For all of you high schoolers who like to argue and watch way too much Law & Order, know now that you can’t major in pre-law at William & Mary. Never fear, however, because with the help of great professors and advisors of the College, you will absolutely make it through the Law School application process, still smiling and clutching a few acceptance letters. I’ll tell you the basics of my Law School story as an illustration.
Professor Christine Nemacheck of the Government Department heads up the pre-law advising and is also sort of the star of this blog entry. She puts on really informative sessions at least once each semester and gives you everything you need to know to get ahead and feel competent each step of the way. But, more than just an expert on how to manage applying to law school while balancing a senior year schedule, Professor Nemacheck is just a wonderful person to have around during a particularly stressful time. She keeps it real, but does a great job of focusing on the positives… informing you of the reality of a competitive application process while also coming across as your number one fan and staunch supporter.
I met with her during my junior year to figure out when I should take the LSAT. Since I was studying abroad my junior Spring, she literally forbid me from taking the June test. “I can tell you’re trying to convince yourself to take the test when you get back, but just don’t do it. Tell your parents the pre-law advisor told you not to. The last thing you should be doing in Scotland is miserably looking at LSAT prep stuff. Go have fun.” That was SUCH a relief. And I had SO much fun abroad.
I worked at W&M this past summer, so I took a Kaplan Prep Course right here on campus. Very convenient and even more helpful. It’s a little expensive, but I would absolutely recommend it. That number matters a lot in the application process, so the money is a great investment. I took the test in November, taking a practice one every Friday after the class ended in August up until the big day. (Side note: I was literally falling asleep with fake logic games swirling in my head and didn’t sleep at all the night before. But again, I’m very Type A. It sometimes happens when things are seemingly out of my control).
But, things went well that Saturday, so I guess it was all worth it. I think? The test was on campus, again VERY convenient. Then I got to go to a football game after to get my mind of horrible things like Logic Games. I shudder just remembering those little torture devices.
When I ultimately applied this Fall, I asked a few Professors to write recommendations for me. They were great. I, like the Type A person I am, handed them my resume, personal statement draft, and even a copy of work I’d done in their class with a cover sheet and stamped envelope. Embarrassing, I know, but I like to think they appreciated my thoroughness.
One Friday a month or so later, another government professor, in the midst of a meeting about a paper I was writing, asked me who wrote my Recs. When I told him, he said it would help at the really competitive schools if the pre-Law advisor wrote one of my Recs. Naturally, I panicked, not having a pretty little packet or an extra two weeks to give Professor Nemacheck the proper time to write my letter.
In the midst of my panicking, he called Professor Nemacheck into his office and explained the situation. She agreed that her letter could only help, smiled, told me to email her my information, said she’d write the letter by Monday and assured me that we could just overnight it to LSAC since it was a little late in the process and I was worried.
Literally. That actually happened. And then she actually overnighted the letter. Two government professors, both of whom I’d only had classes with that very semester, cared enough about my success to do all of those things. Calling in favors, overnighting letters. It’s amazing how fortunate every W&M student is to have such great people on her side.
Not so long after that letter was overnighted, I got one in the mail. It was smaller than I thought it should be, but when I opened it, I cried tears of joy.
I don’t know why I confess these embarrassing details on my blog. I should stop.
Anyway, then I called lots of family members who didn’t answer. After my Legislative Process class that morning, I told Professor Nemacheck. So, technically, she was the first to know (unless my brother heard the voicemail before then) and was ready with a congratulatory hug. Yay!
In the end, I got a couple more exciting letters in the mail. I even got a phone call from the Dean of Admission at my top choice school (where I applied Early Decision). I rescinded all the other applications after that and sent “Thanks, but no thanks” letters to the other two schools.
Now, as I come to the end of this blog, I’ve decided I don’t mind embarrassing myself and that the whole process was a lot like a fairytale with Professor Nemacheck playing the Fairy Godmother. Thanks to her especially, and lots of others as well, I’ll be at the University of Pennsylvania Law School next year, hopefully living happily ever after… and hopefully stumbling upon a prince.