29 CRITICAL QUESTIONS
2016 â€“ 2017
MIAMILAW UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW
CONTENTS BEFORE YOU APPLY | 1
FACILITIES | 7
1. Should I go to law school? 2. Is law school as challenging as they say? 3. Should I consider attending a law school only in the location I want to practice? 4. Where can I get information and advice about law schools?
19. Are there advantages to attending a law school located on a university campus?
APPLYING | 2 5. When should I apply? 6. What are law schools looking for? 7. Are there particular undergraduate majors preferred for admission to law school? 8. I have never performed well on standardized tests and my freshman year was rocky. Do I have a chance of being admitted to law school? 9. How should I prepare for the LSAT? Am I able to repeat the LSAT? 10. How should I approach letters of recommendation (LORs) and who should I ask? 11. How important is the personal statement in my law school application? 12. Do law schools offer interviews? 13. I have a documented disability. Should I disclose this information? 14. How should I handle negative incidences on my record, such as disciplinary, academic or criminal issues? 15. I am unsure of the area of law in which I wish to practice—or even if I want to practice in a traditional setting. Should I know exactly what I want to do before enrolling? 16. Should I choose a school that seems to have more offerings in the area of law in which I think I want to practice? 17. Many law schools offer joint J.D. and masters’ degrees and joint J.D. and LL.M. programs. How beneficial are joint degrees and will they give me an advantage in the job market? 18. I’ve heard that the legal market is changing. What do I need to know to prepare for these changes?
FACULTY | 7 20. What should I learn about a school’s faculty? How important is the student-to-faculty ratio and the size of the school?
STUDENT BODY | 8 21. How concerned should I be about the student body? How important are student organizations? 22. What are law reviews and journals and how important is being a member? 23. What support systems are in place once students are enrolled?
CAREERS AND PRACTICAL SKILLS | 9 24. What opportunities are available in law school for gaining practical experience? 25. Can I work while I’m in law school and will I have help in finding a good job after graduation?
FINANCIAL AID | 12 26. How can I afford law school?
BEFORE YOU ENTER | 12 27. Should I work before entering law school? 28. Will law schools help me find suitable housing and a roommate? 29. What can I do to prepare for Law School?
ACADEMIC TIMETABLE | 13
BEFORE YOU APPLY 1. Should I go to law school? Only you can answer this question. Law school is a serious academic, financial, and personal commitment and should be approached with confidence and 100%+ effort. Although returning students who have been in the workforce for a few years may face lifestyle changes, as professionals they have matured and developed skills which are likely to be helpful in law school (e.g. time management and career navigation). Think this decision through thoroughly and be prepared to be fully engaged.
2. Is law school as challenging as they say? GENERAL VIEW: Law school is a challenging endeavor, but the rewards are worth it. While the job market has fluctuated in recent years, it appears to be improving and over the long run, having a J.D. degree has demonstrated its worth in time and investment. MIAMI LAW VIEW: The majority of Miami’s alumni agree that law school was a demanding but powerful and rewarding experience. Our mission is to train you to master both the theory and craft of the law. You will learn to analyze complex issues from every angle and depth, and to present well researched and persuasive arguments in both written and oral form. These skills will assist you in every aspect of your life. We also prepare you to be technologically savvy and practice-ready so that you can meet the expectations of employers and the changing market-place.
3. Should I consider attending a law school only in the location I want to practice? GENERAL VIEW: It makes sense to consider schools in the geographic areas where you might be interested in settling; however, generally speaking this should not be the primary reason you choose a school. Law schools with national reputations provide job and networking opportunities so graduates can be placed outside of their region. Ties with different legal communities can be
developed during school breaks, and relationships can be further strengthened through summer positions. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Although many of our graduates choose to remain in Florida, Miami Law has an excellent national reputation and places students across the country and internationally for externships, and summer and permanent positions. Our location—6 miles from the vibrant downtown area—gives our students opportunities to work and interact with an outstanding legal community, national and international businesses and corporations, the judiciary (over a dozen courts are located here), and many government agencies. Miami Law alumni, represented throughout the U.S. and worldwide, are supportive and consistently recognized for their accomplishments.
4. Where can I get information and advice about law schools? If you are currently a student, see if your institution has a pre-law adviser and/or a pre-law society. Pre-law advisers should be able to give you information and general advice about applying to, selecting, and succeeding in law school. Pre-law organizations often sponsor guest speakers who will give you insight into the law school experience and legal practice. Additionally, law school websites are very useful sources of information. Further, don’t forget to speak with current law students, administrators, and alumni. Visit schools to get a sense of the campus and student life, and attend a few law classes to experience the classroom environment. The LSAC website (www.lsac.org) is helpful and informative and includes access to the ABA/LSAC law school searchable database. There are other numerous publications available for your use in the law school search process. Using these materials as a starting point for your own research is advised as one publication could not possibly capture the qualities that make a law school unique. LSAC addresses rankings on its website (www.lsac.org/jd/choosing-a-law-school/ ls-reputation); there is no ABA-endorsed law school ranking. A December, 2010 article in the ABA Journal about rankings includes a statement
by Robert Morse, the man who created the law school rankings for USN&WR: “If prospective students or their advisers are using the U.S. News law school rankings as the only basis to choose one law school over another, that would be the absolutely incorrect usage of the rankings.” To access the article, go to www.abajournal.com and type “rankings czar” in the search bar. Malcolm Gladwell’s article on rankings in the February, 2011 edition of the New Yorker, is also an interesting and amusing read (The Order of Things;
www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/02/14/theorder-of-things). Be aware that blogs and social media sites may be one-sided, inaccurate, or provide incomplete information. To assist pre-law students, Miami Law has created a Pre-Law Headquarters webpage (www.law.miami. edu/prelaw) which lists many useful internal and external links and resources useful to prospective law students.
