PLSI Application Form-Part 1
(PDF File)

PLSI Additional Requirements-Part 2 (PDF File)

Photo Gallery:

PLSI Class of 2016

PLSI Class of 2015

PLSI Class of 2014

PLSI Class of 2013

PLSI Class of 2012

PLSI Class of 2011

PLSI Class of 2010

PLSI Class of 2009

PLSI Class of 2008

PLSI Director
Rodina Cave Parnall

PLSI 50th Anniversary

PLSI Bar Review Course Reimbursement

PLSI (Pre-Law Summer Institute)

Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives

PLSI is an intensive two-month program which prepares American Indian and Alaska Native individuals for the rigors of law school by essentially replicating the first semester of law school. Likened to boot camp by many former participants, the PLSI concentrates its content into eight weeks of instruction, research and study, teaching students the unique methods of law school research, analysis, and writing. The success of the PLSI in providing a nationally respected pre-law orientation can be traced to its original and continuing intent — that it be based on sound legal education principles, and not function as a philosophical, political, or cultural training ground. For more than four decades, the Law Center has remained dedicated to providing valid training in the skills required for the study of law.

Who Should Attend PLSI

Any American Indian or Alaska Native who plans to attend law school may benefit greatly from attending the Institute the summer before. Law school is unlike any other course of study at either the undergraduate or postgraduate level. The skills required to study law are both unique and vital to success in law school, and these are the skills that the PLSI begins to teach.

Some have mistakenly believed that the PLSI is designed to be an admission-by-performance program for students with lower than average predictors. That is not the case.  Although it serves that function for some students, the Institute is as valid a preparatory program for the student with a GPA and LSAT score in the top 25% as it is for students in the lower quartiles. Students who have been admitted to top ten law schools receive as much benefit as students who have not yet been admitted to law school when they begin the program. Further, attending the PLSI will give you the opportunity to become part of a cohort of Native American law students from around the country who will have established relationships with Native lawyers nationwide when you begin practice.

The Institute is strongly endorsed by a wide variety of both state and private law schools nationwide. PLSI graduates have gone on to such prestigious schools as Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford, as well as to a wide spectrum of both state and private universities around the country. Graduates may be found throughout federal, tribal and state governments and courts, as well as in private practice and in industry.

What The PLSI Provides

There are no tuition or other charges to qualified participants to attend the Institute, and the PLSI provides a modest living allowance when funds permit. The amount of the allowance when it is provided depends on the number of qualified participants who are admitted (a maximum of 36) but not funded by their tribes, and the amount of funds actually received to administer the Institute.  If your tribe is unable to fund you, we have received private donations from the Law School Admissions Council and several law firms with which we can assist you.

All text books required for the PLSI courses are provided by the Institute, and will be issued to participants at registration. These books become the participants' private property and are their sole responsibility. Text books which are lost, stolen or destroyed cannot be replaced by the PLSI.

The cost for a single student to live in Albuquerque for two months is approximately $1,800 - $2,500.  In addition, you will need funds to travel to and from Albuquerque.  Please see the “Financial Assistance” section below for more information. 

What The PLSI Does Not Provide

The PLSI does not provide housing, meals, transportation, household items or school supplies. The PLSI living allowance is provided for those purposes; acquiring them is up to individual participants. Information about local apartment complexes which allow month-to-month rentals and available sublets will be sent to applicants who have been accepted to the Institute. However, participants are responsible for making their own arrangements and paying any costs or deposits.

You should plan to bring a computer if possible.  If you cannot acquire one prior to PLSI, you may use the PC's available in the law library, but the hours they are available are restricted so this option should be used only if absolutely necessary. It is the participants' responsibility to make arrangements for any photocopies needed.

Finally, participants do not receive academic credit for the PLSI. The advantage is that the participants' law school records are not prejudiced by less than stellar grades which might be the result of students making the necessary adjustments to law school. The disadvantage is that attending the PLSI does not qualify participants for waivers of repayment of academic loans.


I applied to law school but don’t know if I’ve been admitted. Can I still be admitted to PLSI?

Yes. You must have submitted a complete application to an ABA-accredited law school, but you need not have been admitted before attending PLSI.

I have not taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) yet. Can I attend PLSI before I take the LSAT to see if I really want to go to law school?

No. The PLSI admission process is much the same as the law school process, so you must have taken the LSAT, completed your undergraduate degree by May, and applied to law school prior to attending PLSI.

