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Ask Anything: 10 questions with Campbell Law School Dean Melissa Essary

Campbell Law School Dean Melissa Essary answers your questions about the school's selection process and more.

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Do you have any advice for a law school candidate that has been out of college for five years or more? What would you consider the most important quality in a law school candidate? – Jenifer Wolfe, Carrboro

Jenifer, your application for admission should reflect what you have done and learned over the past five years. We would hope to see a steady progression in your professional life and experience. Your application also should show a history of strong academic work.

Though it is true that your employment is the most recent gauge of your future ability, we will look closely at your past academic achievement. Law school is an academic endeavor, so how you have performed in the past is important.

Every candidate brings his or her own strengths to law school. There is no single quality preferable over another. A law school candidate must be bright, hardworking, tenacious, humble, and curious. A strong work ethic is a must for success at Campbell Law.

I have heard that students are not allowed to work while in law school, unless they are third year clerkships. Is this true at Campbell? If not, do you think it is possible to complete law school while working a full-time job? – Sarah, Wendell

This is a common question among prospective law students. Campbell Law School currently offers a full-time program of legal education that is designed to be completed over three years. Students take most of their classes during daytime hours.

Campbell Law School does not allow first year students to be employed during the first year of law school. This policy exists for their own benefit. The first year in law school is an adjustment period for all students, as classes and homework are all-consuming.

After completing the first year at Campbell Law, students generally have the pace of school figured out and they may then be able to handle part-time work during in the second year. During a student’s second and third year, they are limited to 20 work hours per week per American Bar Association (ABA) requirements.

Will Campbell consider the option of offering an alternate schedule (i.e. evenings) for law school classes that might make it easier for non-traditional students (i.e. working adults) to enroll and attend? – Teri Wade, Raleigh

Teri, I have probably been asked this question more than any other. We will be carefully studying the issue of developing a part-time program of legal education at Campbell Law School. Given our new urban setting, such a program may make sense.

ABA guidelines require that part-time students be instructed predominantly by full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty. Thus, how we develop our faculty resources is a significant consideration for us as we look to the future.

What are the prerequisites for entering Campbell Law School? My daughter is interested in a law degree but would also like to have a degree in computer graphic design. Could this type of degree allow you to enter Campbell Law? – Sandy Dyson, Raleigh

Believe it or not, there are only two prerequisites to entering law school: a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. A degree in computer graphic design would certainly be an acceptable major at Campbell Law School.

The LSAT is administered several times a year through the Law School Admissions Council. There is no minimum required LSAT score or undergraduate grade point average, but of course, the higher those numbers, the better.

There is no “right” major to prepare for law school. Among Campbell Law’s 410 students, more than 60 undergraduate majors from approximately 110 different colleges and universities are represented.

I am currently a Campbell University student and my ultimate goal is to apply to Campbell Law School. I have a few years ahead of me but I would like to prepare for the process. Can you give me an idea of the process to get into Campbell Law School for example: Would my GPA overweight my test score on the LSAT or are they both weighed equally and taken into consideration? Should I look into taking some pre-law classes before I apply and could you suggest some other activities that would help your application look attractive? – Madelyn Archibald, Raleigh

We are frequently asked about which part of the law school application is most important: LSAT score, GPA, etc. The short answer is: it’s all important. In reviewing applications, our admissions committee will look at your undergraduate GPA along with your LSAT score to help us assess your academic ability. With the increasing competitiveness of the application pool, it is more important than ever to do well in your undergraduate studies, as well as on the LSAT.

Pre-law classes can give you an idea of your level of interest in studying the law, so a course or two might be helpful. However, please know that the presence or absence of pre-law classes on your transcript will not influence the Admissions Committee.

Classes that increase your ability to think critically and communicate effectively will help you perform better on the LSAT, and ultimately, help you become a better law student and attorney. Your undergraduate major and coursework should reflect your interests and aptitude, regardless of whether you decide to attend law school.

An attractive application shows strong academic ability, a deep interest in a particular area or areas, participation in community activities, leadership, and personal growth and development.

What would you recommend to the potential student who'd like to venture to law school in his/her late 30s or early 40s? How would the older student be evaluated in comparison to someone who is currently in undergraduate programs? – Todd Roberts, Asheboro

Todd, we welcome those who are pursuing the law as a second or even third career. Campbell Law School does have full-time students in their 30s or 40s who bring real world work and life experiences into the classroom. They enrich classroom dialogues and are a vital part of the fabric of our community.

Like all applicants, those with significant work and life experience must have the requisite LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs to gain admission. However, their experiences ordinarily are a “plus” factor when the Admissions Committee reviews their files.

My daughter is a second year student at Campbell Law. I am concerned about safety issues in downtown Raleigh, especially with students studying at the law library late at night. Will Campbell provide any type of security for the students? Also, will any special parking places be available for students? – Jackie Frie, Sanford

Jackie, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount to each of us at Campbell Law School. In designing the law school, we implemented recommendations from Raleigh Police Department security specialists to ensure that we made this building as safe as possible for students, faculty and staff.

Our building is equipped with security doors and cameras at all access points. During normal operating hours, onsite security is always present. We have installed emergency call boxes on the exterior of the building and in the parking garage. We improved perimeter lighting as well as parking garage lighting.

With respect to parking security, most students are parking within a block of the law school. We are encouraging, and in some cases requiring, students who are parked more than a block away from the law school to move their cars closer to the law school after 5:00 p.m.

I attended Campbell University for one year before I dropped out to get married. I subsequently obtained an AAS and attended N.C. State University. How difficult would it be for me to return to school and become a lawyer? – AD Henderson, Raleigh

Law School takes commitment and it sounds as though you have worked hard to get back on the education path. I commend you for that. As long as you have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university and an LSAT score, you are eligible to apply for admission at Campbell Law.

Our Admissions Committee will look at your file holistically. They will, of course, look at your LSAT score, where you attended school and how you performed, as well as your work experience and community involvement.

They will look at your entire application and try to get a sense of whether your credentials, background, and experiences are good predictors of success in training to become a Campbell Lawyer.

When applying to Campbell, letters of recommendations are needed and these are usually from current or recent professors. As someone who has been out of school for some time, who would you want reference letters from in my case? – John, Raleigh

While we prefer letters from professors, your letters of reference can come from your employer if you have been away from college for some time. Anyone who has been in a supervisory position over you who can objectively evaluate your abilities can provide a recommendation.

I am a student in the paralegal program at Meredith College. Will you welcome Meredith students to use your law library for research and study? – Mary Schindo, Raleigh

Mary, we want our facilities to be available for practicing members of the North Carolina Bar, and we equally want to be a good partner to our friends enrolled at Meredith and other local programs. I would recommend that you schedule an appointment with our library staff to use our resources.

With more than 400 individuals enrolled at Campbell Law School, our library professionals must first focus on the study and research needs of our students. However, if you were to schedule time with our library staff to utilize certain resources, we should be able to accommodate your request.

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