PLSI 2021 will be online

and a full-time commitment. The dates remain the same.

What is PLSI?

Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives

PLSI is an intensive two-month program that prepares American Indian and Alaska Native individuals for the rigors of law school by essentially replicating the first semester of law school. 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 five decades, the Law Center has remained dedicated to providing valid training in the skills required for the study of law.

Who should attend?
Any American Indian or Alaska Native who plans to attend law school in the fall after attending the summer program of PLSI. Law school is unlike any other course of study. 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.

How much does it cost?

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 $2,500 – $3,800.  In addition, you will need funds to travel to and from Albuquerque.  Please see the “Financial Assistance” section below for more information.

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

You should plan to bring a laptop 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.


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 take an advocacy/legal writing course in which they will prepare a complete appellate moot court case including writing a legal memorandum and brief, and presenting an oral argument at the end of the program. 

Students who are committed to excel in law school must make the same 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 a spot in our class.

Faculty and Teaching Assistants

Our faculty are nationally prominent professors from law schools across the country.   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. 


How is the online PLSI program different from the regular in-person program?

The online program includes less class time and more one-on-one time with professors and teaching assistants.  It is still a full-time commitment.  We will ask participating students to evaluate their internet and laptop needs before the program starts.  Living allowances and internet access funding will be available for qualified students.  Please email Rodina Cave Parnall, PLSI Director at for more information.     

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.