So You Want to be a Lawyer?

Ariella Hellman Offers Nine Tips for Students Considering Law School

Yeshiva University students have traditionally done well at getting into the law school of their choice.

Ariella Hellman, pre-law adviser at YU

According to Ariella Hellman, pre-law adviser on YU’s Wilf Campus, 93 percent of law school applicants in 2011-12 reported being admitted to at least one law school—well above the national average of 71 percent. Those schools included top programs such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Cornell and YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

“Our students perform exceedingly well on their LSAT exams,” said Hellman. With an average score of 160.9, YU students score seven points higher than the national average.

Hellman attributes much of this success to “the many resources and pre-law programs available to students, YU’s strong connection to Cardozo and the University’s powerful alumni network.”

She added, “Students who take advantage of all that YU has to offer are in a great position to succeed.”

For students considering law school, Hellman suggests scheduling an appointment with the Office of Pre-Law Advisement as soon as possible for one-on-one guidance. Below, she offers nine tips for students interested in a career in law.

1.       Major in a Subject You’ll Enjoy and Excel At

Law schools do not prefer or require any specific major, so choose one based on your interests and capabilities. While some students pursue traditional pre-law majors such as English, political science, history or economics, other successful law school applicants have majored in subjects as diverse as music, biology and mathematics. Admissions committees will also consider the difficulty of the major and look for applicants who challenge themselves academically while enrolling in a broad-based course of study.

2.       Get Good Grades

Although there are other factors, the two most important criteria for admission to law school are your grade point average and LSAT score. Study hard and do your best in all your courses.

3.       Don’t Underestimate the LSAT

The LSAT is a rigorous five section multiple choice exam with a short writing component. Be sure to adequately prepare for this exam and plan to take it only once. Taking the test without preparation for a practice run is not advisable!

4.       Get to Know Your Professors

Law schools place great emphasis on letters of recommendation. Make sure you participate in class and get to know your professors well so that they can write substantive and glowing letters of recommendation.

5.       Invest in Your Personal Statement

Since law schools do not conduct personal interviews, they rely heavily on the personal statement to get a picture of each applicant. This is your chance to show the admissions committee why you’re unique and convince them that you will be an indispensable member of their incoming class.

6.       Use All Available Resources

You are not alone in this process. Yeshiva University offers many resources to help you succeed. Be sure to visit the Office of Pre-Law Advisement, the Career Development Center and the Writing Center early and often during the application process.

7.       Network, Network, Network

The importance of networking in the current legal market cannot be understated. Be sure to join the YU Pre-Law Society and attend pre-law events to meet practicing attorneys and make valuable contacts for the long term.

8.       Complete Internships

Aside from looking great on law school applications, completing an internship will give you a realistic perspective of what it is like to practice law. If you’re unsure which area of law you’re interested in, you may want to complete several internships in a number of different practice settings. Contact the YU Career Development Center or the Office of Pre-Law Advisement to learn of opportunities.

9.       Talk to Lawyers

Too many students go to law school without any idea of what it is like to be a lawyer. Reach out to alumni, attend pre-law events and ask lawyers about their career paths. Make sure that this is the right path for you.

Ariella Hellman is a graduate of Stern College for Women and the Fordham University School of Law. She worked at the law firm of Lowey, Dannenberg, Cohen and Hart, P.C., in the securities litigation department before joining YU and is a member of the New York and New Jersey Bar Associations. To schedule an appointment with the Office of Pre-Law Advisement, Email ariella.hellman@yu.edu or call 212.960.5400, x5645.

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