Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Choosing an Area of Law as a Specialty

You've probably heard (or read) my speech about not "picking a major" when applying to law school unless you can really, really, really back it up.

Anna Ivey's recent post about the downside of choosing International Law as an area of specialization when applying to law school is extremely relevant and I hope you'll find it helpful (although I'm sure a portion of my audience will find it discouraging).

I do agree with Anna on this point: most people applying to law school really have no idea what being a lawyer is really all about. I think that Anna has a great idea - if you're interested primarily in a specific area of law, you should try out that area as your profession before trying out the law part. (For example, try out the Entertainment Industry before trying out the Entertainment Law Industry).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

LSAT Advice

I'm not an LSAT tutor, but sometimes my clients give me great tips to pass on. Here are a sampling:

From S:

I am feeling much better about my LSAT progress ever since I finished the PowerScore books and utilized the materials at: .

Back when I was in college my favorite calculus professor used to say, "If you don't understand a particular concept in your text book, don't give up . . . just get a different text book." He was right. Often times a different text author would explain something in a way that even a knucklehead like me could understand. Eventually I would find that author.

The games were still killing me so with my teacher's words in mind I went online looking for a different explanation, and I found TestSherpa. The owner of TestSherpa gave me links to his four-hour long "Logic Games Workshop" and I'll be doing that tonight at home, after I leave work. I have a feeling that's going to solidify things a lot for me and then I'll resume taking practice tests tomorrow. The material's good and helpful. Why does he charge so little? I'm thinking maybe he's a disgruntled ex-LSAC employee or something.

Anyway, I think is a wonderful little find. I'll let you know how much I improve. I have a feeling I'll have some good news about TestSherpa to share with others.

From J:

By the way, the Powerscore Logical Reasoning Bible is also good. I liked the Logic Games one so much I decided to order another to try to further improve my Logical Reasoning scores, and I'm glad I did. Both books include good information and techniques for approaching formal logic and conditional reasoning, and they interact well with each other. I was in the US for the last few weeks and skimmed through a few of the general-purpose LSAT prep books (Princeton Review, Barrons etc) in a bookstore, and I was amazed at how superficial and generic they were in their advice. I've always been quite suspicious of the whole standardized-test-prep racket, so I feel strange writing these gushy testimonials, but Powerscore really does offer exceptionally effective methods.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Applying to Yale Law, and Applying ED t o Another School?

A very interesting (and a tiny bit self-serving) post from the Yale Law Admissions blog.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Help People Apply to Law School

I got a great phone call today from a client I helped 3 years ago in her law school application process. She had a REALLY low LSAT score - I think it was a 140 or something. And she has sent me a new client every year for the last 3 years. And today she called to tell me she's graduating from law school - and graduating as a member of the law review and on the moot court board. And she wanted my address to send me an invitation to her graduation!

Calls like this make my whole day! And they only emphasize that the LSAT isn't everything, and that if you really submit the best possible application materials, there is hope.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Concluding a Personal Statement

Most of my law school admission consulting clients struggle to state the reasons why they are applying to a certain law school. I want to offer some hints and tricks in this regard:

1. Do I have to say why I want to go to Law School X?
No. You don't. Unless X Law School asks you to, and then - yes - you do.
And if they offer this as an optional essay topic, and you don't do it, then - yes- I think (as a former director of admissions) that you're being lazy.

2. Is there some advantage to saying why I want to go to Law School X?
Yes. If you can convince them, they'll be more likely to admit you rather than wait list you and make you prove you deserve a coveted admission letter that they'll then have to report for rankings purposes.

3. So, what can I possibly say?
It's true - sometimes law schools just don't seem to be that different from one another, especially when they are ranked similarly.

Here are some tips:
a. Don't say you love their Environmental Law program if nothing in your application supports your interest in Environmental Law.
b. Don't pick a study abroad program as your reason; you can do any ABA school's study abroad summer program and transfer the credits (generally).
c. Don't list reasons that could be applied to any law school equally like 'esteemed faculty' or 'national reputation' or 'bar passage rate.' Be specific.
d. If you're applying part time, tell them why. Otherwise they'll think you're just using the part time program to be admitted through the "back door."

