Author Archives: lmorgan

Financing Your Legal Education

Law school is a huge, but sound investment into your future.  Experience shows that Coastal Law students have a stellar return on their educational investment. On average, our graduates earn $750,000 more in their lifetime than if they hadn’t received their law degree from Coastal Law. Nonetheless, determining how to finance your legal education can be a strain mentally, emotionally, and financially.

When considering how to finance your legal education, here a few tips to keep in mind that can help ease the strain as you begin your legal education. Planning in advance is always your best plan to ensure you are prepared and can focus on your first year of law school without the stress of finances.

 

  1. Scholarships for Law Students
  • Most law schools offer merit based scholarships. Make sure your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score are as high as possible to maximize your award.
  • Ask if the law school offers additional scholarships. You may have to apply or be recommended for additional awards.
  • Coastal Law offers a full range of scholarships for its students.  We offer scholarships for First Responders, Diversity Champions, and more. See a list of the scholarships Coastal Law offers here.

 

  1. Student Loans
  • Apply for Federal Aid to receive student loans with the lowest interest rates.
  • Start with submitting your FAFSA. This will qualify you for $20,500 per year.
  • For additional student loans, apply for Grad Plus. This credit-based loan will help cover the rest of tuition as well as living expenses.

 

  1. Jobs
  • If you currently have a job and want to keep working, consider attending school part-time.
  • As a full-time student it is recommended that you work less than 20 hours per week. Even a few hours of work help bring in a little extra money.
  • Look into on-campus jobs, work-study, or paid internships. These types of positions could help you gain legal experience while easing the financial burden.

 

  1. Budget
  • Creating a budget ensures that you don’t spend money you don’t have and helps you prepare for future expenses.
  • Compare your needs versus wants. Remember to live like a student now so you can live like an attorney later.
  • Borrow smart. Don’t take our more loans than you need.

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Advice on Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation can be stressful because they are a part of the application that is out of your hands.  You don’t have control over what is said or when they are submitted.  Often, it’s a lengthy waiting game once a letter is requested.  Don’t let your law school application sit on the back burner while you wait for letters of recommendation.

 

Here are a few tips to help make sure you receive the best letters of recommendation possible and that they are received in a timely fashion.

 

Who to Ask

 

  1. Consider Relationship Over Title

Someone who has worked closely with you and can speak in depth about your qualities, skills, and abilities will write a much better letter than an acquaintance with an impressive title.

 

  1. Anecdotes Versus Adjectives

Choose someone who will be able to provide specific examples about you rather than just list qualities.

 

  1. Avoid Family

Family will always say nice things about their own.  It’s important to hear from a less biased source.

 

How to Ask

 

  1. Ask for a Favorable Letter

By setting your expectations, it will allow your recommender the opportunity to decline if he/she feels the letter of recommendation won’t be favorable.

 

  1. Offer Your Resume and Personal Statement

Your recommender will be better able to discuss the areas that he/she knows are important to you based on what you highlight in your own writing.

 

  1. Provide a Specific Timeline

You have a better chance of receiving the letters in a timely fashion if you state when you need/want them submitted.

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Megan Schade

Since I was a little girl I always told my parents that I was going to grow up and become an attorney.  I also thought that I could be a school teacher and deliver pizza at the same time.  As children, we always have aspirations for when we grow up.  As we progress through the years we change our perspective of what growing up means.   I have gone to college, graduated from law school, was a first-time bar passer, and currently hold my first “adult” job; yet I still find myself thinking “What will I do when I grow up?”  I think that we all reflect on this daily and the little steps we take along the way are what mold us into the person we are and the dreams we have for our life.

My name is Megan Schade and I am an admissions counselor here at Florida Coastal School of Law.  I moved to Florida almost five years ago when I started my journey in law school.  I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and attended Miami University for my undergraduate degree.  I majored in Business Management and Organization in hopes of opening my own law firm or owning my own business someday.  For me deciding what to do before law school was a struggle.  I knew I wanted to get a law degree and help others, but I needed a foundation in order to achieve that dream.  Miami University was a great experience for me and provided me with the knowledge, understanding, hard-work ethic, and passion to be successful in law school.  It was the time that I became independent, confident, and began focusing on what I wanted to do and how I was going to accomplish those goals for myself.

I moved to Jacksonville, Florida to attend Coastal Law because they provided me with the opportunity in pursue my dream.  We all have struggles along the way, but it’s our passion, perseverance, and determination that make us the best that we can be.  I was excited for this new adventure, yet nervous for what I had just signed up for.  Law school was going to be hard, it was going to be a challenge and I was going to have to think in a way that I had never done so before.  I was also in a new city where I knew no one, but had to adapt quickly so that it would not impact my studies.

