Jim L. Riley
It was a dark and stormy night! Flashes of lightning silhouetted her shimmering nightgown as she descended down the dimly lit spiral staircase; an alluring smile faintly dancing around her luscious lips. A shot rang out and ..
Wait, thats the wrong story! Actually
my involvement in prelaw matters began shortly after my arrival at
From this session I became painfully aware of the depth of my ignorance regarding prelaw matters. Even the terms and acronyms bandied about seemed intimidating and strange: LSAC, LSAT score, admissions application deadlines, wait lists, personal statements, and of course the mysterious law school admissions office formula/index. Somehow I had to understand this stuff if I was ever to give accurate advice to my students who wanted to get answers from me about law school and legal careers.
In the following months I began reading and asking questions of colleagues
regarding law schools, the application process and the legal profession. In addition to written material I discovered that
there was to be held in the
Also it became known to me that undergraduate
prelaw advisors had established their own organization in the northeastern part of the
The initial organizational meeting was linked to
the Fourth Annual Rocky Mountain PreLaw Conference. On
Its purposes were:
1. To enhance the skills of pre-law advisors;
2. To advocate the interests of undergraduate students and institutions in the counseling and admissions processes leading to law related careers; and
3. To promote communication between pre-law advisors, individual law school admissions officers, and Law School Admissions Council, the Educational Testing Service, and other law-related organizations. These purposes will be accomplished through periodic meetings, through training of new pre-law advisors, and through such other means as the organization may devise.
The initial officers elected were:
<![endif]>President: Jim L. Riley (
<![endif]>Secretary: Warren Weston (Metro
<![endif]>Ann Cundiff (
The members of the Executive Board were:
<![endif]>Robert Lawrence (
<![endif]>William Barton (
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Linda Wilkinson (University of Colorado/Boulder)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Ila Warner (University of Colorado/Denver)
<![endif]>Paul Hodopp (University Northern
<![endif]>Jane Reinl (
Peter Winograd, then Chairman of the LSAC, and Associate Dean of the University of New Mexico College of Law was the LSAC representative to WAPLA. He was extraordinarily helpful to me in holding WAPLA together during its formative years.
Coincidental to the time WAPLA was being formed, efforts were being made to
coordinate the activities and develop a better understanding of the challenges facing
In April of 1980 a meeting of the Presidents of all APLAs
and LSAC representatives was held at OHare Airport in
PLANC has as its purposes:
1. To act as a liaison among the regional Pre-Law Associations and between the associations and Law School Admission Council and such other organizations as are relevant;
2. To advocate the interests of the various regional associations of Pre-Law Advisors;
3. To assist through appropriate means in the improvement of the skills of Pre-Law Advisors.
Through its twice yearly meetings (one of
which is at LSAC headquarters in
There were also in the mid-1980s various attempts to form an APLA for the
west coast region of the country. Although for
many years a West Coast Consortium of Law Schools had informally organized a recruitment
Later a group of us from PLANC and LSAC attempted to encourage the creation of such an association with a visit to UC/Berkley. Although we were not initially successful, years later PCAPLA (Pacific Coast Association of PreLaw Advisors) came into being. Once its formation was reality there existed a regional APLA for every region of the country.
Apart from issues outside of the WAPLA region, the paucity of the WAPLA treasury
became impossible to ignore. At an early
meeting of the Executive Board at Regis our treasury held approximately $46 (after the
cost of a couple of pizzas and a jug of wine had been purchased for consumption by the
members attending). Something had to be done! I recalled that the Rocky Mountain PreLaw
Conference had on previous occasions held what amounted to a prelaw fair on the campus of
In 1980 WAPLA teamed with CU and ASU to hold prelaw days on those campuses. Not only did students from the campuses attend the event but so too did members of the public generally. Law school admissions officers were thus able to meet with many prospective applicants. WAPLA handled the registration of law schools for each of the events, scheduled their timing such that travel arrangements of admissions officers were accommodated, organized and disseminated school specific information to law schools about logistics and other matters essential for a successful prelaw day. Maximum administrative discretion was encouraged for the campus on-site prelaw advisors who were each then members of the Executive Board. With the funds generated from registration fees paid by attending law schools, WAPLA was able to cover all costs at the hosting campus and retain some operating revenue to help defray annual conference costs that would enhance the skills of prelaw advisors. All of the participants in these law fairs benefited: the hosting institution served their students; the prospective applicants had opportunity to speak (at no cost to them) with multiple law school representatives; law schools had hundreds of would be applicants present to learn about their programs; and WAPLA fulfilled an important part of its stated purposes.
One of the law school representatives attending one of the early prelaw days at CU
was a feisty, outspoken, and tenacious recruiter for Lewis and
Not wanting to get on the bad side of Ann, I took a one day round-trip flight to
Although Phil Shelton once introduced me as the
present and forever President of WAPLA, I decided to step down from that
office in 1993. Since that time there have
been a succession of leaders each of whom has contributed significantly to the growth and
improvement of WAPLA: Chuck Fimian (ASU); Eileen Crane (BYU); Frank Guliuzza
As I did in the early 1980s, subsequent Presidents have spread the word about
WAPLA to prelaw advisors at other universities in the Rocky Mountain West. Eileen Crane, Frank Guliuzza
and Tim Garrison have each been successful in bringing in new institutional members to the
WAPLA Caravan. Their involvement
in WAPLA is typified by Tims experience. He
wrote: I had never heard of WAPLA when
Eileen Crane called me out of the blue and asked me to establish a law fair in
It has become a very complicated task to
schedule, organize and administer these multiple prelaw days but the skill, effort,
ingenuity and commitment of the WAPLA Executive Board and on-site supervisors has resulted
in what is widely recognized as one of the very best series of prelaw days in the
WAPLA prelaw advisor Conferences originally were tied to one of the law fairs in the fall Caravan. Although the timing may change, these events were and remain designed to bring prelaw advisors together for the purpose of professional development and motivation, information dissemination, collegial interaction, and the raising of issues important for future consideration and confrontation. Among the most valuable services provided by WAPLA to its members is financial support to attend these annual meetings. Very few prelaw advisors have budgets sufficient to cover costs associated with their attendance at and participation in professional development conferences. By defraying a significant portion of these costs, WAPLA has been able to directly assist members in the acquisition of knowledge and skills essential to their professional obligations.
The WAPLA Newsletter has benefited greatly from the innovative efforts of its editor Marty Sommerness of NAU. Serving as both a tool for recruitment and information dissemination, the newsletter has included professional articles, personal vignettes, organizational information and other articles of interest to prelaw advisors. It is now available on-line at the WAPLA web site < http://wapla.org/>.
No examination of WAPLA would be complete without reference to its involvement in
PLANC. As noted earlier, PLANC was formed in
1984 under the leadership of the Godfather of prelaw advisors, the Reverend Gerald Wilson
Although the story doesnt
continue with a melodramatic gun shot in the dark, WAPLA thrives nevertheless to this day. Being involved in its creation and growth has been
a memorable and most satisfying experience for me. Colleagues
have become friends. Professional growth has
been enhanced. Students have been well served. These are rewards enough.