“You want people with diverse backgrounds in a law classroom,” said a representative of New England Law to a room full of UMass Lowell students.
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Pulichino-Tong Room 130 held an audience with different backgrounds and experiences. The people in this room came together to attend UMass Lowell’s very first North Campus Pre-Law Informational.
With representatives from UMass Law, New England Law and Suffolk Law, as well as UMass Lowell law faculty, UMass Lowell students were able to get a bird’s eye view into what it takes to become a lawyer.
The representatives dove into the topics of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), LSAT-prep and all aspects of what it takes to pass this test and make it into, and through, law school.
Freshman UMass Lowell student Fiona BruceBaiden, said she “attended the pre-law informational session because [she] wanted to gain more knowledge about the process of attending law school and the expectation of admissions personnel.”
The representatives made it clear that law is a very inclusive field. While one definitely
needs a bachelor’s degree to embark in law studies, honesty and experience with the field will take you a long way. For example, if a student has ever had run-ins with the law and/or struggled with academics, being blatantly honest about these aspects of their past will not hurt their chances of being accepted into law school.
The representatives at the informational gave other helpful tips to prospective law students. They encouraged students to get a substantial letter of recommendation from both a faculty member and an employer. During this time in a student’s academic career, it was stressed that making contacts is very important. If this is a path a student is highly interested in, it is important that they verbalize that to the people they meet in their future.
It was also recommended that students find a way to get in contact with practicing lawyers, law schools and even current law students. An internship could also give students the ability to get their feet wet in the world of law.
However, it cannot hurt to have knowledge in fields other than law.
“[The] traditional path is not the only path. Today, I believe that a [science, technology, engineering and math] and/or business background combined with a [juris doctor], or JD/MBA, would be a very powerful tool if a student is interested in international businesses, immigration/public policy, social responsibility, environmental or patent law,” said UMass Lowell visiting instructor Elissa Magnant.
As the representatives stressed, having experience in other fields can give students an edge in front of an admissions panel.
The representatives at the informational also mentioned that it is crucial for students to know for sure that they want to study law. While there is ample employment in the field currently, it is a big commitment. It is smart for students to think about the debt they may be in as a result of being a law student. The representatives also said that if a student knows this is something that they want to do, they should start being proactive about law school scholarships.
In terms of being proactive, there are many ways that students can start preparing for their future in law at UMass Lowell.
Professor Walter Toomey offers an LSAT program in which students at UMass Lowell can intensively prepare for the exam.
Magnant also said when asked what edge pre-law studies give to students hoping to pursue law that “if a student is interested in criminal justice, prelaw, paralegal studies or the ever-increasing compliance careers, legal studies gives those students a chance to ‘lift the veil’ and see what the career they are considering might really entail, as well as the opportunity to study with instructors who are attorneys and have practiced in various disciplines.”
If students are considering law as a career choice, there are plenty of faculty members at UMass Lowell that can assist them in making this decision.
Professors Elissa Magnant, Frank Talty, Walter Toomey and Michelle Bazin are excellent people to get in contact with regarding this step. As was emphasized in the informational, it is never too early to take the first step towards the future.