Sunday, December 30, 2007

Law School Expert's Best of 2007

Since launching the lawschoolexpert blog in July, I've had 12,000 readers visit. Thank you so much for your support, comments, and encouragement.

Here are the year's 5 Most Popular Law School Expert Posts:

1. With nearly 1,500 readers and 23 comments, this post about low LSAT scores was the year's most popular post.

2. The second most read was yesterday's post, so I need to thank my detractors. It's true what they say - all publicity is good publicity. (Ironically, this is one of my few posts with a significant typo, to my dismay....). I hate that I had to post this one, so I'm not going to link back to it here.

3. With 500 readers, Countdown to the December 1, 2007 LSAT came in 3rd place.

4. A close second was Should You Cancel Your LSAT Score.

5. My most controversial, but heartfelt, post about the value of attending law school inspired dozens of you to e-mail me and leave comments thanking me for encouraging you to pursue your dreams. I am not in the business of encouraging anyone to go to law school - that decision is up to you. But if you've made your decision, I am happy to apply my expertise to help you reach your goal. My readers know I have a tendency toward being idealistic and optimistic. I don't plan for this to change anytime soon.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the websites that refer readers to me. Until yesterday, my number one referring website was Frugal Law Student. Yesterday, jd underground beat it out (and I'm pleased to announce the site is no longer quite as "underground" as it once was). Blawg, Cali Pre-Law Blog and lawsagna
were all kind enough to refer a significant number of readers to my blog.

I look forward to continuing this effort in 2008, and to posting many success stories along the way. Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lawyers as Professionals

The law (and studying the law) is about listening to the views of others and developing well-reasoned opinions. Therefore, I happily print comments that disagree with my own.

Just as my opinions are taken into context, I urge my readers to consider the context of others' opinions. To that end, I refer my readers to this thread.
(Choose the Heading "What is Wrong With this Bitch?" - which appears, by the way, to have been written by a woman)

Racism, sexism and Anti-Antisemitism have no place in our world, let alone in the legal profession. As future lawyers, I urge you to stand up against your future classmates and colleagues- not about me or my worth, but to raise the level of discussion to one that is productive and useful.

In a few days it will be 2008 and these comments (about anyone) are intolerable. For anyone that disagrees, kindly stop visiting my blog.

Deciding to Attend Law School

I've been inundated with comments today from people who are very negative about their career prospects as attorneys. There are a lot of postings and articles on this topic (financial ramifications of attending law school). I'm not sure why there's such a sudden interest in something I posted back in September, but I always welcome new readers.

My blog and my law school admission consulting services are aimed to assist people who have already made the decision to go to law school, most of the time after considerable research and thought. The purpose of my blog is not to debate the merits of a legal education, but to offer advice and help to those who choose to seek it. I publish all relevant comments by readers, and truly appreciate the perspective added to the discussion.

Many people regret decisions they have made in life, and a (vocal) number of people regret their decision to attend law school. (It should be noted that none of the people leaving comments were my clients). Negativity is not my style - if you want to go to law school then I want to help you get there. I will offer my expertise and guidance and support.

I have practiced law. My husband is a practicing attorney as are his father, uncle, cousin and sister. My brother and two cousins are all attorneys. Most of my close friends are attorneys. They are all happy, intelligent, productive individuals who are able to support their families through this profession.

I wish everyone a very happy New Year, and hope to post a "Best of 2007 Law School Expert" List shortly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Resolutions for Law Applicants

If I were a law school applicant, these would be my New Year's Resolutions:

1. I will not judge my worth as a person by my LSAT score.

2. I will not judge my worth as a person by the law schools that choose to admit me.

3. I will continue to do everything in my power to craft professional, mature, careful and well-reasoned communications with the law schools that I hope to attend.

4. I will try to be a well-rounded person and learn new things about the world, whether or not those things are law related.

5. I will work to keep things in perspective and make time for the people who matter most to me.

These are the values I hope to instill in those of you applying to law school.

Personally, here are my New Year's Resolutions: To love my husband and daughters the best I can, to put forward my best advice and efforts in assisting law school applicants in reaching their goals, to get to the gym three times a week instead of just two, and to make time to pick up my knitting needles again (which will, in turn, hopefully keep my fingers from on-line shopping).

No matter your resolutions this year, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. May this be a year of fresh starts and exciting challenges for all of my law school applicant and pre-law candidate readers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

December 2007 LSAT Results Posted

LSAT scores came out early. (Happy Holidays!)

Read this previous posting about what to do now that you have your LSAT score.

If you're considering re-taking the LSAT in February 2008 for Fall 2008 admission, keep this in mind - People have been applying since early Fall and while your safety schools are still pretty sure bets, February LSAT takers are more likely to be waitlisted at schools where they are mid-range applicants.... By March (when your application would be complete) schools have a sense of whether they'll be able to fill their classes. This definitely impacts your application at schools where your numbers are under the 75th percentiles.

For those of you who are ready to apply - now is the time! Don't let LSAC closing for the holidays get you down. No law school will review your applications during the holidays anyway, and there are other ways to submit applications if you're so inclined. Now let's get to work!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Deferral to Regular Admission?

Santa Clara Law is among the schools that sent out "deferral" notices this week. What does a "deferral to regular admission" really mean?

If you applied Early Action or Early Decision (binding) to any law schools, they will make one of 3 decisions on your application by the deadline they provide (usually December 15th). They may decide to:

1. Accept (but this is very rare; the law school's only interest here is to admit those that will help bring their numbers up and to offer scholarships - thereby creating excitement early on in the feedback part of the admission cycle);

2. Reject (also very rare because the school has the prerogative to wait to reject you later and there is little reason for them to do so before they know whether or not they'll be able to fill their class); and

3. The Most Common Response - Deferral to the Regular Admission Cycle.

So, what does this really mean? Absolutely nothing! Your status is completely unchanged from what it was when you applied. You'll still be considered on the merits.

Regular readers of my blog know that law schools like to defer and waitlist and "hold" applicants because they are judged by rankings partially according to acceptance rates. By giving out fewer "admit" letters, they can control their acceptance rates. They want you to work a little harder. Law Schools want to be able to judge the likelihood with which you'll actually attend their school before they hand out the precious law school acceptance letter.

So, if you're deferred to regular admission at a school you'd really like to attend then fight for it. Demonstrate your continued interest in that school. Keep them in the loop with updates, especially new grades coming out this month. (Just don't annoy anyone in the admissions office by calling too often or saying too much).

Here is further explanation of Early Action and Early Decision programs for those of you just getting up to speed for Fall 2009 Law School Admission. I'm happy to take questions or comments....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Proof that Powerful Personal Statements Pay Off

I spend a lot of time on the subject of "Rankings Aren't Everything" and "LSAT Isn't Everything" and for those of you who still don't believe me, I want to share this with you--- it's from a client with a 154 LSAT who e-mailed me tonight:

Oh my god, i just got home and opened a package from Boston College Law School!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still can't believe it!!! Couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Proof that the LSAT isn't Everything

Ok, so in the last 2 days several of my clients have heard great news - acceptances came in from the University of Miami, Loyola-Chicago, and two of my clients got the thumbs up from UC Berkeley (Boalt).
But the best proof that those dreaded law school personal statements matter (and that the LSAT is not the end-all, be-all) came in today. One of my clients just got a phone call from the director of admission at UCLA - She is going to UCLA with a 156 LSAT!!!!!
Did she have something special to offer the law school beyond the numbers? Absolutely. But so do many law school applicants. The personal statement and optional questions matter; don't blow them off. Hundreds of applicants with LSATs in the 160s won't get into UCLA this year, but one with a 156 did!
The lesson? Don't get too down about the LSAT. Control what you can control - sell yourself in the most positive light possible, and pick schools where the programs match your interests and background. To learn how I can help, see these success stories.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Getting into Law School

This is one of the best parts of my job as a law school admission coach - hearing back from my clients when there is good news to share. This week, some of the law schools that admitted my wonderful clients include:
Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley)
U. New Mexico
St. Mary's

And, if you applied in September/October and haven't yet heard, don't worry. Letters are just starting to go out.... This list is just the tip of the iceberg and I look forward to reporting your successes one day very soon!

