CP&R: Life After Scripps: Preparing Students to Attend Top Law Schools

Scripps’ commitment to educating students for “lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity” produces alumnae who are equipped to succeed in a variety of career paths, from artists to scientists, and CEOs to politicians. Increasingly, Scripps graduates have been drawn to careers in the legal profession, and the College is providing the resources they need to secure placement in the nation’s top law schools.

Lucy Altman-Newell ’17 was recently accepted to law schools at the University of Chicago, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley. A philosophy major, she took the course, The Death Penalty Debate, which led her to discover how constitutional law and applied philosophy overlap in interesting ways. Altman-Newell began thinking about how her Scripps College education and extracurricular activities could lead to a career that might have a “tangible effect on people.” She had the opportunity to intern as a law clerk and be a victim witness volunteer in her district attorney’s office. “After that,” she says, “Going into the legal profession was a no-brainer [for me.]”

Altman-Newell says the close relationships she has established with her Scripps professors also played an important role in her decision to apply to law school. “I have never had a professor hesitate in writing a letter of recommendation or discussing options for my future with me.” Scripps’ 10:1 student-faculty ratio and small class sizes create an ideal environment where students can forge close academic relationships with faculty members. In addition, Scripps’ liberal arts focus fosters the writing, communicating, and critical thinking skills necessary for success in law school and as a lawyer. Valinda Lee, the pre-law advisor and associate director for Scripps’ Career Planning & Resources (CP&R), notes the significance of the College’s distinctive Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities in preparing students for law school.

“Law school admissions staff talk about our students’ ability to think critically and write well,” Lee says. “And that’s absolutely what Core prepares our students to do. Scripps students, regardless of major, enter law school with those skills in a way that perhaps other students do not.”

For students who are interested in pursuing careers in law, CP&R offers guidance at every step of the application process.

“CP&R’s support has been amazingly helpful and individualized,” says Altman-Newell. “I attended a personal statement writing workshop, sought advice about applying, and went to drop-in hours for résumé help.”

Lee’s connections with law schools benefit Scripps students, as well. “Law schools’ admissions professionals value input from pre-law advisors,” says Lee. “If I’m working with a student on her application, it’s helpful if I write on behalf of that student.”

At least two Scripps alumnae work as law school admissions representatives currently; Annemarie Scott ’02 of Santa Clara University School of Law and Lisa Gear ’99 of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles both met with Lee at the Pre-Law Advisors National Council conference last summer, where they introduced her to representatives from several law schools our students are interested in attending

Once a student has been accepted to law school, Lee helps sort through the different factors in choosing the right school for that student.

“Our mission in CP&R is to help students make informed decisions,” Lee says.

CP&R also works with Scripps alumnae who are interested in applying to law school. With Lee’s counsel, Alex Eason ’11 was recently accepted to law schools at the City University of New York, University of Washington, University of Oregon, University of New Mexico, Emory, and University of North Carolina. Eason, who cultivated her passion for social justice while at Scripps, is interested in public interest law. “I was thrilled to hear that, even though I graduated a few years ago, CP&R would still happily help me, ” she says.