May 6, 2019

Law School hosts 101 event

By Victoria Shea

The decision to go to law school can be a difficult one to make. One Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Assistant Admissions Director Gina Huffman understands. It’s one of the reasons that she holds her “Demystifying Law School Admissions” presentation every year.

This year was no different. Held in the law school, complete with snacks and valuable information about Cleveland-Marshall and Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law fraternity on campus, Huffman, contributors of various law school support staff and professors from both the law school and Cleveland State University College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), and panelists of current law school students worked together to debunk what Huffman and the law school admission staff consider the biggest law school admission myths.

Playing “This statement is true/This statement is false” Huffman encouraged interaction by having audience members read actual law school admission myths out loud before voting on their “truth” or “falseness.” Once votes were cast, the panelists and contributors would explain the statements and field questions. Huffman said, in her opinion, this approach is the best one for the presentation.

It helps keep the presentation informal, she said, which is the purpose of it, and as a fact-finding mission, is often an important step on a student’s navigation to a law school career.

Huffman discussed majors that would make a prospective student a stronger law school candidate. Majors can vary and do not need to be political science, an often-held misperception. Christopher Lucak, assistant dean for admission and financial aid, said, although they have seen unusual majors, they have not yet come across a major that had no tie with the law in some way.

Another topic looked at how grade point averages and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores can affect applications. Carolyn Broering-Jacobs, co-associate dean for admission and clinical professor, said students need to remember that one helps the other. If you have a high GPA, but a lower LSAT or a lower GPA but a higher LSAT, she said, you would possibly have a more difficult time getting into law school.

But, if you have both a high LSAT score and GPA, that’s going to help you more.

Huffman agreed, and mentioned that coming in early to speak with admission staff can help students understand how particular issues can affect their ability to get into law school. They can also help perspective students focus on creating a stronger application.

Student panelists spoke on their own experiences, often giving the audience a realistic view of what to expect throughout the application process. One panelist, Michael, spoke about how he applied to Cleveland-Marshall three times before he was finally admitted, citing undergraduate grades as a concern.

Panelist, Marcia, addressed LSAT preparation, recommending students not “wing it” as she had done.
Perspective students are also concerned about how to pay for law school. Lucak said this is a common concern and that the best advice he can offer is if you are able to avoid working while going to law school, do so.

While financial aid is available through FAFSA, things like Pell Grants are not, and work-study programs are often not what an undergraduate would be used to. When in law school you need to live like a law student, rather than a lawyer, he said. Otherwise, you will live like a law student when you are a lawyer.

While some panelists agreed the ability to focus full time on law school is important, others like Broering-Jacobs said that for those who have a family or a need to work to support themselves, Cleveland-Marshall offers a part-time program that students should consider.

Rounding out the discussion, Huffman had MaryJane McGinty, director of bar exam preparation speak briefly on the concerns surrounding the character and fitness requirement to take the Ohio Bar at the end of law school.

While direct and hard-hitting, McGinty said it is important to know what they are looking for in character and fitness and how it could affect students overall.

Huffman said that the event, while briefly covering the important topics, is a great way for perspective students to begin to explore law school without the pressure often associated with making the decision to pursue law as a career.


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