APPLYING 5. When should I apply? GENERAL VIEW: There are 204 ABA-accredited law schools in the U.S. and although the application process is similar at each, there are important differences. Some law schools may have strict application deadlines while others make decisions on a rolling basis. At the beginning of the cycle, admission reviewers are fresh and eager to start building their upcoming class; as the application cycle proceeds, repetitive fatigue can set in. Set yourself up for a successful result by placing yourself early in the cycle. MIAMI LAW VIEW: At Miami Law, applications are reviewed, and scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis. We begin receiving applications on September 1 and as files become complete, they are reviewed. If admitted, competitive individuals are reviewed for scholarships until funds are depleted. Completing your file by Thanksgiving/ early December will place you in an optimal position for both admission and scholarship consideration. If possible, avoid getting caught in the holiday delays.
6. What are law schools looking for? GENERAL VIEW: The class profile is important to enrolled and prospective students, faculty, the legal community, as well as employers. Not surprisingly, law schools are looking for the most competitive and interesting applicants possible. To see where you fit in, find out the average and median LSAT scores and GPAs for enrolling first year students as well as the GPA and LSAT at the 25th and 75th
percentiles. Schools are also seeking diversity in backgrounds and experiences. Remember, an applicant who is denied at one school may be a solid candidate at another school. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Miami is seeking a multidimensional student body filled with students who will be intellectually engaged, disciplined, and fun to teach. While your LSAT score and GPA are very important in the decision-making process, you will also be reviewed as an individual. Thus, in addition to your GPA and LSAT score, we will consider the competitiveness of your major and undergraduate institution, grade trends, recommendations, personal statement, work experience, leadership roles, extracurricular activities, writing experience/abilities, etc. Miami’s entering class of 2016 had 300 students (includes nine students with advanced standing excluded from LSAT statistics per ABA regulations) with average GPA/LSAT credentials of 3.37/157.43. The 75% GPA/LSAT scores were 3.59/160 and the 25% were 3.17/155. Other interesting facts about the entering class: 109 undergraduate institutions were represented; 66% speak one or more foreign languages; 57% have been out of undergraduate school one year or more, and 47% identify as members of a minority group or as multiethnic.
7. Are there particular undergraduate majors preferred for admission to law school? GENERAL VIEW: Law schools are not looking for one particular undergraduate major and students
are admitted from every discipline. What is most important is how you perform in the major you choose, and what classes you take to enhance your critical thinking, writing, logical and analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension skills. If you are in a major that would not require business, economics or related courses, consider taking a few in these fields as they should be helpful in both law school and practice. MIAMI LAW VIEW: In Miami’s 2016 entering class, approximately 56 undergraduate majors were represented. Typical majors are business, communications, economics, English, finance, history, international studies, journalism, political science, and psychology. However, we have students from many other disciplines including math, engineering, biology, chemistry, philosophy, music, etc.
8. I have never performed well on standardized tests and my freshman year was rocky. Do I have a chance of being admitted to law school? GENERAL VIEW: You are not alone in being concerned about grades and standardized testing history. There are many applicants who outperform their standardized test predictions if given the chance. Nevertheless, a low LSAT will be an obstacle. It is important to review your credentials realistically and compare them to the average or median scores at the schools in which you are interested. Do your research in deciding where to apply. Consider the overall attributes of different schools (course offerings, location, student body and culture, clinics, academic support, job opportunities, alumni support, etc.) to decide if they would be a good match for you. Apply to at least one safety school, a few you’re likely to be admitted into, as well as one or two reach schools. If your initial academic performance is mediocre, hopefully your transcript will reflect a steady or dramatic rise in grades that balance out a poor start. Your LSAC CAS report will summarize your grades for each year and include your transcripts for law school review. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Your LSAT and GPA are important but not considered in a vacuum. Generally, one
is not given more weight than the other; both are important. Your file will be reviewed in its entirety (refer to Question 6).
9. How should I prepare for the LSAT? Am I able to repeat the LSAT? GENERAL VIEW: It is important to go into the LSAT as prepared as possible. This may mean paying for a review course and/or tutor, as well as preparing on your own. There are numerous LSAT prep courses and study guides are available at bookstores. Released LSATs may be purchased through LSAC. You are allowed to sit for the LSAT a maximum of three times over a two-year period; however, taking the test multiple times is costly and may be counterproductive. Many law schools will give more weight to the highest LSAT score but retake the LSAT only if you feel confident in your ability to increase your score. MIAMI LAW VIEW: We encourage you to take seriously and prepare fully the first time you sit for the LSAT. Taking the test early (i.e., June) will allow you the advance time needed to better prepare should you decide to retake it. Your highest score is given the most weight.
