Pre-Law Workshop at UNM School of Law
April 10, 2003
"Making The Transition
to Law School."
On April 10, 2003, a group of UNM pre-law students
gathered at UNM School of Law to hear a panel presentation by three
first year UNM law students. UNM School of Law Director of Admissions
and Financial Aid, Susan Mitchell, had generously arranged a room
for our pre-law workshop.
Michelle Haubert-Barela, a former political science
major/philosophy minor at UNM, explained that the most surprising
thing about the first year of law school was the huge amount of
work. According to Michelle, it is impossible to anticipate just
how much reading is going to be expected in law school. She stressed
the importance of learning to study in groups, noting that undergraduate
education is often centered on individual learning/performance.
In law school, however, study groups are crucial to the very experience
of learning, Michelle advised.
She also noted that she had improved her reading speed
to ten pages per hour. Reading must be focused, analytical, and
attuned to detail as well as logic, Michelle noted. She stressed
the importance of "not falling behind" and of "making
the effort to know the material" prior to class. "Fear
is a big motivator," she added.
Former ASM undergraduate Julie Gallardo agreed with
Michelle's comments. Julie shared with us her doubts about having
made a complete and full transition to law school. "I'm not
sure I've adjusted to everything," she told us. For Julie,
the following aspects of law school education stand out: law school
classes require patience; law students have to "figure out
what works because no one will tell you"; and law school is
like "remembering your hardest class as an undergraduate and
having all your classes turn out like that." As Michelle, Julie
emphasized that study groups make law school easier.
Cara Mikelson, who attended the College of Santa Fe
as an undergraduate, suggested that, while law school is more difficult
than undergraduate education, it is "much more fulfilling."
In law school, Cara suggested, you learn "how to think and
how to structure your thoughts." She confirmed Michelle's observation
that the workload is enormous, compared with the requirments of
The pre-law students in attendance asked numerous
questions of the panelists. During the question and answer session,
the panelists shared their experiences on LSAT preparation (all
had studied old LSAT exams on their own and had started doing so
months prior to the LSAT); undergraduate classes (classes that require
writing can be helpful); the use of laptops in law school (some
use them, so do not at UNM); study schedules (each student had a
different schedule); etc.
Thanks to Michelle, Julie, and Cara for giving freely
of their time, their energy, and their thoughts. With no personal
gains to be had, they took time from their busy schedules to help
others understand more fully the nature of the legal educational
process. They shared important insights and experiences, and they
embodied professionalism, hospitality, and service to the UNM pre-law
community. What better models could UNM's pre-law students have?