P.S. For everyone out there who received a rejection letter from Georgetown this week, know that you're not alone. They must have sent them out in a big batch this weekend....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pre-Law? Considerations for Choosing a College Major

I came across this posting today by a current law school applicant who talks about why she feels majoring in journalism has prepared her for a law degree. You don't have to major in pre-law or law and society to prepare yourself for law school. In fact, I felt (as an law student) that the undergraduate courses that best prepared me for law school exams was actually art history. In art history, we looked at slides and applied knowledge to determine a period/artist/movement and wrote an essay defending our conclusions. Sounds like law school, doesn't it?

For more pre-law information about choosing a college major that law schools will respect, see this.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Today's LSAT exam

Congratulations on having the LSAT behind you!

Here are links to my previous posts about what to consider when deciding whether to cancel an LSAT score. Things to think about before you cancel your LSAT score are posted here.

For those of you still waiting to submit applications, this is the time to get things underway with your law school applications, including law school personal statement, optional essays, addenda, resume, letters of rec, etc. Don't wait until scores are released to get on top of this!

If you're considering hiring a law school admission coach, please see my posts on important things to ask someone before making a decision.

More Law School Humor

One of my former clients, now a 1L, sent me this e-mail today:

It might be bad for business but in the interest of full disclosure I think you should post this on your website....

Thanks Ben! Now hit the books!!! Exams are just around the corner . . . And just think, at least you're not taking the LSAT today : )

Thursday, November 29, 2007 Gets a New Look!

Law School Expert has a whole new look and feel. Please check it out today!

Also, for all pre-law students (applying for Fall 2009 and beyond) I have launched a brand new website and consulting service PreLaw Expert and invite you to check it out. I am going to start dedicating a certain amount of time to assisting college students in building their experiences to help them become the kind of quality, well-rounded applicants sought by law schools.

I have a bunch of people to thank for their help in launching LawSchoolExpert and PreLawExpert :

First, the "Law School Expert" Team:
Lorrie Thomas (my web marketing genius), Michelle Shapiro (creative director), Dane Jacobsen (perfectionist web guy)

Second, my former clients that agreed to be featured on my new web site:
Shirley, Judd, Naomi, Brian, Peter and Jessica (see their smiling faces and success stories)

The dozens of clients who happily supplied testimonials about the law school admission consulting services I provide as their law school application coach.

Thank you to all LawSchoolExpert blog readers for your support, comments, and continued readership. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about my new websites.

Have a great day - and good luck on Saturday's LSAT exam!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

LawSchoolExpert's 101st Post!!!!

I'm excited to report that the last post was my 100th Lawschoolexpert post! Thanks to all of my readers for your support, comments, and encouragement.

Two things today:

Please vote for Brett McKay's Frugal Law Student Blog as one of the top blogs for Lawyers in Training.

Also, please note that competition is increasing to get into law schools, even though applications numbers are down.....

P.S. Within 24 hours, I'll have a BIG Law School Expert Announcement - stay posted!!!!

News for Law School Applicants in New York

Two headlines of note for my New York area law school applicants (and future applicants):

1. CUNY Law rebounds.

2. SUNY Binghamton is making a bid to create NY's Third Public Law School.

Monday, November 26, 2007

9 Questions to Ask a Law School Admission Consultant

After getting past the LSAT, many law school applicants then look to hire a law school admission consultant. Here are some things to keep in mind when hiring a law school admission adviser:

1. Have you previously served as director or dean of admissions for any ABA law school? Or, were you merely a committee member or student recruiter? Do you have any experience making admission decisions?

2. How many years of experience do you have in law school admissions?

3. Do you have references from former clients? Can I contact 1-3 of them who are from the same area, who have the same LSAT/GPA credentials, who come from a similar background, who are applying to similar schools?

4. Have you ever practiced law? Why did you leave the practice of law? Are you a member of any state's Bar?

5. Do you have testimonials from former clients?

6. What kind of track record do you have of helping people get into schools where their numbers are at or below the 25th percentile?

7. Is this your full-time job?

8. How accessible are you? Do you guarantee 24-48 hour turnarounds?

9. Can you be reached in the evenings and on weekends in addition to normal business hours?

Applying to law school is stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. With the right expert and coach at your side, you will feel supported and confident. For more information, here are additional posts on hiring a law school admission counselor and a law student's account of what's important in a law school admission coach.

Good luck to all December LSAT takers!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Putting the LSAT in Perspective

With the December 1, 2007 LSAT a week away, many law school applicants are feeling like the entire future trajectory of their lives and careers are resting on this four-hour exam.

I read all the discussion boards and blogs and I know this is a self-perpetuating stress-inducer. It seems like you're doomed without a 160 (or 165 or 170 or whatever you've decided is the only possible score you'll be happy with) and you shouldn't bother waking up in the morning unless you can at least get into Georgetown.

Allow me to put this in perspective for you -
Is the LSAT a serious thing? Yes. Does it matter in the world of law school admissions? Yes. Of course. I'd be an idiot to tell you otherwise. However, please keep the following in mind:

1. The LSAT is an aptitude test - if you prepare adequately, it serves as a statistical indicator for your academic performance in law school and likelihood of passing the bar exam on the first try. However, there are people for whom standardized test scores are not reliable indicators of aptitude. Law schools know this.

2. Your LSAT score is not a label you will wear your entire life. No one but you and the law school has to know about it. You don't have to advertise it to friends or family members. It's private, like how much money you make and your preferred method of being kissed. Seriously. If more people kept this information off the web, fewer people would feel as though they aren't measuring up in life.

3. Your LSAT score is not something employers will ask about - your grades in law school will count though. If a prospective employer asks your LSAT score, I'd say "The LSAT, as you know, is an aptitude test for law school. As you can see, I'm doing very well in law school....."

4. Getting into a law school where your LSAT is really low for that school is nice and all, but if it means you'll be at the bottom of the class then perhaps it's not serving you all that well to be at that school. I believe there's a lot to be said for being a big fish in a smaller pond. (Of course, if you go to a school where your LSAT is low and still kick butt with the grades, then that's awesome. You have to know yourself a bit to make this determination).

5. People with low LSATs often do just fine in law school. I kid you not, when I was serving as director of admissions for an ABA law school, an administrative error occurred and someone was admitted accidentally with a 138 LSAT. You know what? She ended up graduating right in the middle of her class! This shows the limits of the LSAT in predicting success.

Ok, so for those of you that aren't familiar with my work - I'm not against performing well on the LSAT. Right now, I have clients whose scores range between 129 - 180. I have clients who hired me to give them every possible opportunity just to attend an ABA law school, and others who want to make sure they are the ones chosen for the nation's "top" law schools (and everywhere in between). I'm all for doing well on the LSAT, but don't beat yourself up over a 155 if that's the right score for you. After all, with a 155, you're still outperforming 67% of all LSAT takers!

My wish for you on the December 2007 LSAT is this: Do your personal best, demonstrate your own aptitude, and agree to adjust your strategy for law school admission accordingly. For more stories about people who are admitted to law schools with LSAT scores at or below the 25th percentiles for those schools see here.

P.S. I don't usually link to blogs of other law school applicants (I don't believe in having the blind lead the blind....), here is a good article.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Countdown to the December 1, 2007 LSAT

You have 9 days to go before the December 1st LSAT. You have a lot riding on this, especially if this is your first time taking the exam and you're applying for Fall 2008 law school admission.
Some tips on how to handle yourself from now until the LSAT date:

1. Enjoy yourself on Thanksgiving Day. Be with family. Remember what is really important in life. Put things in perspective.

2. On Friday, get back to studying. You have one week left to make a difference.

3. This week, LSAT is your priority. Don't do anything else for your applications (other than sending in transcripts and arranging letters of rec).

4. Get lots of sleep and eat healthy foods.

5. Kick butt on Saturday during the LSAT.

6. On Sunday, grab some coffee, and get to work on your resume, personal statement, diversity statement or other optional essays, and start filling out the LSAC Common Application Form. Keep the process moving forward.