10. How should I approach letters of recommendation (LORs) and who should I ask? GENERAL VIEW: While LORs may not always be pivotal in the review process, they can be very important, particularly for applicants whose credentials are below the averages. Be circumspect in determining who to ask. Many schools prefer to see LORs from professors who can assess your academic work, overall skills, discipline, and potential to succeed in law school. If you have been out of school for a number of years and are unable to obtain recommendations from former professors, substitute LORs from employers or others with whom you have worked closely. If you plan to take time off before entering law school, keep your intended recommenders informed by sending them an occasional email. When you approach your preferred recommenders, don’t presume anything. Ask them “Do you feel you know me well enough and are
you comfortable with writing me a strong letter of recommendation?” If they are not so inclined, this will give them an opportunity to decline, or if they hesitate, give you an indication of their tepid enthusiasm. Supply your recommenders with your resume (and transcript if applicable) and ask to spend a few minutes with them so you can address any questions or concerns they may have. Give ample notice to avoid the LOR being written in haste or causing delays. MIAMI LAW VIEW: LORs can be very useful in assessing your ability to succeed as well as highlight characteristics not always revealed by paper credentials alone. We ask for two recommendations (at least one from a professor is suggested) but you can submit up to four if others have knowledge of you in a professional setting, leadership/ community service role, externship, etc.
11. How important is the personal statement in my law school application? GENERAL VIEW: For most law schools, the personal statement is a vital part of your application package. Some schools may have specific questions to answer while most allow you to choose what to write about. There is no one formula for the perfect personal statement—it is supposed to be about you, your journey, your goals, and so forth. MIAMI LAW VIEW: We encourage you to submit a personal statement that will reflect who you are and what you will contribute to our law school community. Law school is not for spectators. Statements that indicate you will be proactive in seizing opportunities to develop intellectually, professionally and personally tend to be the most powerful. If you wish to explain a weakness or circumstance, do this in an addendum. Be sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are flawless. Do not repeat everything on your resume; highlight your strengths and present what you think we should know about you. Have several people whom you trust review your statement for general feedback but be sure the statement is written by you alone. While the optimal length of a personal statement
is approximately two pages, use more space if needed but make what you write relevant and compelling.
12. Do law schools offer interviews? GENERAL VIEW: Many law schools do not offer interviews or if they do, they may offer this option to select groups (e.g., presumed admits to ascertain their interest or those on the waitlist to determine their fit with the institution). Almost all schools welcome visitors. Try to visit the law schools on your “short list” as this is the best way to assess the overall culture at the school, resources and accessibility of the law school community. MIAMI LAW VIEW: While we do not grant interviews, we encourage visitors. Tours are conducted by current students Monday-Friday and we will gladly arrange class visits. The Admissions & Recruitment Office hosts numerous admissions events including an Admissions & LSAT Workshop, mock admissions session, mock class, and law student panel. Additionally, Miami participates in recruiting programs throughout the country. Visit www.law. miami.edu/recruitingcalendar for a list of on-andoff campus events. If financial/time constraints prevent you from visiting, contact us to speak with current law students and alumni or connect with them through one of our online chats offered throughout the year. View our online student and alumni video spotlights for a glimpse of life at Miami Law and beyond.
13. I have a documented disability. Should I disclose this information? GENERAL VIEW: This is your decision entirely. There are, however, sound reasons why you may want to disclose a disability. Students who plan to request accommodations in law school will need to disclose their disability for assessment purposes. We recommend that you take care of whatever accommodation procedures are required in the summer before you begin law school. If you wish to apply for LSAT accommodations from LSAC, visit www.lsac.org/JD/LSAT/accommodated-testing.asp for details.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Should you anticipate needing assistance during law school, advance notice will allow the Law School’s Office of Disability Services (ODS) to get to know and advise you about the services and resources available. We strongly recommend you take care of this before classes begin so that you can direct all of your attention to your coursework. Once documentation is provided, it will be reviewed and you will have the opportunity to confirm your accommodations plan with the ODS. ODS will not disclose any information about you or your disability to anyone without your written authorization. Examination accommodations are handled without disclosure to the faculty member, as examinations are taken under the supervision of a proctor, not the faculty member. Should you anticipate needing assistance during law school due to an underlying disability, or have questions about the services and resources available through ODS, contact Iris Morera, Coordinator, Disability Services (305-284-9907; firstname.lastname@example.org). Visit www.law.miami.edu/disability-services for guidelines, deadlines, and other helpful information.
