Welcome to Hispanic Business LiveChat. We would like to welcome our guest speaker, William C. Wilson Ph.D., Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at St. Mary's School of Law.
Shane from Philadelphia, PA
Can being bilingual benefit me in the law world?
It certainly can in places like San Antonio (and much of Texas, as the majority of the public is bilingual. And, in fact, it can be a requirement of some of our St. Mary's graduates who go into international law and immigration issues.
Robert from Los Angeles, CA
Does St. Mary's have an immigration law program?
Yes, St. Mary's is heavily "into" immigration law. And, in fact, our law clinic which allows students to represent clients under the supervision of one of our full-time clinical professors has a separate immigration law clinic, as well as human rights and civil issues.
Robert from Washington, DC
I am a 56 year old Federal Employee in a senior policy level position with a six-figure income.
I am ready to retire and want to consider law school (a lifelong passion of mine.)
1. Will law schools be biased against my application because of my age?
(I know age discrimination is illegal due to Title VI but, really, is there a bias here?
2. Does my professional experience count for anything? In otherwards, will I still need to take the LSAT? I'm certainly willing to take a Kaplan LSAT course but it would be nice if successful experience in the real world counted for something.
First, the LSAT is required of all applicants, but yields no required minimal score. It is only one factor is helping us compare candidates in a highly competitive selection process. San Antonio, with significant military presence, yields many "early" retirees who bring a wealth of experience to the student body. Experience can be very attractive in providing us with law graduates who know the law, but have experienced its application in a myriad of public, private business and government applications.
Sonja from Seattle, WA
What kind of a student population does St. Mary's have and do St. Mary's law students work in the local community at all?
St. Mary's is a university of about 4,000 students, 750 of whom are law students. San Antonio is the 8th largest city in the nation and the Law School has been around for 77 years, with a huge alumni network in San Antonio and other Texas cities. Law students, while in school, work at our clinic, serve as interns and associates with many local law firms, courts and public offices to get experience, make money and make contacts for employment after graduation.
Monica from Fort Worth, TX
I've heard law school is really difficult. What kind of support programs do law schools usually offer their students (mentors, peer groups, etc)? Do they even offer student support?
Recently St. Mary's initiated an Office for Academic Excellence with a staff to provide just that, support in all facets: tutoring, peer and mentor support, and programs to prepare individuals for taking the bar. Our alumni have given substantial financial support to offer scholarships for students to receive additional bar preparation after graduation. The students themselves, through our SBA, offer additional mentoring from 2l and 3l students and groups within their association.
Frank from San Diego, CA
Are there any particular law programs or specialties that you see thriving? What are the more popular programs your school offers?
Recently St. Mary's founded the first Center for Terrorism Law to research study and apply the law to this timely issue involving international human rights and other issues. This Center has just now received a $1,000,000 (million) gift as a recognition of what importance the public places on this issue facing us globally. We also produce a number of graduate with joint degrees in Law and International Relations to work in consulates, embassies and diplomatic corps around the world.
Phil from Green Bay, WI
Hello. I'm a sophmore in college and am considering law school after graduation. Is there any particular course of study that would make me a better candidate? Do I have to major in say law and society to go to law school?
Since law exists in all facets of society, I find no one particular major "better" than others. Other than stressing adequate preperation in critical thinking and writing, individuals with academic preparation or work experience in technology, business, engineering and a host of other areas can use their law degree in conjunction with that education or experience to be quite marketable to firms, businesses, courts or government and public offices that need lawyers with additional background in such areas.
Edith from St. Louis, MO
I keep hearing that the U.S. has entirely too many lawyers, is this affecting enrollment at all? How many people usually apply per year?
Appliactions to law schools have risen in the past few years, but that increase has subsided currently. The need for new lawyers continues to exist, and in fact, especially in many places in Texas, the need for lawyers far outdistances the supply. At St. Mary's last year, we received nearly 2200 applications for 295 entering law student positions, so the selection process is still quite competitive.
David from Sacramento, CA
What sort of diversity initiatives does St. Mary's promote? DO you offer scholarship specifically for Hispanic students?
