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.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Don't ask a lawyer for Law School Admission Advice

People applying to law school often say, "I had a lawyer read my personal statement and he said it's fine."
I finally found a really good post supporting my position that it is an absolutely horrific idea to ask a lawyer for any kind of advice about applying to law school- and no one will be able to say it's self-serving for a law school admission coach to say so. Here it is for your consideration, in a posting intended for an audience of lawyers. I love it! (Lawyers, I hope you take note: the next time a law school applicant asks for a letter of rec or LSAT advice, please refer her to a pre-law specialist.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

More Background on Law School Loan Forgiveness

Thanks so much to Austin at CALI PreLaw Blog for jumping on my bandwagon and publicizing Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs). In today' s post, he gives a great explanation of what LRAPs are and why they are important. Check it out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pretend Mom is Looking at your Law School Application

I just found an old but dead-on post from a law school admission office warning people against using e-mail addresses that are not entirely appropriate for law school-law applicant communication. is not the name of a law school applicant - and if it is the name of an applicant then that applicant needs another e-mail address expressly for the purpose of communicating with law schools. (But don't go out and grab either, now that I think about it)
This relates to my previous posting about googling yourself too - make sure your facebook and myspace pages are at least unoffensive. I'm on facebook (as many of you have learned) and my guess is I'm not the only "adult" (aka law school admission officer) who knows how to do a search.
You are entering a profession and you are about to connect with the people you'll be practicing law alongside. What impression do you want these people to have of you and your abilities?
Start acting accordingly now. Professionalism and maturity go a long way, and so does discretion.
I know I sound like a huge loser for lecturing on this topic, but now is the time to consider these issues. I promise, you'll thank me later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's Important in Choosing a Law School?

Please check out another great posting on the Location vs. Rankings topic

And another great resource

Thanks to everyone who is speaking out on this to educate applicants about what's important to consider in the law school selection process.

Law School Location is Most Important

I just had the pleasure of finding another blogger who agrees about the importance of location in picking a law school:
I love her comments about the unimportance of rankings in making this decision. It's so important to get the word out that people feel this way and I hope you'll send lots of people to her article on it, and also to my posts about rankings and location.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

List of Law Schools with Loan Repayment Programs

A few readers have posted comments about Law School Loan Repayment programs, otherwise known as LRAPS. I can't find a compiled list of these programs and similar resources so I thought I'd attempt to create one based on the ABA LSAC Official Guide and my own google searches.
Here are some great resources on the topic:
1. For information about what an LRAP is and who might qualify, as well as private (non-school) funding sources, check out
2. For the ABA's work urging law schools to take on these programs (and good data about why the programs are important) check out
3. Definitely check out the Equal Justice Works E-guide to public interest programs at law schools (including the number of grads taking on public interest work) at, It looks like you can search by LRAP program for Fall 2008 but that information doesn't appear to be fully updated yet. In either event, this is a fantastic resource - I'm really impressed.
4. Department of Justice LRAP
5. Vault. com describes LRAP programs in a general, introductory way at
6. For Virginia Lawyers
7. Anyone from -or attending law school in- Maryland
8. For attorneys in Texas
9. A great article about law schools adding LRAP programs
10. Other states offering LRAP
11. District of Columbia Bar Foundation

Individual Law School LRAP Programs (again, not all inclusive)
1. For the most complete list I can find, go to
2. Stanford Law School's LRAP program actually includes a calculator on its site to figure out what your payments would be
3. Yale Law School LRAP application
4. Berkeley
5. University of Chicago
6. University of Michigan
7. U. Penn
8. Loyola Law School
9. Wake Forest
10. Harvard
11. UVA
12. Iowa
13. UC Davis
14. Maine
15. Notre Dame
16. Pepperdine
17. Emory
18. Brooklyn Law Center
19. Fordham
20. Columbia
21. Colorado
22. Washington University School of Law
23. Duke
24. UGA

And what about those of you with lower LSAT scores? Yes, there are LRAP options for you. Check out:
1. Roger Williams
2. Creighton
3. Seton Hall
4. Tulane
5. William Mitchell
6. Rutgers
7. Pace
8. Suffolk
9. Penn State Dickenson
10. Hofstra
11. Vermont
12. Hawaii

I'm sure there are lots more schools, but I'm exhausted from all of this research and I have a few clients who would probably appreciate hearing back from me about their personal statements, etc. If lists like this are helpful, please do let me know and I'll try to block out time to do research and share the results with all of my law school applicant readers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Taking the September LSAT?

