Professor Spotlight: Dan Evans

Professor Spotlight: Dan Evans


James Madison University (JMU) is a constant advocate for having diversity on the college campus. This diversity can be seen in the types of students who apply, and the professors who teach. There are students from various states, professors from a multitude of universities and backgrounds, and various religious groups represented here on campus. Professors here at James Madison University are known to have practical experience in the area in which they teach, and they are known to have years of expertise in their field.

Exemplifying this diversity is professor Dan Evans of the Justice Studies Department. Not only does he teach in the JMU Justice Studies Department but he is also a professor at Washington and Lee’s School of Law. As an undergraduate, Evans attended Tennessee Wesleyan College and graduated with a double major in accounting and History. He enjoyed debate and upon graduation, he enrolled in the Washington and Lee University School of law where he received his J.D.

This semester, Evans is teaching the class Supreme Court: Making law and Justice. A course that seats over 30 students in the Justice studies department. Evans is also currently teaching 8 Credit hours at Washington and Lee School of Law. While practicing as a lawyer, Evans tried cases representing business that lost money, representing people who were cheated in the stock market and some that were injured in car crashes. According to Evans, there was no one moment that influenced or urged him to become a lawyer, but he does recount an incident where an automotive accident involving his friend and a drunk driver impacted his perception of justice. Evans became more aware and interested in how the defense could essentially defend the person who was at fault. The case made him intellectually curious and it forced him to conclude that he did not like the results.

Throughout the period of his practice, Evans has learned that as a lawyer, “you are assigned a side, and as a lawyer, your job is to find the pieces of the puzzle, in order to support that side. “ He believes that true access to the court system is the most pressing issue threating our justice system today. ”Limited access to equal representation, costs of the system and structural barriers affect a persons chance of truly receiving justice.” He believes that the only way to fix this is for the government to fund much better clinics to help the economically disadvantaged. “Public defenders have minimal to no ability to give their best to most cases. There is limited funding on criminal cases and this right to an attorney is only attached to criminal cases. This is why the rich gets the better lawyers.”

Although Evans believes that the law profession has very many benefits, he is not currently practicing because “the benefits of not practicing outweighed the hardships. There were more negative feedbacks and less self-pride in the work that was done. Although you sometimes had good results, people still wanted more.”

When asked for advice to potential law students, Evans answered that “students should be confident that this [law] is what they want to do.” The costs of law schools are continuously rising. He encourages students to find lawyers who can talk to them about their job, and to find a school that is a good fit for the student. “Make sure the school has your top priorities. People are seduced by the rank of law school and other factors such as economic, location and type of teaching style should be considered.”

Like all things in life, law school has its advantages and its disadvantages. Evans vividly remembers how intellectually challenging his years at law school were. He describes law school as a ”professional trade school, teaches students how to become lawyers. Therefore since this was the philosophy back in the day, the approach to teaching was almost theoretical.” Law school, according to Evans was focused more on an abstract way of thinking, and a less practical way of addressing situations. “In law school, the grade was the final exam and this made it hard to assess learning. You got no feedback until the end, ”said Evans. “Now, it is more practical and students get to see and write a contract before they leave law school.”

Although Evans went directly into law school, he believes not doing so has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of not going directly to law school, he says, includes getting real world experience and knowledge before hand about the schools or the profession the student is looking to enter. He says, one of the disadvantages of taking a gap year includes situations where people might not take the time to go back to school because they have derailed from studying and might have been easily distracted from the goal of law school. He says that they may not take the time to go back because they have in fact realized that they do not want to be lawyers.

Briana Enck, Aspiring Law Student

Briana Enck, Aspiring Law Student

  1. What is your name? Real name and/or Nickname?

Briana Enck

  1. Where are you from?

Medford, NY

  1. What do you do in your free time?

In my free time I listen to music, shop, and read.

