do something, I have to admit, I went to law school because my parents wanted me to. And that’s because I’m an immigrant, and they are immigrants. And they came to the United States pursuing that American dream. And for them, that meant their three children, were going to become professionals, by golly. And I was chosen to be the doctor, but I had freshman chemistry. And I knew immediately in college, there was no way I was going to be pre-med, or, you know, even a non-science major heading towards premed. So, that left really only being a lawyer. And I just got incredibly lucky. That the way I think about puzzles, the way I think about law and read things, the way I can problem solve, we’re a good fit for me in the legal profession. That’s not how it necessarily turns out for all of us, so and it shouldn’t be why it turns out. So, thinking about your goals, will help you make a better choice about your career and your law school.
Alright, we’re going to switch in about 30 seconds to a different question. Because being a lawyer doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Just like law doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You want to be a lawyer, for some reason connected to your goals. But you’re going to be going through law school, and becoming a lawyer living those processes, with yourself with other people in a school in a community. And we want you to think now about what all of those means. Where do you really want to be in 5 to 10 years as a whole human being, of which lawing might be a part.
All right, here we go another three minutes.
We’ve got these dimensions up, put them into three categories with just a number next to them.
What’s important, not that important, perhaps things that you’re not thinking about what matters much in the next five to 10 years, what’s very important gets to and what’s non-negotiable, what you absolutely need to have in order to be healthy and well give that a three. And as you’re thinking about these things, how they interact as well. Some of these might pull in different directions. Like you may have heard so many stories about law school that you’re expecting perhaps your emotional wellness is going to take a dive in the next three to five years, but you’re hoping that it’s going to be worth at all, in the long run for occupational wellness, possibly social intellectual wellness as well. Because it’s often too close just to look into the next day, think about where you want to go.
What’s the right mix of these different sectors of wellness? For you? After you finish law school?
Collin: Carwina just jump in real quick? I think a question which came in in the Q&A might be helpful here and wrap up. And that was how do you define social and occupational wellness?
Carwina: Ah, social think about how you want to live interact with other people. Like we could say one of the tropes about working for a very large law firm is, if you have to build 2000 hours in a calendar year, you’re going to be at the office or on the job, like over 100 hours a week? Is that the kind of social life you want? Where you’re really seeing only your coworkers? Or do you want to be able to spend time with your family, with your friends, with your pets? With travel? You know, what’s that going to look like for you? occupational wellness is do you find meaning in your job? Do you want to find meaning in your job, and there really are two schools about this, some folks are really going to want to be in a job where they feel there is an alignment with their overall wellbeing goals, including, for example, their intellectual wellness, perhaps with their values about what kind of justice or change society should make? Other people, you know, they’re really more focused on how occupation intersects with financial wellness. And so, it’s going to matter less for them, where they’re working, as long as they might have, like, the cause may not matter so much is there that kind of alignment, you have those choices to make, and they no one else can really make them for you. You should also be aware, of course, that these are not static, it can change a lot. Like for me physically, when I was fresh out of law school in my 20s, it was much easier for you to work long hours, although I wasn’t working for a firm than it would be now when I have two kids, two cats, my husband, you know, a life that I need to manage as well with my work. So, these are going to change. But when you’re at the beginning sort of your legal career journey, you want to think not just what’s immediately in front of you, but what’s going to align for you in the long term. It’s sort of like the difference between strategic thinking and tactical thinking, Okay, you want to know what the big goal is, including your specific integration of these different wellness factors. So that you will be able to gauge better whether the small steps you’re taking along the way, law school, for example, a joint degree, for example, full time or part time law school, for example, what’s going to make it worth doing for you to give you that full, well-rounded life that you may want.
And, as we’re doing that, then I’m going to share a little bit about for me, like you heard a little bit, I started out in legal services, I was in my mid-20s, it was just me, I was in New York City, it was perfect. I had no one to take care of myself, I loved my job. It didn’t matter if I was spending a lot of time in the office because I was meeting people who thought about issues in similar ways, but also really stimulated me to grow as a human being. And as a lawyer.
