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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Career Spotlight

The process of getting into law school has a reputation for being difficult, to say the least. Just ask Elle Woods.

But according to Sharon L. Pinkney, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Enrollment at UC Davis School of Law, law school remains a great educational and professional option.

“Coming into law school with ‘eyes open’ is very important,” Pinkney said in an e-mail interview.

The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) offers pre-law advising services to all UC Davis students and alumni. It can assist students in preparing for the LSAT, critiquing personal statements, choosing law schools and more. Pre-law advising is located in 111 South Hall.

When students decide to apply to law school, there are many factors to consider in the application process. It is crucial that applicants put forth maximum effort on all components of the application, such as writing an informative personal statement, thoroughly preparing for the LSAT, choosing useful recommendations and doing well in their undergraduate education, Pinkney said.

“Law students need to be disciplined, secure in their decision to study law and mature on many levels,” Pinkney said.

Pinkney suggested that pre-law students go to the School of Law Admission website to find preparation material prepared by the organization that creates the LSAT. Workbooks, such as Princeton Review, Kaplan, and ARCO, are available for self-preparation. However, if more preparation is needed, the SASC website lists courses such as Kaplan at 753-4800 and Princeton Review at 447-4255 that are available.

“When you register for the LSAT, always register for one that allows you a backup date just in case you need to repeat the exam at a later time,” Pinkney said.

At Harvard University, the LSAT score for the 75th percentile is 176 and the 25th percentile is 171. At UC Davis, the LSAT score for the 75th percentile is 165 and for the 25th percentile is 161. At UC Berkeley, the average LSAT score is 163.

Ken Barnes, Program Coordinator at the Community Service Resource Center (CSRC), said internships with law firms always get attention because the experience is relevant. Also, internships with government agencies with the District Attorney’s office and the Federal Defender’s Office earn recognition as great internship experience for pre-law students.

Barnes said that students at UC Davis are at an advantage because they are so close to the capitol where students can intern for assembly members, senators or the governor.

“Anything that helps build skills pertinent to being a good lawyer such as communication skills, research skills, and problem solving skills are beneficial activities for pre-law students,” Barnes said in an e-mail interview. “You can develop those skills in a multitude of ways, such as volunteering for community service, taking a lead role in a club or organization, writing for local papers or even doing research with the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Center.”

Harvard Law School received 6,364 applications and only accepted 13 percent into the class of 2014. The annual cost of tuition is $47,600. At the UC Davis School of Law, 3,864 applied for admission for the 2010-11 school year and only 984 were offered admission. UC Berkeley Law School received 7,253 applications and 254 were accepted into the class of 2014. The annual cost of tuition is $41,763.30 at the UC Davis School of Law and is $50,164 at UC Berkeley.

Pre-law students should pursue a major that they find interesting and enjoyable because liking what you are doing means performing better, Pinkney said.

“A broad course of study designed to enhance writing skills and analytical and logical reasoning skills is the best preparation,” Pinkney said.

During law school and after, law school career centers can assist students in finding job placement by helping them become enticing competition in the job market. Craig Compton, assistant dean of Career Services at the UC Davis School of Law, said that the current economic situation has also affected the legal job market as well, but he believes that UC Davis law school students are well positioned to compete in the job market.

Law students gain practical experience through numerous clinical, externship and summer employment opportunities, Compton said.

“The law school works extremely hard to help students find legal employment — both for summer opportunities and post-bar positions,” Compton said in an e-mail interview.

In reference specifically to UC Davis School of Law, Compton said that the school’s rise in the rankings, internationally-recognized faculty, small-sized classes, outstanding students and supportive learning environment make UC Davis a great place to get an outstanding legal education.

PRISCILLA WONG can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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