Illinois Law - Class of 2015

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Pless
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Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:02 pm

Now that classes have officially begun at Illinois, I thought I would start a thread for questions about Illinois for people applying to start in August of 2012. Please feel free to ask any questions you have about Illinois, about our admissions program or anything else you think I might help you with.

Paul

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Pless
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:37 pm

I was asked two very good questions through a PM, and I thought I would answer them here:

1. The number of applications to law schools across the country decreased between '09/'10 and '10/'11 (assuming because more people are realizing a J.D. is not a golden ticket). At least according to one article I read, applications have dipped to the 2008 level. In your opinion, will this benefit traditional splitter applicants like me (2.xx/168+)?

Application volume was certainly down last year. Nationally applications dropped 11% and applicants dropped nearly 10%. The total number of people applying to law school last year was just under 79,000, the lowest level in the last 5 years. I think that this benefits all applicants, not just "splitters." Some schools have lowered their class sizes and this will mitigate some of the benefits, but not all. Additionally, early signs point to a further reduction in the size of the national pool. The June '11 LSAT administration was down 18.7% from the previous year and at its lowest level in 4 years. (Which probably even still understates the drop because more people take the test multiple times than they did four years ago.

2. According to sites like LawSchoolNumbers, Illinois was less "splitter-friendly" this cycle than in years past. Does this reflect more on the applicants or is the approach changing? Perhaps neither? I'm very curious to know.

I think this is reflective of the change in our profile overall. For the past two years we have placed a much higher emphasis on undergraduate performance then we did in the years prior. That being said, they are no strict cutoffs and the more separation one has from a sub 3 GPA the better their chances. Significant work experience is valued as well and can certainly make up for mistakes a person made when they were 18 or 19.

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Robespierre
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Robespierre » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:30 pm

How did Illinois in particular manage to maintain (and even improve) its medians for the '11 entering class, despite the drop in applications? Did you shrink your class? Give out more scholarship money? Woo admitted students more aggressively? Change the way the medians are reported? Other ways? Thank you.

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Pless
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:55 pm

Robespierre wrote:How did Illinois in particular manage to maintain (and even improve) its medians for the '11 entering class, despite the drop in applications? Did you shrink your class? Give out more scholarship money? Woo admitted students more aggressively? Change the way the medians are reported? Other ways? Thank you.


We decreased our class size, every single student in the class received a scholarship, all scholarships are guaranteed and we introduced the Illinois Guarantee for every student in the Class of 2014, which guarantees that if tuition increases their scholarship will increase to match, dollar for dollar. Plus, we work pretty hard to recruit the very best students.

tennisking88
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby tennisking88 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:28 pm

[color=#0000FF]We decreased our class size

By how much? Do you anticipate an even smaller class for '15?

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Pless
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:41 pm

tennisking88 wrote:We decreased our class size

By how much? Do you anticipate an even smaller class for '15?


The Class of 2104 is 184, down from 228. Next year the class will be in the 220-230 range.

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Samara
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Samara » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:48 pm

Pless wrote:
tennisking88 wrote:We decreased our class size

By how much? Do you anticipate an even smaller class for '15?


The Class of 2104 is 184, down from 228. Next year the class will be in the 220-230 range.

Wow, that's a large decrease. Was that decision planned or was it a reaction to the first batch of applicants?

Also, thank you for taking the time to answer questions here. It's great to get to hear these insights from an actual dean.

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Pless
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:52 pm

It was always the plan to have a smaller class this year, and it was always our plan for that to be a one year thing. We had a tremendous applicant pool this year and the decisions were very hard. We admitted 19% of the people that applied, it was a very tough year for applicants at Illinois.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby minnbills » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:53 pm

Was this decreased class size a response to the labor market?

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:57 pm

minnbills wrote:Was this decreased class size a response to the labor market?

No, a response to room in the hallways and the library. The graduating class was smaller and we wanted to replace it with a similar sized class. We split our 1L class into four sections in the first year and we are offering over 200 elective courses for upper level students this year, so individual class size isn't an issue at 185 or 225, but space in the rest of the building could be so we decided to be proactive about it.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby minnbills » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:01 pm

Pless wrote:No, a response to room in the hallways and the library. The graduating class was smaller and we wanted to replace it with a similar sized class. We split our 1L class into four sections in the first year and we are offering over 200 elective courses for upper level students this year, so individual class size isn't an issue at 185 or 225, but space in the rest of the building could be so we decided to be proactive about it.


I see, thanks for taking the question!

When it comes to soft factors, what sort of things do you expect a strong candidate to bring to the table?

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:07 pm

minnbills wrote:When it comes to soft factors, what sort of things do you expect a strong candidate to bring to the table?


Leadership. We love leaders. Whether it is from a student organization, a volunteer activity or from work, we want to see people that are capable of leading small groups of people to accomplish goals.
Writing ability. Lawyers write. We can teach you how to write like an attorney but you have to bring in a certain level of skills to begin with.
Work Experience. This is tied to leadership, but we like people with some experience in a professional setting. It can be over a summer during an internship and it doesn't have to be in law.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby JamMasterJ » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Hey Dean Pless. I applied to Illinois last year and got dinged. I'm retaking the LSAT, will have some WE and will be applying earlier this cycle. I was wondering, however, how much of my application should be different, especially with regard to my PS. I have what I and a few professors believe to be a strong essay that I'd like to keep - or at least not change too drastically. How much do you think I need to change this for this cycle?

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Pless
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:29 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:Hey Dean Pless. I applied to Illinois last year and got dinged. I'm retaking the LSAT, will have some WE and will be applying earlier this cycle. I was wondering, however, how much of my application should be different, especially with regard to my PS. I have what I and a few professors believe to be a strong essay that I'd like to keep - or at least not change too drastically. How much do you think I need to change this for this cycle?


