Pre-law advisor Diane Whitney spoke to University of Connecticut students interested in law school Thursday about how to get in, what to expect after graduation and what to consider when making such an important decision.
Whitney served as assistant attorney general for Connecticut, focusing on child abuse and educational litigation. She is currently with Pullman & Comley, LCC, chairing the Environmental Department and the Women’s Initiative.
In a discussion room, UConn students were given the chance to informally ask questions about law school ranging from the statistics of getting into law school, how to prepare for law school and possible career options.
The discussion began with Whitney giving a brief overview of the law school application. She talked about the required personal statement, LSAT scores, desired GPAs and what to consider for recommendation letters. Students register for the LSAT and apply to law school through LSAC, the Law School Admission Counsel, online.
She explained that though the application rate for law school has dropped as much as 30 percent all over the country, it has become a lot harder to get a job once you graduate.
“It used to be safe,” she said. “Don’t go to law school if you don’t know what to do. However, it is a very versatile degree.”
Whitney elaborated on her past experiences with different colleagues to show how a law degree could be useful for those seeking employment outside of law. A friend of hers received their law degree, but rather than pursue a degree in practicing law, they chose not to practice law and practice social work.
“There are plenty of things you can do with a law degree that does not involve practicing law,” Whitney said.
After Whitney went over some technicalities of law school, the floor was opened to student questions. Students asked questions about a range of topics including internships, majors, LSAT scores, dropout rates, the bar exam and organizations on campus related to the field.
Along with the declining availability of jobs for recent law school graduates, Whitney remarked that summer internships for undergraduate students are difficult to obtain, due to the competition for internships with current law school students.
Although internships may be hard to come by, she asked students not to be discouraged, but to find other activities that would fill up their summer.
“Do something you really like to do that’s different. Or earns you a lot of money,” she said. “But it doesn’t necessarily have to be law related.”
But, if students are interested in law related organizations, Whitney recommended clubs such as mock trial society, moot court and law society. Law society frequently invites guest speakers to discuss their fields of law.
“It exposes you to a lot more information and people,” Whitney said.
Though law school may not be for everyone, Whitney encourages students to explore the idea if it is of interest. UConn does not have a specific pre-law program or track, but the University does provide a pre-law advising structure to help students and introduce them to as many lawyers and practices as they can.
Whitney stressed the importance of the decision to go to law school. Law school can be very expensive. But she does mention that because of declining application rates, some law schools are offering large sums of scholarship money to students to gain attendance.
Whitney says that most practicing attorneys have a student debt of over $120,000 and cautions students to be wary of the price.
“That’s a crippling amount of debt,” she remarked.
Whitney encourages students to be practical and not only consider the prestige of the school, but the level of financial support they can offer. Whitney also encouraged all the students present to apply to UConn Law School as it is a beautiful school with great academic and financial support.
Katarina Stockton, a second-semester year student undecided in her major, was impressed by the lecture, and said it was interesting and informative. Stockton was originally an animal science major on the pre-vet track, but soon discovered that the field was not for her and has since turned her eyes toward law.
“I didn’t realize that law schools give out a lot of scholarships,” she said. “Or how difficult it is to come by summer internships. I really do still want to go to law school.”
Kharl Reynado s a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.