animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

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animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:44 pm

Not that I know the gospel on all things application, but I thought it might be helpful to offer my own insights to the application process while they are still fresh in my mind. I am planning to cover basically everything from after you take the LSAT to when you get into your dream school... and if it helps somebody get there, my job is done!

All of my advice is based on my personal experience and the way I found that worked FOR ME...I recognize that everyone is different in the way they go about it, I'm just offering one point of view. I am going to try to write a couple new sections a week for the next few weeks--feel free to post questions/comments or PM me.

Some of the things I hope to cover (from my perspective) in this blog (open to other suggestions if they are useful):
Timeline/preparation for applications
Things you can do to enhance your application package
LORs guides and help
Letters of Continued Interest
Scholarship negotiation
Being held/on waitlist
TLS/books/other resources

The Definitive Guide Chapter 1: Timeline for preparation/applications

1: I think that the absolute best time to take the LSAT if you have the option is the summer after Junior year (or, if you know you won't be applying during college, the summer after Senior year is fine too)

The reasons for my summer after Junior year argument are:

- You open the option to apply your senior year without simultaneously studying for the test and missing out on lots of Senior year fun...instead you'll be studying the spring of your Junior year and the beginning of your summer. In this case, you could choose to lighten your Junior spring courseload to focus on study Jan/Feb to the end of school, then focus until the June test and still likely have a summer internship/job/beach party or eight.

- You also leave yourself open to getting a job after college (and starting right after you graduate if you want to or need to) while having the LSAT in your pocket. It is a lot easier to spend time after work applying and writing a personal statement over months if you have to than it is to study while simultaneously working what might be an incredibly demanding job. Also, I found it much easier to keep my applications under wraps than I think it would have been to keep my preparation for the test under wraps for various reasons (I didn't have to leave early for a prep class or take a day off for the test itself) which in this economy was pretty crucial...I needed to keep my job!

- You take the test while you are still relatively close to academics and test taking as your normal 'day-to-day' I know that lots of people begin studying and take the test after they've been out of school for a long time and do just fine, but it can't hurt to have it be really close to the kind of work you are doing on a day to day basis already.

2. If you don't have a VERY SPECIFIC reason for applying to a particularly narrow set of schools, apply "everywhere"

If you are from Texas and know you want to only be in Texas, by all means limit your applications to schools in Texas. If you have a spouse and a child in upstate New York, if may make complete sense to limit your applications to that area or to apply early. BUT, if you are 60% sure you want to practice in Texas or have a family who is willing to consider moving with you, YOU SHOULD APPLY "EVERYWHERE"

Of course I don't literally mean EVERYWHERE. But don't neglect applying to anywhere above the Mason Dixon because you like warm weather and don't count out Michigan because you went to Wisconsin for undergrad and you couldn't see yourself attending a different Big 10 school for law school.
There are two main reasons I give this piece of advice. First, you never know what might end up floating your boat. Maybe you apply to Temple on a whim and it ends up WOWING you at the admit weekend and you fall in love. Second, one word: LEVERAGE. There are a couple of schools that were good, not great, that I applied to and probably wouldn't have IF I didn't follow the 'apply everywhere' method. However, not only did I get into those places, but they gave me HUGE scholarships, which I then proceeded to use as leverage for schools I DID really want and was accepted to with no automatic scholarship. So you have awesome scores/grades but know you wouldn't want to go to UChicago in a million years. It's just NOT you. NYU is YOUR DREAM. Fine! But apply there anyway, and you may be surprised with a scholarship from UChicago that might help you leverage $$ at NYU. You never know! And you certainly won't if you don't apply.

This advice becomes a little less useful the farther down in the rankings you go because region becomes much more important in your law school decision. However, even if this is the case and you want to be in south, for example, still plan to apply to a variety of 'qualities' of schools in that region, for the same reasons mentioned above.

Finally, I encourage people to use fee waivers (or ask for them) in order to facilitate applying "everywhere" I understand as every applicant does that it's not cheap to apply, and fee waivers will allow you to apply to more places across the spectrum.

3. Apply early. Apply early. Apply early. (with timeline)

This really should go without saying but lots of people seem to need it to be said. There are always good or great applicants who apply late in the cycle (like Feb.) and who definitely lower their chances BECAUSE they applied late. Don’t let that be you. As the fantastic applicant that you are, you should strive to make sure that adcomms have the fewest reasons to reject you/waitlist you. The last thing I wanted an adcomm to say about my application (in the adcomm meetings where they decide our fate) was, “we really like this kid, but...”

Any BUT is bad. So don’t give them the chance to say “…but we just don’t have room for someone with these scores/someone who was a professional roller derby-er/someone who was an I-banker at Goldman/anyone else” etc.

To facilitate early applications, I found it useful to set a hard deadline. For me, I planned a trip to Asia at the beginning of November. So whether I liked it or not, I had to have my apps all in before I went abroad! Personally, I used the following rough timeline:

May: Informally ask my recommenders if they’d feel comfortable writing me a killer rec for law school; register with LSAC and take a look at the past years’ applications for schools if they are available; create an initial list of places you are planning to apply

June: brainstorm ideas for my personal statement, pick up and read the Anna Ivey and Richard Montauk books on applying to law school; contact your undergrad to have a transcript sent to LSAC; research schools you are applying to (especially those that you are writing a Why X School essay for or that you will have an interview for/will visit)

July: Begin to write drafts of personal statement (and diversity statement if you are writing one)—you may want to write a few different drafts on different topics—and have a few close friends/former professors/others you trust and know are intelligent read them and provide feedback; revise/update resume; draft guide for recommenders (more on this later) and send off with a ‘deadline’ for them to send their letters into LSAC of Sept. 1; check school websites to see if interviews are available and make note of when you can register

August/September: Download all applications from schools and fill them out (this shouldn’t take too long); create spreadsheet with each school’s application requirements so you can keep track (e.g. Dean’s certifications, targeted LORs, additional optional statements etc); get additional fee waivers, tweak personal statements and begin working and revising any additional short essays (Why X school, for example); check in with recommenders to make sure they’ve sent in letters to LSAC; ensure that any Dean’s certifications or additional materials are en route to LSAC or the schools where you are applying; register for any interviews

October: Put finishing touches on all statements; make sure LSAC has all LORs and transcripts; hit send and APPLY!

