Law Links - January 2016

We’re calling on you – our alumni and friends – to help identify potential law students

It takes a team effort to make a great law school. Fortunately,UB School of Law’s 11,000-plus active alumni – and the legal professionals they work with every day – are part of the team.

That’s especially true as the School of Law strives to identify and admit students of the highest caliber. In the face of national declines in law school applications, UB is committed to enrolling smart, diverse, ambitious students who will grow into great lawyers.

Together with her staff, Lillie Wiley-Upshaw, vice dean for admissions and student life, is making that happen. But they can’t do it alone. And so they’re calling on you – our alumni and friends – to help identify would-be students who can succeed in O’Brian Hall and beyond.

A brief conversation with Dean Upshaw …

Why is it important to develop a high-quality pool of applicants?

It’s important because we’re training people for the profession. We need to have a well-rounded, competitive, diverse applicant pool so we can train the best possible people to become practitioners and our future colleagues. That’s how the law profession will continue to grow. And who better to identify those students than our alumni and people in the legal community who know what talents we need in the profession?

What factors have made the search for top-quality law students more challenging?

The way that law is practiced is changing, and new fields of law are expanding and being created. Those changes demand a different set of skills from the students who are going to law school. At times it’s hard for us to keep up with that. That’s why those in the legal community, who are in the trenches now, are so important, because they see it, and they can see how potential applicants can succeed in this changed reality.

How can alumni help?

I’m hoping our alumni and our friends in legal community will keep an eye out – to mentor students they know and encourage them to think about coming to SUNY Buffalo Law. It’s a great time to be here at the Law School. Our employment is exceeding the national numbers, we are continuing to be innovative in our curriculum and the changing skill set our students need, we’re continuing to foster a great sense of community in which our students feel like they’re more than a number. And we’re based in the best legal market in the country!

Is this outreach aimed at undergraduates or career changers?

Both. It’s never too early to plant the seed to help younger people to develop an awareness of the J.D. degree. But some folks also may have paralegals in their office who they think would make great attorneys, or people they know who are making a career transition. Lawyers are made from every discipline you can think of.

We welcome the opportunity to meet with students one on one, or to see them at an open house (the next one is Jan. 23 registration is available on the web). They can meet with me or any other member of the staff, they can sit in on a class, and we give them a tour of the School of Law. If they wish, we can arrange for them to talk with a faculty member who teaches in a particular field that interests them. We host LSAT workshops and even a practice LSAT exam. So we’re constantly doing outreach.

What if I’m aware of a student who’s unsure or who may not measure up right away?

We want to be an information source, and we can talk about various ways to navigate the admissions process to make it successful. Sometimes a student needs to go to another school for a year, then transfer in; we’ve found that those students are really motivated to do well.

How are law alumni in a unique position to identify good candidates?

It’s so helpful when our alums are able to speak directly to potential applicants, because they’ve walked our halls, they’ve been through this experience, and that firsthand knowledge and understanding of who we are can be really influential. So please share your experiences with potential applicants. Help us reach those people and share with them information about the Law School and what this experience meant to you. We’re in this together – the people in O’Brian Hall, our alumni in upstate New York and across the country, and the legal community we’re all so committed to.              

What should alumni do if they know of a promising potential student?

Call the admissions office at 716-645-2907, or email me at lwiley@buffalo.edu. We’ll take it from there.