Tuesday, June 9, 2015

EPPS Grads Headed to Yale and Harvard law schools

Each year, EPPS graduates go on to prestigious law schools at universities across the nation. The 2015 graduating class includes two students who are going to Yale University and Harvard University law schools, ranked number one and two respectively by U.S. News and World Report:  We recently sat down with Theo Torres and Kyle Reynolds, both political science majors who graduated in May 2015, to find out the keys to their success. Read more

Theo Torres, UT Dallas Political Science Major
Yale University Law School

Theo Torres
What do you think was the key to your admission to such a prestigious law school?

 Beyond GPA and LSAT score, I think my musical background helped me in law school admissions. Throughout my time at UT Dallas, I've played in the school-affiliated orchestra, jazz band, and the classical guitar ensemble, in addition to a couple of independent groups. I like to think that those kinds of activities did something to convince admissions committees that I'm more than just a study machine. Additionally, I tried to balance this by crafting a compelling and credible narrative about my motivations to become a lawyer.

How did your pre-law experience here at UT Dallas help you?

I took part in lots of law-related extracurricular activities as an undergrad, each of which was helpful in its own right. The Innocence Project of Texas  class exposed me to real-world legal work, Moot Court sharpened my oral argument skills, and being secretary for the John Marshall Pre-Law Society acquainted me with some administrative and organizational know-how. The Pre-Law Advising and Resource Center was instrumental in helping me out with the actual application stage, both in terms of broad strategy and detail-oriented review, like proofreading drafts of my personal statement. I don't think I would have been remotely as successful without the help of Dr. Anthony Champagne and Anne Dutia. And, although he isn't formally part of the pre-law program, Dr. Douglas Dow helped out a ton as well. 

What do you plan to do after you graduate from Yale?

After law school, I would like to end up practicing criminal law in a public defender's office. My time with the Innocence Project of Texas here at UT Dallas really made it clear that it's what I want to do. That being said, I look forward to experimenting with other subfields in the clinical program at Yale.

Kyle Reynolds, UT Dallas Political Science Major
Harvard University Law School 

Kyle Reynolds

What do you think was the key to your admission to such a prestigious law school?

Every law school values different qualities. For Harvard, the most important admissions factors are exactly what you would expect: having a strong GPA and a very high Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. That alone isn't enough, however. Harvard also places a lot of value on work experience - 75% of its entering class last year had been out of college for a year or more before starting law school. I believe it was a combination of these three factors that made me a successful candidate. My numbers were good, and the Archer Fellowship Program provided me with excellent full-time work experience in Washington, D.C.

How did your pre-law experience here at UT Dallas help you?

UT Dallas pre-law helped me in two key ways. The first and most important one was mentorship. Dr. Anthony Champagne and Anne Dutia have both been guides for me since freshman year. I can't overstate the value of their advice, in terms of both law school admissions and being a successful student at UT Dallas. The second way pre-law helped me was by providing opportunities. They host law school visits, sit-downs with successful alumni, and competitive advocacy programs like Mock Trial and Moot Court, all of which give students a picture of what being a law student or a lawyer is like. I recommend students take advantage of these opportunities before making the decision to apply to law school.

And of course, it goes without saying that UT Dallas' challenging coursework will be good preparation for the rigors of a law school class. The skills I learned here will help me hit the ground running at Harvard.

What do you plan to do after you leave Harvard?

For me, it is still a little early to decide on that. I can tell you that I plan to come back and work in the Dallas area if possible - I have come to love the city over the past four years. Right now the two main options I'm exploring are working for a large law firm as a litigator, or working for a U.S. Attorney's office as a federal prosecutor. I hope that my time at Harvard will shed light on which of those choices (if either) is the better fit for me.