My three years at Coastal Law were filled with happiness, joy, tears, determination, hard-work, setbacks, but most importantly a new family and a place to call home.  The environment on our campus is second to none.  From the administrators, to the faculty, to our staff, students and alumni we are there to support each other every step of the way.  While some days are harder than others you have the support system needed to achieve your dream.

I hope that you decide to learn more about Coastal Law and think about joining our family.  It will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Like I said, I feel like I am still growing up and learning new things every day and contemplate “What will do when I grow up?”  I am now an attorney as I told my parents I would become when I was younger, but I am so much more than that.  I have become a person who stands up for others and works with others to achieve their dream.  I would not be an admissions counselor if that did not become a part of who I am.

I hope this allows you to see that we can all reach our dreams, but the end might not be what we first thought.  Be open to new ideas, new opportunities, challenges and setbacks; because they make you who you are and teach you how to grow and achieve what you have set for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me and I would be happy to learn more about you and discuss the opportunity to become a part of the Coastal Law family.

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Finding a Home in Jacksonville to Attend Coastal Law

 

Finding a place to live in a new city can be exiting, but also a bit frustrating at times.  Here at Coastal Law we try to provide an easy transition to life here in Jacksonville.  Below are some things to think about before you begin your housing search.

 

  1. Do I want a roommate? Before you even begin the process of finding somewhere to live you want to consider this important question.  Are you a quiet person and appreciate your own space?  Do you to prefer to study at home as opposed to the library? Do you want to share the cost of rent with someone else?  Determining whether you want to live alone or with a roommate should be something you consider right at the beginning.  You want to consider this possibility right away in case the options you prefer are not in your original budget plan.

 

  1. What is my budget? Determine how much you want to spend each month on rent. Do you want a smaller apartment because you will not be spending much time there, or do you plan to study in your apartment? Would you prefer to spend more money on rent or on premium internet and cable? You need to set a budget for yourself and determine the range you are willing to spend before you even start your research, so that you can pick those options that are in your price range.  This is also important in determining your entire budget for law school. (A blog of Financing Your Legal Education coming soon!)

 

  1. What kind of environment am I looking for? Do you want a small quiet community, or do you want a community that provides a lot of activities to its residents? Do you have any pets?  Do you potentially want a place near a dog park?  Do you want to be in an area with children?  Do you want to have multiple outdoor pools or are you more concerned with a nice gym on site?  Think about the type of environment you want to live in and what that means in regards to your study habits and interaction with other residents in your complex.  You may also consider a condo, townhouse or home that might better fit your needs.

 

  1. What area of Jacksonville do I want to live in? Most students live in the Southside area which is where Coastal Law is situated, but there are many other areas of Jacksonville to consider.  The Downtown area is about fifteen minutes away, which also consists of many smaller areas around the river downtown.  Some of these areas are San Marco, Riverside, and Avondale.  They are areas that have many small parks, shops, bars and restaurants all within walking distance of housing options.  We also have students who decide to live out towards Jacksonville Beach which is about a half hour from campus.  The only concern with living out towards the beach is the traffic each day during rush hour.  Determining the area of Jacksonville you want to be in relates to the type of environment you are looking for.  Take the time to look into each area and consider which would be best for the day to day lifestyle you are looking for.  I mentioned rush hour above and that can also be important in making your housing decisions.

 

  1. When do I plan on moving in? Determining when you want to move is very important in determining what will be available at that time. We recommend that you move at the beginning of August for our fall admits, so that you can become comfortable with the area prior to the beginning of orientation and classes.  Knowing when you want to move will help you plan for the moving time and availability at those housing options that are your top choice.

 

Hopefully this will help you begin your search for housing if you have not started already.

 

Coastal Law works with Jacksonville Rental Finders, which is a local agency that helps our students free of charge with their housing needs.  Please feel free to reach out to them directly through their website or by phone (904) 565-9040.  We can also release your information to them if you would like by filling out this form.

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Creating A Competitive Coastal Law Application

How do you put together a competitive law school application? We share some great step-by-step tips for prospective law students.

Tips for Assembling a Competitive Application

Components of an application

  • Application
  • CAS report – Includes: Letters of Recommendation, Transcripts, Writing Sample, LSAT score
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
  • Addendum(s) – Optional

Application

  • Be sure to answer all questions thoroughly and accurately. If you are ever in doubt as to what a question means, do not hesitate to reach out to Admissions for clarification. The Admissions staff is always here to help.

