Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA summer program educates future lawyers See ADVISING, Page 2 New North Paseo building to be

The UTSA Summer Law School Preparation Academy (SLSPA) is a rigorous 12 credit hour summer program for undergraduate students interested in law. The SLSPA focuses on strengthening students’ critical thinking, writing, reasoning and analytical abilities in addition to familiarizing students with a law school environment.

“This program has pushed me to study harder and better. It’s built up my tolerance for heavy workloads,” said UTSA senior and political science major Natasha Vargas. “My actual study technique and work ethic have improved,” reflected Vargas. “And that is going to help me when I do go to law school, and when I actually become a lawyer.”

According to Dr. Ana Alvarez, assistant director of the UTSA Institute for Law and Public Affairs and pre-law advisor, the first mission of the SLSPA is to help students determine whether law school is the right path for them. The SLSPA’s next goal, continued Alvarez, is to provide students with the tools to excel in their post-undergraduate careers — not just in law school, but in their legal practice as well.

“Actually, I do not want to be a lawyer, I want to go into the FBI,” said Victoria Fernandez, a UTSA senior and political science major who completed the SLSPA this summer. “I’m going to law school to understand how our Constitution works in an international setting.”

“I picked this program as a test run for law school,” explained Fernandez. “I wanted to make sure that law school was for me, and this program was the best way to do that.”

During the SLSPA, UTSA professors use law school textbooks and exam formats as well as introduce students to the Socratic method and other analytical techniques, which prompt students to be more active and engaged both with their learning and their research.

“It is a different way of learning,” said Fernandez. “I have learned to write better. I’ve learned better study habits. I have also become more comfortable talking with my peers and presenting in class, which has helped my overall performance.”

SLSPA students attend classes at the UTSA downtown campus and participate in plenary sessions. The SLSPA hosts two plenary sessions a week, which offer students opportunities to network and establish professional contacts with attorneys, law school professors and directors of admissions from law schools across the country.

“The [required] sessions were very interesting and provided me with a large amount of information regarding law school,” said Al Valdez, a UTSA senior and political science major who attended the SLSPA this summer. “Each speaker provided insight that painted a vivid picture of what law school and the profession of law is like.”

“I didn’t know much about law school before the SLSPA,” admitted UTSA senior and criminal justice major Bindia Patel. “But now I have resources and connections, and I have made great friends too.”

“After this summer, I definitely feel more prepared for and interested in law school,” said Patel confidently.

According to Dr. Alvarez, although not all the students who complete the SLSPA decide to go to law school, so far every graduate of the program that has applied to law school has been accepted.

The program consists of two 5-week sessions or phases, and students take two 3-credit courses in each phase. Students have the option to complete the program in one summer or over two summers, enrolling in one or two phases per summer.

In the first phase, students select two courses from the SLSPA curriculum depending on their interests. For the second phase of the program, all SLSPA students must take in Analytical Reasoning, Logic, & the LSAT, a course that prepares students for the law school admissions test. Students who complete both SLSPA phases (12 hours of coursework) receive a Certificate in Legal Reasoning.

More information about pre-law services at UTSA, the SLSPA and the Institute for Law and Public Affairs is available online at

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