Bench and Bar Society members attend Houston law school conference

Release Date: 11/28/2011

Members of Ozarks' new pre-law club, Bench and Bar Society, made the 11-hour drive to Houston recently for the regional Law School Admission Council (LSAC) recruitment forum. Cory Bridges, Samuel Emerson, Morgan O'Neil, Mark Pearson, Kirk Ross, Emily Towe, and Sean Atkins went on the trip, accompanied by Humanities and Fine Arts Chair Dr. David Strain.

"LSAC puts together the Law School Admission Test," said Kirk Ross, a senior political science major from Benton, "and 170 of the 200 law schools in the U.S. are represented at these conferences they host. They are held in cities across the country, including Atlanta, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto, Canada. Houston was closest to us."

According to the LSAC web site, the purpose of the forums is to answer basic questions for pre-law students, such as:

  • How does the admission process work?
  • What is the best way to prepare for the LSAT?
  • How can you finance your legal education?
  • What law schools are best for you?
  • Do you have the ability and educational background that will help you succeed in law school?
  • What will a legal education train you to do?
  • How is diversity encouraged in law school and the legal system?

Ross said he took advantage of the trip to save some money. "A lot of the law schools waived their admissions fees if you signed up there," he said. "That was really cool. I think I signed 12 rosters. Four of them waived their fees. Admissions fees can run anywhere from $50 to $250 depending on the school, so that was great."

Participants also had the opportunity to attend a series of educational forums presented at the event. Topics included "About the LSAT," "The Application Process," "Financing a Legal Education," "Diversity Information," "National Committee on Accreditation," and "What Do Lawyers Do," which featured six alumni of Houston-area law schools answering questions.

"I learned a lot about how to write personal statements and résumés," Ross said. "A surprising number of non-traditional students were there as well. I met a doctor and an engineer who were both giving up their practices to go into law. They were asking a lot of questions."

Ross added that he picked up a great deal of information during the visit that might be overlooked by someone only working online to research law school. "For example," he said, "did you know that in Wisconsin, if you go to law school and graduate with a certificate in certain specializations, you don't have to take the bar? It's true. I had to get her to repeat that two or three times. California too. It's something to keep in mind."

Students were able to talk one-on-one with representatives from all 170 law schools there and found valuable information about funding. "There's one school in Texas I was thinking of applying to," Ross said, "except that the out-of-state tuition is $10,000 more than in-state. But it turns out that if you can get a $1,000 scholarship, either from the school or privately, that automatically puts you in the same bracket as an in-state student. In other words, the $1,000 is really worth $10,000. Also, the tuition at that school includes a living stipend. I was talking to a second-year law student who was at the conference and she said she received more than half her tuition back in the form of the stipend. So that school costs a lot less than you'd think up front. You'd think that information would be printed right next to their phone number! And I never would have known that if I hadn't gone to this conference."