Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Grades at Harvard Law?

Here's a very interesting discussion about a potential grading change at HLS on Brian Leiter's blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Public Interest Loan Repayment News

Aaron at Equal Justice Works sent me this email today:

More info was announced today regarding the College Cost Reduction & Access Act. The U.S. Department of Treasury confirmed that loan forgiveness for public service under CCRAA is not taxable. Great news for lawyers planning on entering public service after law school! Visit the Equal Justice Works Blog for more info.

Support Law Students Working in the Public Interest

Please support the University of Miami School of Law's HOPE program - in its 10th year "Making a Difference Through Legal Advocacy and Service" - by bidding or donating.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Countdown to the October LSAT

Ok. I know you October LSAT takers out there are getting nervous with only a week to go. I'm not an LSAT tutor, but I know that the biggest thing that can hurt your LSAT score between now and next Saturday is your NERVES.

To that end, this will seem like elementary and rather obvious advice, but if you are feeling the jitters, or psyched out, or getting paranoid, or exhausted, or any combination of the above, here are my suggestions:

1. STOP READING DISCUSSION FORUMS. Seriously. They will only make you crazy. And it's very addictive to read about everyone's 175 diagnostic scores and feel really bad about yourself. (See, K.H., it's not just you ; )

2. STOP LISTENING TO ADVICE ABOUT THE TEST. If you don't know the tricks now, you're not going to know them a week from now. Keep practicing, do what you know how to do, and don't try to learn anything new that might confuse you this late in the game.

3. CONSIDER YOUR READINESS. Pre-test nerves are normal and expected. The key is whether you can get your head around it and get excited for the challenge. Do you feel ready to show what you can do? If not, then consider why - and whether those factors are things that will change with a day's perspective or whether they can only be fixed through additional study.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Over 30 and Applying to Law School?

Some of my favorite clients to work with are those who are applying to law school in their 30s, 40s, and - yes, even 50s. The reasons I enjoy working with these individuals are the same reasons why law schools like to have these individuals:

1. They are pretty darn aware of what they are doing. To give up a career, a family routine, a significant income, time away from the important people in their lives in order to go to law school is a huge sacrifice. Anyone willing to do this is dedicated to the idea of obtaining a legal education; this is not something being undertaken on a whim.

2. Non-traditional law school applicants understand the financial commitment of a legal education. They make wise choices about where to attend and where to apply because they have - through experience in the working world - gained an appreciation for financial realities. They care less about rankings and more about cost, less about prestige and more about scholarships, less about big firm jobs and more about working their way in to a career from the ground up. This requires humility and practicality, and having your priorities straight.

Whether you've been in real estate or teaching or medicine or private industry, the move to attend law school is almost always a well-considered decision and not a way to duck out of the work force during bad economic times. So, what do you need to be aware of as you apply to law schools?

1. Transcripts - don't go to the same lengths to explain a bad semester as a recent graduate would. No one will expect that grades more than 10 years old are much of an indication of your academic abilities anymore. If you have more recent coursework to show for yourself, and you excelled, that can be helpful but is certainly not something you should go out and get just for this purpose unless your grades were really awful. If so, a few extension courses in sophisticated topics might not be the end of the world. (But perhaps not paralegal certificate programs just for the hell of it, ugh..It's pretty transparent unless you are actually working as a paralegal.)

2. Letters of Rec - this is where most non-traditional law school applicants get frustrated and paranoid. They may look up professors they had 20 years ago (please don't!) or ask their best friends - all lawyers - to write them letters of rec, or their pastors to write character references. Schools understand you may not want your current employer aware of your plans to attend law school, so think outside of the box. Volunteer work? Do you sit on the board of an organization or business? A former employer/supervisor? A professor from one of the aforementioned extension courses? Here are more tips about LORs for non traditional applicants.

I know most non-traditional applicants are really wondering not about these things, but about the following - "How will a law school see me as an applicant?" and "How will a law school treat me as a non-traditional student?" Look, there's no way around the fact that you're going to find yourself feeling a little bit alone in the classroom. However, I remember my law school section's favorite (and nicest) member was Jim, a retired military guy in his 50s or 60s who drove 75 miles each way just to attend law school. And another of the cool people I remember was a mom in her 50s who ended up being on Moot Court Board and the Honor Council. Law schools know you have contributions to make to the classroom environment and to the school in general.

How will you be treated? Go visit the school and see. Sit in on a class. Talk to the older students that you see. Is there a part time option? You may be more likely to find other non traditional law students there. Ask the admission office to introduce you to something they think you would be able to relate to.

One of the qualities I enjoy in my "older" clients is that they are not ashamed to take initiative, they know how to advocate for themselves appropriately, and they understand they are consumers faced with options and choices. Use this to your advantage and ask questions like a consumer should.

For more resources, see:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

LawSchoolExpert is now on Twitter....

You can now follow me everywhere, getting little snippets of the advice I give my clients regarding their law school applications, on twitter at

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What to Ask at an LSAC Law School Forum

I received a great comment on a previous post about LSAC Law School Forums that led me to provide some information about questions you should consider asking law school representatives at forums.

Here's a link about financial aid related questions to ask.