  1. Any favorite songs, movies? What or who are you outside of being a student? My favorite song is homecoming by Kanye West. Besides the fact that he is my favorite artist of all time, this song means a lot to me. My life motto comes from this song, which is “shoot for the stars, so if you fall you land on a cloud.” This quote also inspired one of my tattoos, a shooting star. My favorite movie is Save The Last Dance. Before coming to college I danced everyday either in classes at school or with the company I was a part of for 15 years. Outside of being a student I am very down to earth. I value quality time with close friends and family. I love to travel not only for relaxation, but to learn about the country’s culture and traditions.
  2. What is your major?

Justice studies

  1. Why did you pick that major?

I chose Justice Studies as my major because I am very passionate about individual rights being recognized and supported. I love learning about the intentional and unintentional disadvantages our justice system and other institutions have on certain social groups. This major has brought me clarity about the difference between equality and justice, which I believe is very important for everyone to understand.

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

After graduating, I plan on attending law school to become a family court lawyer. Along with my personal reasons, I have made this decision to represent children because as adults sometimes we forget how fragile and helpless a child can be. I want to provide legal services to help children and families by being their voice.

  1. What steps have you taken to reach your goal of becoming a lawyer?

To reach this goal I have taken classes that explain the legal system. I have declared a minor in family studies to understand the importance of the family dynamic and child development. I also interned with a district court judge and this allowed me the opportunity to sit in on family court cases.

  1. Tell us about the process of your LSAT.

The process of taking the LSAT has been the most stressful time of my college career. I have taken an online prep course with Princeton Review. I have done individual studying along the class for practice.

  1. Self-studying vs. taking a class? Or both? Why?

I did both self-study and taking a class since I personally like teaching my self. Since this type of test also requires mastering strategies to answer the questions, I took the prep classes. I used my self-study to practice the strategies provided by the course.

  1. What schools have you looked at applying to?

I have looked at all law schools in New York State. Most specifically, Hostra, Brooklyn Law, St. John’s, New York Law School, NYU, Touro, and Cardozo. I have also looked at University of Richmond.

  1. Advice for aspiring law students?

My advice to future students preparing to attend law school would be to give yourself enough time to prepare for the LSAT and to research law schools.

  1. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Five years from now I hope to be working in a law firm in Long Island representing children or other family court related cases.

Javionte Johnson- Aspiring law student

Javionte Johnson- Aspiring law student

What is your name? Real name and/or Nickname?

Javionte Johnson/ Jay or Javy

  1. Where are you from?

Richmond, VA

  1. What do you do in your free time?

Watch tv/sports, play the game, read and listen to music.

  1. Any favorite songs, movies? What or who are you outside of being a student?


My favorite song of all time is Soundtrack 2 My Life by Kid CuDi, but my favorite artist is Jay-Z. Not much of a movie guy. Outside of being a student I participate in extra-curricular activities and would also like to think of myself as a social activist. [ A Social activist is someone who raises awareness of injustice. Someone who engages in debate involving social justice issues, and to Johnson, someone who makes it a priority to help with social justice issues.]


Johnson is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, incorporated. He is also involved with Brothers of a new direction, African Student Organization, and Student Minority Outreach.



What is your major?

Political Science and English with a minor in Philosophy


Why did you pick that major?

I chose Political science to receive a well-grounded foundation in the government and also its inner workings. I chose English because I was always a strong writer but wanted hone my rhetoric and writing abilities.


What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to become a lawyer, maybe a civil rights attorney. I am also looking into working for a non-profit, but essentially I want to be able to help people. I am not the type to sell my soul for money.


What steps have you taken to reach your goal of becoming a lawyer?

Other than choosing my majors and minor, I have already taken the LSAT twice and am now in the process of applying to law schools.


Tell us about the process of your LSAT.

Well I received a LSAT prep book, and I basically used that as a self-studying tool to prepare me for both times I took the LSAT. I prepared for about 3 months in advance for the both of them.


Self-studying vs. taking a class? Or both? Why?