I enjoyed meeting my clients, it was fun and exciting when they would come in and just to say hi, you know, I had actually bad on boundaries. A client who was very upset when I moved after five years on the job because I had become part of his daily routine, he’d stopped by and say hello. And that was because he was an older gentleman who had never learned ASL and could read and write, but not particularly well and ran into problems as a result of these communication issues with his landlord, and I was able to keep him in his house. So yeah, it was just the joy of being there seeing the immediate differences I was making, knowing that I was part of something bigger than myself. After I got married, it was a little different. But the big change came when I had kids. And I really had to think and struggle with whether I wanted to stay in my job or not. Because honestly, I was in a job that I didn’t like, I did not feel that I belong there. I didn’t feel that I had a real purpose there. I didn’t like my colleagues either. There was a level of elitism that I didn’t enjoy.
I once was introduced by one of my colleagues as this was when I was teaching as someone who has the credentials to be a tenure track professor but who wasn’t. I like I chose to be a clinical teacher because that gives me the meaning, I want in my life for myself, but also in terms of the way I want to play and work with my students. Okay. So, my wellness situation changed a lot. And during that time, I really stepped back. I mean, I was quite quitting before it was a term.
Because that wasn’t the right job for me. I had to even take away during COVID. That was the biggest chance I’d ever had to really think through what I was going to do. And that’s when I stepped into this job at LSAC. Because LSAC is doing and trying to do the kinds of things for legal education and people like yourselves, that law schools might not always be doing very well. And wanted the expertise, I have wanted the skill set that I have, in a way that I didn’t feel law schools really did.
Katya, how about you, though? How do you see your journey in as a legal professional fitting in with your wellness factors?
Katya: Well, if I cut to the end of my story, I couldn’t agree more with you about the reason I also ended up at LSAC. And to give some background about my experience, I would say I went to law school for one very good reason. And one very wrong reason.
I initially became interested in law school because I was dating someone from college long distance. And I didn’t want to just move to Michigan to be with him without having a support system, a friend base of my own. So, I then started considering graduate school, and I landed on law school because of experience that I had had throughout high school and college, interacting with families who had children who were on the autism, autistic spectrum, the issues they had with public, the public education system, one family uprooted their entire family and moved to another school district. I was passionate after spending hours with these kids and the family and loving them, like my own family that I wanted to be able to do something more for families in that situation. So that’s a very good reason.
I did that I did end up going to Michigan, I went to Michigan State. And I did very well there. And if I had been honest with myself, I would have realized after my first semester that I loved law school, more than I was enjoying any of the practical components. In fact, the thought of being in a courtroom literally made me paralyzed with fear. So I very early on, made the decision that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a practicing attorney. In terms of the litigation side of things. Now here was my first lesson in honoring my authentic self, because the problem I encountered was that because I was doing so well on the program, I was pushed into this track, that was law focused practice ready large law firms were interested in me and I did not know how to stop that process.
I was aided a little bit by fates. I graduated in 2008, in Michigan, and some of you may know in 2008, that was the beginning of the last or I guess it was the beginning of a big recession. Law firms across the Midwest for closing, Michigan was hit particularly hard because of the car industry. And there were very few offers made to graduating law students in 2008. From Michigan, I took advantage of the opportunity to come back to New Jersey and to reevaluate what I really wanted to do. And I ended up in law school admissions. I worked there for almost a decade. And I took my experience from law school, things that weren’t shared with me about how someone who didn’t necessarily want to practice as a traditional lawyer should shape their extracurricular activities, the type of experiences I should look for. And I wanted to play a role in making sure that the people coming to law school after me had more information than I did when I started.
No one in my family had gone to law school, I knew parents of my friends that were attorneys, but I had not interacted on a regular basis. With attorneys who practiced now I got a lot of, quite frankly, criticism from people in my life when I chose to go into law school admissions versus the practice of law.
First of all, they were confused about why I took the New Jersey bar exam if I wasn’t going to practice and second of all, I was repeatedly told, don’t you feel like you wasted three years and the answer to that question is no. I could not be as effective at my job when I was in law school admissions had I not had that experience, and frankly, the education I received. I’ve used many times over when buying a car when buying my condo. It is important information in my life. But I took it one step further, I still wanted to be involved with the community, the autism community, and advocating for children who need help in the education system, children for whom the public education system may not meet their needs directly. And so, I, for the last, almost 10 years have sat on the board of trustees for a school near me here in New Jersey, that is focused on providing education for students for whom the public education system lacks in giving them a robust experience in school.
