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Pre-law center starts first full year strong

For the Bradley pre-law program, the current semester is a whirlwind of events. Beginning in early September, the pre-law department set up several activities for students to attend, starting with an open house on Sept. 3.
Approximately 80 students stopped by the open house, said Maria Vertuno, director of the pre-law center.
Vertuno will also host a personal statement workshop Oct. 7.
She said the workshop is designed to help law students prepare their personal statements to send into law schools.
The workshop is at 4:30 p.m. in the pre-law center, located on the first floor of Heitz Hall.
On Oct. 15, representatives from 15 universities will attend the Bradley Graduate and Professional School Fair in the Michel Student Center Ballroom. Representatives from law schools will be meeting for a panel discussion from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The fair gives students an opportunity to meet with graduate school representatives and inquire about admissions processes.
As for future events, Vertuno is planning for guest speakers in the spring, including local judges and attorneys as well as Bradley alums who are involved in law.
Vertuno said she is also planning a field trip to the Peoria county courthouse.
“We are hoping to take a trip to the courthouse to witness a criminal hearing with Judge James Shadid in the spring,” she said.
In addition to these events, Vertuno said she is excited about this year’s Peoria County Bar Association’s diversity scholarship.
“The scholarship used to be given to a student from any school applying for law school,” she said. “Now, the scholarship will be given specifically to a Bradley student, and preferably someone who plans to continue practicing law in Peoria.” 
Another key element of the pre-law program is the mock trial team.
 “The mock trial team engages in trial simulations in competition with other schools,” said Vincent Rizzo, senior political science major and president of the mock trial team. “It has really helped me develop critical thinking, and public speaking skills, as well as knowledge of legal practices and procedures.”
Vertuno will be on maternity leave Nov. 8 and will return when classes begin in January after winter break. Stepping in for her as the mock trial coach will be professor Craig Curtis.
Pre-law students have also been busy studying for their LSATs, the Law School Admission Test, which they took last Saturday.
Melissa Hoffman, a senior public relations major, said she is relieved to have finished her LSATs.
“I took a study course through Kaplan,” Hoffman said. “I had to travel to Bloomington once a week during the spring semester last year to prepare.”
Hoffman, who plans to continue her law degree at Southern Illinois University, said the writing and research projects she did as a communications major has helped her most in preparing for law school.