14. How should I handle negative incidences on my record, such as disciplinary, academic or criminal issues? GENERAL VIEW: Law schools have different requirements as to what applicants are required to disclose on their application. Carefully read each application and if you have questions about disclosure, contact the school directly. Get the name of the person to whom you speak, and if necessary, write an email to that person reiterating the conversation so it can be corrected if there were any misunderstandings. Keep a copy of this correspondence for your records. Applicants should be aware that in conducting character and fitness investigations, bar authorities may request copies of candidates’ applications for admission to law school to determine whether they have supplied erroneous or incomplete information. If discrepancies are found, bar authorities may conclude that they so far undermine a candidate’s credibility as to call into question his or her fitness for admission to the bar.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Applicants should take care to respond fully, fairly, and carefully to every question on the application. The care, candor, and integrity evidenced in an application will be significant factors in the evaluation process. Each applicant has the continuing responsibility to notify Miami Law of any changes after submitting the application.
15. I am unsure of the area of law in which I wish to practice—or even if I want to practice in a traditional setting. Should I know exactly what I want to do before enrolling? GENERAL VIEW: Some applicants know what area of practice they are interested in, some think they know, and many are unsure. Very often, students change their minds about their legal interests. If you already have professional experience in an area that will be enhanced by the J.D., this may be to your advantage in the job market. If you are unclear about what area of law you wish to pursue, your experiences in law school should help direct you. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Miami Law’s extensive curriculum, clinics, centers and externship programs will provide exposure to many areas of law and help guide your interests, as well as increase your contacts locally and nationally. Further, faculty, administrators, alumni and other members of the Miami Law community are excellent resources.
16. Should I choose a school that seems to have more offerings in the area of law in which I think I want to practice? GENERAL VIEW: Depending on your goals, some schools may be better suited for your interests because of the number of professors and courses offered in those areas. However, as students often change their minds about what they want to practice, initial interests may be less important by the time of graduation. Getting a well-rounded, interdisciplinary legal education will prepare you for law practice or other endeavors. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Miami offers approximately 300 courses, seminars and unique short courses each year and many joint degree options. Exchange programs of varying lengths are offered in 13
countries and 21 foreign institutions. Additional international options are provided through other law offerings, such as the summer Water Resources Law and Policy course offered in Vietnam and China and International Moot Court.
17. Many law schools offer joint J.D. and master’s degrees, and joint J.D. and LL.M. programs. How beneficial are joint degrees and will they give me an advantage in the job market? GENERAL VIEW: If you know you want to practice in an area that you don’t already have solid knowledge, earning a joint master’s degree might not only give you the knowledge you need, but also make you stand out to certain employers. The same is true of joint J.D./LL.M. programs which give you concentrated study in specific areas of law. You save time and money and might get more out of both programs by doing them concurrently. A joint degree provides versatility with regard to interdisciplinary positions where both legal knowledge and knowledge in another industry are required or strongly desired. Further, if the degree has practica or externship requirements, these experiences will provide first-hand exposure and networking opportunities. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Miami Law has numerous joint offerings, including some unique combinations (e.g., our four-year triple degree options for those with undergraduate business majors). Miami Law’s joint-degree programs are: J.D./M.B.A.—Master of Business Administration J.D./M.P.S.—Marine Ecosystems and Society J.D./M.P.H.—Master of Public Health J.D./M.M.—Music Business and Entertainment Industries J.D./M.A.—Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management J.D./M.A.—Communications (specializations in Journalism, Public Relations, and Communication Studies) J.D./M.A.—Latin American Studies J.D./M.S.Ed.—Law, Community and Social Change J.D./M.D. Program in Medicine J.D./M.P.A.—Master in Public Administration
J.D./M.B.A./LL.M. in Tax, Real Property or Estate Planning (undergraduate business degree required) J.D./Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Policy B.A or B.S./J.D.—Dual degree in law. This 3+3 option allows qualified University of Miami undergraduates to complete both degrees in six years. Miami offers highly regarded LL.M. (master of laws)* degrees in: Taxation Estate Planning Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Real Property Development Maritime Law International Law (with specializations in InterAmerican Law, U.S. and Transnational Law, and General International Law) International Arbitration Taxation of Cross-Border Investment (tailored for non-U.S. Lawyers) *Joint J.D./LL.M. degrees offered in all except for Taxation of Cross-Border Investment.
18. I’ve heard that the legal market is changing. What do I need to know to prepare for these changes? GENERAL VIEW: The legal marketplace has been changing in that some of the tasks that new associates were primarily responsible for in the past have been outsourced. Also, technology has helped streamline parts of legal research and made online document access and basic legal advice more readily available to the general public. What this means to new associates in some practices—certainly not all—is that a number of the responsibilities typically given to new associates as they learn the ropes of legal practice are less prevalent or no longer necessary. With clients being more sophisticated and demanding, law firms have to be flexible in how they cater to them. In addition to having ample legal knowledge and the ability to think critically about complex issues, new associates are expected to be more technologically savvy, entrepreneurial in spirit, have the navigational legal tools to be a firm asset from the get-go, and be better trained overall.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Under the leadership of Dean Patricia White, Miami Law has been ahead of the curve in anticipating what new graduates need to succeed in this changing world. She has implemented numerous new clinics, study abroad options, expanded externship opportunities, outstanding joint degrees, student development services, a Mindfulness in Law Program and other exciting initiatives. Her vision clearly reflects Miami Law’s mission to teach theory and practice readiness while expanding offerings which address the challenges of the changing legal marketplace and the transnational world in which graduates are entering. Examples of innovative initiatives include Miami’s unique LawWithoutWalls program (an entrepreneurial initiative involving approximately 30 prestigious U.S. and international law and business schools with mentors and
thought leaders throughout the country and abroad), and our short compressed courses taught by experts throughout the globe. Dean White’s entrepreneurial leadership was recognized in the January 2014 and January 2013 issues of National Jurist magazine, when she was named one of the nation’s top 25 most influential people in legal education. Of course research and writing are still mainstays of the legal profession and Miami Law’s creative first-year Legal Communications and Research Skills program focuses on research and writing, analysis, and oral advocacy, as well as the impact of technology on legal practice. Miami’s Law Library is substantial and has the resources, physical space, and law librarians to train and support the students’ research and study needs.