So, I had to check myself for a second time, learn from my last experience and honor my authentic self, I decided about five years into my career in law school, that I did not want to lead an office, I didn’t want to be an admissions Dean, I wanted to continue to stay involved in the community with law school applicants. And that is the second time in my life, that people questioned my choices in my career, because they felt that my experience had set me up for something else. And it is hard to have that conversation with people. When you know you’re doing something your love you love, but they are disappointed in the path you’re choosing to follow. So about five years into my career, I started thinking about what my next step would be if I never wanted to had an office. And very quickly, I realized that prelaw advising or finding a position where I can continue to educate people who are interested in law school about the law school application process, and what they will encounter when they begin.
And that process led me here to the LSAC, where I do that every day through programs like this, and many other amazing ways that I get to interact with prelaw advisors, their students and other individuals who are considering applying to law school.
So, I think you can see, connecting with that sense of belonging and understanding what it means for you, is not something you just do once I continue to do it with my career. And I think Katya back in 2000, would have benefited immensely from a program like this. That would have had me thinking about it sooner. So, I’m thrilled to be here. Carwina, I’m going to turn it back to you.
Carwina: Thank you, Katya. And I realized I did not actually give a little bio about what my career path was. So, I went from law school, to being a legal aid lawyer in eviction defense primarily switched into teaching through legal research and writing and then became a clinical professor, doing again, legal services type work, but also teaching policy clinics still part time with my last school. And I’m now working at LSAC. I want to pick up on something Katya said I like about how people say, you know, why did you do it? Why was it a waste of three years?
The value still of a JD is that you are not stuck, shall we say practicing law most people do go to law school because they’re interested in the practice of law. And I really loved my time, both as a practicing legal services attorney, and as a clinical law professor, where I described myself as a part time practicing attorney. But you don’t always need the law degree in order to do the things that you want in life. I’m seeing for example, in the Q&A that there are a lot of people who have MSW is worth thinking about social work. I suspect that had I had a program like this back in the day, instead of going to from pre-med to prelaw, I might have considered social work. Because a lot of what I like about law for myself, is on the border of social work, and legal work combined. And even now, with the work that I’m doing with LSAC on professional identity formation, I feel regret that I didn’t have at least a social work education, because I think that the way that social work teaches its students, about individuals, but also about systems would be incredibly, incredibly useful, and my own journey through life.
So, if as you’re going through these processes, you are reaffirmed and your desire to go to law school hooray. That’s wonderful. We welcome you here. And we hope that we can help make that journey as productive and meaningful as possible. And if you decide at some point that law school is not the right way to reach your life goals. Hooray for you also good to know that as early as possible, so that’s why we have these kinds of programs. You can just have regular check ins about what you want to do.
Now, again, most of you are about a year out from going to law school. So, I’m going to kick it back over to Katya to tell you more about what law school looks like. From a day to day and a three-year basis.
Katya: Sorry, we had a special guest star appearance from my cat Jamie. I just kicked them out of the way. And Carwina, I’m so I’m learning so much about you during this. This presentation, I actually chose Michigan State because their clinic allowed me to take social work classes. So, at some point in time, I feel like we need to catch up off screen.
So, let’s talk about the basic structure of law school. At most schools, the full-time program is going to be a three-year program with students enrolling in either August or September early September for orientation, and then graduating in May three years later. Most part time programs are four-year programs though, it is possible at some schools to accelerate to three and a half. And some schools may allow up to five years, but the ABA requirements do dictate that a law degree be completed within five years of the start date.
When I describe law school to people, I always say it feels more like middle school than high school or college, you will begin in a section you will be assigned to a class schedule with a group of students, and you will move from class to class throughout the week.
I think most incoming first year students should expect to be in class Monday through Friday, though, I will say most schools try to make Friday a lighter day.