4. What to expect AFTER you hit send and apply (hint: you are NOT done)

I thought after I hit send and applied to schools, I’d be totally done! I could “relax”, focus again on my super stressful job, and wait for the acceptances to roll in.

WRONG. After you apply, expect to potentially develop into a ball of nerves, feeling like you are waiting FOREVER. Expect to get requests from places you applied to interview. Expect to be put on “hold/deferral” while schools take more time to decide if they want to accept you. Expect to spend time writing letters of continued interest and potentially visiting schools or interviewing on campus.

Essentially, expect to be jerked around. I applied to schools in late October, and by the end of May I was still waiting for one school to give me an INTIAL decision after deferring me TWICE. I had done 3 alumni interviews and 1 on campus interview, written two ‘supplemental essays’ schools had requested after I’d initially applied, requested and gotten an additional letter of recommendation from a former professor, and written EIGHTEEN letters of continued interest or updates. EIGHTEEN. And this doesn’t mean I was writing a new one each week, either!! I followed the general guideline of keeping in touch with schools every four weeks or so. But I was deferred/held at a number of schools starting in December (which is a very common experience I’ve found) and waitlisted at a few I was certainly willing to attend if accepted) Keeping track of when you hear back from schools, when you keep in touch/send letters etc is crucial if you are applying to a decent number of places, and drafting new/interesting letters of interest or updates does take some time if you want to do it right. (more on this later)

Finally, expect to spend some time in the negotiation/decision making segment of the application process. Maybe you get accepted a TON of places and want to go to visit/go to a bunch of admit days. Maybe you get a great scholarship from school A and want to try to leverage it for money at school B. Maybe you get a package from a school that says you can come here on a full scholly, but ONLY if you defer a year. Whatever the situation, expect that these decisions will take some time and can be for some a very stressful part of the process.

5. Save some cash--NOW.

Bottom line, the whole process from applications==>first day of law school is EXPENSIVE. More expensive than I'd thought it would be, and I DID save up money for it. Looking back, I would have saved DOUBLE or more what I did. Here's an example of costs you could incur:

Applications, including postage for snail mail dean's certs etc: $1000-$1200 (cheaper with fee waivers)
Plane tickets and accomodations for interviews on campus, school visits and admit days: $300-$1000 (depending on how many schools, cheaper for schools that provide reimbursement)
Plane tickets and accomodations to apartment hunt: $200-$500 (cheaper if you have a place to crash of course :))
"Wasted" seat deposits: $??? This can vary a lot. If you choose to double deposit for the first round of deposits, you will definitely be wasting $$ on one of those places. If you get pulled off of a waitlist, you'll be forfeiting money at the other school. If you get pulled off another waitlist, it's more.
"Wasted" apartment deposits: $??? See previous.
Apartment fees/deposits where you'll be attending: $200-3X monthly rent
New computer: $500+
New furniture: $???
Moving fees: Free-$1000+

So, bottom line, it's not cheap. If you are receiving some of a lot of assistance from the 'rents, that's fantastic. But a lot of applicants aren't and some I've seen on this board are having to take out expensive private loans or digging into their 401K's WITH penalties to be able to move to law school and make it until the student loans come in.

That's all for today. Hope it's helpful! xoxo, animalcrkrs
Last edited by animalcrkrs on Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:32 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 2: Work Experience

1. For the majority of people, significant work (or volunteer) experience before applying is better than no work experience

I honestly believe that my application package was 5 times stronger because I had incredible, meaningful work experience before I applied. I also think it was useful to be able to augment my academic recommendations with recommendations from work experiences. Moreover, taking the time to work in the real world will make you more or less sure whether you want to go to law school at all. I know plenty of people who went to law school straight after college because, well, 'why not go to law school?' after college, and others who took the LSAT, decided to work in x industry/field/etc for a bit, and now know more clearly that law school IS or IS NOT for them.

I should caveat this by saying I think that having significant responsibilities/work experiences/military experience before or during school is also incredibly valuable and changes your picture as an applicant. But with all else being equal, I would rather the adcomms see me as someone who knows for sure they want to go and brings a lot to the table in terms of life experience than have the adcomms for one second question if I am in the category of those who are applying 'just to apply' and to avoid the real world. If you can convincingly put yourself into the first bucket applying during college, however, more power to you.

The other thing to mention before someone else calls me out on it is that I am attending (and my top choice was) Northwestern, which I liked so much because in part becuase I like the idea that almost all of my peers have a variety of life experiences beyond/in tandem with the traditional college experience, so I recognize my own bias. But honestly, if you have the chance to do something else before law school, do it. Working, volunteering, traveling, whatever, it is worth the time to switch things up for a bit IMO.

xoxo, animalcrkrs

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:59 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 3: Letters of Recommendation

1. Who to choose/how many letters etc.

The first thing to consider when deciding on who should write your letters of recommendation is that it is MORE important to have someone who can write a quality recommendation than it is to have someone who has a famous position/is a judge/worked for President whoever's administration etc. but doesn't know you as well. This isn't to say that if a famous prof. taught you and knew you well, you should not include them on your short list of recommenders, but the quality of the letter is far more important than the title and name on the top of the letter.

Another question that I've seen a lot is "How many recommenders should I ask?" If you are still in school and have no significant work experience, the best route is likely 3 strong academic recommenders. While it doens't really matter what discipline the writers are in or their relationship to you during your college career (dean, freshman year seminar leader, senior year thesis advisor, etc) they should know you well enough to write a VERY strong letter of rec. It is also good to make sure (if it's possible) you DO have a variety of backgrounds/experiences among your recommenders, although this is of secondary importance (I think, however, that it is more important if you are applying from a non-logical field--economics, biology, etc. that your recommender supports your 'why law school' story and/or you get someone to write a letter for your who can speak to your non-quant skills academically (that hopefully are backed up by your grades)

If you are out of work or have significant work experience/volunteer experience etc. before or during college, it is worthwhile in my opinion to include one non-academic recommender in the mix. Particularly if you have been out of school a while, in my mind it would be odd to claim you've had a totally enriching experience since leaving college and not show your success and aptitude in that realm. A good combination here might be 3 academic letters or 2 academic and 1 work for schools that allow only 3 letters, and all 4 for schools that allow 4. For schools that only allow 2, both should be academic unless you have been out of school a LONG LONG time.