How much does it cost to attend PLSI?

There are no charges to attend PLSI, but you will need funds to travel to and from Albuquerque and funds for your living expenses. We require all students to seek financial assistance from their tribes. We will send a break-out of costs to you, along with your PLSI admission letter, that you can send to your tribe. If your tribe cannot fund you, financial assistance is available through PLSI.


The PLSI consists of eight weeks of intensive study structured in much the same way as the first semester of law school. The course load consists of three substantive law courses, including Federal Indian Law and two first-year core curriculum subjects which vary from year to year. Participants also will be enrolled in an advocacy/legal writing course in which they will prepare a complete appellate moot court case including the writing of a legal memorandum and brief, and presenting an oral argument at the end of the two months.

Students who are committed to excel in law school must also make a commitment to the PLSI. Classes are scheduled Monday through Friday throughout the program and attendance at all classes is mandatory. Just as timeliness is mandatory in the practice of law, it is mandatory in assignments for the PLSI. While many undergraduate courses claim that two hours of study is required for every hour in class which may or may not be true, in law school that is a low estimate. In fact, for every hour spent in class, a minimum of two to three hours of study and research time is necessary. Since the PLSI is a full-time course of study, outside classes and employment are not allowed during the eight weeks. The PLSI requires a significant investment of time, energy, endurance, and ability, so applicants should be sure they are willing to make a firm commitment before accepting an Institute position.

Faculty and Teaching Assistants

Nationally prominent professors from law schools across the country instruct in the PLSI. A core faculty is maintained from previous years giving continuity to the program, while one or two new members are invited each year to foster new concepts and approaches. Our goal not only is to have excellent professors, but also to have a representation of the different teaching styles which students will encounter in law school. This allows PLSI participants to be prepared for whatever teaching style is used in their particular law school - from the very formal Socratic method of teaching, to the small section one-on-one style.

In addition to the top professors, some of the best students from the previous year’s PLSI class are hired as teaching assistants to assist students with their assignments and help them make the adjustments necessary for law school.  These outstanding and successful law students attend each class with the students and are available to help PLSI students each evening before the next day’s classes.


The PLSI application has two parts. You must complete all forms and submit all required documents by the deadline of Friday, March 23, 2018. (Note: This is the date your application must be received, not the post-marked date.)

1. Application Form - Part 1. (click here for application)
When you download the application form, you may complete it on-line and print it out, or print it out and then complete it. However, we need an original signature so the completed application must be mailed and cannot be submitted electronically.

2. Additional Requirements - Part 2. (click here for additional requirements)

Dates & Deadlines

Following are the deadlines and other important PLSI dates. Again, please note that the deadline dates given are dates that the documents must be received by the PLSI, not the postmark dates. You may fax documents (except for transcripts) in order to meet any deadline, but we must receive the hard copies prior to the start of the Institute.

Because the PLSI is funded on a year-to-year basis, the dates and deadlines given are contingent on money being available for the program.

Summer 2018

Application Due (Parts 1 and 2) – Friday, March 23, 2018

Applicants who miss the deadline will be considered on a space available basis.

Registration - May 30 - 31, 2018 (Wed.-Thurs.)

Orientation - June 1, 2018 (Friday)

Classes Begin - June 4, 2018 (Monday)

Final Exams - July 23-24, 2018 (Mon.-Tues.)

Appellate Arguments - July 26-27, 2018 (Thurs.-Fri.)

Graduation Banquet – July 27, 2018 (Friday)


PLSI Funding

The federal funding for PLSI covers less than half the costs of running the program. We seek donors throughout the year to help students cover their expenses while attending PLSI, but we cannot cover everyone's costs. The donations we receive can only supplement the funds provided by the tribes. We therefore will ask you to contact your tribe requesting their support of your PLSI attendance and your travel costs when you are admitted to PLSI. 

A letter detailing your costs will be sent with your admissions letter that you may provide to your tribal education office in support of your request. If you need to provide documentation prior to your PLSI admission because of tribal deadlines or council meeting dates, please contact us and we will make special arrangements. 

If your tribe is unable to fund you, we will need written documentation from your tribe denying your request for funding in order to access donated funds to help support your attendance at PLSI.  We are fortunate that we have received commitments from the Law School Admissions Council and several law firms to sponsor PLSI students who are not tribally funded with which we can assist you.  If you have questions about this process, please feel free to contact us. 

