Welcome to Fall 2021!

It’s really happening — we’re really all back here in Amherst! Hard to believe, but I’m so happy to see it and to see all of you soon. (The added traffic in town is a little more difficult to adjust to after a year and a half, but well worth it!)

As we launch into the semester, I’ve got a few notes to share here about advising meetings, student groups of interest to pre-laws, upcoming events, and things to be thinking about based on where you find yourself in your pre-law journey, so let’s jump in.

Advising meetings

You can schedule a meeting with me any time through the Navigate system — MTuTh, 9am - 3pm. You’ll see there’s an option for virtual or in-person — either works for me, so it’s really up to you. If we meet in person, please know that we’ll of course both be masked and I’ve got a fancy new air purifier in my office. The windows don’t open (I mean, it’s Thompson — what can you expect?) but I’m feeling confident about the little machine doing the work we need it to. If you arrive early for an appointment, please don’t wait in the hallway. There’s a lounge right around the corner from my office on the west side of the 2nd floor (opposite side of the building from the elevators) — please feel free to hang out there until your appointment time. (If you’re a grad student or an alum, please feel free to email me for an appointment.)

And remember, there’s no set schedule for meeting with me, and no minimum or maximum numbers of meetings you should have with your pre-law advisor! Whenever you have a question that you’d like answered in person (rather than through the website or via email), feel free to schedule yourself for a meeting.

Student groups

You shouldn’t feel that you have to join a law-related student group just because you’re thinking about a future legal career. But if you’d like to, we’ve got at least two great groups to think about joining and they’ve each asked that I include a note from them here:

UMass Pre-Law Club

Are you interested in connecting with like-minded students interested in law school? Sign up for the new, student-run Pre-Law Club! Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, September 14th at 6:30 PM. The meeting location is TBD and will be announced via our mailing list and on social media. Follow us on Instagram @umass.prelawclub for more updates!

UMass Mock Trial Team

Are you interested in law? Do you perform? Are you passionate about ethics and justice?

You should join the UMass Mock Trial Team! We work all year long to prepare and present a realistic court case and compete against other schools from across the country. We travel everywhere from Yale to Florida to Michigan, and everywhere in between. Being on the mock trial team will sharpen your analytical and critical thinking skills, feed into your competitive appetite, and encourage collaboration with team members. You will become an excellent public speaker and be able to make arguments flawlessly! For those who are interested in acting, you will have the chance to play a number of different characters! Our goal for the upcoming year is to make it to nationals, something we very nearly accomplished the past two years. Help us make it happen! Come to our informational sessions to learn more about the tryout process and what you can expect as a member of our team!

Sunday September 5 @ 5pm in the Campus Center, Room 803
Monday September 6 @ 4pm and 7pm in the Campus Center, Room 803

We will also be at the Activities Fair on September 5 from 12-3pm! Come say hi!

If you are interested in tryout out, please either come to our informational session or email us at umassmock@gmail.com to set up a tryout time.

Saturday September 11 from 9:45am - 7pm
Sunday September 12 from 9:45am - 7pm

If you have any questions, please email us at umassmock@gmail.com
For more information, go to our website! www.umassamherstmocktrial.com

Follow us on Instagram! @umassamherstmock
We look forward to meeting you!

Upcoming Events

We’re still finalizing our events for the Fall semester, but we can tease a few of them for you already: On Saturday, September 11th, Suffolk Law School is hosting their Boston Law Fair featuring representatives of over 50 law schools. It’s free and open to all. You can find more information, including the list of schools in attendance and the registration link on Suffolk’s page here.

Closer to home here in Amherst, we’ll once again be hosting the Massachusetts Appeals Court on November 15th, and, for the first time, Justice David Lowy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on October 25th. Justice Lowy and the entire panel of appellate court judges are Umass Amherst alumni. Look for more details coming soon.

Other events in the planning stages: Workshops on the application process and personal statement drafting; visits with law school admissions representatives; and meetings with alums working in law. Do you have a type of event that you’d love to see the Pre-Law Advising Office host? Tell us here.

All of our events and many relevant deadlines can be found on our Events page.