Now there are variations on this. So, you do need to do some of your own work. Some schools start multiple times a year, not just a Fall start. Some schools offer a hybrid part time program. So, while that is the basic structure, make sure you look at schools’ information to make sure that it’s a program that would be a good fit for you.
In class, the structure of the class itself will change as you go through your years as a law student. So, in your first year or as a 1L, you’re going to be taking mostly doctrinal classes, these are classes that will appear on the bar exam, three or four years down the line. And that is a year during which professors they’re very skilled on bringing students into the fold of where the law school class entails. But they sometimes do lean more into the socratic method of teaching, which means that they will assign you you’re reading you will read the cases, you will take notes you will brief the cases and then they will lead the class through questions that students in the classroom your colleagues, your peers will answer. As you go into your 2L and 3L year and if you’re part time students, your fourth year, classes can shift as they get smaller because you’re able to choose electives. And as you become more skilled at discussing the law, you will likely find that your upper-level classes become more conversational.
I’m always asked about law school grading. Things are different than when Carwina and I went to law school. But I think it is still basic around the country that the final exam is the majority of your grade in my class. Now when I went to law school, that was my only grade in the class. But in the time, I’ve worked as a law school admission professional and my time here at LSAC. I’m seeing more schools be aware of the importance of feedback earlier. So, you may have a mock test or midterm in some of your classes, particularly in your first year.
Outside of the classroom, hopefully you will land at a school where you have a social life and social opportunities that interest you. There are some organizations that are focused on specific topics and environmental law club. There are some law schools that are focused on a specific demographic so women lawyers, the affinity organizations, balsa Lhasa, the Black Law Student Association, the Latinx Law Students Association, and there are some student organizations that are focused at certain activities, right so there might be a Toastmasters. And then there are prestigious student organizations or student activities. And these are things like the law journals, which allow you to be published as a student, or to participate in the editing of publications by other law students or attorneys, judges, legal professionals around the country. There’s mock court, which is a pellet level mock trial. Some schools have mock trials or other organizations or student organizations that touch on that practical side of lawyering.
And then there are clinics, and both Carwina and I discussed clinics, and these are opportunities for law students to represent clients, under the supervision of clinical faculty, as a student, so you are submitting the documents, you are filing the papers, you are standing up in court and representing your client. It’s a wonderful opportunity.
So, as you can see, there is going to be a balancing act that you have to do in terms of managing the workload and the expectations in the classroom, making sure you’re prepared for when that final exam comes around. And being involved on campus, in student organizations in those practical experiences I discussed.
Then there’s also social life completely unrelated to the law school, you’ll have friends that you have had in your life before law school, you have family that you want to be a part of, you have things that you enjoy going to the gym, going to concerts traveling. Again, law school happens quickly, it’s three or four years. And unlike undergraduate, you are truly building those professional connections, pretty much from the start. Even in your first semester of law school, you’ll be able to attend functions that have alumni who are practitioners in the area in attendance, and they’re going to be excited to talk with you. Many, many students I know both from my time in law school, and in my time working in a law school, received summer job offers because of a person that they chatted with at some reception of the law school.
So, there are a lot of commitments, there are a lot of different directions in which you’re going to be pulled. So again, if I go back to my introduction about my experience, honoring your gut feelings, your emotions, your authentic interest, and what you truly enjoy, I think is one of the best ways to make sure that you’re navigating this with as much happiness and confidence as possible, because you’re surrounded by people you like, and a place you like doing things you like.
Okay, so we are going to move on to another little fun activity. And the producer of this program is going to drop a link into the chat for a word cloud simulator. Please take a moment to add up to three words that describe your expectations, your hopes, or your concerns about law school, looking forward to see what you all have to say.
Carwina: So, it looks like some of the biggest concerns or experiences out there are challenging, I’m not sure how to read legend. So, someone may have to put that into a Q&A so we can understand that better. Mental Health confidence, success.
Katya: I love those. I love that one of the words that is large is exciting. Because is it truly is, you know, I did not take the same path as many of my colleagues from law school, but I do think my job is exciting.
