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 : )


  1. Thanks for the review! There are so many books that people claim are must reads, "Getting to Maybe" etc. etc. etc. and it's nice to have an objective review by somebody who is attempting to be helpful rather than squeeze us for more money.

  2. That's one of my favorite lines! Here is is, from the American President:

    "Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

    President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference."