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.