7. Continue this effort for about 2.5 weeks while you wait for your score. Then, solidify your schools list and submit those applications as they are ready.

If you would like help, support, coaching and advice through the law school admission process, please see my website.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Law Students' Priorities Not US News Priorities

There are a lot of good posts in the blogosphere about the recent article in National Jurist by Ted Soto (a professor with whom I worked at Loyola Law School) about what law students think is important in a law school and how the rankings don't take those things into account. Here is a good post about why practical skills and practice-building skills are not taught in law schools (Again - rankings) and why they should be taught.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Great Law School Personal Statement Tips

Here are two schools that have great advice for law school personal statements: (I especially like the do/don't list on this one)

More about Legal Assistant Jobs Before Law School

After my post yesterday, I received a well-considered response from one of my clients. I think she raises some wonderful points and wanted to share them with my readers:

True, working as a legal assistant did require long hours and tedious work. However, after my experience, I have a much more realistic view of the legal profession and am entering this profession with a better idea of the career path that I wish to take (or avoid). I feel that a lot of my peers envision themselves challenging injustice or saving the world as lawyers. Although some of them will have the opportunity to do just that, the majority of them will end up at a big law firm working 100+ hours a week doing the same tedious work that legal assistants do.

I have come across so many disillusioned first-years who cannot believe that, after three years of law school, they have been assigned to reviewing lien search results or creating signature pages. In fact, after a year as a legal assistant, I found myself coordinating and training these first-years myself. I think everyone should work as a legal assistant before they commit to law school and spend $150,000. In my class of 12 entering legal assistants, only about four of us are committing to a legal career and the rest are pursuing some really neat career paths. One of my former co-workers is now pursuing a degree in medicine at Columbia, one was hired by a client of ours in banking, another is applying to graduate school for communications and public policy, and another is at Georgetown studying terrorism and security. How miserable would they have been if they had gone through three years of law school and then realized that they do not enjoy their work?

My suggestion to those contemplating what they should do with their time off would be to work in an environment where they think they would be interested in working after law school. It is certainly better to realize that the legal profession is not for you before heading into law school. I think that is why the legal field has such a low retention rate. Too many young people enter into the legal field without conducting the necessary research. I do agree with you, though, that they should take the time off to find their passion as well. In that respect, I suggest volunteering or maybe taking a couple of months off before law school to travel and explore. I just know that, due to my experience at a law firm, I will not be among those first-years who complain about the long hours or tedious assignments at my first job out of law school, because I would already know what to expect and what is expected of me. - Y.

I want to thank Y. for her comments. To be honest, I agree with everything she is saying. I also happen to know her, and to know that her specific situation as a legal assistant is not the same as many others who take on these positions. If you're considering taking on a position in a law firm for the year off, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

It's not good if you look at it as a paycheck, a way to fluff-up your law school applications, or a way to obtain letters of recommendation from attorneys. The experience will not be rewarding.
However, if you approach your job as I know Y. has approached hers - to delve into the law and observe and contribute, happy to do so in even the smallest ways and willing to go the extra mile in every task (no matter how trivial it may seem) - you will gain valuable insight into whether you are choosing the right path.

One more comment - just because a "biglaw" job doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean you shouldn't practice law. There are many, many ways to practice law just as there are many kinds of lawyers. After all, not all lawyers have the same personalities or skills. It's a degree that can be applied in many ways. So, my point is that you shouldn't end your exploration of a career over one bad experience at one job.

While in law school, I tried everything: family law, public interest, employment law, big firm corporate litigation, school district attorney's office - before finding a small, boutique litigation firm that taught me that the most important thing to me in a law job was the ability to take depositions regularly. You will have the opportunity to explore your niche in law school if you take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.

I do welcome comments on this topic, and I want to thank Y. for agreeing to share her thoughts with my readers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not ready for the December LSAT?

One of my clients raised a good question today - What do I do if I don't feel ready for the December LSAT?

If this is your first time taking the LSAT, and you're planning to apply for Fall 2008 admission, then you need to weigh the pros and cons:

(A) If you don't feel ready to take the LSAT, then your instinct is probably right. You have a few options. You could take it and just see what happens and if it's halfway decent then you can apply. (Not a fantastic strategy and usually it goes worse than you expect and becomes something you have to later explain on your applications; plus, it's a huge ego-deflater).

(B) You could wait and take the February LSAT and apply to schools that offer a January 2009 start date. (This is an interesting option for those of you graduating in December who are preoccupied with everything else going on in your life right now).

Or (C) you can take the LSAT in February for Fall 2009 admission. If it doesn't go as you'd like, you'd still have the option of re-taking it in June. You'll be able to show your grades from your final year of college and submit your law school applications early in the cycle (August/September), thereby taking advantage of rolling admissions. You'd also hear back from a lot of schools pretty quickly.

So, that brings me to the topic of what to do in your year off before law school:
A lot of people go to a law firm, where they are a "paralegal", "legal assistant," or "file clerk." They think they will gain some significant insight into the legal profession this way and get an attorney or two to tell a law school how they brilliantly saved a case for the firm. Yeah, ummm, not going to happen. Really, you're just going to have a boring year typing with long hours. while busy lawyers bark at you. And, you'll be applying to law school while enduring those long hours. And, after all that, you'll have only spent three months at the firm by the time you apply. How outstanding a letter of rec do you think you're going to get?

Better ideas? Yes. Find your passion!!! Find something that will set you apart and help you find a niche. It can be anything from sky-diving instruction to teaching the viola. The key is to explore one of your passions. Plus, it's probably one of the last times in your life where you can spend your day doing something really fun, something you enjoy. And it's also probably the last time you'll be able to get away with only making $25,000/year.

P.S. If I've confused those of you who are relying on schools to accept your February 2008 LSAT score for Fall 2008 admission, let me explain: They may say they accept the February LSAT under their rolling admissions policy, but what they mean to say is: "We'll accept a February LSAT score that is above our 75th percentile, but really by then we'll have given away most of the seats in the class."

A little Law School Admission Humor

This is incredibly uncharacteristic of me (because I'm usually stridently politically correct : )
But I just ran across this and couldn't help but laugh... I'm not endorsing the opinions expressed and I have no clue who the writer is (normal lawyer disclaimer language inserted here), but it's ok to be lighthearted at moments during the law school admission process.

How Employment Data Skews Law Rankings

Thanks to one of my clients who forwarded me this link today - it's about what will happen to law school rankings in US News once employment data is required to be just a little more truthful.

The most important thing to notice is what I always tell my clients - Don't limit yourself to an arbitrary ranking when choosing schools. If you say "I will only go to a Top 30 School", then what happens when the Top 30 changes slightly the following year? Did you pick a bad school? Of course not. Law schools do not fundamentally change in one year's time, but the rankings have to change or poor U.S. News would sell no magazines or on-line subscription packages.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Starting early for Fall 2009 Law School Admission

Here is the benefit of being on top of things and applying early -

While most of my clients are only now getting underway in the law school application process (and many more won't be doing so until after the December LSAT), I heard good news this week from three proactive people who worked on their applications during the summer and submitted them in August/September:
One was admitted to American - Washington College of Law
One was admitted to Baltimore (with a 25th percentile LSAT score for that school)
And one of my transfer applicants was admitted to Georgetown.

Congratulations to all 3 of you and I look forward to posting lots more good news in the coming weeks and months.

For those of you planning to apply for Fall 2009 admission, try to get your ducks in a row early. By starting in the next 6-8 months, you are at a big advantage in the process. (Just the relief of knowing you've gotten in somewhere is priceless.)

However, for those of you just starting now for Fall 2008 admission, don't be disheartened. It's not impossible, or even necessarily an uphill battle. It's not over until it's over!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

4 Common Mistakes on Law School Applications

Here are 4 Mistakes I see people make on Law School Applications:

1. Making an essay fit to 2 pages by using 10 point font. Don't do this. Please. You want to encourage law school admission officers to read your essay and 10 point font isn't easy to read.

2. Picking an area of specialization without having any factual background or experience to back it up; it's just not credible. Better to not pick anything - law school is about exploring different facets of the law while learning to think like a lawyer. Keep an open mind.