Year-by-year Plan

After a year and a half of strange, it probably feels good to hit reset and slip into some structure — I’ve got you covered! Below is a set of suggestions and thoughts by class year (and/or where you are in the process of thinking about or applying to law school). Remember, though, that you can never be behind on your law school journey! Only a minority of applicants each year are seniors in college — most people wait a year or more after graduation before applying. So think of this as helpful suggestions, rather than a to-do list you have to complete by a specific time.

Seniors (and alums) applying to law school this fall

You are our first priority during the peak application season. You should be aiming to submit your applications by mid- to late November in order to have the best chances of admission. The pre-law advising office is available to assist you with figuring out the application process, trimming your list of schools, and developing your personal statement. If you’d like some feedback on your personal statement, resume, or other essays, feel free to schedule an appointment or to simply email your drafts. There will also be several opportunities to meet admissions reps on campus, in Boston and NYC, and virtually, as well as to learn more about various common aspects of the application process. Check the Events calendar for details. We strongly recommend meeting with admissions reps whenever you can — it’s a great way to learn more about different schools, the application process, and the profession in general. 

If one of your primary concerns is about how competitive last year’s application cycle was, and what that means for this year’s cycle, here’s my best advice: make like Elsa and let it go There’s nothing you can do about application volume, and truly very little that we know about the coming cycle at this point. But what you can do is put together the best application package possible — focus your efforts there rather than worrying about something completely out of your control.

Juniors (and seniors not applying this year)

Your priority this year should start with recommenders: have you developed the kinds of professional relationships with professors and employers (or internship supervisors or volunteer coordinators) that will yield enthusiastic recommendations? The Zoom U experience has made this tough for everyone, so you are definitely not the only one. But it’s not too late AT ALL! Prioritize getting to know your professors this year: participate in classes, visit office hours, and seek out research opportunities And of course, produce quality work that your professors will want to talk about in letters of recommendation.

As your schedule fills up with 300 and 400-level courses (and/or possibly a thesis), it’s important to keep your grades up as well. If you’re worried about any P/F classes you took during the remote semesters, don’t be. Again, you’re not the only one, and the law schools are looking at the whole package you put together, not just a single grade here are there. You’ll find more about grades here to allay your concerns.

As the semester moves along, you’ll also want to start thinking about Spring/Summer 2022 internships and/or post-grad jobs. These are great opportunities to further explore the legal career path and start to make connections in the profession. Buff up your Handshake and LinkedIn profiles, and meet with the career and professional development advisors in your college to ensure you’re positioning yourself as well as possible for your job search. Finally, if you’re planning to apply in Fall 2022 (to start law school in Fall 2023), by this coming Spring, you’ll need to start thinking about the LSAT—when you’ll take it and how you’ll prepare. For a Fall 2022 application, you’ll ideally have taken the LSAT by September or October 2022.

First-years and Sophomores

The most important things you can do right now is to continue exploring legal careers and other alternatives, in order to figure out for sure whether law school is right for you. Internships and networking with lawyer-alums are the key ways to pursue this exploration.

For sophomores, you’ll also want to make sure you’re in the right major for you, and that you’re beginning to build strong professional relationships with your professors. These are helpful goals in and of themselves, but they’ll also help you in your pursuit of a third goal: earning strong grades.

And last but not least, first-years AND sophomores: Welcome again to UMass! We’re really happy to have you here on campus at last and we want to make sure you have a successful experience all four years. So please don’t worry about law school right now—there is literally nothing you can do this year that will dramatically affect your eventual law school chances. The adjustment to college, on the other hand, can be tough — both for those of you who just finished high school, and for those who started college last year online. Honor this transition by giving it your full attention, secure in the knowledge that back-burnering your law school aspirations for the time being will not in any way put you behind on some imagined schedule. Learn how to be a college student—as lawyer-alum Joshua Grammel says in this brief video, the study habits you develop now will serve you well in law school (and beyond).

Exciting News for Pre-Law Advising

If you made it this far in this very long welcome post, you deserve a little something extra that the TL;DR folks won’t get: you can be the first to know that a brand spankin’ new Pre-Law Advising website is in the works and will launch soon! Same great info in a much nicer and more up-to-date package! I’m excited to share it with you very soon.

But while you’re waiting, you can also check out our social media @UMassPreLaw — on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And don’t forget to add yourself to the Pre-Law Advising mailing list.

Finally, did I say “Welcome back!!” So so happy to have you all back on campus!