It depends on the personal statement, but it certainly doesn't have to include drastic changes. Updating your resume is essential and timing is a big factor, last year more than any year prior. If you feel that your personal statement is good, represents you and your beliefs, I would stick with it.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby JamMasterJ » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:35 pm

Pless wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:Hey Dean Pless. I applied to Illinois last year and got dinged. I'm retaking the LSAT, will have some WE and will be applying earlier this cycle. I was wondering, however, how much of my application should be different, especially with regard to my PS. I have what I and a few professors believe to be a strong essay that I'd like to keep - or at least not change too drastically. How much do you think I need to change this for this cycle?


It depends on the personal statement, but it certainly doesn't have to include drastic changes. Updating your resume is essential and timing is a big factor, last year more than any year prior. If you feel that your personal statement is good, represents you and your beliefs, I would stick with it.

Thanks Dean Pless. It's really cool of you to be on here.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby minnbills » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:37 pm

Pless wrote:Leadership. We love leaders. Whether it is from a student organization, a volunteer activity or from work, we want to see people that are capable of leading small groups of people to accomplish goals.
Writing ability. Lawyers write. We can teach you how to write like an attorney but you have to bring in a certain level of skills to begin with.
Work Experience. This is tied to leadership, but we like people with some experience in a professional setting. It can be over a summer during an internship and it doesn't have to be in law.


Is there some indicator other than the personal statement you look for that can suggest a candidate is a good writer?

Thanks again. It really is helpful to hear from a dean about these things.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:43 pm

minnbills wrote:Is there some indicator other than the personal statement you look for that can suggest a candidate is a good writer?


The personal statement is the main thing, but the optional Why Illinois essay, any email correspondence, LOCI, etc. are also considered. I will also look at the kinds of courses you took in undergrad. I think one thing that I haven't mentioned before is the resume. I saw some great resumes and some awful ones this year. While I am more concerned about the substance rather than the style of the resume (our CPPD team can help you with the resume once you get here) it can be so bad that it becomes a distraction. I think applicants should pay more attention to their resume then they currently are.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby minnbills » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:50 pm

What sort of mistakes are common on the resume?

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:53 pm

minnbills wrote:What sort of mistakes are common on the resume?

It is more they are just awful rather than mistakes. Just a list of random things that someone has done. I have seen this from applicants who otherwise would be strong candidates, good LSAT, great grades from a good school. It shows that the person never really had a resume and just threw something together for the application. If you are graduating from college or been in the work force for a few years, there really is no excuse to not having a resume.

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Samara
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Samara » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:00 pm

Pless wrote:
minnbills wrote:What sort of mistakes are common on the resume?

It is more they are just awful rather than mistakes. Just a list of random things that someone has done. I have seen this from applicants who otherwise would be strong candidates, good LSAT, great grades from a good school. It shows that the person never really had a resume and just threw something together for the application. If you are graduating from college or been in the work force for a few years, there really is no excuse to not having a resume.

What about resume formatting? Is the "conventional" formatting, as seen here (LinkRemoved), always the credited choice of action? If I have a resume design that is clear, visually appealing and useful for standing out in non-law settings, is it still a bad idea to use it in law settings?

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:03 pm

Samara wrote:What about resume formatting? Is the "conventional" formatting, as seen here (LinkRemoved), always the credited choice of action? If I have a resume design that is clear, visually appealing and useful for standing out in non-law settings, is it still a bad idea to use it in law settings?

Unconventional is fine, as long as I can understand it. You are applying to law school, not a law firm, so the standard is different. Once you start applying to legal employers you will want to follow the advice of the Career Professionals at your school.

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Samara
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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Samara » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:04 pm

Pless wrote:
Samara wrote:What about resume formatting? Is the "conventional" formatting, as seen here (LinkRemoved), always the credited choice of action? If I have a resume design that is clear, visually appealing and useful for standing out in non-law settings, is it still a bad idea to use it in law settings?

Unconventional is fine, as long as I can understand it. You are applying to law school, not a law firm, so the standard is different. Once you start applying to legal employers you will want to follow the advice of the Career Professionals at your school.

Thanks for the insight!

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby iowalum » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:16 pm

Dean Pless -

How do you view years off between undergrad and law school? Does the admissions committee expect especially ambitious activities? (For instance, I graduated in 2010 and did research for a professor for 8 months, but because of the economy I have since only been able to work part-time). Will this be looked down upon?

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Pless » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:21 pm

iowalum wrote:Dean Pless -

How do you view years off between undergrad and law school? Does the admissions committee expect especially ambitious activities? (For instance, I graduated in 2010 and did research for a professor for 8 months, but because of the economy I have since only been able to work part-time). Will this be looked down upon?


Not at all. I certainly understand that the recent economy has been particularly tough on the youngest in the workforce. We value work, so as long as you have made a concerted effort to keep yourself busy that is a great sign for us. We need people with a strong work ethic and look for signs of that in your application.

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Re: Illinois Law - Class of 2015

Postby Cornelius » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:38 pm

Pless wrote:We decreased our class size, every single student in the class received a scholarship, all scholarships are guaranteed and we introduced the Illinois Guarantee for every student in the Class of 2014, which guarantees that if tuition increases their scholarship will increase to match, dollar for dollar. Plus, we work pretty hard to recruit the very best students.

Wow, this is something I hadn't previously seen when reading about Illinois. Out of sheer curiosity, and I apologize if this is already available somewhere on the Illinois website, can you provide more details about the scholarships awarded (i.e. median award, min award-max award, % full scholarships, % half, etc.)? Do you anticipate a similar situation in the upcoming year despite the larger class size?




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