FACILITIES 19. Are there advantages to attending a law school located on a university campus? GENERAL VIEW: If the law school is on the campus of a dynamic institution, opportunities may expand significantly. For example, there may be a myriad of interdisciplinary options that allow you to engage in joint degree programs, special research projects and many other activities. Further, the facilities, libraries, guest speakers and extracurricular activities that a larger university may offer can be enormously beneficial and greatly expand networking resources which are critically important in today’s job market. MIAMI LAW VIEW: We take full advantage of our location on the University’s main campus in Coral
Gables. We offer a range of joint degree programs (see question 17) which would not be as readily available or extensive if the law school was not on the main campus. Our students also engage in many other activities which the University provides. Relevant internships or other projects may also develop on campus, such as students working on compliance issues with the athletic department or participating in internships with the general counsel’s office, student affairs, or other University positions. Additional amenities include several libraries, a wonderful art museum, outstanding concert series, world famous guest speakers, a beautiful wellness center, outdoor tennis and basketball courts, and a campus that is renowned for its royal palms, flowering trees, expansive lawns and campus lake.
FACULTY 20. What should I learn about a school’s faculty? How important is the studentto-faculty ratio and the size of the school? GENERAL VIEW: It is a good idea to review the biographies of the faculty for each school you
are investigating. The faculty will often define the breadth of the curriculum, and their areas of specialty will be reflected in course offerings. Note which law schools they attended, their real-world experience, publications, and research projects. Many factors go into the student-faculty
relationship. Not surprisingly, large schools are likely to have larger class sizes as well as a wider selection of course offerings and teaching styles from which to choose. Typically, first year students are assigned to a section and they remain with that section throughout the first year. Schools with a smaller entering class do not necessarily have significantly smaller sections. Whether the size of the class affects the student-faculty relationship depends primarily on the professor. How you respond to faculty members will be important. If they feel you have challenged yourself intellectually, they will be willing to spend time with you. Conversely, they will not have much patience for minimally prepared students. MIAMI LAW VIEW: When you review the biographies of Miami’s faculty (over 80 full-time and approximately 100 adjunct professors), you will be impressed with the national, international, and interdisciplinary dimensions of their backgrounds and how this positively influences our curricular offerings. The student/faculty ratio at Miami is
approximately 12/1. In addition to our full-time and adjunct faculty members (outstanding judges and practitioners teaching in our various programs), Miami Law attracts visiting scholars from around the world. Our students also have the opportunity to learn from visiting U. S. and international practitioners and experts in their fields who come to teach specialized, innovative compressed courses. Over 20 such short courses were offered in the 2015-16 academic cycle. Similar to most law schools, Miami divides the entering class into sections which remain together throughout the 1L year. Miami’s 2016 entering class of 300 was divided into four sections with approximately 75 students per section. At least one first year course is comprised of half that group and the first year Legal Communication and Research Skills classes taught by 7 full-time faculty members have 15-20 students per class. Many 2L and 3L courses have under 20 students. The campus community is friendly and supportive and you will have many opportunities to interact with your professors.
STUDENT BODY 21. How concerned should I be about the student body? How important are student organizations? GENERAL VIEW: The more diverse the student body, the better the exchange of ideas and exposure to different points of view inside and outside of the classroom. Having a diverse and active student body contributes in significant ways to the classroom dynamic, the types of courses and programs offered, (e.g., guest lecture series, conferences, moot court competitions, law reviews, volunteer activities, etc.), and the individual day-to-day interactions you will have with your colleagues. Lawyers are problem solvers and troubleshooters— what better way to learn these skills than in a diverse and engaged environment? Investigate the types of student organizations, law reviews and other functions related to academic and student life that are offered. Seek advice and information from current students and recent graduates. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Miami Law has a wonderfully
diverse and multidimensional student body. We offer five law reviews and a wide range of student organizations (55+) representing many backgrounds and ethnicities, religions, ideological and political leanings, and numerous areas of legal interests from public service to international arbitration, military law, tax law, animal rights, intellectual property, mock trial, moot court (national and international), and much more. Student organizations sponsor stimulating speakers as well as numerous academic and social events where students can network with alumni mentors and other members of the legal community, as well as attend regional and national events. Miami’s student body reflects the goals of the admissions office which looks for bright, diligent and resourceful students who want to be inspired and to inspire others.
