Many people think that to go to medical school, you have to go to the University of Washington, and to go to law school you have to go to Harvard. These are both large misconceptions, especially if you’re interested in studying law. Western actually has excellent resources for students that plan on going to law school, and one of the best annual events is the Law School and Public Policy Information Fair, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16 in the WWU Viking Union Multipurpose room.
Representatives from 29 law programs across the nation will be at the law fair to answer any questions that students might have about their specific programs, or how to get into law school. “The favorites will be here as usual,” said Kergie Garcia from the Career Services Center. “Seattle University, Gonzaga, University of Washington, Lewis and Clark, and Hanline.” Despite the amount of students that flock to these rep’s tables, Garcia emphasized the effort made to bring a diverse range of law programs to the fair, such as the “interesting program at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law that can allow students to eventually practice law in Canada and the U.S. Some people want this international experience.”
Freshman and sophomores are especially encouraged to attend. “We want those freshman and sophomores who think that a career in law might be what they want. They can come and talk to schools about the different programs that are available. The fair is a good place to find out what kinds of careers various program’s graduates move into. These folks want to talk to students and to let them know what kinds of things they should be doing to get well-prepared.”
Though many know that Western does not offer a law program, most of those students also do not know that Fairhaven College actually offers a Law and Diversity Program. This program was developed specifically to suit the recommendations of representatives of law schools to focus the pre-law curriculum on verbal, analytical and research skills.
Students are taught these skills in a very challenging fashion, and are thoroughly introduced to the American legal and political systems through courses dealing with political economics, race, politics and public policy, and logic and problem solving.
The final quarter of the program is based around an internship. “Students work as clerks in law firms; courts; and city, state and federal legal offices. They also serve in investigative positions with the public defender’s office, as legal advocates for victims of domestic violence, and in other positions at the American Civil Liberties Union, lawyer referral services, disability rights groups and juvenile detention facilities,” according to the Law and Diversity web site.
Students must apply to Fairhaven to then be accepted into the Law and Diversity Program. Garcia made a strong point, however, that a pre-law undergraduate concentration will not give students more of an edge than others. “Your major is not an issue,” Garcia stated. “Developing critical or analytical thinking, reading, writing, and researching skills is the most important thing.” Recommended majors range from English to History to Economics, but as long as your coursework helps you to develop the aforementioned skills, your major is not a large issue.
So what will get you into law school? “They are looking for students that are well-rounded,” said Garcia. “[Law schools] love leadership on campus, they want people to be active in student clubs and lastly they like students that volunteer in the community. Although yes, part of it is your score on the LSATs and a look at your academic success, the law schools really want to see how well-rounded you are.”
“We’re sort of in a cocoon here [at Western]; it’s good to be out in the real world getting experience.”
Bursting out of our cocoon is necessary for some in order to get enough money to go to law school. Garcia highly recommends that students have their finances in order before attending law school. With a price tag ranging from $80-110,000, Garcia has seen students get accepted into very prestigious schools and have to turn them down because they hadn’t figured out all of their financial aid and loans.
Rather than just settling for a less expensive school, Garcia strongly recommends getting a job to earn money towards law school. “Law schools really enjoy seeing students taking time off of undergrad to get real world experience. Usually by the time they get to law school, they are more mature and have a better understanding for what they want to achieve while they’re there.”
More motivated law school students stay on an extra year and earn a public policy degree, as it makes them more marketable or allows them to specialize. The public policy portion of the law fair was added four years ago. “Public policy is for anyone who is interested in making change and helping drive the direction of all kinds of issues,” said Garcia. “With a degree in public policy, you can end up working in education, health, poverty, aging, social issues and international issues. Public policy is a good place to explore and make change in a community.” There will be four representatives from schools with public policy programs.
There is a lot of effort and drive involved in getting into law school, but Western students have done well in the past, getting into prestigious law programs like Harvard and Stanford. One of the best places to start on your way is at the Law School and Public Policy Information Fair. This even goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16 in the WWU Viking Union Multipurpose room. It is sponsored by the Career Services Center and the AS Legal Info Center. For more information on this event or on going to law school, contact the Career Services Center at 650-3240, or the Legal Information Center at 650-6111.