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!