22. What are law reviews and journals and how important is being a member? GENERAL VIEW: Law reviews and journals are scholarly publications which are edited and published by student members. Some publications may focus on
specific areas of law, while others are not restrictive. Students usually become members based on certain qualifications such as class rank and/or a writing competition. Employers/judges often seek out law review members to interview because they denote accomplishment and prestige. While not essential to finding a great job, being a member will certainly open some doors for you. MIAMI LAW VIEW: Our law reviews include the Business Law Review; Inter-American Law Review; International and Comparative Law Review; Race and Social Justice Law Review; and University of Miami Law Review.
23. What support systems are in place once students are enrolled? GENERAL VIEW: Support systems among law schools vary from many to few, from formal to informal. Some law schools will assign an adviser to first-year students, as well as give them several additional sources to approach for advice. These sources may be upper-division law students, professors, administrators, and alumni. Typically, assistance is also available for students who are having academic or personal problems.
and expected by that professor. Participation is open to all first-year students and generally over 85% of students participate. The Academic Achievement Program also offers a variety of Bar Preparation Programs to help students pass the high-stakes licensure exams administered in all 50 states. Programs include credit-bearing courses available to third-year students, as well as workshops and panels throughout the year to help students prepare for the strategic and logistical aspects of seeking bar admission. The Student Development Initiative has onstaff lawyers who work with first year students individually to find greater success, satisfaction, and happiness throughout law school. Partnership for Professionalism supports students in the important transition from law student to lawyer. The staff works with students as they prepare for the bar exam, on character and fitness awareness, and tricky ethical/moral dilemmas that may arise throughout law school and beyond. Additionally, this program provides informal roundtable discussions with judges, attorneys and law students.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Our goal is to provide students with personal, academic and professional development as soon as they walk in the door and Miami has several ambitious programs to accomplish this. No other school in the country offers the range of programs described below.
The Mindfulness in Law Program is part of our commitment to prepare students to reach the highest levels of academic excellence and legal expertise while providing the tools needed to maintain a fulfilling work-life balance.
The Academic Achievement Program (AAP) is an acclaimed program in which accomplished second- and third-year students (Dean’s Fellows) are assigned a first-year course for which they organize weekly study sessions. The Fellows attend the class for which they are responsible and thus know the scope of what is being taught
The AskUs Team consists of a recent Miami Law graduate who is readily accessible and the first stop to answer students’ questions or link them with the proper group or department. This individual also researches, designs, and implements new programs, systems and services to better the Miami law student experience.
CAREERS AND PRACTICAL SKILLS 24. What opportunities are available in law school for gaining practical experience? GENERAL VIEW: In law school, you should take
advantage of all opportunities to get hands-on experience. You can gain experience through clinical placements, externships, moot court, volunteer activities, paid positions, etc. Typically full-time students do not work in the first year (1L),
and full-time 2L and 3L students are advised to work no more than 20 hours/week so they can focus on their studies. Some schools offer part-time or evening options to allow students to work full-time while completing their degree.
public interest organizations and the judiciary for academic credit. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 167 students participated in the program; 52 students participated during the summer. Miami has 10 in-house clinics* which include:
MIAMI LAW VIEW: At Miami, courses with field components such as externships and advocacy projects are plentiful. These courses are typically for academic credit and some may offer stipends. Paid positions, such as working in law firms or other agencies, are accessible through the Career Development Office (CDO). CDO staff members, including nine staff attorneys, will help you navigate your search to identify rewarding experiences. Miami does not offer a part-time or an evening program for the J.D. student.
Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic Children & Youth Law Clinic Environmental Justice Clinic Federal Appellate Clinic Health Rights Clinic Human Rights Clinic Immigration Clinic Innocence Clinic Investor Rights Clinic Tenants’ Rights Clinic
Miami’s campus, approximately six miles from downtown and the courts, is ideally located for students who wish to work in the second and third years. The CDO provides on-campus interviewing programs and postings throughout the year for positions with law firms, government agencies, non-profits, public interest agencies, corporations and the judiciary. Students can also gain practical experience during the summers in Florida, throughout the U.S. or internationally.
*Not all clinics are offered every year.
Miami’s Litigation Skills Program offers an exceptional opportunity to develop fundamental skills for both pre-trial and trial practice through intensive exercises and simulated courtroom experiences, taught by federal and state judges, prosecutors and defenders, and partners from highly regarded law firms. Students who complete the course can enroll in a six-credit Externship in which they are certified by the Supreme Court of Florida to engage in the supervised practice of law in more than 50 local participating agencies (ranging from the Public Defender, State Attorney, Consumer Advocates Office and Legal Aid to the SEC, IRS, etc.), as well as placements in other states or internationally. In addition, students can receive instruction in advanced litigation matters in Litigation Skills II courses and seminars.
The Law School’s nationally recognized programs include:
Miami Law’s Externship Program provides students with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience by working with local, national, and international corporations, government agencies,
Miami also offers a Startup Practicum for those with entrepreneurial interests and a Civil Rights Practicum, which focuses on employment discrimination, police misconduct litigation, and voting rights. Further, there are several concentration options: Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology: BILT; Litigation and Dispute Resolution; and Social Justice & Public Interest.