Another alternative (and what I did) is to provide 2 academic recs and 1 work-relatd rec with my initial application, and saved another academic rec for when I started to encounter a hold/deferral or waitlist.

2. What if my recommender wants me to draft a letter FOR MYSELF??

This one's easy. Drafting a letter for yourself (or points in an outline etc) will take time, but get over the uncomfortable feeling and take advantage of the opportunity to toot your own horn! The outline below can help you in this case too, as you can pull out specific examples from the outline you have prepared for your letter writers.

3. What to give to those who write your Letters of Recommendation [with a template for your letter writers!]

The following is what I provided to each of my letter writers, in a template format. Feel free to copy and paste this and make it your own.

I received feedback from one recommender (who has been a prof for 40-odd years) that this information packet was among the most helpful and well organized she'd ever seen for writing a recommendation, and made her job a lot easier! To me, this was great! It meant she wasn't spending time trying to remember key projects we worked on, qualities she could think of that were best to describe, or how exactly to submit the paperwork, because I spelled it all out. Instead, she could focus on writing an incredible letter for me :)

One note: The 'Additional Information' questions were ones that I had to answer for my pre-law dean's file on me at my undergrad. Similar questions can be found in books like Anna Ivey's and Richard Montauk, and can help your recommender get a better sense of you as a student/person etc.

Law School Recommendation Background Information
For: [Your Recommender’s Name]
Student: [Your Name]
Fall 2008

Included in This Packet:
• Submission Instructions
• What admissions committees hope to learn from your recommendation
• Statement of Purpose
• Resume and Personal Statement
• List of schools under consideration for application
• Recap of research projects while I worked for you

I. Submission Instructions:

[For this section, I included self addressed stamped envelopes for my recommenders with post its on the front that corresponded with the #/description below (e.g. post-it that said "Letter #1- General Letter: Insert one signed letter"

The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) will transmit letters of recommendation directly to all law schools where I apply. Please note that the LSAC prefers that letters be written on letterhead and must include your signature. There are a few schools I am applying to that have additional short forms, one that specifically prefers a school-specific letter, and, if you feel comfortable writing a [your undergrad school]-specific letter I would appreciate it. Below are the directions for completing each letter (enclosed in this mailing with pre-addressed stamped envelopes):
[You could provide FAX information here as well for LSAC]

1. General letter- This letter will be transmitted to any school where I apply that does not receive a targeted letter, and therefore does not need to include the name of any particular school. Please insert one general letter into the envelope and sign the letter

2. School X and Y that require a separate assessment form with letter- Complete form enclosed in the envelope and insert a signed general letter

3. [Your undergrad school] specific targeted letter- Please insert one school-specific [your undergrad school]-targeted letter and sign the letter.
Although it may be obvious why attending [my undergrad school] of Law would be a standout experience for me, just as it was a standout experience as an undergrad, I’ve provided a few specific reasons behind why I am seeking admission back in [location of your undergrad] 
a. Reason you want to go back to your undergrad school of Law
b. Reason you want to go back to your undergrad school of Law
c. Reason you want to go back to your undergrad school of Law

4. School Z that prefers a targeted letter- Please complete the enclosed form, insert one school-specific [School Z]-targeted letter and sign the letter.
[School Z] is the only school I am applying to that specifically requests a targeted letter. While I don’t anticipate that this letter will vary much from the general letter, I’ve provided a short description of what specifically interests me about [School Z] Law and why I have decided to apply there in case you would like to add a specific tidbit:
a. Reason you want to go to [School Z] of Law (ex. Clinics in your interest)
b. Reason you want to go to [School Z] of Law (ex. Flexible course policy and ability to build your own path)
c. Reason you want to go to [School Z] of Law (ex. Location)

II. What admissions committees hope to learn from your recommendation

Overall, law school admissions committees aim to determine the ability of the applicant to succeed in the academic setting of the law school classroom and beyond. Below are a few directional guidelines I have pulled from application instructions:

“Recommenders should address matters of significance that speak to the ability of the applicant to thrive in an intellectually stimulating academic environment. For example, recommenders may address the strength of the applicant's overall intelligence, analytical skills, independence of thought, problem-solving skills, effectiveness of oral and written communication, motivation, self-confidence, concern for others, emotional maturity, personal initiative, judgment, leadership ability, and organizational skills.”

“The letter of recommendation helps the Admissions Committee to appraise an applicant’s character, maturity, motivation, and scholarly ability. Specific examples of these qualitative variables are welcomed in letters of recommendation. The most useful recommendations are from those who can offer sound judgments about your qualifications for the study and practice of law.”

III. Statement of Purpose:
Below I’ve put together an overview that I hope will be helpful in giving you an idea of my activities since leaving [your undergrad school] as well as explain where I intend to focus my academic studies in law school. Of course I am happy to answer any questions you may have via email or phone at any time. [Your contact info]

[This section should explain the ‘why law’ question, even if you think it should be obvious to your recommender. It could explain (if you know):
-what types of law you are considering pursuing
-what you think your career path you are going to take and why
-how your experiences have prepared you for law school
-how your experiences with this recommender were significant in your choice to pursue law
-Specific examples of key things you did outside of class during college AND/OR key jobs/volunteer experiences you have had since leaving college.

