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USC Dornsife Pre-Law Success Stories

The Pre-Law Advising Office hosts events and individual advisement throughout the year. We connect pre-law students to internships, classes, and job opportunities. We review law school applications, personal statements, and resumes. We host events with deans and directors of admission from law schools around the country, and hold the best law fair on the west coast, all to ensure our students' success.

Below are stories former students have shared with us about their successful law school applications.

  • Rebecca Berry

    B.A., Sociology '14

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you? Dornsife Pre-Law Advising has been extremely helpful since my first meeting with Dr. Hawkins during my freshman year. I knew that I wanted to go to law school but I wasn’t sure what the pre-law emphasis entailed. She was a great resource for course planning and finding interesting classes outside of my major. For example, she knew that I was interested in juvenile justice so she recommended I take a class in the School of Social Work. That class turned out to be one of the best classes I’ve ever taken at USC. Through Pre-Law advising, I was made aware of several internship opportunities and ways to get significant hands-on experience with the law. Most recently, I was accepted as the first student to ever attend USC Law School through the brand new accelerated JD program (3+3). With the help of Pre-law advising, I was able to get through everything from the application process to mapping out summer course work. Pre-law advising has been there every step of the way.

    What advice would you give to pre-law students? Set yourself up for success as early as you can. Take interesting classes, do well in them, and get to know your professors. Start thinking about why you want to go to law school and hold on to those reasons going forward because there will be a lot of discouragement. Seek out opportunities to disenchant the application process as well as the law school experience. Talk to attorneys, law students, and staff that have gone through the journey to law school. They will all tell you that it can be difficult but that it is possible with the right preparation. Remember that your journey is yours to own and that it will all be okay!

    Attending: USC Gould School of Law

  • Jessica Pearigen

    B.A. Spanish, B.A. Philosophy, Politics and Law '14

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you?

    I used the Pre-Law Advising Office throughout my 4 years at USC. As an underclassman, they introduced me to resources around campus for pre-law students. As an upperclassman, I went to all kinds of events that the Advising Office hosted, including Q&A's with Deans of Admissions, mock LSATs and panels with current law students. As a senior, I went to the Office for great feedback on my personal statement, and later for help negotiating scholarships and critically assessing my options. 

    During the application process, the law students helped me read through several versions of my personal statement, and really drove me to present myself as best as possible in my applications. After receiving my acceptances, Viannda helped me think about what is important for me in my law school career, and gave me ideas for negotiating scholarships with schools. 

    What did you find was the hardest part of the law school application process?

    Writing my personal statement was the hardest part for me, but working with the law students in the advising office helped me narrow down a topic, showed me how to use that story to advertise myself as an applicant, and read revision after revision until it was perfected. 

    The law school admissions process wasn't difficult, but it was exhausting. The Pre Law Advising team helped me feel prepared from the start and served as a great resource every step of the way.

    Attending: Duke Law School

  • Brandon Martinez Jr.

    B.A. English, B.A. Political Science '14

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you?

    I didn’t begin visiting the pre-law office until the fall of my senior year, which put me at a bit of a disadvantage in the application process. Things worked out well, but I firmly believe I could have made the process easier on myself by visiting the office a lot sooner, reading through the printed materials it has available (particularly the application timeline, which proved particularly useful), and seeking the advisors’ thoughts regarding LSAT preparation well before I actually sat down to take the test. The many events the office organizes regarding the application process, especially those in which actual law-school admissions directors discuss what they look for in an application, proved extremely illuminating. The office was also helpful in guiding the preparation of my personal statement, and the advisors were instrumental in helping me regroup and reassess my application strategy after my LSAT score came back lower than I had anticipated. Perhaps most importantly, no matter what they were assisting me with, the advisors helped me by alleviating some of the stress surrounding the whole process. As Viannda Hawkins says, the law-school application process is in many ways a test of decision-making, and choosing to seek the help and wisdom of others can often be better than simply choosing to go it alone. I’m glad I sought the guidance of the pre-law advising office, and I would strongly recommend that other students considering law school do the same.

