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Program Fast-Tracks Undergrads Into Fordham Law

Kaitlyn Costello, FCLC’10, LAW ’12, is a graduate of Fordham's 3-3 Program.

Kaitlyn Costello, FCLC’10, LAW ’12, is a graduate of Fordham’s 3-3 Program. (Photo by Tom Stoelker)

Last year, Fordham’s Class of 2014 sent 67 undergraduates to law school.

Suffice it to say there were 67 different routes to get there.

A working mom at the School of Professional and Continuing Studies isn’t going to pursue law school in the same manner as a 19-year-old student at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Yet regardless, both must take the same LSAT.

To prepare students interested in pursuing a law degree, each of Fordham’s four undergraduate schools has a pre-law point person. They’re part of a support system that, over the past few years, has helped Fordham’s pre-law students win admission to law schools at Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Duke, and Cornell.

But some Lincoln Center undergraduates have their eye on Fordham Law—just across the quad—from the moment they apply to Fordham as undergraduates.

Kaitlyn Costello, FCLC’10, LAW ’12, said that she knew early that Fordham Law was the place for her. She applied for Fordham’s 3-3 Program, which allows students to move on to the law school after completing a full three years of undergraduate work. The program is also available at Gabelli School of Business, Fordham College Rose Hill, and at the School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

“The program allowed me to enter the workforce a year earlier. Now I’m 27 and am in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 company in Manhattan,” said Costello. “It’s hard work, but it’s a good payout in the end.”

Under the program, students with 92 credits are allowed to take their LSAT in their junior year and then take first-year law courses in their senior year. Students then receive their bachelors degree during their first year studying law.

Costello said she chose Fordham College at Lincoln Center partly because of the program and partly because its location in Manhattan allowed her to be self-sufficient.

“It’s nice to be able to head out onto the street and immediately separate yourself from the University when you want to,” she said.

Hillary Mantis, director of pre-law advising at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, said the law school’s midtown location also allows for easy access to part-time jobs, as there are “a ton of major law firms within blocks of here.”

“It’s been a huge advantage to have the law school right here,” said Mantis, “There are all these informal opportunities where undergraduates can meet with law students and faculty in the cafe or library. They’re really able to get the vibe.”

Besides the available internships, undergraduate interested in law find a wealth of support from their peers at the Fordham Pre-law Society, said Tatyanna Senel, who was president of the society until last semester.

“We encourage pretty much anyone thinking about law school to join early so they can decide early,” said Senel.

The society hosts guest speakers that range from practicing professionals to students who are still entrenched in law school. Senel said the intention is to foster a casual environment in which to prepare for the LSAT and to find out what law schools expected of them.

“We invite everyone in, order food, and get instructors from the big test companies like Kaplan to come by to help us prepare,” said Senel, who recently passed the LSAT. She is now applying to several law schools, including Fordham.

Throughout her undergraduate years, Senel checked in with an alumni mentor, Melissa King, FCRH ’06, and was in constant contact with Mantis as well.

“Hillary has been my rock since I came to Fordham; I come to her for everything,” she said.

As pre-law at Fordham is a designation rather than a major, Mantis makes herself available to Lincoln Center pre-law students from their freshman year through senior year, to help them gear their coursework toward a career in law. She also works with Fordham alumni as they approach the point of applying (Mantis, who is also a lawyer, was a director in career services at Fordham Law before switching to Fordham College at Lincoln Center.)

She said she’s blunt with students about the benefits and sacrifices required of the 3-3 Program.

“It’s a fantastic program, but students have to be sure they want to go into law, to go to Fordham Law, and to be willing to give up their senior year—which can be a fun and interesting year,” she said.

Whatever path they follow, Mantis said, it’s a joy to watch their progress.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to watch them begin thinking about law as freshmen and then be able to keep in touch and see them become happy lawyers on the other end,” said Mantis.


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