[MY EXAMPLE:] Although I am not entirely certain what type of law I would like to pursue, I have a strong interest in maintaining my focus on [XX fields] and I plan to take courses which give a perspective of law in the context of these fields.
While I may start my career in the private sector or in a field of public interest, I hope to find a job or series of jobs that allow me to focus on my primary areas of interest, and I also may want to rejoin the academic community as a law professor at some point in the future.
In my applications, I am expressing these sentiments, as well as emphasizing how my academic and work experience has helped prepare me for law school and a career as a lawyer. My experiences as an undergraduate, particularly [Example], fostered my ability to think analytically and critically about complex issues. My work on my undergraduate thesis really allowed me to delve deep into the world of [your thesis topic] and, moreover, was a great academic learning experience and capstone to my undergraduate career.
My work at [XX company] since I graduated in [Year] has served to reinforce my analytical and critical thinking skill development and offered a wide breadth of professional experiences. I am just finishing [Example of latest project]. I have worked on projects that include:
- Xx
- Xx
- Xx
While these projects and the others I have worked on during my time at [XX company] have offered a wide variety of work experiences, the commonality among them is that they are all intellectually challenging and I am afforded the opportunity to assume responsibility early and think independently. Moreover, as a company that operates [in XX way] I have been challenged to balance my time and workload and maintain a high level of work quality.

IV. Resume and Personal Statement [Include these as attachments]

V. List of schools under consideration for application:

I have still not narrowed down the exact schools I will submit applications to (besides [your undergrad school]) as I am still in the process of researching programs to find which schools might be the best fit for me. Below are some schools I am considering:

a.School A
b.School B
c.School C
d.School D
e.School E

VI. Recap of research projects while I worked as a research assistant for you : (not all inclusive)
[ This obviously could also be jobs/class projects, etc]

Project A: Description of your work and findings/outcomes
Project B: Description of your work and findings/outcomes
Project C: Description of your work and findings/outcomes
Project D: Description of your work and findings/outcomes

VII. Additional Information
As part of my personal reflection process when deciding to apply to law school, I took the time to answer a series of questions that explored my background, interests and motivation for applying to law school and my potential career ambitions in the legal field. The questions and my answers are listed below.

What does your choice of extra-curricular activities tell about you? Why should a law school take these into account when evaluating your application?

What have you been doing since graduation? How has this contributed to your decision to go to law school?

What factors (experiences, people, etc.) have contributed significantly to your consideration of law as a field of study/profession?

What three words best describe you?

If you were writing a recommendation for yourself, in terms of personal characteristics, what would you point out as your greatest strengths and most important weaknesses? Can you tell me one unique fact about yourself?

xoxo, animalcrkrs

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:56 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 4: You Should Create a Well-Crafted “Story” of Your Application Package

Since I’ve left college I’ve been working as a strategy and management consultant. Almost every single last one of them is taking the GMAT and/or applying to business school (or taking another job on that same path)

While this wasn’t the route I chose, I am REALLY grateful that I was surrounded by B-School applicants, because they (and the business school app process) gave me a huge breakthrough when I was working on my personal statement and application package.

When you apply to business school, it is of crucial importance that you have a solid “story” to tell through your application. Your personal statements (and responses to specific application questions), experiences in college and/or business, recommendations from bosses, professors and peers all must echo the same “story”

For example, I have a friend from college (and who I happen to work with now at my current job) who is half Cuban. While in college, aside from the fact that his last name was “Hispanic-sounding”, I never thought of him as an active part of the Hispanic/Latino community. When he graduated college and started working, he started to really become interested in international microfinance work, and subconsciously or consciously, started becoming much more involved in not only international projects/work/volunteerism, but also decided to start an organization within our company to promote projects in Spanish-speaking communities and countries (for profit and pro bono) and increase the efforts to recruit Hispanics to the company.

When it came time for him to apply to B-school, he had built up QUITE a package for himself. The story of internationalism tied in with his heritage really worked for him and he’s headed to one of the best schools in the country.

I took the B-School story method to heart. This isn’t to say I created some crazy fantasy of what my life was going to be in 30 years or start picking up random softs to make a “great” application package. What I DID do was start to feel okay with embracing the work that I’d done and the “story” that I did have.

You see, at first when I was writing my personal statement (and putting together my recommendation letter packages and figuring out how to prep for early season interviews) I was really struggling with the feeling of “I can’t say in my personal statement –I want to do this as a lawyer, I want to x for the rest of my life, I am SOOO awesome and amazing and wonderful” but the truth was, I HAD to do that to some degree.

Finding my own “story” was an organic process. I answered a bunch of the questions in the Montauk/Ivey books to ‘get to know myself better’ :), wrote several different personal statement drafts of various topics, and thought LONG and HARD about what really made me stand out as an applicant. And when I’d figured it all out (FINALLY!!) I ran with it all over the place. I made sure my personal statements, recommendations and interviews all told the same ‘story’ and came from the same ‘angle’ (which tied in with my softs)

I understand that for some, their ‘story’ may not be incredibly obvious. But everyone has qualities and experiences that are unlike those of any other applicant (maybe not in the history of applying, but you get the idea) Some people have fantastic public interest driven agendas and can back it up with public service work/political advocacy, others have incredibly unique backgrounds and life challenges/experiences. I know a guy at YHS right now who wrote his personal statement about a “religious-like concert experience” and music piracy (yes, he wanted to do music law, and surprising even me he has succeeded by getting 3 entertainment-law related internships so far in law school). The point is, he had a story. He’d worked for 3 years for a small record label and written his senior thesis on the economic implications of digital entertainment access.

In my humble opinion, a story or an angle is CRUCIAL to your application package. Don’t make it up, don’t fake it….FIND IT.

To help facilitate finding your own story, I recommend the following:
- DO go through the “find yourself” questions in the Ivey/Montauk books and websites you can find to help you brainstorm ideas and write personal statements
- Step outside the law school app books and take a look at the B-School prep books at your local library or bookstore to get you thinking
- Ask your friends/family/coworkers through email or a conversation to help you brainstorm. If you were the admissions committee, what would you want to know about me? What are the things that make me unique? What experiences of mine stand out? It will seem cheesy at first, but it WILL get you thinking. Talking through my story, my personal statement ideas, etc with people definitely helped me write a better personal statement and figure out my ‘angle’ or story.

xoxo, animalcrkrs

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:24 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 5: Imparting Some of the Wisdom I've Acquired...from Others--Great Links

Below are some links I have found REALLY useful throughout various stages of the Law School Application process (by category)
I will add to this list as I find new great resources. If you have suggestions to add to this list PLEASE PM it to me and I will add it! Thanks!