St. Mary's is in San Antonio where about half the population is Hispanic or Mexican American. The Law School reflects this with a student population which is about one-third non-caucasian. St. Mary's has a very actice Hispanic Law Student Association, as well as those from other ethnic heritage. St. Mary's does not offer scholarships specifically to Hispanics only, but instead to about the top half of each entering class with many Hispanics in that class. However, up to full scholarships are offered to South Texas natives, many being Hispanic.
David from Harter, ID
I'm investigating the possibility of going to law school at the moment. Can you tell me (honestly) how much I would expect to pay for the duration of my course?
Tuition at various law schools differs greatly, but at St. Mary's is currently about $21,000 per year, relatively lower than most private schools outside the state of Texas.
Dion from San Francisco, CA
Hello. You mentioned your international law program earlier. Does St. Mary's partner with any programs abroad? If so, where?
St. Mary's has its own summer program abroad in Innsbruck, Austria. That institute engages in international "comparative" law education and study. Five of the United States Supreme Court Justices have been on our faculty there over the last 7 years, most recently Justice O"Connor this past summer. Next summer we will add a visiting jurist from the Hague in the Netherlands, where one of our own students just returned from an internship.
Gabriela from San Antonio, TX
I have recently completed an MBA program and I am considering law school. I love San Antonio. A college buddy told me I should go north for my law degree. What does St. Mary's offer to someone with my background...business
I must admit I moved from the "north" to San Antonio for the rich cultural diversity, healthy economy, no state income tax and the climate. Currently it is 76 and sunny. St. Mary's produces graduates who join the many business opportunities for lawyers in a city of over 2 million with an alumni network generation old.
Tony from Norfolk, VA
Hello. My question is about career paths. Say I wanted to get a job with an organization like MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund). What kind of a law degree does that sort of organization entail?
There is only one law degree, the Juris Doctorate, which allows individuals to practice law, after being admitted to the bar in the jurisdiction of their choice, no matter in what capacity. After that, however, some individuals choose to "specialize" by getting an LL.M. in an area of their choosing. St. Mary's offer an LL.M in International and Comparative Law, not much of a surprise.
We have just under 15 minutes left in the chat. If you have questions for Dr. Wilson, please submit them now.
Jorge from New York, NY
I am a 43 year old professional male/ parent that earns a good salary. What kind of benefits does the school offer to professionals that have already a family, but needs to work in partnership with their spouse/girlfriend/significant other, and want to go back to school and pursue a career in Law?
Honestly, any student in a full-time law program, like St. Mary's, needs to devote their first of three years of study full-time to school and not work. They need that undistracted firm foundation. But, after that, students can begin to apply their education by working during school and in the summers to get experience and earn money. Overall, though, getting a legal education is an investment in being able to reap endless benefits, monetary and otherwise, after graduation.
Aran from Los Altos, CA
What is your opinion regarding Law School rankings in such publications as U.S. News & World Report, and even Hispanic Business? When trying to choose a school, does rank really matter?
I believe student should choose the school that is "right" for them. Law schools with prestigious "rankings" can most likely attribute their graduates' ability to be recognized and recruited nationally somewhat to those rankings, but I encourage students to look for a school which offers a strong curriculum in their area of legal interest, as well as, perhaps, a strong alumni network in an employment or geographic area the student would like to compete for suitable employment.
Marisela from Midland, TX
Hello, I am a B.A. in Sociology graduate from UT and I am very interested in immigration law. I was not particularly interested, until I graduated and worked in the education field for about 5 years and came across several situations with immigrants and education. I have decided to go back to school to study immigration law...a new found interest. Would you suggest for me take some undergraduate courses in law to better equip myself for application for admission into law school?
I must assume you already have proficiency in another language (Spanish being the most helpful in Texas). If not, let's work on language instruction. Additionally, however,if you haven't had a course in government or haven't studied the constitution at all, look at courses that do just that. Additionally, critical thinking coursework can certainly assist your law school preparation, as well as preparing you to take the LSAT.
Thank you to Dr. William C. Wilson, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at St. Mary's School of Law. This concludes our LiveChat, but for more information on St. Mary's School of Law, admissions questions or requirements, please visit their Web site: http://www.stmarytx.edu/law/.