Law School Preparation Institute showing rewards in first year
By Scott Maier, Senior Editor
Posted: 03/29/2002
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In less than a year, the Law School Preparation Institute (LSPI) at The University of Texas-Pan American already has made an impact in preparing students for potential law careers.

In fact, 100 percent of the LSPI students in the inaugural class last summer who applied to law school have been accepted to at least one school. Some of the first students were juniors who will apply this coming year.

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Dr. Jerry Polinard

The overall goal of the LSPI is to assist UTPA students in becoming more attractive law school candidates, said Dr. Jerry Polinard, UTPA pre-law advisor and LSPI coordinator.

“In addition to enhancing their chances of being admitted to law school, the LSPI makes them better students overall,” Polinard said.

“The law school admissions process is extremely competitive, and we’re very excited about the results. The students’ success rate is a direct result of their hard work.”

The Law School Preparation Institute is a strategy suggested by The University of Texas System Law School Partnership Task Force (LSPTF) to increase the number of minority students applying to law school in general and The University of Texas Law School in particular following the Hopwood vs. Texas decision.

UTPA’s LSPI is the second of its type in the nation. The University of Texas at El Paso inaugurated the concept three years ago, and The University of Texas at San Antonio will offer its first institute this summer.

The Institute’s success is a result of several factors, Polinard said.

“The folks at UTEP, the UT Law School and the Law School Admissions Council all helped us get under way,” he said. “UTPA professors Nigel Cohen and Jim Wenzel did much of the heavy lifting during the summer. And, the Institute would still just be an idea if UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez had not stepped forward and put the University’s resources behind the LSPI."

Through the LSPI, students are prepared for the LSAT; introduced to legal research and writing; discuss the admissions process into law school; assisted in selecting and applying to law schools; develop analytical and critical reading and writing skills; and review selected law cases to develop their analytical and argumentative skills.

Three UTPA faculty members who have extensive experience in pre-law advising and criminal justice are conducting the Institute. Also assisting are several UT School of Law personnel who teach mini-courses in preparing for a law education.

Current UTPA juniors and seniors from all majors are eligible for the program and selected based on their academic qualifications (at least a 2.8 grade point average). Students in the program receive a $1,000 stipend and six hours of credit in a political science course. All books and materials are provided to participants.

The second LSPI class is currently being selected. For more information, contact Polinard at 956/381-3341.