3. Not checking how the application looks in pdf form - make sure sentences aren't chopped off.

4. Using a one-page resume when you should have a 2 page resume. Use the opportunity given to really explain how much you worked during college, what you accomplished as president of your sorority, and all of your significant volunteer experience, language skills, etc.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why Some Law Schools Average Multiple LSAT Scores

My alma mater, the University of Miami School of Law, is one of those schools that is still considering the average of multiple LSAT scores. My former college newspaper (which, I confess I used to call "The Slurricane" rather than "The Hurricane" as editor of its rival, the yearbook) published this today about why Dean Michael Goodnight (and they don't come any more knowledgeable or professional about law school admissions by the way) says the average score is more important to them.

Oh - and the funniest question I've been asked today is this:
"Is it true that you have a better shot at a long-shot school if you apply at the end of the admission cycle? I've hear that you have a better shot of getting into the 'maybe' pile this way."

Ok, my response was (literally): "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." Why would a law school want a procrastinator who shows poor judgment about his chances of getting into their school? Why would they take a late applicant over someone they've already waitlisted who applied nice and early, thereby showing serious interest in the school? Why would a law school make room for someone at the end of the application cycle unless they bring something to the class they wouldn't otherwise have represented there?....

Ok... I'm off to the UCSB law fair.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Free Law School Expert Webinar This Sunday

For all of you still struggling with a timeline for applying to law school and balancing everything you need to accomplish on a shortened time frame, I'm offering a free webinar Sunday at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST. It's a 1-hour Webinar entitled "I'm applying to law school; Now What?"

Topics include: How to pick your schools list, resume, personal statement, addenda and other "do" and "don't" lists related to law school applications. Lots of free tips!

There are only 15 spots available since I like to allow everyone the opportunity to ask questions. To sign up, please email me at lawschoolexpert at

All you need to participate is a computer to log-in to the powerpoint presentation and ask questions via chat-room device, and a phone to dial-in.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Things to do Before Submitting Applications

You think you're done and you just want this to be over with, so you quickly press "Submit" on a law school application. Then, "Uh oh!" or "Oh @*$%!"

Here are some tips for avoiding that awful moment:

1. Ask yourself, "Why am I submitting this application right this minute?" If it's late at night, you're exhausted, or feeling hurried then don't submit it. You're not on a deadline. Wait one day and review it after sleep and a fresh cup of coffee.

2. Print it out. Ask someone to check it over. Did you transpose your address? Check off the right boxes?

3. Are you attaching the correct version of the essay(s)?

4. Did you check the school's website for details about submitting applications? Do they have additional information about the law school personal statement topics and/or requirements there? Is there an option for a diversity statement? Are you following all of the directions properly? Will you application be complete without a Dean's Certificate? Check every detail.

5. If you're not sure, don't guess. Call the school admisssions office and ask. If you do something wrong, they may consider your application incomplete and fail to review it.

Practicing law is all about the details. (See recent headlines about the recent Irell & Manella malpractice suit if you don't believe me). Get the details right. It pays off.

Friday, November 2, 2007

One 1L Regrets his choice of law school

So, this week I experienced a "first" since opening lawschoolexpert and becoming a law school admission consultant.

A client, we'll call him Sam, hired me in July 2005. He wanted a top 25 Law School and was pretty much unwilling to budge from that no matter what I said to enlighten him about other possibilities. He got into one, but part time, so decided to wait a year and retake the LSAT. In 2006, he got into the same school but full time and chose that school over others closer to his home that offered him generous scholarships. And, today, he is a first semester 1L at the "top" school.

So this is where it gets interesting.

I got a phone call this week.
"Ann!" (I knew immediately who it was by the way, but asked just to be sure). "Do you remember 2 years ago you said to me, "US News' Top 25 isn't necessarily [Sam's] Top 25?"

That part I didn't remember, but it sounds like something I would say.

"Well, I'm here full time at this 'top' law school and I'm calling to say you were right and I'm withdrawing. I called [my hometown] law school and they said they'd still offer me the scholarship if I apply for Fall 2008. That's my new strategy! I don't want to be in debt to impress everyone else with what law school I went to. I finally woke up!"

So, I was pretty proud of him. I was excited he called to share his news with me. And I was happy with the change I noticed in him. Sam's decision wouldn't be right for everyone, but considering his goals, ties to home, and absolutely hatred of the idea of taking on any debt whatsoever, he felt this was the right option for him.

P.S. Sorry I didn't post very much this week. I was bogged down in personal statements and applications before November 1st early decision/early action deadlines. I work hard to turn things around in 24 hours for my clients. I apologize to my blog readers for the delay.

P.P.S. Thank you to all of my readers - I started this blog in July and -3 months later- I have 5,000 readers each month!!! Thank you also for all of your e-mails and comments. I've enjoyed getting to know (and helping) so many of you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How to Pick a Law School

Thanks to Brian Leiter for posting a link to this article in the WSJ. Here is more support for why you shouldn't shoose law schools based on rankings alone, and a list of factors you should consider when deciding where to apply and where to attend.
I'm thrilled this issue is garnering publicity at this crucial point in the law school application season. Remember, the idea when choosing where to apply is to keep your options open so you have decisions to make in the spring/summer.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Law School Admission Trends

I ran across a great article in the Daily Bruin regarding the decreasing number of law school applicants. I have a feeling this will change next year because the economy/mortgage industry crashed too close to the deadline for LSAT registrations to make an impact this year. (Not that I'm an economist; this is just my hunch). However, it's also interesting to note that very competitive law schools (in this case, UCLA) is actually seeing an increase in the quality of the applicants they are admitting to law school - it's not necessarily getting easier to get in.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Law School Admission and Diversity

Here is an article about the role diversity plays in law school admissions at two great public law schools - ASU and U of A.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This Week's Law School News

Worth reading this week:

For humor about a very special Yale Law School graduate

And for a great perspective on the recent "how to pick a law school" debate concerning debt and future income, please see the letter to the editor for preLaw Magazine. I was very impressed with this article. In addition to stressing location as being important, Jack Crittenden talks about picking a law school with reaonable tuition. I'm sure he would agree with me about findnig a law school where you are competitive for scholarships as well.

Also in preLaw magazine this week is a good article about Thomas Cooley law school. The law school makes the case that they give people a shot and they do make it sound very noble. I was actually surprised to learn that in 2006, 185 Cooley students transferred to other law schools. That's incredibly promising; it means that other ABA schools repect Cooley enough to admit students who do well there.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are you Re-Applying to Law School?

One of my clients forwarded a great tip to me today and I want to pass it on to you:

For people that are resubmitting their law school applications for the second year: If you applied before you graduated last year, you need to resubmit final academic transcripts to LSAC, so that your LSDAS reports reflect the most current information. You can go on your account at LSAC and check the date on which your transcript was processed this will tell you whether or not you've submitted the most current version of your academic record(s).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Things to Do Right Now for Law School Applications

Here are the big questions today:

Q: Can I submit applications even though LSAC hasn't received/processed my letters of rec yet?

Q. Should I put my name and LSAC Account number on each attachment to my application?

Q. Should I check each school's web site for the application requirements instead of relying on the LSDAS on line application?

I hope this is helpful to those of you up late tonight working on your applications. Just never press "submit" at midnight. Seriously. That's how mistakes are made.

And since it's now approaching midnight on the West Coast, I'll say goodnight. To my So Cal clients and friends - stay safe. I hope the fires are not affecting you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why Rolling Admissions ROCKS

Ok, some of you - all of you - are going to HATE me for posting this today but I have to brag big time. One of my clients who was SUPER on the ball following the June LSAT heard back today from her first law school and already has an acceptance letter and scholarship in-hand!

Here is the e-mail I received tonight:

I just wanted to let you know that I received a phone call earlier this evening from the Dean of the University of Richmond informing me that I have been accepted. She encouraged me to visit and said that he is very excited that I knew about their ******* program and wanted to be involved in it. She also told me she would love to reward my hard efforts and hard work at ******* University with a scholarship. I can't tell you how exciting it was to hear I have been accepted somewhere and I am so thankful to you for all of your help thus far. I am still in shock that the Dean of the law school actually called me to tell me this; it was incredible.