HOPE Public Interest Resource Center: The HOPE team works with students individually to match them with opportunities in the public sector that meet their advocacy interests. HOPE’s Summer Fellowships allow selected students to work in the U.S. and abroad. Public interest awards and loan reduction for upper-division students whose work has contributed significantly to the broader community are also possible. Center for Ethics and Public Service (CEPS): This award-winning interdisciplinary program includes the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP), Historic Black Church Program (HBCP), and the Environmental Justice Clinic. STREET Law Program: This educational, legal outreach program trains current law students to teach and empower youth at schools throughout
Miami-Dade County through interactive education about law, democracy, and human rights while furthering the professional development of law students. Miami Scholars Public Interest Program: To address the earning disparity between public service salaries and the private sector, this program provides full-tuition scholarship awards to selected students who have a history of and commitment to public service.
25. Can I work while I’m in law school and will I have help in finding a good job after graduation? GENERAL VIEW: Due to the rigorous curriculum and learning curve in the first year, most law schools discourage full-time students from working. Full-time 2L and 3L students are generally advised to work a maximum of 20 hours/week to avoid compromising their academic focus. People attend law school for a variety of reasons, and thus, the definition of a “good” job after graduation is different for everyone. It is important to assess your values, skills and interests to determine what a good job means to you. Opportunities will vary from region to region and among different practice areas. It is no secret that the job market has been tough; therefore, it is imperative that you be proactive and creative in your job search. To maximize your success, take advantage of all available resources, network extensively, and learn to navigate the marketplace. Find out what services the career development office at each school will provide in your job search. In its annual Perspectives on 2015 Law Student Recruiting report released in February 2016, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) painted a rosier picture for future law graduates. “In the last six years following the economic recession, law firms have slowly continued to increase their entry-level recruiting activity. While the size of the graduating class has gotten smaller, the average size of law firm programs has nearly recovered to pre-recession levels. Smaller graduating classes may be one factor driving law firm competition in on-campus recruiting, and new pre-OCI trends are emerging. With vigorous competition for top
candidates, law firms reported an increase in the number of summer associate offers made this year, compared to last year. They also reported a staggering 95.3% offer rate from summer programs for entry-level associate positions—the highest NALP has recorded in over two decades.” MIAMI LAW VIEW: 2L and 3L students are advised to work a maximum of 20 hours/week to ensure a balance with academic responsibilities. Students seeking employment during the academic year are fortunate to have many options available to them. Miami Law is ideally located near a vibrant legal and business community which offers upperdivision students many opportunities to gain experience with law firms, members of the judiciary, government agencies, public interest organizations and corporate counsel departments of major corporations. Many opportunities with public sector employers and corporate counsel are available through the Externship Program, where students may earn academic credit. Students wishing to explore topics of interest while enhancing research and writing skills can seek out research positions with law faculty. The nine attorney advisors in Miami Law’s Career Development Office (CDO) guide students through the school year, summer, and post-graduate job search. Advisors work closely with students to explore and determine their fields of interest, compile application materials for submission, and prepare them for interviews. The CDO offers many services including on- and off-campus recruiting events, job search workshops, networking opportunities, and various employment-related resources. All advisors are licensed attorneys and their varied professional backgrounds enable them to skillfully assist students and graduates with their regional and national job searches. Students are encouraged to work closely with their assigned advisor throughout law school to develop an effective job search strategy. The CDO strives to provide resources in all sectors and practice areas as well as in non-traditional legal fields. Students wishing to practice outside of Florida are encouraged to find summer positions in their cities of interest and connect with our alumni for networking purposes. This effort is enhanced by
Miami Law alumni employed throughout the U.S. and abroad in law firms of all sizes, government agencies, public interest organizations, NGO’s and corporations, and non-traditional settings. Miami Law alumni, approximately 20,000 strong, are successful and supportive. In two recent surveys, Miami Law was recognized
for its graduates who were promoted from associate to partner at law firms across the U.S. and locally. In The National Law Journal, Miami Law came in 15th for the most associate-topartner promotions among all law schools. The Daily Business Review placed Miami Law alumni first among all law schools who were promoted to partner at South Florida law firms.
FINANCIAL AID 26. How can I afford law school? GENERAL VIEW: While the cost of law school is something you must consider, law school is an investment in your future. There are federal loans to which you can apply and many schools offer scholarships based on need, merit, or a combination of need and merit. Although limited, check external scholarships (e.g. Fastweb, SRN Express, and Sallie Mae—scholarship search) for which law students may qualify. Be aware that these awards may require an application six to nine months prior to entry. Minimize your undergraduate and credit card debt and save wherever possible. Run a credit report so that if there are any negative issues, you have time to address them. MIAMI LAW VIEW: The University’s Financial Aid Office (FAO) will assist you as needed throughout
the FAFSA financial aid process. Miami has a very strong scholarship program and in recent years has offered more than $10 million in scholarship money to qualified admitted students. Merit-based Dean’s scholarships are awarded to selected entering students who have applied early, excelled academically, have strong LSAT scores, and possess other outstanding qualifications for the study of law. Additional details about these and other awards are accessible online. Full-tuition awards include the Harvey T. Reid, Soia Mentschikoff, I. Eric and Grace Leef, Chaplin Family, and White & Case Scholarships. There is a small pool of additional scholarship funds available to qualified rising second and third year students. The Miami Scholars Public Interest Program requires an application and provides selected entering 1L students with full-tuition public interest-based scholarships.
