Advice for Juniors and Seniors

  • Continue to develop and sharpen the skills you have been working on since you were in your freshman and sophomore years. Read Professor Corinne Cooper's Letter to a Young Law Student to remind yourself of the importance of skill development in pre-law preparation. Consider, in particular, Professor Cooper's insight on law as a "self-teaching discipline."
  • Explore opportunities for enhancing your self-assessment skills. In order to make an informed choice about law school, you will need to have the skills to evaluate analytically your interests, abilities, potential, and goals. You will also need strong self-assessment skills in law school. Read Steven Bennett's recent article in New York Law Journal and note the connection he makes between "candid self-assessment" and enhancing your performance in law school and enjoying your professional life. In addition, examine the self-assessment exercise assigned to second year law students by BYU Law School Prof. David Dominguez, as explained in his article entitled "Past Imperfect: Personal Statements Can Renew Motivation, Improve Learning." Think about why Prof. Dominguez works so hard at teaching his law students about the process of self-assessment. Think about how you would answer the question Prof. Domingez presents to his second year students: ". . . whether there was a time when they were convinced that becoming lawyers mattered so much that they were prepared to give unrelenting commitment to legal education."
  • Read the description of law school offered by Prof. Barbara Glesner Fines (University of Missouri-Kansas City). Her text reveals a sense of urgency in seeking to address common misconceptions among first year law students. Allow this text to challenge your assumptions about what makes for success in law school and what constitutes intellectual development. For example, analyze her concept of "suspended learning" and think about ways to apply this in your classes at UNM.
  • Compare the advice offered by Prof. Fines to the expectations that Prof. Andrew J. McClurg (University of Arkansas School of Law) spells out for his first year students.  Think of ways you can improve your study skills and work practices in order to prepare yourself in advance for the transition to law school.  For example, which of Prof. McClurg's "10 Commandments" do you think you would find most challenging?
  • Evaluate the best time to take the LSAT. This will vary from person to person and will be influenced by your LSAT preparation schedule and your proposed schedule for attending law school. However, if possible, try to arrange your LSAT preparation schedule so that you are ready to take the LSAT in June prior to your senior year; obtaining your LSAT score early (following the June test) will allow you to apply early in the Fall and will make it possible for you to select potential schools with full knowledge of your competitive options.
  • Identify individuals from whom you wish to obtain letters of reference; select individuals who know you well and who can write strong letters advocating with enthusiasm your acceptance to law school. When you request a letter of reference, offer to provide your letter writer with an up-to-date transcript, resume, writing sample, and draft of your personal statement.
  • Set aside extensive time to work on your personal statement; include time for revisions and feedback from proofreaders.
  • Attend New Mexico Law Day and speak directly with law school representatives about admissions, faculty-student ratio, library resources, diversity, academic reputations, joint degrees, clinics, journals, specializations, scholarship possibilities, full-time v. part-time faculty, law student associations, and any other criteria you have decided that is important to you in making your law school selection.
  • Do a realistic assessment of your options, given your LSAT score and GPA and make informed choices when you decide which law schools to which you will apply. Speak with your pre-law advisor if you are unclear on how to evaluate safe, somewhat long-shot, and genuine long-shot schools.