I would say both or whatever resources you have at your disposal. Self-studying is great but it can only help but so much. Sometimes, help from an outside source may be advantageous too. But, classes can be expensive and sometimes completely pointless. It’s all honestly up to the person taking the test.


What schools have you looked at applying to?

I’m going to apply based off of the region, so my list is quite big, but I can give my top few: Fordham University, New York University, UVA, Washington and Lee, Georgetown and American University.


Advice for aspiring law students?

Advice that I’d give would be to be prepared to read and don’t procrastinate. (Something I still struggle with)


Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I see myself at some firm entering into my 2nd year as a junior associate. Hopefully, I’ll be engaged and I’ll be able to enjoy my life in the position that I’d currently be in. I’d also want to have most of my loans paid off by then.


When to take the test and when to apply

When to take the test and when to apply


The LSAT is usually administered four times a year at designated test centers thought the United States. There is one in June, October, December and February. According to the LSAC, “The LSAT is a half-day standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier— in June or September/October is often advised.” In other words, taking the test depends on how early you intend to apply to law school and how early in the process you want your application to be considered. To be on the safe side, taking the test in June or before December will give you a chance to retake the test in the case that you do not do as well as expected. The test alone costs $175, with a $90 fee attached to a late fee, change of center and change of date.

Taking a class versus self studying

Taking a class versus self studying


It would be unfair to answer this question without discussing the advantages and the disadvantages of both methods of studying. In this section, I will discuss the costs associated with both means, the positive and the negative consequences of each.

First, we’ll talk about self-studying. Needless to say, it is what its sounds like. Self studying in this case is synonymous to studying on your own, using helpful materials such as websites, blogs, practice tests, books that explain the problem and so on. Purchasing books for the LSAT, depending on what you choose to buy, according to Mike Kim- LSAT trainer, can range from $80 to about $500. Personally, I think this is a good price bracket. Test prep books are quite inexpensive and they are a good place to start in preparation for the test.

Self- studying is advantageous because it is the most affordable, and it emphasizes self-restraint and control in order to achieve a goal. Self-restraint in the sense that self-studying gives us a sense of responsibility. Allows the decision to succeed or fail rest in our hands. It could be seen as a disadvantage because you are essentially teaching yourself the material. There is no other physical body to hold your hand through the process and encourage you to continue working.

In regards to taking a class, depending on which one you choose to take, they can range, according to Mike Kim, from $900-$1500. Hence, they are not very cost effective in comparison to self-studying. The reason that I personally, have considered taking a class is because I would have someone there to help me understand the test and someone to teach me the material, and I guess in a way, that’s an advantage of taking a class. Taking a class can also give me pointers to improve on skills that I might be struggling with during the self-study questions, and it might help me understand various ways of solving a problem. Now, the question arises of what if after taking the class, I have wasted all this money and I ma not better off than when I first started?


So what?

I am torn in between the two, and honestly, I do not have a definite answer. I acknowledge the advantages and disadvantages of both types of studying and yet, I still feel as though they can be weighed equally. The answer to this question lies within the individual. It is important to give yourself enough study time before the test in order to weigh options and see what works best for you as an individual. We all have different study habits and what works for one person might not work for the other. I know people who have taking classes and say that they saw a change in their score, and I know some who have taken classes and did not see a significant change.

Personally, I will be weighing all my cost effective options first and then if I need to take a class I will. I believe that law school is an investment and if paying a little more helps clean up my score, I am willing to do that… as a last resort, or as a way to supplement my self study.

After reading this post, I think it is important to read 5 harsh truths that will make you better at the LSAT on the Lawshooli blog. . The post gives great insight on this issue as well.

Paying for law school

Paying for law school

If you are like me, you took out student loans to pay for undergrad and now, looking ahead at the law school attendance tag, it is almost scary to think that you might be graduating law school with a student loans in the six figures. If you’re also like me, you might be wondering how to fund yourself when you get into law school. If that is the case, then you are in the right place.

