After reading many of the posts on the law school message boards last year, as a hopeful One L, I have decided to post some informational guidance for those that will be attending or are contemplating enrollment in Widener Law's Trial Admission Program, aka."TAP."
I know I had many questions and reservations about the TAP program, so here is a summation of what I learned:
To start, I think much of the information online about TAP is misleading, very misleading. There are the cynics on some of these boards that will say... "You don't belong in law school." And, "Don't do it. It's a scam." Don't listen to them! For many with HIGH GPA's and low LSAT's (and vice-versa), TAP is a great program to show that you have the cognitive ability to do law school coursework. TAP basically gives you a chance to prove yourself and if you take it seriously enough, you will.
Widener Law usually selects about 200 potential students (110 DE, 90 PA) to attend the TAP program every summer. Widener tries to pick students that have really great "resumes" but are lacking in other areas... usually either GPA or LSAT. This means that you will be going against some really great students and it will get very competitive.
The cost is $1500. Expensive, yes... but, worth it if you get in. I would recommend going this route if you know that you really want to be in law school. However, on the other hand, it is also a good way to determine if you do want to be in law school. It can save you a whole lot of money (like a year or two of tuition) in the long run. People do drop out of TAP and people do drop out of law school. It's not for everyone.
On that note... you are not yet in law school. Save yourself the disappointment later by telling everyone you got in to law school. Basically, you are in "legal purgatory" and it can go either way. I heard a lot of people after the first class regretting the fact that they called everyone they knew to let them know they got accepted. The acceptance is conditional on your performance and you have to perform to get in. I wouldn't even buy a notebook with Widener Law on it until I got in. Bad Karma. Stay away from it.
The program itself will last 6 weeks and consists of three classes - Legal Writing, Torts and Civil Procedure. These are basic first year classes that are good predictors of success. The classes are not watered down and they are not easy. They are meant to challenge you academically. You need to pay attention to what you are learning and go over it until you know it. Make sure you brief, outline, take sample tests and get Examples and Explanations. (It's extra money, but it helps.) Also, do not assume that Legal Writing is an easy class. It is difficult and requires a lot of time to write. Plan accordingly.
Your only grades in TAP will come from your final exams and legal memo. This means that you have to perform on each one. The acceptance threshold is a 2.75 GPA (C+ Average). At face value, that doesn't seem to difficult to achieve. However, you have to remember that you only have three grades. On top of that, A's do not exist. Forget about it. They do not give them and this is on purpose. You don't know enough to get an A. The ranges of grades will be B, B-, C+, C, C-,D. (However, D's aren't usually given unless the exam/paper is horrible. They will usually give a C, C-... knowing that it is not enough for you to get in.) This grade range leaves little room for error, but you can still hit the 2.75 GPA even if you don't do so great in one class.
The final exams are law school essay exams. Learn how to take them. No multiple choice/fill in blank/short answer. Just fact patterns and issue spotting. These are difficult and you need to be prepared to move quickly in order to score the most points. Computers are allowed and I would recommend typing.
Admittance through TAP to Widener Law - DE in 2008 was 17 students, or about 14%. That is much lower than the one-third to one-quarter statistic that Widener gives in the packets. Be aware of this. They do not have a quota or let in a certain number. Just the number that happens to meet the GPA.... that they purposely have a tough curve on.
You will get your acceptance or denial in late mid-late July. It take a while but... the usual big, white envelope is a good sign that you got in.
You will be placed into the part-time law program at Widener for the first year. There are no exceptions to this. Believe me. I thought that there was. However, you can make up the missed classes during the summer session and transfer to regular division after a year. Also, once you get in. No one knows that you are a TAP student unless you tell them. I didn't even know some of the people in my TAP class and just recently found out that some people in my current classes went through the program.
As far as keeping up with the other students, usually TAP students do really well. The Dean's List reception was attended by at least half of the TAP students from last summer. TAP puts you in a good place to succeed and really helps with the fundamentals of law school.
Best of luck to all who attend. You can do it... just work hard!