Good luck, and I hope I've inspired you to do a little more research and critical thinking about why you're choosing each law school on your list.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Best Personal Statement Samples

BU has posted some amazing personal statement samples. They are the best I've seen on the Internet. So, this is for all of you who love to beg me for examples of law school personal statements.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Law School

Don West, Jr. is THE guy. I admit, I was his unofficial campaign manager when he ran for SBA president 10 years ago, and the first in line for a hug when he won. And so it is no surprise to me that he is now SuperLawyer of the Universe. So, I asked Don to share with my readers his thoughts on the "Five Things I Wish I'd Known Before Law School." As someone who went to law school with Don, I can tell you he put a lot of thought into this and into his own experience during those very important 3 years. And, I think our continuing friendship proves his point about the importance of networking while in law school. So, without further ado..... Here's Don:

When Ann asked me to write a posting for her, my first response was, “Sure, no problem.” But upon further review of the question she posed, “What are five things you wished you knew before applying to law school?” That question ultimately caused me a severe case of writer’s block. There were so many unknowns and variables that I simply did not understand before I attended law school in 1997 that I was not sure what was valuable and what could be trimmed as trivial or inconsequential. I share all of that in part to apologize to my great friend Ann for the extreme delay in comprising this list of “Five things I wished I knew before I applied to law school”, so here it goes:

1) An understanding of the business principles of the legal practice. In most law schools excellent instruction is provided on legal reasoning, legal theory, research and writing. However, in many instances we are acquiring these skills for the purpose of generating an income to support ourselves and our families. Most law schools fall short in preparing students for handling the business behind the practice of law. It is important for all of us as legal practitioners to also be astute business men and women as it is a foundational element to our professional craft. I wish I had a more thorough understanding of this point going into law school.

2) An understanding of the value of networking. Law School Campus. In a way your law school becomes a part of your extended family. I say this because once you graduate with your Juris Doctor degree you are essentially married to that particular institution. So, no matter what your experience or opinion of the place, when people ask, “where you went to law school?” your alma mater is a name you cannot escape. I suppose you can get a new JD, but I have not met that person in my journeys just yet. With these facts in mind, the individuals that attend law school with you will be your life-long “partners” as you all progress from a common starting point. Understanding the basic principles of professional networking and utilizing the knowledge while on your law school campuses will reap a lifetime of rewards and many genuinely enhancing relationships.

3) An understanding of the value of networking. American Bar Association, Local Bar Associations & other Professional Organizations. Many people say, “You should go to law school where you intend to practice law.” I believe that one of the reasons that this is mentioned is because of the network you build in that local community in addition to the benefits of learning the laws of the local jurisdiction in your classes. The American Bar Association and your local bar association(s) can also be career long partners for your professional growth and development. Getting involved early allows you to explore the plethora of committees and sections throughout these organizations. Active participation will allow the astute networker to build meaningful national and local contacts to aid in your career’s numerous twists and turns.

4) A greater appreciation for academic excellence. As most law students know, grades are an important part of the law school process. I knew this fact going in, but I really could not articulate all the reasons why they were important. During my first year in law school I had the privilege of meeting Mary Ann Connors and she shared this insight, “Law students with superior academic records correlate into faster producing workers on the job. The skills they mastered in keeping up with their classroom assignments amidst all of life’s challenges are the same skills a law firm needs from its associates.” In addition to the great benefits of post-graduation employment, many law firms will ask to see your law transcripts five, ten and even fifteen years after you have graduated.

5) An understanding of the globalizing economy. Our next generation of super lawyers will work in a complex highly international marketplace. Understanding how the world is flattening and how a flat world impacts the legal sectors is an essential tool for the millennial lawyer.

Thanks, Don!!!!!!! I know this is really important and sage advice for all law school applicants and pre-law students and truly appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts with my readers.For more about Don, see

Best Law Schools for Public Interest

National Jurist just picked the Best Law Schools for Public Interest, so check it out....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tips for December LSAT Takers

Here are some previous posts that will offer insight and advice for those of you taking (or retaking) the LSAT in December:

Pre-LSAT Advice (with just a caveat - I am no longer accepting clients with LSATs below the mid-140s because I have not seen them be overwhelmingly successful in their admission attempts recently and I do not want to give anyone false hope - only realistic hope.)

Countdown to the December LSAT
(it's a little early for this pre-Thanksgiving advice but I hope it will still make you feel better)

What if you don't feel ready for the December LSAT? What are your alternatives? When reading this post, remember it's from last year so you have to change the dates in your head.....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mistakes to Avoid in Law School Applications

Ok, been reviewing a lot of applications this weekend so I want to tell you of some common mistakes people have been making:

1. Pay attention to whether a school wants you to list things in chronological order or reverse chronological order.
2. Don't submit a 4 page personal statement when 3 will do. Especially when a school has a 3 page limit.
3. Don't forget to check a school's guidelines for their personal statement topics.
4. Don't try to write a diversity statement if you have nothing to say. If it feels like a stretch, it is a stretch.
5. Be very, very careful about the things you attach electronically. Turn off Track Changes!!!!

Hope this helps!