CAS Report

  • Send all undergraduate transcripts to LSAC.
  • You will create your writing sample during the LSAT. The Admissions Committee reviews the writing sample to gauge writing skills and analytical ability.
  • Letters of Recommendation are sent directly to LSAC.
    • Tips for Letters of Recommendation:
      • If you are a recent graduate, try to obtain at least one letter from a professor. They can speak to your scholastic ability and work ethic.
      • If you are not a recent graduate, you may ask an employer or someone who can speak about your work ethic.
      • Do not ask family or friends to write you a letter.
      • Make sure the person you ask knows you well and supports your decision to attend law school.
      • Provide the recommender with your resume and personal statement so they may gain further insight into why you want to attend law school and why you will be a valuable addition to the classroom.
      • Make sure to ask the recommender is they will be able to provide you with a positive/strong recommendation.

Personal Statement

  • This statement allows the reviewer to gain insight into whom you are beyond your potential for academic excellence and why you might be a strong addition to the incoming class.
  • The personal statement is also reviewed for writing ability and attention to detail.
  • The personal statement may also be used to gain insight into an applicant’s motivation and interest in law school.
  • Keep in mind what you are trying to communicate to the reviewer.
  • When brainstorming topics, ponder the following questions:
    • What abilities, skills, or talents do you have that will help you become an outstanding law student and lawyer?
    • Why do you want to earn a law degree?
    • What life experiences or people have inspired and helped you become the person you are today?
    • What are your professional goals?
  • Be authentic.
  • Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!

Resume

  • Some tips for writing your law school resume include:
  • Physical appearance: Make your resume easy to read. Use a template, good spacing, and a standard font (such as Times New Roman). Do not include photos or designs, avoid different colors. Remember, you want to make it look professional.
  • Education: Focus on college not high school. You can mention any honors, awards, or student organizations you were involved with during your time of attendance.
  • Work Experience:  This section is where you will list and elaborate on any jobs or internships you have had. You can include both paid and unpaid work experience.
  • Bottom of Page: This is where you can list any extra-curricular activities; community service, publications, sports, etc. This gives the reader more insight into who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Proofread: Your resume must be error free. Read it out loud to yourself and ask at least one other person to review it as well. Remember, spell check doesn’t catch every error.
  • Length: Your resume should be one page. Focus only on the positive aspects of your previous career, education, and volunteer work.

Addendum(s)

  • These supplemental statements can be used to address any concerns you believe the Admissions Committee may have about your application. For example: academic probation, character and fitness issues, gap in time on your resume, low LSAT score, etc.
  • You may also provide a supplemental statement to inform the Committee of any information that was not provided in the required portion of the application such as, diverse professional or personal life experiences.

For more detailed tips, check out our webinar on Tips for Assembling a Competitive Application.

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Nicole Schumer

 

My name is Nicole Schumer and I am the Assistant Director of Admissions at Florida Coastal School of Law.  I am a native of Mississippi and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000. Upon graduation I knew that I wanted to help people.  I wasn’t sure how, but I knew that whatever I did, it would be to improve people’s lives.  I moved to Kansas City and worked in the financial industry for several years before moving to Jacksonville, FL.  I had researched Jacksonville and was really excited about this new adventure in my life.  Jacksonville turned out to be everything I hoped it would be.  Not only is it one of the most affordable cities in Florida, it is also a city that has something for everyone.  It has the beach, downtown on the river, suburban life, and many other environments.  Since living in Florida, I have gotten married and had two amazing children.

In 2006, I had found the place to truly make a difference in people’s lives at Florida Coastal School of Law.  I initially worked at Coastal Law as a counselor and then transitioned to Assistant Director of Admissions in 2010.  I have spent the last 8 years educating those considering law and guiding them through the admission process.

As a member of the Florida Coastal School of Law admissions team, I enjoy helping students realize their dream to pursue a law profession.  I help the students and their families understand the application process and help make the transition to law school as smooth as possible.  I also enjoy hearing about their lives and what brought them to their decision to attend law school.  Having been with Coastal Law for several years and counseled many prospective students, I can understand the trepidation students feel when starting this journey. I try to make them feel at home and encourage their excitement about starting their law school career.

One of the many things I enjoy about working at Florida Coastal School of Law is the staff and faculty.  We all put the students’ interests and needs first.  This is reflected in the wonderful environment our students enjoy every day.  When students come to visit our office before they graduate, it is a great feeling to know they appreciate the difference we made in their lives.