Carwina: So, I think that it’s a great mix of the more happy and positive reasons why we may be going to law school and some of the concerns that you have right financial security, not being an American student. The challenges in the mental health aspects of it. This is why we’ve been saying so much how important it is to be your authentic self and to think about how your authentic self-connects with the law school you may be choosing and again the decision actually whether even to go to law school.
Law school is going to be challenging no matter what. You may have been the best student in your undergraduate. You may be that now you may be the top of the line in your job and you’re thinking about shifting careers. Anytime you start a new learning experience, it’s normal to, to experience a little bit of regression. Whether it’s emotional or intellectual, right? It’s going to feel like there’s a new language. Why is there all that Latin? I never wanted to take Latin in law school in high school. Why didn’t I take Latin now? Right? Who is Rex and Regina? And why are they always sewing people in court? Those, by the way, are the king and queen of England. And since we get a lot of our criminal law, from merry old England, we see them still in some of the case books about criminal law. But think about and ground yourself in the reasons you’re going to law school.
If you want to be an advocate for change, remember that and realize that a lot of what law school does is to socialize people in one particular direction. And sometimes that’s towards a really big law firm rather than legal services, even when a school says, hey, we believe in legal in social justice or pro bono work. So, ask yourself, what’s the culture, I want to go back to those wellness dimensions and think about what’s going to make me happier or as happy as I can be going through law school, is it going to be worth it for me still to go through three potentially very expensive years of education, to get to my life goals. And remember, always, this is just a snapshot, our goals change, our values, probably won’t change our big bucket values. But the needs we have at any given moment could change. None of us knew three years ago, that would be running into COVID. And suddenly having to deal all of us suddenly, with online classes. And for someone who said our hybrid programs good. They’re really useful when there’s a pandemic going on. I personally would wait a little bit and see how much better schools are getting, because it’s still very much a new technology for a lot of the professors, not so much the tech people, but the professors, because they aren’t used to using this kind of technology or handling the combination of people in person and the people online to make sure everybody’s engaged. So, ask those questions about how those class sizes, manage how the teachers are trained, if you’re thinking of a hybrid program, but always, where am I going to be happy? Where I’m going to get the value, I need to achieve my goals? What am I willing to sacrifice in the short term of law school, to get to the bigger goals that I have for my life?
And with that, come back often to LSAC and LawHub, we have resources on there that will help you parse out those decisions for yourself. And if we don’t get to your Q&A, we will hopefully answer them at some point. But I’m going to turn it over now to Collin, so he can tell us what Q&A is out there.
Collin: That’s right. Yes, I’m back. I’m here to ask you lots and lots of questions. So, thank you, everyone who submitted their questions throughout, we tried to answer some of them throughout there, we sprinkled demand, but I’m going to go through kind of rapid fire here and just ask them as if I were the one at the front of the auditorium with the microphone. So top to bottom here. So, the first question is, actually, I lied because you answered that one already. It was about social work. So how about we go this one? How do you feel about law schools that are offering a hybrid model? And I’ll, I’ll tweak that one a little bit to ask about the future of hybrid models, if we think that’s something that’s here to stay or if it’s uncertain?
Katya: So I can hop in because I actually worked at a law school that did offer a hybrid model. And right now, one of the pieces that is still in place is the ABA requirements for number of in person hours. So outside of the COVID exceptions that the state ABAs gave, because of the need for remote learning. There still exists an in-person classroom, our requirement. So, if you are considering a hybrid program, one of the things I would suggest you ask questions about is what are the components that are going to be in person? Do you start more in person with those doctrinal basic classes and have more room to move online as the years go on? Or is it balanced throughout? Now knowing what questions to ask means knowing what type of program you’re hoping to find. But I do just want to point out that it is unlikely that many schools will offer something that is significantly or entirely online that in person interaction remains important. And even if court hearings are over Zoom now, or some interviews are going to be done over Zoom. We are, as we all see, moving back to that in person interacting, interacting. So, knowing how to do that, with a client who comes in with a senior partner who comes in with a judge in the courtroom remains important. So again, the question I would want you to ask is to understand more about what components are in person, and what requirements are done in the hybrid model.