What are my chances??:
Law School Numbers:

Chiashu index: --LinkRemoved--

LSAC’s site: ... sidstring=

YCrevolution’s Law School Predictor: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=51226 (link to file: )

Financial Aid Resources:
Law School Almanac “Figuring Out Financial Aid”

AccessGroup info: --LinkRemoved--

List of Schools Participating in NeedAccess:

I plan to post my own LOCI stuff soon, but this stuff is a great starting point. LOCI’s are REALLY REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT, people.


For lots of FANTASTIC random info on lots of stuff:
Sockpuppet’s Blog here on TLS, Sockenpuppenspiel
There is a reason sockpuppet’s is the only locked blog on TLS—the info is FANTASTIC here.

“Websites to Research Before Going to Law School” posting by legalese_retard: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=59814

DeLoggio Admisssions:
This website wins the ‘best info in the WORST format ever award’ If you can get over the crappy website design it has some great views and suggestions

Prelaw Handbook:
Another crappy web design with good info

“COMMON 0L QUESTIONS books, study guides, E&Es, studying,etc” posting by Lishi viewtopic.php?f=3&t=26949

“My 1L Experience: Exam / Prep advice, mistakes, et cetera” posting by Olto: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=72194

Best Transferring Resource:
PKSebben’s Transferring FAQ viewtopic.php?f=3&t=62455

Beyond the U.S. News: Alternate rankings and other ways to look at what the best schools might be for you…
NLJ composite of where students end up (Employment Outcomes for Graduates):

Law Journals Submission and Rankings:

Leiter’s Law School Rankings (this page is about the ‘Top 15 Schools From Which the Most “Prestigious” Law Firms Hire New Lawyers” but the whole site is interesting)

Leiter has a blog here as well:

Character and Fitness Determinations:

NLJ article:“What Rankings Don’t Say About Costly Choices”

TaxProfBlog (this page is about the 2010 U.S. News Quality Assessment Rankings): ... -news.html

A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar…Beyond the 3 Years
Conditions of Bar Passage and Reciprocity of Bar Exams: --LinkRemoved--

Firms and Salaries: --LinkRemoved--

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:05 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 6: The Art of the Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI) and Keeping Yourself Top of Mind to the Adcomms

This is a long one, but probably one of the most important chapters!! With example LOCI's towards the end! Enjoy!

As I stated earlier, while I am certainly not the authority on all things application process, I have definitely been through the ringer, especially in terms of riding the holds and waitlists. Lucky for me, I was taken off of two waitlists, the second one being the school of my dreams, so I must have done SOMETHING right :wink:

This very special chapter of the Guide is dedicated to the art of the LOCI and keeping yourself fresh (but not annoying) in the minds of the adcomms. Before you read, keep in mind that being a good holder or waitlister is not for the lazy, it DOES require effort and time to do it right.

What the hell is a hold/deferral??

I applied in late October/early November, and applied to over 20 schools (see Chapter 1 for details on why I did this) Some were auto rejects, some were auto accepts, and a great many were “ehhh-maybe”s. Because of this limbo situation, I was placed on deferral or was held by SEVEN schools throughout my cycle. One school put me on THREE deferrals, the first from Early Action and then twice more. Holds and deferrals started to roll out for me in December and the bulk of them came between December and February. I got one deferral notice in MAY. Go figure.

Schools defer or hold your application for a variety of reasons, and each school is different. Some will defer highly qualified candidates to yield protect their numbers—they don’t want to admit overly qualified candidates who they suspect will turn them down. If you suspect this has happened to you and you really DO want to attend that school or think you might want to, I suggest writing a short letter of strong interest very quickly after you receive notice of the deferral or hold, which will let the school know of your interest and likely spur them to give an acceptance.

A great many times a school will hold your application because they really just aren’t sure about you. Sometimes they are waiting for extra semester grades, your new LSAT you mentioned you’d be taking in an addendum, or just to see what the rest of their pool is shaping up like before they accept you or give you the ax.

In addition, each school has different procedures, timelines, and action preferences for students placed on hold/deferral. For example, one school allowed additional letters of recommendation and an optional additional essay on one of three specific topics. However, LOR’s HAD to be submitted through LSAC and the essay HAD to be sent to a specific email address. Most schools preferred additional materials to be emailed, but some didn’t want attachments and others allowed email or snail mail as well.

So, what steps do you go through when you are placed on hold/deferral? Here is my advice:

1. If there is immediate action to take when you are notified of the hold, DO IT IMMEDIATLEY. This means that if there is a form to return via, email, fax, or snail mail, do it THE DAY you get the notice. I read about someone in the 2008 cycle who was accepted after being on Waitlist and was specifically told her quick fax turnaround of the waitlist response form within a few hours of notification of waitlist was noticed by the committee

2. Find out who you will be writing the LOCI to (the dean of admissions, for example) and craft your letter (see below) to send out ASAP

3. Call or email the school to find out what they prefer from their hold candidates. Are interviews available from alumni or on-campus? Are there additional essays? Do they prefer email? Are you allowed to send in an additional letter of recommendation?

4. Consider visiting the school if you are able and making sure it is noticed that you visited (both by swinging by the admissions office and updating your file with a letter after you visit)

5. Consider re-taking the LSAT. I wasn’t in a position to do this given my job responsibilities and time from my last sitting, but I got the feeling that a couple of schools were nudging me to retake and score higher in hopes of bumping my status from ‘held’ to ‘yes’

6. Start a spreadsheet to keep track of the letters you send, when they were confirmed as added to your file, and any other updates in communication between you and the school. The worst thing would be to send the same letter to the school two weeks back to back because you aren't keeping track of it all.

How often do I stay in contact?

My vote for how often is somewhere between every 3 weeks and every 5 weeks, depending on your situation. Holds aren’t as drawn out (usually) as waitlists so you can contact them a little more frequently to keep you on their minds, especially if you have new updates, visit the school, or interview. Sooner than 3 weeks is overkill.

What do I write?

You write the same kinds of materials you would write when waitlisted, but with a little more flexibility in your language. By this I mean—if you are waitlisted you are basically begging to get in (hey, I did it, no shame) whereas if you are held, you can tout how you have all these great options on the table you are deciding between but would love to attend X school of law instead. Make sense? More on what to write later.

