Are there special challenges that I face as an Empire State College student?

Not really. Empire State College is a fully accredited academic institution and our students are generally on equal footing as students from all other colleges and universities in the United States. All students applying to law school must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and consequently a great deal of their success in being admitted to the law school of their choice depends (although not exclusively) on their LSAT scores. Of course their performance at the undergraduate level, their overall background and experience, and references, will also play a significant role in a law school's decision to admit.

Everything else being equal, however, it's worthwhile to note that given that the average Empire State College law school applicant is typically older than the norm, he or she also benefits from a broader range of experiences, which is, more often than not, viewed very positively by law school admission committees. Consequently, this can provide a distinct advantage to Empire State College students who take the time to present their backgrounds in the proper and fullest context in their application personal statement. (Please also see Section 4 (G) herein for more detailed information pertaining to the "personal statement").

Is there such a thing as a prelaw degree?

Actually, no. Law school admission committees (aided by the filtering process provided by the Law School Data Assembly Service, LSDAS), look at a variety of factors, including the major/concentration of the applicant, and the GPA (where applicable), as well as the rigor of undergraduate programs.

As times evolve and students' preferences change (often in response to the demands of the labor markets and other economic and technological developments), the major/concentrations that gain popularity also follow suit. For example, students with business-related undergraduate degrees constitute an increasingly significant portion of law school students.

What classes should I take at the undergraduate level to best prepare for law school?

There is no question that, particularly as it pertains to many of our students, attending law school on a full-time basis is often an impossibility because of a myriad of other obligations. Therefore, the only viable option to pursue a legal education is to attend part time. On average, completing one's law studies on a part-time basis will add to one and one-half years to the usual three year required based on full-time studies, thus culminating in a total of 4 1/2 years for completion of the degree. Nevertheless, it is a very viable option for students who cannot attend full time. The level of instruction is the same for full-time or part-time students, and as the average law student age increases, more law schools will offer part-time studies.

What can I expect once I am in law school?

Obviously, every individual will derive a unique experience from law school. Safe to say that it will be an experience not easily duplicated by anything else you may have or will likely encounter in your life.

The following three books might be of interest to students seeking to acquire some insight from others' perspective:

  • Goldfard, Sally Adams, Edward, Inside the Law Schools,NY: Penguin Books
  • Goldrich, Chris, Anarchy and Elegance: Confessions of a Journalist at Yale Law School, Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1991.
  • Kahlenberg, Richard D., Maximizing the Law School Experience Il, Stetson University College of Law. This compendium contains essays and articles designed to educate prospective law students about the opportunities and expectations of law school, and equip new law students with the knowledge and confidence necessary to succeed.
What about going to law school part time given my other commitments?

There is no question that, particularly as it pertains to many of our students, attending law school on a full-time basis is often an impossibility because of a myriad of other obligations. Therefore, the only viable option to pursue a legal education is to attend part time. On average, completing one's law studies on a part-time basis will add to one and one-half years to the usual three year required based on full-time studies, thus culminating in a total of 4 1/2 years for completion of the degree. Nevertheless, it is a very viable option for students who cannot attend full time. The level of instruction is the same for full-time or part-time students, and as the average law student age increases, more law schools will offer part-time studies.

What do the terms attorney at law, lawyer and esquire mean and how do they differ from each other?

Essentially, attorney at law and lawyer are interchangeable terms. The former is more technical and professional whereas the latter tends to be more generally used in common parlance, i.e., everyday usage.

Esquire is typically placed at the end of an individual's name, usually as Esq. or ESQ. (I'm sure most everyone has seen this on their lawyer's business card.) This term is derived from our days as a colony of Great Britain more than two centuries ago and has stuck. More importantly, however, the term in contemporary times signifies that the individual is licensed to practice law in the state(s) in which he/she has passed the bar exam and been approved by the character committee of that state(s). By contrast, an individual could have attended and completed law school studies and thus obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and yet not be licensed to practice law because they either failed or chose not to take the bar exam for any state. Consequently, someone can be a J.D. but not legally permitted to practice law, not refer to themselves as esquire, attorney at law or a lawyer.