For your information and planning purposes, the following is the breakout of costs for the PLSI which is based on the costs to attend an 8-week summer school course at UNM School of law.


Books & Fees

Room & Board
$2,550.00 (Single student cost – additional funds will be needed for students accompanied by family members).

$388.00 (local only – additional funds will be needed for students traveling from outside the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area).

$ 645.00

AILC Scholarship (awarded to all admitted applicants)

Total Financial Need

PLSI Travel Expense Funding

In addition, the PLSI assists with travel costs when funds are available and if your tribe cannot assist you. In recent years, we have been able to reimburse students’ travel expenses up to a total of approximately $400 round trip. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements and must comply with the following requirements in order to be eligible for travel expense reimbursement, if you qualify:

The cost of coach airline tickets, or the cost of travel by car by the most direct route at $0.25/mile, whichever is less, up to the maximum allowable reimbursement. If travel is by airline, a legible copy of the ticket or e-ticket must be submitted at registration.

If travel is by car, both beginning and ending odometer readings must be submitted at registration. Although atlas mileage will be used to compute reimbursements, federal travel regulations require odometer readings as proof of travel.

Meals, hotel accommodations, and commuting costs are not reimbursable.

Law School Recruitment

Students often ask where they should apply to law school. While you should match your interests with the programs offered, some law schools are particularly interested in receiving applications from Native Americans. Be sure to indicate that you are Native American when you call or write. Though the following list of schools is by no means exhaustive - there are many excellent law schools not listed here – it includes schools which have recruited students from the Pre-Law Summer Institute and have a history of actively recruiting and supporting Native American students. This list is provided as a starting point only.

All the schools listed have financial aid programs, and many provide scholarships or tuition waivers for Native American students. Please check with each school for eligibility requirements and deadlines.

Because many students are interested in the courses in Indian law offered by schools, we have noted each school's Indian Law offerings. "Indian Law Program" typically denotes more than three regularly offered courses and either an Indian Law Clinic or another Native-oriented program. "Certificate" means that the law school has a special Indian Law curriculum which awards a certificate of specialty along with the Juris Doctorate. The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the University of Tulsa each offer an LLM (a Master’s degree after completing a JD) in a variety of Indian Law-related concentrations, and the University of Arizona offers an SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) in Indigenous Law. "Indian Law Classes" typically means that a few courses are offered, but a more extensive program is not in place. However, each school has specialties which go beyond their Indian Law offerings. Students should seek a school where the full curriculum matches their interests.

Regardless of the school you desire to attend, we recommend you contact them as early as possible. Most law school application deadlines are between January and March for fall admission.

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
Tucson, Arizona

Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Phoenix, Arizona

California Western School of Law
San Diego, California

University of California-Los Angeles School of Law
Los Angeles, California

University of Colorado Law School
Boulder, Colorado

Cornell University Law School
Ithaca, New York

University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Denver, Colorado

Hamline Mitchell School of Law
St. Paul, Minnesota

University of Idaho College of Law
Moscow, Idaho
Boise, Idaho

University of Iowa College of Law
Iowa City, Iowa

University of Kansas School of Law
Lawrence, Kansas

Lewis & Clark Law School
Portland, Oregon

Michigan State University College of Law
East Lansing, Michigan

University of Montana - Alexander Blewett III School of Law
Missoula, Montana

University of New Mexico School of Law
Albuquerque, New Mexico

University of North Dakota School of Law
Grand Forks, North Dakota

University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene, Oregon

University of South Dakota School of Law
Vermillion, South Dakota

Thomas Jefferson School of Law
San Diego, California

University of Tulsa College of Law
Tulsa, Oklahoma

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
Salt Lake City, Utah

Washburn University School of Law
Topeka, Kansas

University of Washington School of Law
Seattle, Washington

Washington University Law
St. Louis, Missouri

University of Wisconsin Law School
Madison, Wisconsin

More Information

If you have questions about the Indian law course offerings at an ABA-accredited law school not listed here, we recommend that you consult this publication prepared by Professor Mary Jo B. Hunter (Hamline University) and Associate Dean April Schwartz (Touro Law Center) entitled Indian Law Specialties in ABA Accredited Law Schools.

If you have more questions after reading through the information provided here, please do not hesitate to contact us. Although we cannot accept collect telephone calls, we will be happy to answer your questions over the phone. Our telephone number is (505) 277-5462 or e-mail AILC about the PLSI Program.