F*&$!!!! They waitlisted me!!! Steps to take

Like holds, waitlists require the same effort of communication and time. And like holds, waitlists are used by schools for a variety of reasons, including yield protection. If you suspect yield protection and really want to attend the school, definitely let them know ASAP per the discussion above.
If you are among those waitlisted for reasons other than YP, jump on board. You are not alone in this. Remember how I said I was deferred by SEVEN schools? Well, I was waitlisted by NINE. A couple were yield protect, most weren’t. Waitlists suck, there is no getting around it. But, waitlists do give you the opportunity to continue to show your interest and update your application.

So, what steps do you go through when you are waitlisted? Here is my advice:

1. First, follow the same steps above for what to do if you are held.

2. STRONGLY consider visiting the school if you are able. If you are on the edge I think this can help, especially if you are able to interview or meet with a dean

3. Don’t plan as if you are getting in off the waitlist. You still need to deposit somewhere where you have been admitted, and by early to mid-June you should be securing housing/figuring out moving etc. The odds are NOT with you on the waitlist, even at supposedly waitlist-friendly schools

4. GET CREATIVE. I don’t mean sending the adcomms at Michigan homemade cookies that play the Michigan fight song when you bite into them. But writing a plain vanilla letter of interest and getting a so-so extra letter of rec WILL NOT CUT IT. Everyone is doing this (unless they are not writing letters at all, and you don’t have to worry about those people because they are for sure not getting in off of the waitlist) You need to find a way to stand out!!!

How often do I stay in contact?

My vote here is once every 3 ½ to 4 weeks, no more than that. This excludes the short note you should write to your interviewer AFTER you interview, if you do so.

School X’s waitlist response form asked how long I wanted to stay on the waitlist—what do I say?

In my opinion, there is NO REASON not to write that you will stay on ‘until the waitlist is closed’, ‘until Sept. 15th’, or ‘no end date’ So what if you know for a fact that your personal end to waiting is July 10th because you can’t imagine figuring out the logistical changes of switching from NYU to Stanford after that point. To an adcomm, you putting July 10th means you don’t want to go there as much as the guy who writes ‘until the waitlist is closed’—you aren’t really in it to win it.
You can always withdraw later, but NOW? Do everything in your power to persuade them that you would give your first born to attend, short of actually saying that you would give your first-born to attend, that’s creepy.

What do I write?

Here is the general sense of what I did, followed by some sample letters. For schools that put me on hold and then deferral, I sent 3 or 4 LOCI’s throughout the cycle. This is what I mean by getting creative, by letter #4 to a school I really had to juice it up. Generally, I alternated between short update letters and long letters that were more persuasive and detailed. Here are two cycles of letters for two different schools, with descriptions of the situations for each (school names have been changed and letters cleaned but the spirit is all there—and likely you can figure them out, but just pretend that you can’t for my sake, okay?)

It should go without saying but I will say it anyway. Your letters MUST be free from serious grammatical and spelling errors, and MUST be tailored to the school. You will notice I borrow some phrases in letters to different schools, but never a wholesale copy without significant effort to customize it to the school.

DISCLAIMER: You are free to borrow from the spirit of these letters, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not plagiarize them directly and send them off to 17 schools. Not just for my own paranoia, but also because if two people do that to the same school you are both screwed lol.

Apple Law School

Letter #1: This letter was sent after being placed on hold/deferral

Dear Dean XX and members of the Admissions Committee:

I am writing to reiterate my interest in becoming a member of Apple Law School’s Class of 2012. In addition to its excellent academic reputation, Apple’s opportunities to work closely with professors and to participate in renowned student-staffed legal journals are particularly appealing to me. As an undergraduate, I valued chances to collaborate with professors through research and to complete an undergraduate thesis, pushing my academic training beyond the classroom. I am eager to pursue these same types of activities as a student at Apple. The intimate atmosphere and intensive focus of the first-year XX-TYPE Program, along with the opportunities to become a part of the Honors Fellow Program and to work as a student editor of the school’s Journal of SPECIFIC TYPE OF LAW make Apple stand out among other institutions I am considering.

While I know that Apple has a lot to offer me as a student, I also feel that I would bring a unique perspective to my class and become a dynamic contributor to the law school community. In my current work as a strategy consultant, I have worked with both for-profit businesses and non-profit clients, including those engaged in XX, public services, and services for XX PEOPLE. If admitted, I hope to participate in Apple’s Legal Aid Clinics, where I can utilize and hone the skills I’ve gained through my collegiate and professional experiences in the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors. My ultimate ambition is to act as an advocate for XX TYPES OF PEOPLE, and a legal education at Apple would undoubtedly provide me with the knowledge, skills, and co-curricular experiences to succeed.

I also wanted to notify the Admissions Committee of updates to my application. Since submitting my Early Action application in October, UPDATES HERE

Thank you for your time and continued consideration. While I have already been admitted to a number of great law schools, Apple remains one of my top choices; an offer of admission would be incredibly attractive and hard to pass up. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my application and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Letter #2: This letter was sent after being placed on a SECOND hold/deferral. Short and sweet with updates.

Dear Dean XX and members of the Admissions Committee:

As an applicant currently on hold, I wanted to reiterate my interest in joining Apple Law School in the fall of 2009 and to notify the Admissions Committee of recent updates to my application.

In addition to earning exceptional annual reviews from my employer in December and learning that I was on track for a promotion to TITLE HERE in May, I began working on a high-profile TYPE project with one of the largest TYPE COMPANIES to DO THIS TYPE OF PROJECT. I also recently finished a pro-bono project with a THIS TYPE OF group to DO THIS TYPE OF PROJECT. Because I plan to continue my dedication to THESE FIELDS as an attorney, these experiences will serve to further enhance my skill set and unique viewpoint in both my coursework and my extracurricular pursuits as law student.

Thank you again for your continued consideration of my application. Apple Law School is a fantastic institution and, if admitted, I am confident I will be a distinctive contributor and asset to the Class of 2012.


Zebra Law School

Letter #1: This letter was sent after being placed on hold/deferral, and following a visit to the school. Please notice that this was my top choice school—and I express that here. You can and should do this if you are absolutely certain in my opinion, but PLEASE PLEASE be honest and only do it with one school.