Ok - for the rest of you, what does this mean? It's not too late! But I want you to know your letter with good news (or phone call or e-mail) will come if you put the effort in. It does pay off - this period of stress and uncertainty does not go on forever. Just stay focused on your goal.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Check your e-mail! LSAT scores have been released.

What to do now?
Should you re-take it in December? There are 2 things to consider:
(1) Did you score within 5-8 points of your consistent practice exam scores? For example, if you scored a 158 and you were hitting practice scores in the low 160s, then the 158 is probably the right score for you unless something strange happened to you during the exam. If not, and you scored 8-10+ points lower on the real thing, definitely consider re-taking it in December if you have the time to prepare adequately for it.
(2) Is it worth the set-back in the rolling admissions process? Perhaps. Would it bring you a significant/meaningful jump in the percentile ranking of your score? A 150-155 may not sound like much but on this LSAT it meant the difference between 44th percentile and 64th percentile. Would 5 points be more important than having your application reviewed in November? Probably not. But there are still things you can do to get your applications ready now - pick smart schools based on your current score and your presumed increse. Apply to them. Get your LORs submitted. That way, all the school will have to do is wait for your new score before reviewing your application. It can buy you a little time, as opposed to applying after receiving your new score.

I'm OK with my score. Now What?
1. Create a schools list. There's a lot of chatter in the pre-law blogosphere about how to do this. My plentiful comments on this are available throughout the blog's archives, but here's a link to a posting about the importance of law school location.
2. Start applying! You don't need your LORs finished - you can still go ahead and apply. (That's a common question I get at this time of year.

I'm here for questions, comments, and -of course- law school admission consulting.
Hope your news is good news.

Thinking about Transfering as a 2L?

Earning great grades your first year can be a ticket into a fantastic law school (as my clients have proven time and time again - transferring from Touro to Cardozo, Golden Gate to William and Mary, Catholic to Georgetown). Here are some worthwhile insights into what the law schools are thinking, and how law firms might evaluate your record. I agree with the first comment under the post, by the way.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

9 things to do in College to Be a Better Law School Applicant

Last night I had so much fun speaking to 60 or so Phi Alpha Delta members at UCSB. People asked great questions about choosing an area of law to mention in their personal statements, who should write letters of rec and what they should say, and whether to take time off after college. I shared with the group 9 things they could do in college - whether first years or 5th years - to improve the quality of their law school applications and chances for admission to law school. Here are my tips:

1. Get to know your professors. It's not too late for seniors. LSDAS will hold onto letters for 5 years, so if you end up taking time off next year you won't have to re-contact professors and remind them about who you are and what you did.

2. Don't join anything just to join. If something really interests you, become an active leader in that organization. It doesn't have to be the pre-law club (again, sorry Marla!) but if it is Phi Alpha Delta, be a leader in it and not just someone who writes the name of the club on his resume after paying dues. (Marla, have I redeemed myself with that one?)

3. Find your niche. Use college to explore things that really interest you and find the connection between them.

4. Grades always matter. If you don't end up going to law school next year, everyone will see this year's grades so keep going! Plus, if you're waitlisted somewhere and want to add something impressive to your file, there's nothing like an improved GPA in your senior year.

5. Watch yourself on myspace and facebook and google..... Be professional in presenting yourself to the public because you are trying to show you can be a lawyer one day soon.

6. Be careful about minor in possession tickts, DUIs and Academic Probation. Show you can exercise good judgment by not finding yourself in these situations.

7. Prepare adequately for the LSAT - that means 2-3 months of solid prep.

8. Find meaning in what you are doing. Don't pick a major because it "looks good" or because your father thought accounting would be a good major for finding a job after college. You'll do better with subject that interest you and inspire you. Likewise, pick activities that have meaning for you and really get involved with them.

9. Use this time to really explore what you want to do. Don't take an internship at a law firm for your resume's sake if it's really a sports agency that interests you, or a non-profit, or a soup kitchen... Spend your time in a way that shows who you really are and that will encourage your growth.

Thanks so much to Marla and Lindsey, Vanessa, Billy and Crystal and the rest of the UCSB chapter for inviting me to speak again this year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lawsagna Interview with LawSchoolExpert

Thanks to Lawsagna for interviewing me for today's blog posting. In it, I provide study tips for law student and insights for law school applicants on managing the stress of the law school admission process. I look forward to your comments and thoughts!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

5 Common Mistakes in Law School Applications

I've been checking a lot of law school applications this weekend and I want to remind all law school applicants to proofread their application forms very carefully before clicking "Submit".

Here are the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Law School Applications:

1. Sending School A's personal statement to School B !!!

2. Messing up the dates on employment positions.

3. Forgetting to check off boxes, leaving the application incomplete and unable to be processed.

4. Not following directions about how to label attachments.

5. Playing with margins and fonts instead of really taking the time to analyze whether each word in your essay is necessary for its effectiveness.

I know you're exhausted, but this is not the time for laziness or lack of attention to detail. This is the stuff that matters so do it when you're alert and not feeling rushed. Only then should you click that nervewracking "submit" button.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Combined Undergrad and Law Degree in Intellectual Property

This popped up today - Virginia Tech and U. Richmond law school are teaming up to offer a combined Bachelor degree and Juris doctor degree in intellectual property law. That's pretty cool!

Monday, October 8, 2007

4 Things to do While Waiting for your LSAT score

Here are some things you can do while waiting for your LSAT score:
1. Work on your personal statement.
2. Fine-tune your resume.
3. Make sure letters of rec are being sent to LSDAS.
4. Send your transcripts to LSDAS.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Last day to cancel your LSAT score

The last day to cancel your LSAT score is rapidly approaching. Before you do it, please consider:
1. My list of things to think about before cancelling your LSAT score
2. Another great posting echoing my sentiment that there is very little reason to cancel an LSAT score.

T-14 Not Necessary for BigLaw Jobs

The following is a guest post written by Shirley Li, 2L at Boston College School of Law.

Shirley was one of my law school admission consulting clients when she applied to law school. At the time, she was really upset that her LSAT scores weren't where she wanted them to be - she worked for a big law firm and everyone she knew went to a top-14 ranked law school. Shirley recently e-mailed me to tell me how much she loves Boston College and how happy she is with her job opportunities. I thought this would be helpful to readers who are struggling with the recent blogosphere discussion on the worth of attending law schools outside of the top tier. (If you missed this - see my posting on the issue of the monetary value of a law degree.)

I also want to add something I forgot to post yesterday that the admissions rep at Harvard Law School said - something I totally agree with and that I believes puts a lot of this discussion in perspective -- When asked how many of the applications she reads are "quality applications" she responded: "90%" She said she used to feel badly about dashing people's dreams , but then she realized that all of these people are going to fine law schools and they will have amazing careers. What does this mean? There's not just one way to achieve your goals. And here's Shirley's opinion on the topic:

It's hard to imagine that a year ago I was in your position, debating whether I should apply to law school with my less than stellar LSAT score.

I attended an ivy-league university for undergrad. After graduation, I took a year off and paralegaled at a top-tier NY firm, where I was surrounded by lawyers who got their JDs from Harvard/Columbia/Yale/Georgetown. I knew the value of a name brand law school and pretty soon it was ingrained in my mind that if I went to any law school other than the T-14, I would not be getting a $160K/year job.

I took the LSAT twice (got the same miserable score both) and cancelled a third time. I felt dejected. Despite my pretty decent undergrad GPA, I knew that I would not be getting into a T-14 school no matter how hard I tried. The best schools I got accepted into were Boston College Law School and then off the waitlist at Washington and Lee. I knew W&L was in the middle of nowhere and wouldn't translate well if I wanted to go back to NY.

I visited BCLS (and honestly, at the time I didn't know the difference between BC and BU). During Admit Day, I fell in love with the people there. Everyone I met was friendly and seemed very genuine. I knew they had a very strong reputation in Boston and that it would be very doable for me to transfer back to NY from Boston. I decided to go. I remained extremely worried that I would be racking up lots of debt with no payoff. Everyone also told me that since I wasn't going to a top tier school ( e.g. see above list), I would need to be literally at the top of my class to compete with the Harvard kids.