Carwina: And I just want to add, because I was also at a school that offers a hybrid program, to think about how you want to be integrated or not into the overall law school. It’s hard schools and employers and we are all still figuring out how to make hybrid really work. So, are you content because you don’t want to move, or you can’t move to be in a program that is still a little bit more separate from the main law school? Or do you want to be in a program that treats you as part of all of their student body. And the only difference is you aren’t there every day? Because those are going to be very different experiences. And you’re going to know which one is going to work best for you. So connected to what’s in in person and what’s not how the school treats the students in both programs.
Collin: This next question is a little off topic, but I think we have answered pretty quickly and that is, what experience is most valued to focus on for admission?
Katya: Depends, I guess you nailed it. I’m just going to say this is the first time I got to give my lawyer answer. This is going to sound cheesy, but I think the thing you should value most or the thing admissions value most and I’ve said this so many times today, I swear this isn’t a planted question. But your authentic voice coming through the application, right, so that will link back into taking classes you enjoy. Taking work experiences, you a joy, even if it is for money, right? If you enjoy people work as a barista. If you enjoy problem solving, maybe work as an office manager somewhere, it doesn’t need to be a huge extravagant law related job but find some joy in it. And that will pay off down the line. Because if you’re taking classes you enjoy, you’ll make relationships with the professors who will then write your letter of recommendation. If you’re working in jobs you enjoy, you’ll get good letters of recommendations from your supervisors. And you’ll take transferable skills from whatever it is you’re doing into the classroom. LSAT, and GPA are important. You’re entering a rigorous academic program, when you enroll in the JD program, you need to be able to succeed in the classroom. And admissions officers want to know they don’t want anyone to feel like they wasted time or money because they aren’t able to meet the level of performance expected in the classroom, or three or four years down the line pass the bar. But that’s just one part. They are also envisioning who you will be in the school, what will you participate with? Who do they want to make sure you meet when you come and visit? What kind of alum Are you going to be to the people coming up behind you? And all of that information doesn’t come from the transcript in the LSAT? It comes from the other pieces of the application that you include.
Carwina: I just say as another way of thinking about authentic self is what’s your story? Storytelling is a hugely underrated skill that lawyers need. And that’s true whether you’re doing a litigation or a transactional practice. But why? What was the meaning you got out of each experience?
If you can find that and connect it to your through line, your journey through life, even when it’s sort of a mix of internal and external motivators, then that’s what they’re looking for. Because can someone come in and make value make hay out or make gold out of the hay that might be law school? And that’s, that’s going to matter the most.
Collin: The next question is, can you shed some light on options for individuals with they specifically say science slash engineering-based background? And specifically asking about intellectual property as an area of law? And I think it also is a question about some interesting, maybe new emerging fields of law, which you might find interesting. What are some options there?
Katya: Well, it’s great that you mentioned intellectual property, because there are requirements for people who wants to take the this is my exhaustion with the Patent Bar, you have to have a hard science background. So, having those classes set you up? Well, if you do find that intellectual property law is your passion and law school, and you are thinking about patent law, you are set up for success already just based on those undergraduate credentials. But yes, to Collin’s point, technology is infiltrating all aspects of the way we interact, day to day. And as a former admissions employee, I can say that STEM majors or steam majors add a really nice perspective to the classroom that some of the liberal arts majors don’t have. And it adds depth to the discussion in the classroom. So, there is no required or preferred major for law school. So, you would not be limited in any opportunities coming from an engineering background. But you have the added bonus of being eligible to sit for the Patent Bar.
Carwina: I’m going to know that the Patent Bar is actually one of those areas where you don’t need to go to law school, you can take the Patent Bar without a JD. And I and I do have friends who have done that. And I just want to echo what Kathy has said, the analysis that you learn the evidence-based lens through which you are viewing the world is hugely important. Even if you’re not doing intellectual property, those are things that come up in any kind of litigation, you may be working with transactions, companies that are involved in the industries of the technologies or other kinds of hard sciences and engineering. So, you’re going to be valuable to them. Whether you’re not intellectual property is your specialty, and everyone in helping broaden their ways of analyzing and looking at the world.
Collin: Looks like we have time for maybe one at most, two more questions. Before we wrap up today. I’m going to ask you a hard one, which I scroll down to find here. And that is what is a good reason not to go to law school. And I will follow that up with a rewording of that question, which is what is not a good reason to go to law school? Can you talk about motivations, but maybe what’s the motivation that we shouldn’t?