Dear members of the Admissions Committee:

I am writing to reiterate my interest in becoming a member of Zebra University Law School’s Class of 2012. While Zebra has been among my top choices since I began the application process, my interview in the fall with alumna NAME and my recent trip to Chicago to visit the campus has made it clear that Zebra would be a perfect fit for me and is without question my top choice law school.

During my campus visit last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on Professor YY’s ‘NAME OF COURSE’ course. By chance, the discussion was focused on an area I am incredibly passionate about: NAME AREA. While I have experienced the topic from many angles—as a policy researcher, volunteer, and in my current full time job—it was intriguing to engage in the conversation through the entirely new lens of law. Even more exciting was the impressively high level of classroom engagement and the unique perspectives offered by the students. Zebra’s commitment to creating a community of intelligent, motivated students with diverse backgrounds and experiences was evident in the wide range of ideas and viewpoints offered in the session. Visiting the class, along with touring the campus and speaking with current students, reinforced my belief that Zebra would be the ideal law school for me.

While I know that Zebra has a lot to offer me as a student, I also feel that I would bring a unique perspective to my class and become a dynamic contributor to the law school community. In my current job as a THIS, I have worked with both for-profit businesses and non-profit clients, including those involved in XX FIELD AND XX FIELD. As a student at Zebra, I hope to work with the ZZ Center through the school’s Legal Clinic, where I can utilize and hone the skills I’ve gained through my collegiate and professional experiences in the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors.

I also wanted to notify the Admissions Committee of updates to my application. Since submitting my Early Action application in October, UPDATES HERE
Thank you for your time and continued consideration. While I have already been admitted to a number of great law schools, Zebra is absolutely my top choice; if I am admitted, I will definitely attend. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my application and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Letter #2: The CREATIVE juices are flowing. This was my attempt to write something a little more offbeat and creative. I PMed it to TLSers to review and they all seemed to like it, and I think the school did too. While I don’t advise using this exact letter type, it will give you one flavor of being creative with your LOCI’s.

Dear members of the Admissions Committee:

As an applicant currently on hold, I am writing to express my continued interest in Zebra Law and enthusiasm at the prospect of joining the Class of 2012. As I’ve previously indicated, Zebra remains my top choice school, and if I am admitted I will definitely attend.

In his 2006 orientation welcome to Zebra Law’s new students, Assistant Dean XX applauded the incredible accomplishments of the Class of 2009. He argued that what made them special was a combination of strong academic credentials and a tremendous amount of a ‘certain something else.’ Whether they had spent time volunteering overseas or worked for a summer as a taxicab driver, each person brought something distinctive and special to Zebra Law.

The sense of value placed on the ‘something else’ that each student brings to the law school community is a large part of what has drawn me to Zebra. The wide variety of collegial activities, volunteer efforts and work experiences of the student body make Zebra a truly unique place to pursue the study of law. Moreover, student participation in clinics, journals and independent study is among the highest of any top law school, highlighting Zebra as a place where students actively pursue chances to learn experientially and beyond the classroom.

I am confident that as a student at Zebra, I will not only enrich my own learning through engaging with a diverse group of peers, but also bring my own ‘something else’ to the Class of 2012. My experiences include working as XX and XX. If admitted, I may be the only Zebra 1L who is also a THIS UNIQUE CHARACTERISTIC/HOBBY, and in my time as a THIS JOB I’ve helped to develop new products for a XX TYPE OF COMPANY, restructure the operations of a XX COMPANY, and devise solutions to increase ZZ rates in some of the largest PUBLIC SERVICE NONPROFITS in the country. My professional and personal experiences have not only given me an interdisciplinary skill set and a strong sense of commitment and drive, but also the desire to challenge myself in every unique pursuit. I have no doubt that if admitted I will become an engaged and active member of the Zebra Law community and bring a distinctive viewpoint and set of experiences to the Class of 2012.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my application, and thank you again for your continued time and consideration.


Letter #3: I sent this letter immediately upon receiving notice of waitlist from my top choice school, Zebra.

Dear members of the Admissions Committee:

Earlier today I received a notice of placement on Zebra Law’s waiting list for the Class of 2012.

In an effort to be transparent with regard to my level of interest, I would like to reiterate that Zebra remains my top choice law school. While I am currently scheduled to attend another law school in the fall, I would be delighted to accept an offer of admission from Zebra at any point during the remainder of the admissions cycle. I truly feel that Zebra is the ideal law school for me and hope that I will have the opportunity to join the incoming class this fall.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions regarding my application. I appreciate your continued consideration of my application.


In total, by then end of my cycle, I had written EIGHTEEN variations of hold/deferral and waitlist letters to schools. Like I said, it takes effort if you want to do it right!


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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:10 pm


I've been getting some great feedback from TLSers about my postings so far and I'm so glad the info is helpful!

I'm planning for my next post to be about scholarship negotiations (which I dealt a lot with in my cycle) but I would really love suggestions from you all of any other info you'd like to see in this blog or things you are wondering about--my goal is to give a detailed perspective on a bunch of issues in one place so if there's stuff you want to know send me a PM!


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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:51 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 7: Scholarship Negotiations

Here is the timeline of how my cycle went with regard to scholarships: (keep in mind I applied in late Oct./early Nov.)

-Early January: Get a full ride offer from a WAY WAY safety school I only applied to on a fee waiver, immediately turn it down since I am already in to much better schools and feel like I should free up the money sooner rather than later
- Late February: Get full ride (~$100K) at target school
- Early March: Get ~$50K at slightly higher ranked target school; try to leverage other full rides for more money and denied--told there is no $$ left. Get ~$35K at another target school and manage to leverage full rides and other offers into a bump up to ~$60K
- Later March/Early April: Negotiate with ~$50K school again...this time get them to bump me up to ~$60K; get into peer school (of the $50K school) and get $30K--I applied a little later to this one--decide to forego the $30K school due to location preferences.
- Late April/Early May: Get into highest ranked school yet of the cycle off of waitlist...immediately speak to admissions people about financial aid and send a negotiation letter to the dean BEFORE my fin aid package arrives. Manage $30K off the waitlist!
-Early June: Get into NU off money but since it's my top choice I give up all the $$ and enjoy the sweet smells of debt and success! :)

So...during my cycle I got a total of 6 scholarship offers, and was able to negotiate up (if you count the waitlist $) on 3 of them (2 others were already full offers and the last one I didn't try to negotiate) I was successful with every negotation to some extent except NU where I got off of WL in early June.