This past summer, I interned for a federal district court judge in the Massachusetts District Court. I finished pretty well in my class (nowhere excellent, but decent). I wrote onto a journal. I recruited in both NY and Boston. At the end of September, I had offers from two of my first choices-- both of which are nationally ranked in the top 15 by Vault and ranked in AmLaw's A-List as well as the AmLaw 100. Both are firms I thought I would NEVER get into b/c I went to BCLS and because quite frankly, most of the people going to these firms ARE from the T-14. A lot of where you end up is what you put in.

I know classmates who were bottom 50th percentile, but had strong work experience that helped them get BigLaw jobs. Others just did really well in law school, but they came in with weaker undergrad degrees. It all depends on what you have to offer. Yes, my ivy league undergrad helped. My internship with the judge helped. If you are determined to do well, you will. I know friends who are at USC and Georgetown (much higher ranked schools than BC) who cannot get a job b/c they performed poorly in law school.

One last thing-- your LSAT is not indicative of how you will do in law school. Most of my friends on law review (top 10% of the class had LSAT scores below the 25th percentile). Law school is about having a good work ethic and discipline. The main point is, if you are going to law school b/c you don't know what else to do, then you should probably think about it long and hard. However, if you think the law is something that will challenge you and you know that you're going to put in the time and effort, then it's a good option. No matter where you go, you will have to do decently.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Applying to Harvard Law School?

Today I had the opportunity to attend a talk by the Harvard Law School admissions representative. She was addressing UCSB students and a local client invited me to attend.

I thought this would be fun since I used to be the one giving the law school "shpiel" when I was director of admissions at different ABA law schools. I was also hoping it would give me insight to help my law school admission consulting clients, some of whom are applying to Harvard Law School this fall.

What did I learn?

1. The admission committee at Harvard Law School does not watch videos or DVDs (you can't believe everything you see in Legally Blonde)

2. The Dean loves students and proves it by offering free coffee and hot chocolate in the mornings before classes.

3. The entering Fall 2007 class at Harvard Law School was about 50% people right out of college and 50% people 1-4 years out of college (give or take a few % points each way).

4. The Harvard law admissions committee makes most of its decisions after the December break.

5. Even Harvard agrees: on letters of recommendation, the content matters more than the prestige of the person signing the letter.

6. With the personal statement, address who you are today rather than who you hope to be in the future.

7. This was the most important thing I learned from her presentation: An addendum should be only 3 sentences. Fine to explain a weakness in the application, but be very brief.

8. Multiple LSAT scores? Harvard looks at all of the scores but places more emphasis on the higher test score. (Like 99% of schools).

What bugged me?
1. The repeated statement: "The LSAT and the Undergraduate GPA are not unimportant." Ok. The double negative sounds nice, but she's really just saying they are important.

2. The goal of the presentation seemed to be debunking myths about Harvard. We learned that Harvard's admission committee is not made up of old white men in bow ties and ascots. Rather, 6 or 7 admission professionals each read applications (as does the dean of admissions, who reads all of them) and the faculty admission committee reads those that are "bumped up" from the staff. She did, however, admit that files are categorized according to LSAT and GPA, but said this is basically just as easy as alphabetizing and she didn't say what impact the numbers had on the process of file evaluation.

What really impressed me about Harvard?
The sliding scale low income debt assistance program. If it really is as she described - a check from Harvard each month for 10 years based on how much you make versus the amount of your loans - then that's amazing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Should You Cancel Your LSAT Score?

My phone has been ringing off the hook this weekend. Everyone wants to know - Should I cancel my LSAT score?

The good news is that in today's law school admission landscape, the highest of mulitiple LSAT scores is the one that matters. As a result, there is very little reason to ever cancel a score.

The Answer is YES if:
1. You completely screwed up. Did you mis-bubble? Leave a whole section blank? Get violently ill in the middle of the exam? Fail to finish a significant portion of a section?
2. Getting the score would be so demoralizing to you that you would be unable to live with yourself.
3. You already have one LSAT score that you're happy with and you're pretty sure you did worse this time and you don't want to have to explain it in your application.

The Answer is NO if:
1. You are absolutely sure you want to go to law school in Fall 2008. Pinning all of your hopes on the December LSAT is dangerous. What if it goes even worse?
2. You want to apply early decision and/or early notification.
3. You're hoping to take advantage of the rolling admissions process and get things underway early.
4. You're not sure how you did but you didn't absolutely panic or anything.
5. You made a slight error, were unable to finish a question or two, but nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Coming this week: What to do while you're waiting for your LSAT score.

Also: A Reminder: Saturday, October 6th 9 am PST/Noon EST Free Webinar -
"I've Taken the LSAT; Now What?"
Sign up today - as of right now only 6 places are left so email me today:

Friday, September 28, 2007

How to Pay for Law School

Please check out Frugal Law Student for a great posting about how the new bill President Bush signed into law will impact your law school debt.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why Going to Law School is Worth The Sacrifice

I am shocked, outraged and offended by the esteemed Anna Ivey today. I think, as a result of her posting today at that I am going to stop having a link to her book on my web site.
Here's why:
Her premise is that it's only worth going to a "top tier" law school and that all other ABA law schools are a waste. She bases her conclusion on starting salaries and tuition dollars.
There's one very big problem with this logic; it fails to take into account salary growth through the years. I will give you a very personal example with very personal details:

I graduated from law school (the University of Miami School of Law, which Ms. Ivey would say was a waste) with loans in 1999. (You can see my interview on the Frugal Law Student for more details about my student loans). When I started practicing law, my starting salary was $65,000. Six months later, I was making $85,000 based on my performance and billable hours. The next year, I made $100,000. My starting salary was not a good indicator of whether my initial law school debt was worthwhile.

Can I use my husband as another example? He went to California Western School of Law. His starting salary as a first year attorney was something like $55,000. But he got bonuses and raises each year and within no time was making a six figure income.

These are just examples from my personal life; Ms. Ivey may not think very much of the schools that we graduated from but I will tell you these were absolutely worthwhile decisions. Today, we have a family and live in Santa Barbara, California where we enjoy a fabulous quality of life and my husband is always home for dinner no matter how many hours he bills.

Besides, if Ms. Ivey wants 180+ law schools in this country to go out of business for lack of students, who will serve the underprivileged? Who will be prosecutors? public defenders? Who will defend homeowners in the insurance bar? Who will take on injured workers? Law is not just about big firms. Is the practice of law a struggle? Is it sometimes a sacrifice? Of course. This is not a career for the lazy or unimaginative. This is a challenging career and a worthwhile one, no matter where you go to law school.

After the LSAT; What's Next?

Don't wait for your LSAT score; there are things you can do in the 2+ weeks that you're waiting for your score. Here are some of them:
1. Request letters of recommendation.
2. Have your transcripts sent to LSAC.
3. Finalize your resume, taking out things appropriate when seeking employment and adding in things that law schools want to know about.
4. Draft your personal statement and get it to the point that it's ready to be adapted to each school's request once you know your LSAT score and finalize your schools list.
5. Participate in one of my free 1-hour webinars entitled, "I've taken the LSAT; Now What?" The next two available dates are Monday, October 1st (8pm EST/5pm PST) and Saturday, October 6th (Noon EST/9a.m. PST). Each webinar is limited to the first 15 participants. To sign up, e-mail me at
6. Hire a Law School Admission Consultant to help you get going with all of these tasks while you wait for your score, and who can counsel you about your strategy in choosing schools once you have your score. Here is more information about Things to Consider When Hiring a Law School Admission Consultant.

Good luck on the LSAT this weekend!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Law School Personal Statement Tips

Here is a great post with advice from the University of Chicago Law School with tips about the personal statement (I concur with all of it)!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are You Ready for the LSAT?

The September LSAT is a little over a week away and a lot of my clients are starting to feel the pressure. Here are some things to keep in mind as you approach the exam date:

1. Have you prepared adequately? If you've spent 6-12 weeks steadily preparing, taking practice exams, fixing your mistakes, and you've seen at least some improvement since the first test or two, then you're probably ready for the exam.