Besides graduation, one of the best times to work in Florida Coastal School of Law’s admissions office is during orientation.  To witness the excitement and curiosity of each new incoming student is a special time.  They are embarking on a new journey, and to be a part of that is something I really enjoy.  We are there to support and reassure them, ease their nerves, and ultimately join them in their excitement.

Along with my involvement with prospective students and active students, I am also responsible for maintaining the office database systems.  My job is to ensure we have accurate information for every student and that the processes of the office run smoothly.  I keep track of enrollment data from year to year and make sure we are doing the best by our students. I help develop statistical reports to enhance recruitment strategies, and monitor those reports for yield management, forecasting, and operational efficiency.

I am also greatly involved in Florida Coastal’s Alternative Admissions Model Program for Legal Education (AAMPLE®) program.  I am a huge advocate of the this program and strongly believe that the AAMPLE program provides students the opportunity to prove beyond their LSAT score that they can succeed in law school and go on to have successful legal careers.  Since being a part of this program, I have watched many students go on to graduate from Florida Coastal School of Law and find career paths that they enjoy.  That is why we started this program and I am always happy to see those students succeed.

Overall, being a part of the Florida Coastal School of Law community is a rewarding experience for me and for the students we serve.  I always look forward to the next class and assisting them in fulfilling their dreams.

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Renee Alten

Meet Renee Alton, Coastal Law Admissions Team

Renée Alten is the Director of Admissions Operations and Communications at Florida Coastal School of Law. Renée hails from Syracuse, New York, also known as Sybericuse or Hoth Ice Planet for those Star Wars lovers out there.  When she was 18 years old she escaped the cold, and what seemed like year-round snow, to move to Maryland where she attended Washington College. Renée always dreamed of going to law school. Before fulfilling her dream, she took a year off to immerse herself in a cross cultural experience; she lived in Scotland for one year.

When she returned to the states, she enrolled in law school. She loved it so much she decided to stay in the law school environment and start a career as a law school administrator. After working in the New England area for a number of years she discovered Florida Coastal School of Law where she now calls home. She is grateful every day to work in such a supportive, innovative, and student centered environment.

The highlight of Renée’s job is introducing prospective students to Coastal Law and watching their faces light up as they learn about all of the incredible opportunities the school has to offer. Some of these opportunities include a plethora of hands-on learning experiences (The National Jurist awarded Florida Coastal School of Law an A+ for Best Law Schools for Practical Training – 2015), the potential to become a member of Coastal Law’s moot court team (which is currently ranked #1 in the nation according to the –2014 – 2015 Moot Court National Championship standings), and the ability to enroll in one of Coastal Law’s dual degree programs (JD/MBA and JD/MPP).

Renée is proud to work for such a dynamic law school and serve as a representative of Florida Coastal School of Law as she travels the country to meet with and educate prospective law students.

Connect with Renée on her Facebook page, here.

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Jennifer Alfonso

Jennifer Alonso Florida Coastal

Five, six, seven, eight! I take a deep breath and the music comes on. In an instant I am at peace and time seems to stop. Having danced my entire life, I lived for the moments I performed on stage. It was a way to not only lose myself but find myself at the same time.  With dance came discipline, focus, and determination to succeed.

Born and raised in Miami, after graduating high school I stayed home and attended Florida International University and pursued a career in broadcasting. I was fortunate to have danced for the Miami Heat throughout this time as well. I did not get the college experience of joining a sorority and attending football games on Saturday with my friends. Going from class to practice and internships in between I was always on a strict schedule, penciling in my entire day into my agenda.

Broadcasting was my dream, the next Erin Andrews I thought. I interned for NBC 6 Sports as well for Power 96, a local radio station in Miami. Junior year, I took a media in the law class and just like the feeling I got on stage, time stopped. I took a step back and realized I had a passion other than dance and broadcasting. Senior year, unbeknownst to my professors, I decided to apply to law school and close the curtain to my career as a journalist.

When I tell you law school was not the plan I was not an exaggerating.  I was not raised by a family of attorneys; my father and I were the first in our family to graduate from college, with me being the first in my family to become an attorney. In 2010, I was accepted to Florida Coastal School of Law and left everything I knew in Miami and took the stage as a 1L.

Law school was not easy by any means and there were many times I wanted to quit, but I always remembered how I felt when I could not get the right steps to my routine and how if I kept at it, I would be ok.

In my 1L year, I fell in love with Family Law then became a Child Advocate with the Guardian ad Litem program. My 2L year, I became very involved with on campus activities and joined Law Student Against Violence (LSAV) as well as the student newspaper, the Rainmaker. My free time did not go to hanging out with friends nor were my spring breaks spent vacationing somewhere. I took advantage of my time and volunteered and stayed busy any way I could.