Put away everything else and just study for the LSAT. You don't want to have to retake this test in December if you don't have to because there is a huge advantage to completing your applications as early as possible. You have 6 weeks. Now is the time to put away thoughts about your personal statement and schools and everything - preparing properly for the LSAT is the best thing you can do for your law school applications right now. Then, while waiting for your score you can do the personal statement, resume, addenda, etc.
Stay motivated! Don't think about a back-up test in December. Put everything you can into the next six weeks. And for those of you getting frustrated with your practice test scores, remember you still have 6 more weeks to improve. It's not too late to call a tutor and put more time in.
What is my #1 tip for LSAT prep?
Review every answer, even if you got it right. After all, you might've gotten it right by accident!
Good luck and hunker down!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Law School Admission Consultant

I just put down the new issue of preLaw magazine, featuring an interview with three people giving admission advice for law school. I have to admit, the article makes me a little mad and I rolled my eyes more than once at the advice being given. At least two of the people interviewed are law school admission consultants and all 4 have written books on the subject.
One person (and I'm not sure whether she has ever evaluated a law school admission file) said if you have under a 3.0 you may want to re-evaluate applying to law school. WHAT? I'm shocked at this advice. Lots of my clients have GPAs under a 3.0 (and closer to a 2.0) and they get into fine law schools. What if people reading this give up on their goals because of this one purported "expert's" comment? That's one of the comments that makes me mad.
#1 So, the first thing to ask a prospective law school admission consultant is: "Do you work with other applicants in my situation, or only applicants applying to "Top 20" schools?" You need to find someone who is excited to work with you and help you through this process, no matter what your goals or where you hope to attend.
Another person, whom I think is one of the great legal minds in our country but not a great law admissions theorist says (loosely): "Get good grades. Do well on the "law boards." And get professors who will write you letters of Rec." Wow. Genius advice ; ) - And I've never heard anyone else call the LSAT the "law boards"....
A lot of the advice in the article seems geared toward the person trying to go to a Top 5 law school, but in reality only 2% of all law school applicants are going to attend these schools. There are 200 law schools in this country for a reason and everyone who graduates and passes the bar is a lawyer. #2 Will the law school admission consultant you work with realize this and place the same importance on each piece of your application that they will on the applicant applying to Harvard?
#3 Also, how much time does the consultant have to work with you?
#4 Is the person also helping people applying to MBA programs? Giving career advice to recent grads? Doing a book tour? Practicing law? How high up will you be on the priority list of this very busy person? I've had clients who started working with two of the individuals interviewed in this article who then stopped and started working with me instead because helping law school applicants is all I do, full time.
#5 How responsive will the law school admission counselor be to your needs?
#6 Does he/she have someone else do editing? Who will actually be picking up the phone and giving you advice?
#7 Do you need to make an appointment or do you feel free to call and have an open discussion whenever you're feeling overwhelmed, confused or down?
#8 How does the person charge? If it's by the hour, is that conducive to you really taking advantage of the individual's expertise and asking every little question that comes up?
#9 How fast will your e-mails and phone messages be answered? How quickly will your essay drafts be turned around?
#10 Does the law school admission advisor give the same advice to everyone - does everyone fill out the same questionnaire or does he/she really take the time to get to know you and give you the advice and timeline that applies to your specific situation?
#11 Is the person willing to give you references of current/former clients with similar goals, credentials, and geographic region?
#12 And, MOST IMPORTANTLY, Has the person actually made law school admission decisions?

