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LSAT exam writer from world-recognized Law School Admission Council to participate in UTA Pre-Law Day

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

News Topics: alumni, liberal arts

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Four law school deans, 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-year law school students, and the Associate Director for Item Development at the Law School Admission Council, James Lorié, will be featured at UTA’s Pre-Law Day, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 at the E. H. Hereford University Center.

The UTA Pre-Law Center and Legal Studies Center has served nearly 500 students since it was founded in 2012.

The one-day conference brings together 4-year college and community college educators, legal experts and undergraduates interested in law school, along with dynamic panel discussions. Among the topics: demystifying the LSAT, law practice diversity, and resume-writing and interviewing.

Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is available online at utaprelawday2016.eventbrite.com.

“We are so excited about this year’s events and have never had anything quite like this before,” said Amber White, director of the Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center. “We want people to know that they can come to UTA and find the assistance needed to launch a legal career. Thanks to the support of UTA alumni, local law schools and attorney volunteers from the local community, we’ve been able to make a real difference in the lives of those involved in the program.”

Amber White, attorney and director of the UTA Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center.

The center launched in August 2012 after UTA alumni and supporters raised $700,000 toward a planned $2 million endowment. Dallas-based communications giant AT&T, encouraged by UTA alumnus and recently retired AT&T executive Wayne Watts, provided 24 staff attorneys to serve as mentors and other support. Nearly four years later, almost 500 North Texas students have received help ranging from LSAT preparation and mock trial defense drills to mentorship and internship experiences.   

Mr. Lorié said this kind of offering provides potential law school students, including first generation law students, a unique start to a career in law.   

Ahead of his visit to UTA, he answered questions about the most important information that he will convey about the LSAT and his role in formulating the test questions.

Q: UTA is the 5th most diverse university in the United States. With LSAC being driven by a number of diversity initiatives, how will your presentation take the diverse population of participants into consideration?

A: The most important thing anyone needs to have as they prepare for the LSAT is accurate information about the test. This advice applies to individuals from diverse ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds as well. So the first thing I will be talking about will be the format and content of the test. I’ll be talking about the types of questions that are on the test and how to approach them, and I will also be talking about the importance of preparing for the test. While covering these topics, I will also address certain issues that might be of specific concern to diverse populations thinking of taking the LSAT—misconceptions, misinformation, and myths about the test that often cause people to worry. For example, I’ll discuss the question of whether you have to take an expensive test prep course in order to do well on the LSAT. (Short answer: no, you don’t!)

Q: What words of encouragement or advice would you offer first generation law students choosing to take the LSAT exam in pursuit of breaking into the legal profession?

A: Take advantage of the many resources that are available to you to gather information about the test and about law school in general. Talk to your pre-law advisor or similar advising resources your current school might have. Also do research on the Web. For example, our website, www.lsac.org, has a lot of information about the test and about law school. LSAC also has a website called DiscoverLaw, www.discoverlaw.org, that promotes diversity in law school and in the legal profession.

Q. What does a day in the life of an item developer for the LSAC look like?

A: My colleagues and I typically spend our days working on test questions at various stages of development. We comb the Internet, periodicals, and libraries for possible source material, we write draft questions based on the source material, and we review one another’s questions and revise them with an eye to correctness (one and only one correct answer), fairness, clarity, and overall quality. We also recheck all questions for correctness, fairness, clarity, and overall quality when they are put together into unscored test sections, and again when they are put together into test sections that will ultimately be scored.

Q: Do people treat you like a celebrity when you attend events after they discover what exactly you do for the LSAC?

A: People are often surprised to meet someone who writes test questions, and some people even seem genuinely excited to be hearing about the test from someone who works on it. But while it would be great fun to be able to say that I get treated like a celebrity… that might be pushing it just a little bit!

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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