2. Are you disappointed with your practice scores? Ask yourself why you're disappointed. Is it because you really liked the way a 165 sounded and your practice exams are steadily in the high 150s? Giving yourself a "goal score" is not a reasonable way of approaching this test. If you've prepared for the exam, take the exam.

3. Thinking about not taking the test or cancelling your score? Most schools are looking at the highest of multiple scores so there is almost no downside to taking it. If you're scared of being labeled by your LSAT score, remember this is not a number that you'll ever have to tell anyone about during job interviews. It's not going to be engraved on your tombstone. It's just an admission test and while you'll have to craft a strategy for yourself (picking the right schools for you) based on this exam outcome, it's not (despite what others might have you believe) the overall determining factor for your entire career and future.

4. Are you just not the best standardized test taker in the world? It's totally ok. Really. You're not alone. Do the best you can and work with it. I have clients who initially get into schools where their LSAT is far from being the best and they still graduate near the top of their classes. Also, I have clients who are initially somewhat limited by the LSAT in deciding where to apply but then they transfer to top law schools after earning solid grades during their first year.

Yes, the LSAT is serious. Yes, it is weighted pretty heavily in the law school admissions process. But don't let the goals that are right for someone else determine what you expect of yourself. I have clients with 170 LSAT scores who are still upset they didn't get a 174; they are just as upset as people with a 146 who didn't get the 150 they hoped they would.

Whatever your score is, you'll craft a strategy for success. Be confident in your own abilities and you will go far.

Monday, September 17, 2007

7 Ways to Save Money on Law School Applications

Thanks to my friend Brett McKay at Frugal Law Student for allowing me to guest host his great blog today. You can check out my article "Applying to Law School? 7 Ways to Save Money" there.
I urge law school applicants to read Frugal Law Student regularly, and to be honest the advice is so good that I often share his postings on tantric shopping with my friends who tend to go crazy with designer clothes. If you don't already read Brett's blog, you should.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Law Schools are Bullied by U.S. News Rankings

By now you know how I feel about U.S. News Rankings of Law Schools: The rankings are not the most important thing to consider in choosing a law school.

Last week, my post described how law schools are able to manipulate the data that goes into the ranking computation by offering application fee waivers to students they will never admit.
I also talked about how law school administrators and graduates vote on the schools without really knowing anything about them.

What is even more shocking, however, is that law schools keep the consequences of the rankings in mind with every decision - How to spend money, hire faculty, admit students, and create marketing materials. Here is a great article on the subject:
The conclusion of the article is that, because law schools make decisions based on how it will impact their rankings and not how students will benefit, picking a law school based solely on ranking is a mistake. The only reason to pick #31 over #39 is if it's the better law school for you(More on how to pick a law school here)

I apologize if you're getting tired of hearing this from me, but it's very important stuff. Make the best decision for your own future and do not get sucked into pressure. The more you know about what really composes the rankings, the better the quality of your decisions. The ability to ask the tough questions and not be afraid of the answers will serve you well in law school and in your career as an attorney.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Preparing for the LSAT? Tips and Strategies

When I googled "Preparing for the LSAT" this morning, I found a lot of bad information and a little bit of good information (which I promise to share with you here).

One post requires comment and clarification. It's called "Five Myths About Law School Admissions." It's unclear who authors this lawschoolratings site, but after a few links, I found a plug for EssayEdge, offering 100 free admission essays. If you don't know what's wrong with a free admission essay, then you're probably beyond my help : )

Below are my comments about the LSAT related advice given on this site:

Taking the LSAT Multiple Times:
While I agree that taking the LSAT without adequate preparation is not a good idea, I disagree that it will "destroy your chances for admission to a good law school." The article incorrectly states that schools will average mulitiple LSAT scores. As of June 2006, ABA policy states that schools will report only the highest of mulitiple LSAT scores and almost all law schools have switched to this format. Law Schools will see all of your scores within the last 3 or 5 years (depending on school policy) but the one that truly "counts" is the highest. You may choose to explain a low score anyway, but in most cases it will not be averaged with the higher score.

Why Do Law Schools Rely on LSAT Scores? What does the LSAT Prove?
Also, the Myths article is wrong about what the LSAT proves. It states that the LSAT is used just to have some objective criteria and doesn't provide evidence of anything concrete, but this is wrong. Each school's admission index formula is based on statistical evidence of who succeeds at that law school and who passes the bar exam on the first try. There have been many, many studies done on what the LSAT does and does not prove.
The LSAC and individual law schools spend a lot of money commisioning these studies. One study at the University of Dayton said:
"Both law school grade-point average (LGPA) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score were the strongest predictors of bar examination passage for all groups studied."
Similar research results can be found at
I'm not defending overwhelming emotional weight that is placed on a numerical score, but it is not totally baseless either.

Oh My Gosh, Is Everyone But Me Getting a 170 on the LSAT???
I usually discourage law school applicants from listening to other law school applicants - it's the blind leading the blind and you don't know whose opinion you can trust. There also seems to be an overwhelming (vocal) contingent out there from the "I have a 170 LSAT score and so should you" club. All this does is demoralize 99% of LSAT takers (and also 99% of law students and future lawyers!!). However, if you can look past this, there are some worthwhile LSAT Tips by a future law student.

And here's a blogger whose LSAT strategies are not ideal, but at least he doesn't take himself too seriously.

Here's someone who did take him/herself seriously (back in 2005) with regard to LSAT prep and specific question-answering strategies.

And of course, I always think Austin at the CALI PreLaw Blog has a good perspective on these things, so please check out his postings on the subject of LSAT Tips.

My #1 tip for LSAT Preparation, RE-Taking the LSAT, LSAT Advice, and Perspectives for people with very low LSAT scores are all available on my blog.

Good luck on the September LSAT and don't wait for your score to get started on your applications!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six Mistakes People Make in Law School Personal Statements

Here are Today's 5 Words & Phrases that make me Cringe in Personal Statements:

1. "Worldview"(I'm not convinced this is really a word.)

2. "Personally..." (It's a personal statement - of course everything you say is your own personal opinion. If it's not, you're doing something wrong.)

3. "In Conclusion...." (Blech! Just conclude; Don't announce that you're concluding.)

4. "I believe" (It doesn't matter what you believe about your ability to succeed in law school or what you believe is important in your application - the fact that you believe it is immaterial. Just state the facts so that the reader's independently-arrived at conclusion is that he or she believes whatever you're trying to prove.)

5. "Unique" (Very few things in this world are "unique", especially the use of the word 'unique'.)

6. "Firsthand Experience" (What is a second hand experience and why would anyone write about it? Of course your experiences are "firsthand"....Again, I'm not convinced this should really be a word.)

P.S. This list is not all-inclusive. As I read more personal statement drafts this fall, I promise to post additional tips on the subject of personal statement.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Did a Law School Offer you an Application Fee Waiver?

I always learn something while reading Brian Leiter's Law School Reports blog and rankings site and here's a fact he posted about U.S. News Rankings that got my blood boiling (but for once I'm angry at the law schools and not at the ranking-fallacy issue):

"2.5% of the overall score [US News Ranking] is the acceptance rate for students. Highly Manipulable. . . . many schools inflate their "selectivity" by giving fee waivers to applicants who have no chance of getting in. NYU is reported to have pioneered in this arena, but many others have followed suit."

So many of my clients get excited and e-mail me when a school offers them a fee waiver. I don't like that law schools are preying on the hope and vulnerabilities of law school applicants (especially my applicants) and this makes it very easy to fight back -

If your numbers aren't in the realm of realistic possibility for a school and they offer you a fee waiver without knowing anything about you, don't get sucked in. It's a silent protest, but a worthwhile one.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

How to Judge a Law School's Reputation?

Today, the Chronicle of Higher Ed posted an article which points out one of the flaws with the US News Law School Rankings. Today's reason for taking the rankings with a grain of salt is that the people who are voting on reputation don't know anything about the law schools they are ranking (except how they have already been ranked by the magazine in the past). It's a self-fulfilling prophecy based on an unglued house of cards.