Friday, August 10, 2007

How NOT to pick a law school

If you've been reading my blog and/or participating in my recent webinars, you know how I feel about U.S. News and World Report's ranking system and the extent to which it should be taken into account when picking a law school. You also know that the most important thing in choosing a law school is geographic location.
So what is not important to consider in picking a law school? Study Abroad Programs. These programs are marketed to you as potential students - "Come to X Law School and spend your summer in __(Country)___." The little known secret is this: As long as you attend an ABA law school, you can pretty much participate in any other school's summer abroad program. You don't have to go to U. of Miami to go to London - anyone can go.
This is also good to remember when you're making your personal statement relevant for each law school and trying to convince the admission committee how much you want to attend that particular school; a study abroad program is an unconvincing argument.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Take advantage of Rolling Admissions

Your future is ahead of you, and now is the time to grab it. Over the next few weeks, law schools will begin releasing their Fall 2008 applications. Most law schools start accepting applications September 1, and almost every law school operates on a "rolling admissions" system.
What does this mean? Law schools give away seats throughout the year. There are more seats available at the beginning of the cycle when law schools aren't sure they'll be able to fill their class, and there are fewer seats available once the law school has already reviewed thousands of applications. Makes sense, right?
Even if a school says they accept applications through June, it doesn't mean it's a good idea to apply in the spring. They keep their options open to let in that person with the 175 LSAT and 3.9 GPA and stellar record; it's not for the mid-range or reach applicants.
That being said, do you need to apply on the first possible day? No. Should you? No. And here's why:
1. Law school admission officers are off recruiting people to apply to their law school; they aren't spending their time in September reviewing very many files.
2. The office is still getting up to speed on its processes; data clerks are learning, changes are being implemented, LSDAS is trying new things. Let them work out the kinks a bit instead of experimenting on your file.
3. I'd rather see you take a few extra weeks, make sure you're submitting a quality product rather than a rushed one, and get the application submitted in October.
I consider any application submitted by the first week of November to be sufficiently early to take advantage of rolling admissions.
And any application submitted after the first of January is begging to be a wait list candidate....

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Law School Resume Tips

In today's posting, Brett of The Frugal Law Student gave one really great resume tip that applies to law school directed resumes, not just employment seeking resumes.

"Give figures and be specific. In your past job descriptions or volunteer section, give specific figures of what you accomplished while holding that position. For example, I used to train third party verifiers for gas and electric companies. Instead of just putting trainer, I put “Trained 15 new employees on how to perform third party verifications.” If your only job experience are part time jobs during college, put down how many hours you worked during a week while going to school full time. This shows employers that you know how to multi task and manage your time."

And here's my tip of the day on this subject: Put Education First. You're applying for a position at an institute of higher education. List your degree(s), honors, activities, etc. from education before listing your employment. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general it applies to everyone who graduated from college within the last 10 years.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Right Way to Think about Law School Rankings

How important are law school rankings in deciding where to apply and where to attend? My friend Austin at CALI pre-law blog said it perfectly in yesterday's post:

"The US News law school rankings are useful as a shorthand starting point for those of you initially looking into law schools. But you have to do your own research and pick out the data that are important to you based on your personal goals. "

I wholeheartedly agree and I immediately wrote Austin to thank him for sharing this advice with his readers. (And if you've read my book review of Susan Estrich's book and my postings under the Law School Location category, you know the reasons why I feel so strongly about this.) Austin was kind enough to write back with the following insight which I think is very important to share with my clients:

"I have to admit. I probably went to the school I am at right now based on rankings. That's what I heard and read a lot: "Go to the highest ranked school you can."
Well, that may have been a mistake that cost me in terms of the debt that I will be carrying as a result. I'm not sure the job prospects of someone outside of the top 10-15% at an upper 2nd tier school are significantly greater than for those at a lower 2nd tier school. But the scholarship opportunities were for me.
There are just so many other factors to consider. As a pre-law, there is just so much I didn't understand about the legal world!"

Even though I tell this to all of my clients, I think it's even more meaningful from a current law student and I thank Austin so much for allowing me to share his comments with my readers.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lawsagna has a link to my free webinar too!

Thanks so much to lawsagna for yesterday's posting: Thinking about going to Law School? Check out Law School Expert!
And yes, there's one more chance to sign up for my free webinar entitled "I've taken the LSAT; Now What?" so check out her posting for more details. I hope to "see" you there!

Curious about a Law Firm Job?

For those of you considering practicing law in medium-large size firms, please see some good news (for a change) in Blawg.