    I am thrilled and honored to say that I will be attending Stanford Law School in the fall, no doubt thanks in large part to the help of the USC Pre-Law Advising Office. Thank you for everything!

    What advice would you give to pre-law students?

    The law school admissions process was not an easy one, and it was made harder by the fact that I began thinking about it later in my undergraduate career rather than earlier. If there’s any advice I can offer to a USC undergraduate who’s thinking about applying to law school, it’s to start familiarizing yourself with the process as early as possible; to get a head-start on finding LSAT courses or tutoring; and to make plenty of time between the spring of junior year and the January of senior year to think about why you want to apply, where you want to apply, and what kind of things you’re going to need to work on before you can click submit on your finished applications. The pre-law advising office has a vast wealth of information available that can help with every step of the process, and I would recommend checking in with the advisors as early as the start of sophomore year to get an idea of what kinds of coursework and activities one should be participating in to produce a well-rounded law-school application package.

    Attending: Stanford Law School

  • Jon Ancona

    B.S. Music Industry '13

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you?

    Over the last two years, the Pre Law Advisement Office has helped me go from knowing almost nothing about the law school application process to getting into my top choice school along with other top-tier options.

    The breadth and depth of the office's services are a tremendous resource – no matter where you are in the scope of considering law school, they have something to offer. Their staff and student advisors are knowledgeable and friendly, their newsletter and blog are full of great information and opportunities, and their workshops are an excellent way to gain insight from law students and attorneys about applying, law school itself, and working as an attorney (and let's face it, free food).

    The Pre Law office connected me to my LSAT class and my wonderful legal volunteer job, and they are a fantastic starting place to look for help with anything you need, no matter where you are in school or how much you think you know. I highly recommend using their services as much as possible. They helped me reach all of my goals and more, and if you're willing to put in the effort, I guarantee it will be well worth your while.


  • Nadine Shu Rong Tan

    B.S., Business Administration (International Relations) '12

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you?

    "I really appreciated Dan's support when I was worried about getting into law school. He, as are the other advisors I'm sure, is a great sounding board for helping me make my own decisions. In addition, I liked the mock 1L class, including the chance to meet [USC Gould Admissions] Dean Reid. In general, I liked the events organized by your office that gave us the opportunity to meet deans of admissions and current students, plus the lectures sponsored by the law school."

    Attending: University of Southern California Gould School of Law


  • John McAllister

    B.A., Theatre, B.A., Economics '12

    How did Dornsife Pre-Law Advising help you? "Between figuring out what schools I should apply to, trying to tackle the dauntingly open ended personal statement, and just dealing with the admission process as a whole, I definitely felt more than slightly stressed.  I set up a meeting with USC Pre-law advising, and was quickly informed that I was stressed for little to no reason.  Viannda walked me through my next few steps in the process, gave me a number of excellent resources for writing my personal statement, and mostly just told me to relax. While I will not say the process is entirely free of stress, USC Pre-law gives excellent resources and support for each part of it, which make it as painless as possible. In my case, I mostly just needed to be reminded that I was in fact not forgetting to do something crucial, and that the admissions process is not that terrible to manage. And it really is not bad as long as you take it one step at a time, and stay on top of the deadlines. That being said, it was always great to know that I had a resource for getting tips on a personal statement, answering questions about the admissions procedure, and really anything that could come up.  I went from feeling overwhelmed to relaxed and confident.  I ended up comfortably finished with everything before the holidays, and I received my first acceptance in early January."

    What advice would you give to pre-law students? "If you can take the June LSAT or at least do some of the work applying over the it.  It's better to apply early, and it would have been less stressful for me to have been done applying by the early fall (instead of writing a personal statement during midterms and applying around finals). Also, study whatever you want in undergrad. Law schools want all different backgrounds in their incoming classes.  There is no set 'pre-Law' major they are looking for, and I met all kinds of people, from musicians to stock-brokers, at my admitted students weekend."


    Attending: Columbia Law School