Somehow being busy was second nature and all I knew. 3L year came and not only was I the President of LSAV, a student ambassador, but I was a Certified Legal Intern in the Family Law Clinic here on campus. It was then I realized that with my degree I could make a difference.

I graduated from Coastal Law with honors in pro bono as well as with a Family Law Certificate. Thinking I would be just another family law attorney, life yet again threw me a curveball and upon graduation I was lucky enough to work for both the Admissions Office at Coastal Law and clerk for my previous professor in the family law clinic as a law clerk.

I found a way to infuse working with students as well as my career in family law. I have since then received my certification in family law mediation by the Florida Supreme Court. Life does not always go as planned but life is a dance from one stage to the next and currently I’m center stage with the admissions team at Coastal Law.

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Dean of Admissions Tony Cardenas

Dean Tony Cardenas Florida Coastal School of Law

Welcome to the first ever Florida Coastal Admissions blog!  My name is Tony Cardenas and I’m the Associate Dean of Admissions here at Coastal Law.  On behalf of my entire office, thank you for visiting us online.  Since this is our first blog, I want to start by talking about “the why” behind the blog.  The decision to start an admissions blog was not an easy one for our office.  We went back and forth on the pros and cons.  What did we want to talk about?  Why do a blog now?  Would anybody read it? (You’re reading it, so at least we covered that one!)

The primary reason behind the decision to blog was for you to get to know us, but even more importantly, for us to get to know you.  Day in and day out, you are inundated with marketing messages about why you should go to law school and where you should go to law school.  The same old monologue coming at you on Facebook, email and websites can and does get really old.  Ask yourself this, do you really know the people behind the messages?  Do you know the school beyond what US News and World Report has told you?  This is your opportunity to take a deeper dive into what we’re about and what we have to offer as a law school.

Dean of Admissions Florida Coastal School of Law

 

Between now and the start of classes this August, the Admissions office is going to blog about topics related to law school and law school admissions.  My team will talk about their experiences as students at Florida Coastal, their favorite professors, their biggest fears and their greatest successes.  We’ll look to break the monologue and create a dialogue with you, our prospective students.  Like I mentioned before, you’ll get to know the people behind the marketing messages.  We’ll introduce you to faculty members that do incredible work in the legal field.  We’ll brag about our #1 nationally ranked and current national champion moot court team.  Finally, we’ll introduce to alumni that serve in elected positions, those leading international companies like Wal-Mart as well as those whom have started their own firms.

This is a very exciting time at Florida Coastal.  We are making some very big changes in the way we recruit and admit students all the way to offering new clinical and certificate course offerings.  Our faculty is busy working on a new curriculum that will transform a traditional legal education into one that will be sustainable well into the future.  We will bring all of these new innovations to you through this forum.  I am looking forward to sharing this here as well as answering your questions and listening to your feedback.

 

-Tony

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Coastal Law Admissions Spotlight: Debbie Duncan

 

Hi!  My name is Debbie Duncan. I work in the Admissions Department at Florida Coastal School of Law as the Admissions Processor.  The most important part of my job is to help you present the very best reflection of yourself in your law school application.

I started my professional career as a legal secretary in Virginia Beach, VA.  After moving to Florida I obtained a position at Florida Junior College in the Finance Department and that is where my interest in the field of education began.  The majority of my career in education has been as an administrator for a Pre-kindergarten through eighth grade private school.

I started working for Coastal Law in August 2013 when I heard about and applied for an open position in the Admissions Department. How great is it to be able to work every day in the two fields that you love?  While the dynamics of the schools where I have worked are different, being around the students is what I enjoy most.  Even better, I have reunited with some of my former elementary students who are now law students at Coastal.

Outside of work I am a very social person.  I am a season ticket holder and loyal fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Thank goodness for the tailgates because the “loyal” part has been a bit difficult over the past few years.  I am also an avid NASCAR fan and attend the races in Daytona as often as I can.  I am currently following Chase Elliott and am very excited about him taking the wheel of Jeff Gordon’s #24 car in the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. When I am not attending sporting events I like spending time at home with my friends and family.

Florida Coastal School of Law is second to none.  I have met many graduates from this school who have had nothing but great things to say about their experience at Coastal and how well prepared they were when they graduated.  All of the people I have met are very happy with what they are doing in the field of law.  For me, I couldn’t be happier with my job or more proud of this school and its students!

GO JAGS!!

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