BEFORE YOU ENTER 27. Should I work before entering law school? GENERAL VIEW: Some people believe working prior to entering law school is essential; it allows you to gain experience, earn some money, become more mature, develop stronger time management skills, and hopefully, confirm your desire to go to law school. Others think that once you have gotten out of the habit of studying and become accustomed to a lifestyle that includes a salary, returning to school may require significant adjustments.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Generally speaking, work experience is helpful but every applicant should assess his/her own situation. Either way, being eager to learn and having the discipline to do so will influence finding law school a rewarding challenge or a burden.
28. Will law schools help me find suitable housing and a roommate? GENERAL VIEW: Schools will often provide information about on-and off-campus housing and a roommate referral program. Be frugal and mindful of the housing budget that is established by the financial aid office when choosing housing options.
MIAMI LAW VIEW: Although Miami does not have on-campus housing for graduate students, there is suitable housing near the campus and surrounding areas. The Student Recruitment Office provides an Apartment & Relocation Guide, connections to local realtors (who do not charge the renter), a housing session in conjunction with Law Day for Admitted Students, a roommate referral service, a Miami Law Facebook page for entering students to connect with one another, and individual assistance as needed.
29. What can I do to prepare for Law School? GENERAL VIEW: Many current law students and law graduates will tell you to relax the summer before law school. You will want to enter the J.D. program refreshed, energized, and ready for law study. However, it never hurts to be aware of what to expect in law school and in the profession; therefore, you may find some suggested readings useful. There are many publications and numerous websites, discussion boards and blogs that address how to prepare for and succeed in law school. Be discerning of statements on blogs and other such sites as some may include inaccuracies and misleading information. MIAMI LAW VIEW: The study of law is tightly woven with an understanding of our government, political process and world affairs. We encourage you to read a good national newspaper, such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc. Book suggestions include: Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School: Strategies for Success; Alex Schimel, Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades; Herbert Ramy, Succeeding in Law School; and Charles Calleros, Law School Exams.
ACADEMIC TIMETABLE Freshman and Sophomore Years Familiarize yourself with the campus pre-law adviser and pre-law organizations. Be active but focus on your academics. Participate in extracurricular activities with a leadership role. It is better to have a meaningful role in one or two organizations than be a member in many. Attend relevant law programs on your campus or at nearby law schools. Participate in local law fairs or forums (e.g. LSAC Law School Forums). Visit Miami Law’s Admissions Events Calendar accessible at www.law.miami.edu/recruitingcalendar
Junior Year Continue to stay active and keep your grades high. Be proactive in seeking out experiences/opportunities. Begin LSAT preparation (take a course, get a tutor, prepare on your own or all of these). Resources available through LSAT are available at www.lsac.org. The June test prior to your senior year is advised to give you more time to prepare if you decide to retake. Develop relationships with professors, advisors or professionals for letters of recommendation. In the spring, alert your professors about asking them for a LOR in the fall. If you will have gap years between undergrad and law school, stay in contact with your planned recommenders so they are aware of your activities. Seek volunteer or internship opportunities in legal or professional settings. Visit Miami Law’s Pre-Law Headquarters webpage (www.law.miami.edu/prelaw) for access to many useful websites.
Senior Year Create your Law School application account online at www.lsac.org. Register with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Applications, transcripts and recommendation letters are submitted to and assembled by CAS. Start working on your personal statement and finalize your recommendations. If your file is ready for completion, submit your application by Thanksgiving or early December of your senior year to avoid getting caught up in the holiday delays. Complete FAFSA any time after October 1, 2016. March 1, 2017 is the preferred FAFSA completion date. Make sure your record is clean by getting a free credit check.
Prospective students are encouraged to visit the campus for a tour of the facilities and to attend classes. Make arrangements through the Office of Student Recruitment by completing a visit form online or contacting us at the sources noted herein. Additionally, take advantage of our Open Houses, Chat Rooms, and Social Media Channels. Visit the online Admissions Events Calendar for on-and off-campus events. Notice: The Law School reserves the right to modify the academic requirements, admission requirements and program of study; the programs, policies, and courses described here are subject to continual review and reevaluation, and may be changed at any time without prior notice. Please refer to the Law School Viewbook or website for further detailed descriptions.
www.law.miami.edu/admissions Online request for information form: www.law.miami.edu/jdinquiry www.law.miami.edu/prelaw
MIAMILAW UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW
University of Miami School of Law Office of Student Recruitment 1311 Miller Drive, F203 Coral Gables, Florida 33146 p. 305.284.6746 f. 305.284.3084 TTY. 305.284.2811 email: email@example.com
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