All of this is very important to law school applicants; make informed choices about where to apply. Don't buy into the Rankings in making life decisions unless you understand the methodology behind them. You're entering a profession where you will be trained to think and approach all sides of an issue. Start now.

Thanks to AboveTheLaw for calling my attention to this, and to PrawfsBlawg's posting with fascinating comments following on the subject of judging a law school's repuation.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Early Decision Deadlines for Law Schools

Some of my clients are already submitting law school applications. Most schools made them available September 1st although there are a few hold-outs. One of the first decisions you'll have to make after solidifying your schools list is whether to apply under an Early Decision program.

The rule with Early Decision applications is that this is a binding agreement you are making with the school; if admitted, you will attend that school and withdraw all applications from other schools. In return, you will receive your admission decision a little bit faster (usually before Winter Break). The caveat is that in many cases your application will simply be "deferred" until the "regular" admissions cycle. But Early Decision is a great option for that school that you know, no matter what, you would attend.

Most schools with an Early Decision option have deadlines in November. Here are a smattering of schools and their Early Decision deadlines. (Please keep in mind that you should check each school's deadline and Early Decision information independently and not rely solely on this list). Also, please take note that for most schools applications must be complete by this date and not merely submitted by this date.
American 11/14
Case Western 11/15
Chicago 12/1
U. Cincinnati 12/1
Columbia 11/15
Georgetown 11/1
Hofstra 12/1
Houston 11/1
Indiana 11/30
Kent (Chicago) 11/1
Michigan 11/15
Missouri 11/15
NYU 11/15
Northwestern 12/1 (interview by 11/15)
Notre Dame 11/1
Ohio State 11/14
Pace 11/3
Texas Tech 11/1

And here's an independent list I found online of early decision deadlines at top law schools. (But beware - it's from 2006-2007)

Great Resource for Low LSAT Applicants

For those of you who struggle with the LSAT and are from low-income and/or groups under-represented in the legal profession, you should know about the 6-week intensive CLEO program. This is a great opportunity for those who have overcome significant disadvantage to seek a law degree.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Worst Law School Admission Book I've Read

I just spent $32 so that you don't have to!

A parent of one of my clients told me about a book - "The Law School Admissions Guide: How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Admitted to Law School! Despite your LSAT Score and GPA. Secrets of the Admissions Mystique Revealed." She said it was great (despite the ridiculously long title)

Here was my first clue that something was fishy when the book arrived: There was no author listed on the cover. And no bio of the author anywhere in the book. It's also only 75 pages long. (That's 42 cents a page!)

So today (very exciting) I had a hair appointment and brought along my new book. In the amount of time I waited for my highlights to set, I'd read every word of this book and here are my reasons for saying it's the Worst Law School Admission Book I've Read:

1. Apparently the author's experience with law school admissions is limited to the following:

  • He applied to law school.
  • His close friend applied to law school.
  • He was admitted to law school (although he doesn't say which law schools)
  • He talked to a couple of law school employees.
  • He read the website
  • He was a "member of the student recruitment team" at his law school which he describes as "a group of students who assisted with administrative duties in the admissions office."

When I went to his website, I learned that he went to the University of Florida and graduated two whole years ago. I also learned he is related to four other people who are lawyers. Wow. I'm impressed. His website also states that he does application counseling in his down time from being an assistant state attorney.

Why is all of this important? Because law school applicants need to be very careful about where they are getting their advice. There are law school admission consultants and pre-law advisors who are (hopefully!) trained and experienced with helping people apply to law school. But there is a lot of advice out there being shoveled at you (for $32 a pop!) by people who may not be as qualified.

2. I also take issue with the actual advice offered in the book for the following reasons:

  • The entire first chapter merely repeats information otherwise available from the website.
  • This book includes ONLY THREE PARAGRAPHS about the PERSONAL STATEMENT. IS he kidding??????? And it's all about how a very generous law school admission director called him after the first edition of his book came out and chastized him for not discussing the importance of mentioning overcoming adversity and hardship.
  • He concentrates a lot on index scores but this is completely meaningless to a law school applicant. Yes, law schools use something called an "index" score which is the calculation used by that school to determine weight on the GPA and LSAT (developed through a complex statistical analysis of who performs well academically and on the bar exam at that particular institution). But even if you can find out your index number at that school, schools are not going to tell you which pile your application will land in as a result (presumptive admit, presumptive deny, committee review). And schools will never ever tell you how they calculate their index. So what good does it do to know your index as this author suggests?
  • There is a chapter on LSAT prep that mentions only three companies and goes so far as to offer a discount to one of the smaller companies that I've never heard of. A good page of this book is advertisement for that company
  • He talks about the importance of "meeting" deadlines. There is absolutely no mention of the rolling admissions process!!!! Nothing about how important it can be to apply early. Nothing about the pros and cons of Early Decision/Early Notification. Nothing.
  • He suggests using a cover letter and fancy paper. PLEASE DON'T DO THIS. It's annoying and silly and unnecessary and egotistical and arrogant. When I got these applications as a law school admission director, I'd roll my eyes. It's just extra paper to photocopy and file and if the law schools wanted this, they would ask you for it.
  • There are three pages on "Who You Know" and how you should invent personal contacts to network for you to the law schools. Please don't do this. He even says that law schools hate this. Why do you want to do something that law schools hate?

3. Is there anything in this book that Ann Levine/ LawSchoolExpert actually agrees with? Yes, believe it or not, and here are those points:

  • The importance of choosing a law school by its location (but this emphasis is outweighed, in my opinion, by the constant reference to "top" law schools)
  • I completely agree with this sentence on page 31: "One of the most common errors students make when applying to law school is the failure to realistically evaluate and make an honest assessment of their chances for admission to a particular school." I agree. This is why a law school admission consultant/pre-law advisor is helpful - he/she can analyze your credentials, strengths and weaknesses and give you an honest assessment.
  • Do not handwrite your application.
  • The law school resume is a different beast than the human resources/employment seeking resume. I liked the idea of including names of significant papers drafted during college.

I detest being negative in advice I give one-on-one or on the blog. And ranting like this (I hope my readers know by now) is uncharacteristic. However, I can't stand someone who I perceive to be taking advantage of law school applicants who are vulnerable to any advice. What is that line from that movie? People are so desperate for leadership that they'll listen to whomever is talking? I need to find that quote and movie.... If you know it, please leave me a comment so I'm not up all night thinking about this.

And enjoy your Labor Day Weekend with a $32 barbeque on me : )

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Summer's Best Law School Admission Advice

Just in time for Labor Day Weekend (and my family excursion to Chicago which will take me away from the blogosphere for a few days in honor of my grandmother's 90th birthday - Happy Birthday, Grandma!), I want to recap the best law school admission advice posted on LawSchoolExpert this summer:

The #1 most important discussion of the summer is how to decide what law schools to apply to and the ways in which rankings are (and are not) helpful. For the best discussion on this crucial topic see links to opinions about US News rankings and lots of people who disagree with the emphasis (mis) placed on law school rankings including:

The rest of the most important LawSchoolExpert advice from Summer 2007 includes:
1. How many law schools should you apply to?

2. Discretion and Professionalism are important as you essentially are applying to become an attorney. Think about how you are communicating with law schools and what image of you is projected out there in the web-wide world as you're applying to law school.

3. Who can you depend on for sound advice about applying to law school? Not just any lawyer is qualified to help with law school applications. Instead, strongly consider hiring a law school admission consultant who is invested in your success and has experience evaluating law school applications.

4. Looking for LSAT tips and advice and/or dealing with a low LSAT score? If you're taking the September LSAT, Re-applying to Law School, or just looking for general LSAT advice then there is a lot of information from this summer that would be of interest to you.

5. Want to know how and when to get started applying to law school? The ideal law school application timeline and the importance of rolling admissions in the law school process will be helpful to you. If you're thinking about waiting to take the December LSAT, there are things you should know about that decision.

Please let me know how I can continue to provide helpful and relevant advice for law school applicants and pre-law students. I love comments and you are also welcome to contact me directly at
Have a wonderful holiday weekend.