And here's a great list put together by the University of Nevada, Reno Career Services Department. The questions are fantastic. The key is NOT to ask each law school all of these questions. The key is to pick a few that are most important to you and ask them to several law schools so you get some basis for comparison.

Here are 3 tips for law school forums:

1. Please remember not to take up too much of any one person's time.

2. If you do have a meaningful conversation with a law school's representative, get that person's business card and send a thank you e-mail or note.

3. Remember it's in the best interests of the school to encourage you to apply, so don't take anything they say too seriously or as being extremely encouraging of your application - no false hope just because someone hands you a fee waiver for the application.

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not hitting your Goal LSAT Score?

I'm fielding a lot of calls and emails right now from people scheduled to take the LSAT in October who are not seeing the kind of progress with their LSAT practice scores that they would like to be seeing. Here are three thoughts geared toward those individuals:

1. If you set a "goal" score, and you're stressing over not hitting that score, then that's not a reason to stress. See this post I wrote last year about why a "goal score" doesn't work on the LSAT - this is an aptitude test and not a rote memorization test, so working longer or harder doesn't necessarily translate into a higher LSAT score result.

2. A lot of you take a series of practice tests, only to panic when you get a lower score on one than you did on the previous one. No one sees a perfect upward trend on practice tests - relax! This is part of practicing. Don't let this get you down.

3. If your month of September has been crazier than you anticipated (you're back at school, starting a new job, helping with sorority rush, etc.) then consider waiting for the December LSAT. Yes, it means a disadvantage in terms of rolling admissions, but it's always better to apply with a higher LSAT score than a lower one (unless we're just talking a 1 or 2 point increase). So if you feel that waiting could raise your score significantly, then it's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Applying to Law School Early Decision/Early Notification

I published this about a year ago, and it's suddenly time to talk Early Decision/Early Notification again.

Please keep in mind that I'm not sure Early Decision/Early Notification is worth getting very excited about. The decision you receive may just be "we've decided to defer your application to the regular admission cycle" or a waitlist decision. I like something I see Duke doing for "preferred" applicants and promising a response within 10 days of application completion, but even so - we'll see what those decisions end up being.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Medical School Advice that Applies to Law Applicants

Here's a link to a cute little video by someone giving the Top 10 tips for medical students applying for residencies. Only listen to Tips 10-4 - they absolutely apply to law school applications. (Tips 1, 2 and 3 sound Greek to me : )

Deciding Whether to Take the October LSAT

I'm getting a lot of calls from people signed up for the October LSAT who are wondering whether they are really ready to take the test. The number one thing law school applicants in this quandry want to know is whether it's better to apply early with a lower score, or later (with a December LSAT score) that's a few points higher. I always tell my clients it's better to have 5 points on the LSAT and apply at the end of December than to have the lower score and apply in November.

Here's a post I wrote last year that may help you to decide whether to go ahead and take the LSAT in October, or wait for December. It's called "Are you Ready for the LSAT?"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Someone has been Stealing My Work

I want to thank one of my clients for notifying me that an anonymous blogger was stealing my work by publishing my articles without citing me as the author or linking back to my blog.

They took this post about Law School Personal Statement tips word for word and published it at
They did the same with my popular guest post by Marni Lennon about public interest law
and published it as their own work at

I'm asking all of my loyal readers to leave comments on this article pointing back to my blog so that people who find these articles in google news's a.m. push are directed to the source and these plagiarists are not allowed to get away with stealing content.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Law School Expert News

Just wanted to give you three updates regarding my law school admission counseling services:

1. Yes, I still have room for Fall 2009 applicants. I limit the number of clients I work with at any given point, but am currently accepting clients. (I've gotten a few emails inquiring about this, so I wanted to let everyone know).

2.My rates will be going up on September 15th. If you sign up before then, you will save more than $350 on my Option A "The Works" law school consulting package.

3. I have put together two "Power Papers" - "Six Secrets to a Successful Personal Statement" and "Tips and Tricks for Law School Admission: A timeline of hints for law school applications". Both of these papers will be included in the Option A package effective immediately.

I do offer a free initial consultation for anyone interested in having their own personal law school admission coach. Please see my website for more details.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Little Law School Humor....

I want to thank one of my former clients, now a 1L at a top law school, who has been sending me pithy little stories about her first few weeks of law school. I thought my readers would get a kick out of the e-mail she sent me today (S- thanks for letting me share it! I think it shows that the Socratic Method isn't quite as scary as law school applicants believe....)

Things my Contracts professor actually said in class last week:

"If you say President Bush is competent, you are wrong. If you say President Bush will do something right, and clearly he doesn't (because he can't), did you break a promise?"

"Raise your hand if you think what the defendant did was wrong. Ahhh, all the social workers."

"Katie, Mary...these are all lovely names. I thought people in your generation all had atrocious names like Tiffany."

"Drinking champagne at dinner is nice, but making your own Jager Bomb at home is just sad."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Law School Applications are Now Available

That's right - it's officially time to start applying for Fall 2009 law school admission. Many schools have already released applications on, and others will be doing so in the next few days and weeks. But don't rush - take your time filling them out. There's no good reason to submit applications on September 1st - better to do your applications smartly and perfectly than to simply be first.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day Weekend.