University of Texas School of Law officials and students visited the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses last Tuesday in an effort to encourage students to enroll in their school.
“A law school is gateway to opportunities that are really extraordinary, that can change your community,” said Ward Farnsworth, dean of the UT School of Law. “With a law degree there are things you can do for other people and things that you can do for your community and things you can do for the state and the country that you never thought possible. You learn how the world works and afterwards you have the credential that puts you in a position to make changes that are otherwise completely impossible to achieve.”
Farnsworth said students of any major can apply to law school once they get their bachelor’s degree in something they love.
“We don’t really care what your major is, we care about excellence,” he said. “So, I advise everybody to just pick something you are passionate about and you can throw yourself into. That is when you will do your best work and that is what we want to see. What do you look like? What are you capable of achieving when you are fully engaged doing the thing you care about the most.”
Law student and UT Brownsville physics graduate Grady Lunsford said he found his true calling as a lawyer after he defended a speeding ticket in court, which he received while exiting Cameron Park in Brownsville.
“I’m sitting there, I’m looking over and just objecting at the first thing he said,” said the second-year law student.
“I don’t know if I was right. I don’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to do it. And just the look on his face, like he didn’t know what was going on. ‘Yup, I’m in his head, this is going to be fun.’ I lost. Because I didn’t know what I was doing, but it was so much fun. I really enjoyed it.”
Two things the law school admissions office focuses on, besides grades, during the application process are LSAT scores and the personal statement.
Admissions Programs Director Sam Riley said the personal statement should not focus on how great the institution is or what they plan to do with their law degree after graduation.
“We want to know more about your past life,” Riley said. “We want you to basically tell us a story. … What is it that makes you tick? What is it that makes you who you are today? … Something that we can’t find anywhere else in your application.”
Farnsworth encourages potential applicants to practice a lot before taking the LSAT.
“I encourage you to prepare for it as if it were a final exam for a college course,” he said. “That test is coachable.
It is a test that you can improve dramatically with lots of practice. If you can take a preparation course either online or in person, I urge you to do that.”
Farnsworth also emphasized that law school is not about cutthroat competition.
“Our goal is to create an environment in Austin that is a warm one,” he said. “I try to meet with all our entering students … over ice cream to get to know them. We spend a lot of time encouraging them to get to know each other, through first-year societies they take part in.”
Vanessa Garza, a UT law student and UT Pan American communication studies graduate, said there are many different organizations to be a part of as a graduate student.
“I’m a singer, I really love to sing and at the law school they have an a cappella group. Who would have known?” she said. “These are things you wouldn’t expect. These are things you get to be a part of with other law students.”
The deadline for regular decision admission is March 1. There is a $75 application fee for non-Texas residents. The estimated annual cost for academic year 2015-2016 (tuition, fees, housing, etc.) is $53,606.
For more information, visit law.utexas.edu.