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Furman students have law school edge

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Kirby Mitchell '90 (left) of SCLS and MLP intern Christy Litz '20 (right) congratulate Meredith Dixon '19 on her Berkeley Law acceptance at the Pre-Law Society’s Law Day Celebration.

With the goal of earning a Juris Doctorate, law school hopefuls at Furman have every reason to be optimistic about their chances of excelling on the LSAT and matriculating to their chosen institutions. The law school acceptance rate for Furman students consistently exceeds 90 percent, much higher than the national average, which in 2018, was 73 percent.

law school
Pre-Law Advisor Maya Russell, J.D., Office of Pre-Professional Advising

But before a student taps on the first bubble for the LSAT, Furman Pre-Law Advisor Maya Russell is bent on making sure the field of law is one the student can see providing satisfaction over the long haul. “My goal is to guide students as they investigate legal career options. If a student decides law school is the right next step, great … I will help the student become the most competitive applicant he or she can be,” she said.

That might be a daunting task for Russell were it not for The Furman Advantage — an education that combines classroom learning with real-world experiences and self-discovery. A storehouse of resources – mentors, internships, research, career-building centers, career treks, Furman Advantage funding and study away opportunities – combine to prepare students for purposeful, impactful lives.

Russell points to the Internship Office under the leadership of Diane Iseminger and Andy Coe at the Center for Engaged Learning, which extended funding to nearly 250 students this year to participate in summer internships across all fields.

Russell offers several examples of how Furman is creating exceptional opportunities for students to explore career options. One way is through Greenville’s Medical Legal Partnership (MLP). The MLP connects Furman, Prisma Health Upstate and South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) in work aimed at improving health for Upstate residents.

Biology major Christy Litz ’20 was certain she’d pursue the medical profession when she arrived at Furman. But after interning at the Greenville MLP over the past year, she has decided to apply to law school to ultimately approach her interest in medicine from a legal perspective.

law school
Music graduate Meredith Dixon ’19 will attend Berkeley Law in fall 2019.

Music graduate Meredith Dixon ‘19 completed an internship with SCLS and found “her calling,” says Russell, in public service legal work and will attend Berkeley Law in the fall.

Russell can recite a litany of other legal internships spanning the public and private sectors that are available to current students. But her work doesn’t stop there.

law school
Ben Saul ’13 will attend UVA Law this fall.

Ben Saul ’13 interned for the U.S. Department of Education, worked for a local nonprofit, then went on to Harvard to earn his master’s in education. He came back to Greenville and worked three years as a math interventionist at Title I school Tanglewood Middle.

After clerking in Greenville County Schools Office of General Counsel this summer, Saul will pursue a J.D. at University of Virginia Law.

When he began exploring law school last year, Saul, now six years removed from Furman, quickly learned he wasn’t removed at all. “I didn’t realize Furman offered pre-law advising to alumni.”

One phone call to Russell and he was on her calendar, they met face-to-face, and together began navigating the law school application process. While he worked most closely with Russell, Saul also contacted Furman professors who wrote letters of recommendation and lent guidance in his essays for applications and scholarships.

Russell says she wouldn’t have her role as liaison between classroom and courtroom any other way.

“It’s so fun working with these students,” she said. “They don’t all want to be litigators, nor are they necessarily looking at traditional law jobs, but they are verifying that law is the right step for them. They are discovering creative ways to use the degree across various fields, which is just so rewarding.”

For more information, contact Maya Russell, J.D., Office of Pre-Professional Advising, maya.russell@furman.edu.

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