Experts Provide Law Students with Valuable Real-World Information about Legal Careers
Start a degree program at American Public University.
By James J. Barney
Associate Professor of Legal Studies, School of Security and Global Studies, American Public University
Over the past several years, many graduates who completed the Legal Studies program at American Public University System have matriculated successfully in American Bar Association law school programs across the United States.
Due to the high interest in law school admissions among students, the APU chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity recently hosted an informative Q&A session with Ann K. Levine, a law school admissions expert. Levine is the author of a popular blog and several best-selling books, including “The Law School Admission Game: Play Like An Expert.”
Law School Admissions Process Is Complex, Competitive and Time-Consuming
Levine has years of experience advising law school applicants and has served as a law school admissions director. During the Q&A session, she focused on the complexity of the law school admissions process and how it could take six months or more to complete.
Levin explained that the admissions process includes LSAT preparation, a series of letters of recommendation and a personal essay. She pointed out that the law school admissions process has become increasingly competitive over the past two years because enrollments have finally started to increase after a decline following the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
Law Students Need to Be Sure about Pursuing the Law as a Career
Before starting the application process, Levine suggested that law students should be certain that they truly want to become attorneys, because attending law school is a major life decision. She pointed out that many students drop out of law school every year for a variety of reasons, so they should make sure they are prepared to undertake a challenging academic and personal experience.
To determine what they might encounter in law school and the legal profession, Levine recommended that future law school students ask practicing attorneys about their experiences. They can also obtain some practical legal experience by working in a law firm.
Location and Reputation Are Important Factors When Choosing a Law School
In selecting a law school, Levine suggested that students first decide where they would like to practice because lawyers often work in the same state where they attended law school. After deciding where they want to practice law, students must then try to gain admission to a school that they are qualified to attend as well as the one with the best reputation.
Law Students Should Take Time to Study Thoroughly for the LSAT Exam
Several audience questions focused on the LSAT exam. Levine explained that the exam provides law school admissions departments with a means to evaluate students from various colleges and backgrounds. The LSAT exam also permits non-traditional students to demonstrate their ability to succeed in law school and pass the bar.
While there is no failing score on the LSAT exam, Levine emphasized the importance of taking several months to prepare for it. High scores stand out in the evaluation process. Recently, the Khan Academy partnered with the creators of the LSAT exam to offer a free LSAT course to help law students achieve their best score.
Law School Emphasizes Diversity in Admissions
Law school is open to students of all backgrounds, including non-traditional students from the military and working adults seeking a new career. And in Levine’s view, part-time or evening programs might make the most sense for many of those non-traditional law students.
APUS Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Regularly Hosts Outside Speakers and Events
Levine’s Q&A session capped off a busy few months for the school’s chapter of Phi Alpha Delta (PAD), the international student law fraternity. Over the past few months, the chapter has hosted several outside speakers, including Christopher Mark Nelon, a board-certified criminal defense attorney, and County Criminal Court Judge Brent Carr.
In November, the chapter will host a representative from an LSAT prep course as well as participate in Phi Alpha Delta’s annual mock trial competition.
Join Phi Alpha Delta to Participate in Chapter Events
In addition to outside speakers, Legal Studies students can attend PAD chapter-sponsored conference calls several times a month. Those in the D.C. area can join the fraternity as a student and pay a one-time membership fee. You can then attend PAD’s annual meeting in Arlington, Virginia, in November in person. For more information, visit the Phi Alpha Delta website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
James Barney is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies in APU’s School of Security and Global Studies. In addition to possessing a J.D., James possesses several M.A. degrees, including one in American foreign policy, and is currently in the process of completing his Ph.D. in History. James is also the faculty advisor of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, one of the co-faculty advisors of the school’s newly formed Model United Nations Club, and the pre-law advisor at APUS.
As an Associate Professor in the Legal Studies Department, James teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate legal studies courses. James is a lawyer admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Alabama and the District of Columbia. Over the past several years, he has served in various roles at several debating and moot trial competitions in New York and Washington, D.C. James currently serves as the coach for the school’s mock trial team and as one of the Faculty Advisors for the school’s Model United Nations delegation to the National Model United Nations conference in Washington, D.C. in November.