Do you know what it takes to gain admission to law school? Most people think you only need the basics: excellent grades, a high LSAT score, and extracurricular activities. My experience was unique. To receive an acceptance letter, I had to overcome multiple hurdles and discover myself as a disability advocate, a scholar and, most importantly, a person.
My first hurdle came when I applied for accommodations on the dreaded Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Unfortunately, I was denied twice due to the complexity of my Cerebral Palsy and the unique accommodations I require.
The appeal process took over two years, and unfortunately, I was not the only person with a disability struggling to get approved for test accommodations. In fact, I even joined a class action suit. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing was charging the Law School Admission Council, Inc. with discrimination. They won, and as part of the settlement, law schools will no longer know which prospective students received testing accommodations on the LSAT examination. This ruling not only granted my accommodations but will also give more individuals with disabilities the opportunity to make an impact on the legal profession.
I was ecstatic to finally be able to take the exam. The excitement was short-lived as I scored much lower than I had hoped. My failure to receive a seat in law school was the first time I had ever failed academically in my life; I was not sure if law school was in my future. At about the same time, I started working with the #IWantToWork campaign. My goal for becoming a lawyer was always to be able to help others with a disability, and working with the #IWantToWork campaign allowed me to do that in a different way.
I realized I could not let a bad test score prevent me from ensuring others with disabilities have the same type of opportunities I’ve had throughout my life. I registered for the exam for the second time and began to study like I never had before. I spent hundreds of dollars on study aids and a live prep course. I developed a rigorous schedule, studying a minimum of four hours a day and used other cognitive training products.
It worked! I was exhilarated to discover I scored in the top 25 percent. Confidently, I restarted the application process; I was sure that I was finally going to receive an acceptance letter. The results far exceeded my expectations. I received seven acceptance letters, and between six schools, I was awarded over half a million dollars in scholarships. This fall, I will be attending Temple University Beasley School of Law.
This process taught me that experiencing failure is a crucial step to achieving success. As I work toward my dream of becoming a lawyer, I will be staying involved with the #IWantToWork Campaign but in a smaller role.
We are pleased to announce that Joe Maysky will be taking over as the campaign’s new social media manager. Joe will ensure that all our social media channels continue to be a trusted source of employment first news for individuals with disabilities and their families, employers, and service providers.
Join us in welcoming Joe to the #IWantToWork team!
By Lewis Hall