Law school gets very costly, but with the help of outside aid such as scholarships and grants, personal savings, and your law school’s financial aid department, maybe the debt you come out with will not be as overwhelming.

According to the Law School Administration Council (LSAC), “Law school is a major commitment and a significant financial investment. Fortunately, there are affordable and flexible funding options to help you pay.” On their website, the LSAC also outlines a few steps in applying for financial aid, they include:

  1. Attend a Financial Aid workshop at an LSAC Law School Forum- you also can speak one-on-one to school representatives and to a financial aid expert when you attend a forum.
  2. Identify all financial aid application requirements and deadlines for each school you want to attend.
  3. Collect financial documents needed to apply for financial aid
  4. Complete and submit the FAFSA
  5. Review your Student Aid Report
  6. Provide any additional information requested by the school
  7. Review the financial aid award notices you receive from each law school
  8. Apply for loan funding as needed
  9. Apply for privately funded scholarships/grants

The steps outlined above can be used to collect funds in order to pay for law school tuition and fees, books, living expenses and so on. The LSAC has very helpful tips and information, especially about financial aid.

To find out more, go on the website. Click on future JD student, on the bottom right hand corner, there is a link that says “financing law school.” Click on this link, and everything you need to know should be on this page.

After exhausting the resources from your law schools financial aid department, it is important to look for private funding in the form of scholarships to help you cover your costs. Listed below are few scholarships given to students applying to law schools.

  1. Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  2. ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
  3. The Gates Millennium Scholars
  4. HNBA Legal Education Fund
  5. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  6. Snell and Wilmer Fellowship for Advancement and Resources

I have listed only a few available options in regards to scholarship funding. There are many more out there, so be sure to get a head start in looking.


Websites, Books, Blogs

Websites, Books, Blogs

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to realize that we cannot get into these amazing schools without taking our GPA into consideration and without doing well on our LSATs. Just like we had to take the SATs or the ACTs to get into the college of our choice, we have to take the LSATs to show how we compare to other students looking to gain admission to law schools.

The LSAT is composed of three sections; they consist of the Reading comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and logical reasoning. The Law school admission council (LSAC) administers the test and goes into great detail about what the test is composed of, when it is best to take the test, and it also contains a previous test in which students can use as a diagnostic test before beginning to study for the actual test. The LSAC also releases previous tests in the form of books, and since their test questions are copyrighted, the questions can only be found in those books. Some experts have said that using books created by the LSAC are the most helpful because they contain actual test questions most similar to that of the actual exam. For less than $30, the LSAC prep tests are available on amazon and they qualify for a two-day shipping through Amazon Prime. People speak highly of these books, saying they are the best way to study because they are similar to the test that we will be taking.

People also speak highly of the Powerscore LSAT bibles. While they cost almost 50 dollars, they could be very helpful to use when studying. Not only do they explain each type of question, but also they give examples and tricks to use in solving the problems.

Besides books, websites could be quite helpful in helping a student prepare for the test. One of my favorites websites happens to be It is a website that helps students navigate applying to law school, and it even does a fine job of sticking around for one more year by giving advice on what to do once a student has been accepted into the law school of their choice and are now attending. Joshua Craven who is a University of Chicago Law School graduate, runs the blog. He is a credible source because not only did he take the test, but he has attended law school and has been through what we are about to encounter. His website has everything from what to use for LSAT prep, how to get admitted and how to stay enrolled.

Another personal Favorite is the LSAT BLOG. The main-focus of this blog is to help prospective law students ace the LSATs. The blog spot gives advice on books, study plans, and my all time favorite, free explanations of some tests questions. While a majority of the site is aimed at getting the student to purchase his LSAT course, the blog does a fine job of introducing the test and giving free help.

In essence, there are many books out there for students to use in studying, it is important to do a lot of research in order to find a book specifically tailored to your needs, It is also important to take a diagnostic test before studying in order to see how much work needs to be done. There is a free test on the LSAC website, and as we all know, law school is pretty expensive, so now is the time to take advantage of all the free materials your disposal!