Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fall 2009? Law School Admission 101

Ok, it's practically August. Many of you are just getting underway preparing for the October 2008 LSAT. Some of you will start prep courses this week.

What else should you be thinking about right now?

1. Getting LORs (Letters of Rec) underway. Who will write them? What should they emphasize about you? Ask these people and give them deadlines 4-6 weeks out. Make sure to see for the cover form and be sure to sign the waiver. Here's more about law school letters of recommendation.

2. Your resume. What can you do to round out your experiences? Lacking work experience? Community Service? Time to get on it. Never do anything as resume filler, but if you have time to dedicate to something you've always wanted to explore, there's no time like the present. However, being a file clerk or runner at a law firm isn't the way to go... what a boring way to spend your summer, and what would this LOR say about you? "He was always on time and wore a tie." Not worth it. Better to do something that shows your true interests and passions. Here are more law school resume tips.

3. Really prepare for the LSAT. Please. Retaking in December should be a last resort; give it 100% this time around. Here's more about LSAT prep options. Here are more reasons not to "just wing it" on the October LSAT.

That's all for this Friday night. I'm happy to entertain suggestions for blog topics - so leave comments. Have a great weekend.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Additional Insights About Law School Rankings

The U.S. News Law School Rankings are Over-Emphasized

I love the idea of the U.S. News law school Rankings going to a "Top 10", 1st Tier, 2nd Tier, Regional Schools listing (as suggested by articles and comments here) because I hate to see law school applicants choose #21 over #24 simply because that's how the schools are ranked in a particular year. What this really shows is that law schools are really offering essentially the same education within a certain ranking range and that prospective law students are not necessarily looking at factors like location, who hires recent grads, where they hope to practice, etc...

"So Ann, tell us how you Really Feel about the Rankings..."

This is getting a little bit off the subject of rankings, but it does tie in with the over-reliance on law school rankings. You'd be surprised how many people decide where to attend law school without actually visiting the campuses they are considering - as though meeting people who run the school and attend the school (and seeing the facilities where they'll be spending 60 hours a week) were completely unrelated to performance in law school and networking in the job market....

For more about my observations relating to the usefulness (or lack of usefulness) of the U.S. News Rankings, see my previous post, "What do the Law School Rankings Really Mean?"

Law School Expert Wants Your Ideas for Future Topics

I am happily accepting suggestions for future blog topics. So feel free to use the comments section to provide ideas.

Please keep in mind that the blog format does not lend itself well to giving individualized advice (for example, your chances at a particular law school given your LSAT/GPA, etc.) For advice related to your specific situation, please consider contacting me through my law school admission consulting website, LawSchoolExpert

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choosing an LSAT Prep Course

There are basically 3 options for LSAT preparation:
1. Self-study;
2. A formal in-class prep course; and
3. Private tutoring.

(Please take note: failing to prepare and taking the LSAT cold are NOT options. See my guest blog post on this topic at integrated learning).

#1 - Self Study
Independent study for the LSAT works best for people who generally perform well on standardized tests - those near-perfect SAT scores tend to predict near-perfect LSAT scores. The best materials are using actual LSAT tests, and although I'm not an LSAT tutor I always recommend reviewing the answers to the questions you get right in addition to those you got wrong. (Often right answers as accidental....)

Also, preparing for the LSAT requires 2-3 months of consistent study. When you're consistently hitting within a range of 5-7 points on timed practice exams, then you're probably ready to take the exam and hit the score that is the correct measure of your aptitude. Remember - setting a goal score NEVER works; it only sets you up for disappointment.

#2 - Formal Prep Course
A formal in-class prep-course offers materials and benefit of discipline - someone gives you a study guide and a calendar and takes you through things step by step. Mostly, this makes you sit in a chair and think about the LSAT over a good 8-10 week period. You know all the big-gun companies: Testmasters, BluePrint, Powerscore, Kaplan, Princeton Review, yadda yadda yadda. I haven't participated in any of these, but the concept is the same. Pick one with a schedule that works for you, where the people seem customer service oriented, and go for it.

#3 - Private Tutoring
If your schedule prohibits the prep course, and/or you know you learn best with individualized tutoring and attention, then all the big companies offer this option, of course. There are a few other options also - Integrated Learning, and Test Prep NY are two that I'm familiar with.

Remember, if something smells fishy about an LSAT prep company, it probably is. See this post about Questionable LSAT Vendors.

I hope this helps!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Law School Letters of Recommendation

I tell my clients that the first thing they should be thinking about right now is letters of recommendation. It takes time to consider the right person, ask them, supply them with the appropriate information and materials, and then you have to wait until that (very busy) person gets around to writing your law school LOR, and then you have to wait even longer for LSDAS to process it.

So, in the spirit of helping with this process, here are 3 of my previous posts that will help you through choosing someone to write your letter of recommendation:
1. A common problem for non-traditional law school applicants is finding the right person to write a letter of rec when you've been out of school for more than a few years and you also don't want your current boss to know you're thinking about leaving for law school. Here's a post with LOR tips for non-traditional law school applicants.
2. A lot of undergrads (especially those at large public universities) really don't have close relationships with their professors. Here's some advice about what to do when you get a lukewarm reception from a professor whom you've asked to write you an LOR.
3. This week alone I've had 3 clients tell me they were considering asking family friends to write LORs. I don't care if the person is your dad's best friend and the mayor, or if the person was a dean at a nearby college, the answer remains the same. It's just not what law schools are looking for in evaluating your potential as a law student and a lawyer. Here is a post about the Family Friend Letter of Rec.

I hope this is helpful. Have a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Law Schools with January Start Dates

Some of my clients have been asking me about their options if they want to start law school in January 2009 instead of Fall 2009. I found this list on the internet and while I can't guarantee its accuracy, it provides a good starting point for research.

Friday, July 11, 2008

UC Irvine Law Announces Founding Faculty

For my So-Cal applicants, here is exciting news about the promising start for UC Irvine's law school. They will be accepting applications this fall.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Have an LSAT Score; Now What?

Here is a link to a post from last year about what to do once getting your June LSAT score. And here is a previous post that may help you decide whether to retake the LSAT or just go ahead and apply early in the rolling admissions process with your current score.

If you're keeping your score, then it's time to talk about selecting schools. Here are some posts that may be useful to you in starting this process:

1. How much of a role should a law school's ranking play in your decision to apply there? See this post about the emphasis on rankings.

2. How many law schools to apply to? See this post for a good rule of thumb on selecting schools.

The adventure begins!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A 2-year JD at a Top Law School

One of my readers asked me about my assessment of Northwestern's new 2-year JD program. Here is a great article about it by Brian Leiter.