Katya: Don’t go to law school because you’re following a guy that Michigan? Throw that out there? Did on my feet. But as I said in my intro, I had that one very good reason that was driving me to go to law school. I also think you should never go to law school to make someone else happy.
Carwina: We’re both people who did that. And we are lucky that it worked out. But it’s the wrong reason. Absolutely.
Collin: See, I thought it was a hard question. But you both handled it so well, your prose, whatever question is, what is the right reason not to go to law school?
Katya: And honestly, the answer to that is it’s going to depend, right? Some people get all the way through the process, they apply, they take the LSAT, they have good offers. But at the last minute, financially, it doesn’t make sense, or something in their family life doesn’t make sense. There is a career opportunity that they might not get, again, that they want to explore before choosing to go to law school.
You know, there’s a difference between a gut check that you can identify as I’m nervous about this opportunity, I’m unsure about this opportunity. And then there’s the crippling dread that might be trying to tell you, this is not the right next step.
Carwina: Also think what’s hard about this. Is that what you do in law school over and over again, like what socratic method with thinking like a lawyer is not what you necessarily do as a lawyer after law school. And so, for a lot of people, the response of I shouldn’t be in law school is because they don’t like law school, but they’d be great lawyers. So that’s part of why we’ve been talking about your authentic self. Can you put up with the difficulties of law school, the challenge to law school, in order to get where you want to be? And can you find the support and the wellbeing in your own life that will help you as well.
Collin: With that, I think we’re going to close Q&A and close out this live event as well. Unfortunately, we’ve reached the end of our time, so thank you, Katya. Thank you, Carwina for the last hour of your lives spent with us here today going through some of these really important topics as we try to address the question. Is law school the right fit for me? I think we can see that it’s not exactly a cut and dry question. It’s not easy to answer and to you know, your slogan today is it depends, right? That’s the lawyerly response to this question. But I think that through our activities today, we started to get down to the, you know, to the to the base of that question and really help students to think through maybe how they can answer that for themselves. So, I appreciate both of your time. And I also appreciate everyone who joined us today for the entirety of this live event. I know that there are many questions we didn’t get a chance to answer, because they got flooded at the end with great questions. So, if you do have questions that you’d like to see answered, please feel free to email us at LawHub email@example.com. And we’ll get our we’ll get back to you as soon as possible, either car window, or Katya, or myself or one of our other amazing folks here at LSAC. We’ll get back to you promptly.
So, it is my hope also, that by the end of this session, you do feel a little bit more comfortable. And knowing what your goals and aspirations are and how law school fits into that. I also hope that you know what law school is like at a high level, right? Katya went into a great explanation about what law school is like, and how you can expect that what you can expect going into those three years of your life. And finally, I hope that you have a good sense of how you can evaluate the right fit for you when considering law schools based on your goals and your aspirations. So, those are what we wanted to make sure you walked away from this webinar with today. If you have any questions, feel free to email us and we certainly hope to see you again next month for more of these live events as part of the prelaw success, live events series, excuse me, where we have lots more topics to cover for you as you continue along this journey. So, thank you all for your time. Have a great day, and I’ll see you next time.
What do you still have to do? What are some tips that you can follow as you do your preparation for the LSAT and the application to law school? And finally, I hope that you leave today with a little bit of a sense that one, you’re not alone. If you’re feeling some stressors, right now, this is a stressful time in anyone’s life, and you’ve got other things going on. And this certainly can make it feel a little bit tricky to navigate. So hopefully you feel a little bit comforted by the words of Anna and Carwina, probably less than myself, but you feel good going out of this live event today and know where you’re headed next. So again, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at ambassadors@LSAC.org or at LawHubevents@LSAC.org. And I want to encourage you all to join us next week for another live events on answering the question is law school, the right fit for me? I think that a lot of the questions that you asked today certainly are relevant there as well. So, I encourage you all to register via your LawHub account and join us all next week.
So, with that, I’m done. We’re saying goodbye. I’ll talk to you all later. Thank you.