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The Source

Why Lewis & Clark? Q&A with Shannon Davis highlights law admissions process

April 02, 2012

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    Assistant Dean for Admissions Shannon Davis

After having worked for nearly 12 years at the law school, Assistant Dean for Admissions Shannon Davis has a deep understanding of what prospective students are looking for and why they choose Lewis & Clark.

In a recent interview with an online magazine, she discusses the nuances of the U.S. News Law School Rankings and the challenges of filling out law school applications.

The Source caught up with Davis to learn more about what’s happening in law admissions during this busy time of year.

What are the main reasons why applicants choose to attend Lewis & Clark Law School?

First, location is a huge factor in the decision of where to go to school, and Portland is a major draw. People are interested in the beauty of the region, the unique opportunities the city offers, and the overall quality of life here. Being the only law school in Portland gives us an edge, and the setting of the law school campus on the edge of Tryon Creek Park doesn’t hurt either!

The curricular offerings are also of major interest to our students, specifically our nationally recognized programs in environmental law, animal law, and public interest law, and many others that complement each other and enhance the curriculum. For example, someone interested in international sustainability will be able to piece together curriculum from our business, environmental, global, and public interest courses. The practical skills offerings are also key. Students can combine internships, externships, clinics, volunteer work, and clerkships to build a robust resume while they are in law school. Ultimately, students are confident that they will get a well-rounded, balanced legal education and gain practical skills at the same time.

Finally, the general reputation of Lewis & Clark makes an impact. We are one of the most selective and reputable law schools in the greater Northwest region, as well as the West Coast in general. So, those wanting a quality education, and to be surrounded by intelligent peers and faculty, will look at us closely. Lewis & Clark Law School also has a reputation for being a very welcoming, supportive place to go to law school, and the students here were looking specifically for that kind of environment when researching law schools.

Do students generally visit campus before they commit to attending law school here?

Yes, absolutely. About 80 percent of our entering class visits campus before they enroll. We find that if someone visits Lewis & Clark, he or she is much more likely to attend. The place physically speaks for itself, but the people are warm and genuine, and there is so much personal attention given to our students. I think when someone visits they see the community in action and appreciate how important that can be.

What would you consider to be the law school’s most important admissions events?

Our Law School Preview for admitted students is one of the largest events held at the law school each year. In fact, it was just held last week and is always the Friday before spring break. The night before, our local alumni gather at a downtown reception for the preview attendees, which sets a nice tone for our guests. During the preview, admitted students experience a mock class, attend Q&A sessions with current students and faculty, hear presentations from Career Services and the Office of Financial Aid, and attend a student organization fair. The highlight of the event is the luncheon where guests get to sit with faculty and speak with them about their teaching areas. It gives them a really good sense of the accessibility of our faculty and the investment they have in the success of our students.

How much do applicants focus on outcomes like career opportunities after graduation, and how might this influence their decision about attending law school here?

Finding a job is at the forefront of every entering student’s mind. After all, law school is expensive and challenging, so it shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Law school is an investment, but it’s also a necessity if one wants to practice law. So, while the economy has made it more difficult to find employment right away, students are looking at this endeavor more long-term and realize that this is a career they are aiming for, not just getting a job. On that note, I think Lewis & Clark goes above and beyond in helping our students find meaningful employment. Our dean, faculty, and Career Services staff have come up with some creative, effective ways for students to network, gain practical skills, and be thoughtful about their job searches—all of which are proving helpful to our students and alumni with reaching their goals.

Is there anything else the Lewis & Clark community should be aware of during this busy time for admissions?

I would just repeat what Lisa Meyer said in her interview—that our visitors will make their decisions to come here after a couple of hours on campus. It’s the overall “fit” that means the most, and if one has a positive experience here, they will feel more comfortable. We are all ambassadors of Lewis & Clark, and we want our visitors to feel welcome!

This is the second in a series of three stories featuring admissions staff from each school. Read the first story “Q&A with Lisa Meyer sheds light on spring 2012 culture of yield,” and look for an upcoming Q&A with Becky Haas, director of admissions for the graduate school.