University programs smooth path to law school

By Elizabeth Sayasane, Staff Writer

John Klages knew early in high school that he wanted to become a lawyer. As a member of his school’s constitution team, he found his passion for law. Now, as a senior in Media, Klages is preparing his applications for law school.

He has been building his resume for a long time. While still in high school, he worked for the Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago. He also worked for State Sen. Dan Kotowski.

“You really need to do whatever it takes to stand out,” he said.

When he arrived at the University, Klages decided to major in advertising. This would make him unique, he said, since most pre-law applicants are political science or English majors. He participated in the National Student Advertising Competition, joined the Pre-Law Honors Society and now serves as the secretary for the society. He also interned at the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

This past summer, Klages did not apply for internships. Instead, he spent three to five hours a day studying for the Law School Admission Test, which he took on Sept. 8.

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    “Getting a good score is crucial,” he said.

    Katherine Ryan, senior in LAS and Media, did not have the same certainty of her future when she came to the University.

    “Going into college, I had no clue I wanted to go to law school,” Ryan said. “I always loved law and loved the whole idea of helping people.”

    Ryan is majoring in political science and journalism. She said the focus on reading and writing within her majors helps her on the pre-law track.

    When preparing for the LSAT, Ryan studied 12 hours a week for three months.

    “Honestly, the LSAT itself doesn’t have anything to do with law,” Ryan said.

    This made it difficult to prepare. She took timed practice exams wearing a special LSAT watch. She also took a Kaplan test prep course.

    The Pre-Law Honors Society, one of the organizations that Klages belongs to, offers many LSAT preparation connections and other pre-law events.

    Diba Tannazi is the president of the society. Tannazi is a senior studying political science with minors in law and society, criminology and theater. She said she liked the programs geared toward pre-law students.

    “I felt like there were more specific events catered to pre-law students to really help them with the law school application process, and to actually connect them to other students who are aspiring future lawyers,” Tannazi said.

    The Pre-Law Honors Society meets with admissions deans from a variety of law schools. They have meetings to discuss personal statements, cover letters and resumes. They tour law schools and also have the opportunity to sit in on law school classes.

    This group has also teamed up with Testmasters and Blueprint, LSAT prep companies. These companies host events to answer questions about the LSAT. They also provide discounts for the members.

    “I don’t think (the admissions deans) want to see the same application or resume over and over again, so putting something unique on there … I think that’s something they’re looking for, too,” Tannazi said.

    Tannazi’s interest in law started her senior year of high school with her AP U.S. Government and Politics class. Since arriving at the University, she has interned at a law firm. She also worked for the chief judge of domestic relations at the Circuit Court of Cook County.

    To get in more time before taking the LSAT, Tannazi plans to take a break between graduation and law school. As for her plans of study while in law school, she said she likes family law. She got a close look at this practice while working for the chief judge of domestic relations.

    The competition to get into law programs is strong. Tannazi said schools look for a strong GPA, involvement on campus and the balancing of time commitments, leadership, LSAT scores and a number of other qualifications.

    “Being a good lawyer is being able to balance all the different components of your job at the same time,” she said.

    Ryan said it is a process that demands patience and confidence. Klages said success with law school is all about dedication and the willingness to commit time.

    “It’s a test, it’s tough, but once you get through it, you’ll feel happy,” Klages said.

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