Not everyone will be successful in scholarship negotations but in my opinion it can't hurt to try, especially if it is earlier in the admissions season (another argument for applying EARLY!) Also, my scholarship situation backs up my theory that you should "apply everywhere" (See Chapter 1) I got huge offers from places that I might not have even applied to had I been super selective with my list, and those dollars helped me up my funds at places I was really pumped about going to.

The Basics of Negotations
There have been some great articles posted about this on this site (including a recent one posted for the writing competition) that deal with peer school/higher ranked school/lower ranked school.

Overall, negotiating with Notre Dame because you really want to go there with a half-ride in hand from Cornell has better odds than negotiating with Cornell with a half-ride at Notre Dame. However, negotating at WUSTL for money with a full ride at Notre Dame, a half-ride at Emory and $20K at UCLA isn't too bad either.

Generally, the more money that is on the table during negotations the better, with the advantage of higher ranking above peer school scholarships and peer school scholarships above lower ranked school scholarships.

Do I call/email/snail mail?
I did a mix of calling and emailing. A quick email to the head of admissions/head of financial aid/the person who issued your letter of admittance is your best bet because you can lay things out clearly and it will likely go into your file and/or passed along to the right people (e.g. the people who make the decisions) For example, I emailed the Dean of Admissions (who technically signed my letter of admission) at one school and didn't receive a response 2 days later. So I politely called the Admissions office and asked to speak to someone in the office about my financial aid package. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: "Hi, I was wondering about my financial aid package and potential grants and scholarships. I sent a quick email to Dean XX regarding my financial aid but haven't heard back and I wanted to make sure I was directing the inquiry to the right person."
AdComm: "Okay, what is your name?"
Me: "Animalcrkrs"
AdComm: "Oh, right, animalcrkrs, I see your application here. Yes, Dean XX forwarded that email on to me and it is in your file, you should be receiving a decision from us very shortly"

A couple days later, boom, scholarship.

Short, simple efforts (and sometimes persistence) can go a long way here. In one of my cases, I was told there was no $$ to up my offer, then I called back a few weeks later to inquire again. "I know I spoke to you before and there were no funds available, but I wanted to inquire again since I would really rather attend your school but the financial aid situation as it stands (e.g. I am getting loads more money at one of your peer schools!) is making my decision difficult." A week later my offer was increased by $10K. Still not on par with the other school's offer, but a heck of a lot closer.

So what do I write in the email?
Something simple and to-the-point that still expresses your genuine interest in the school and not JUST the money is best in my opinion. Here is an example of what I wrote to most schools:

Dear Dean XX,

Thank you for my recent acceptance to FANTAB School of Law. I have been excited about FANTAB since I interviewed with Adcomm Name in October and I'm looking forward to joining the Class of 2012 in the fall.

Due to financial considerations, however, I have been very carefully weighing my options of which law school to attend. I have received substantial scholarship offers from SWEET Law School ($110,000), PRETTY GREAT School of Law ($70,000) and DECENT Law School ($55,000) which forces me into a difficult situation. FANTAB's dedication to a broad-based legal education for its students as well as the opportunities to participate in experiential learning thorough the school's legal clinics and journals make it one of my top choices and weigh heavily on my mind in choosing a law school. However, I am unsure if I will be able to attend at the full-tuition and fees cost.
In consideration of these factors, I respectfully request your consideration for merit based scholarship funding if such monies are available.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me via phone or email if you have any questions, and thanks in advance for your time and consideration in this matter.


The key to scholarship negotiations are:
1. Apply early so you get the pick of the litter with $$ and can start negotiating--and keep in mind that one of the perks of "applying everywhere" is that you may get great offers that you can negotiate with (OR you may decide the offer is so sweet you want to attend there!)
2. Be quick and polite with requests for consideration. The adcomms and finaid people need to know two things: what your other offers are and how interested and likely you are to come IF they up your offer instead of someone else's.
3. Sometimes be persistant if you get turned down the first time for an increase, but don't be annoying.
4. Understand that sometimes (particularly late in the cycle or if you are in off WL) there really IS no money left. However, a lot of times there is, and the people that ASK and have good other offers in hand are the ones that will reap the benefits.
5. Don't be surprised if the answer is no. Not everyone gets a yes in scholarship negotiations, especially if the offers they are negotiating with are from schools that are NOT peers with the school you are trying to get money/more money out of.


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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:16 am

The Definitive Guide Chapter 8: Reading ‘Before Law School’ Books

I will start this chapter off by saying that I am *slightly* neurotic, and I have found resources like those below to be quite useful for me in easing my mind of what the application process and law school would/will be like. You’ll see some people on this board who extol the virtues of these books and others who scoff at doing anything the summer before law school but drinking and lying on the beach, and still others who laugh at those who endeavor to read these books while secretly starting to ready 1L cases in the hopes of getting ahead…but my suggestion is that you take all of these groups with a grain of salt.
Use these books for what they are, biased pieces of advice. Pick and choose what works for you, and understand that having options of how to write a personal statement/outline cases/make law review is not a bad thing…but pulling out 17 highlighters and praying the colored ink alone will land you in the top 5% of your class is. :D

Below are reviews of books I have read/are currently reading.

What to Read Before/During the LSAT prep/Application Process:

I think the two best books in this category are without doubt Anna Ivey’s The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions and Richard Montauk’s How to Get Into the Top Law Schools (with the latter being my favorite) I found these both to be a great introduction to the process and, perhaps more importantly, a first glimpse at the LONG list of what NOT to dos when applying. Montauk’s is really great because it has whole sections on interviewing (with alumni and adcomms) with great sample questions, as well as suggestions for hold/WL etc. Ivey is pretty straightforward with the details about getting in, and I like that she doesn’t sugar coat the fact that with very little exception, the numbers dominate what happens with your cycle. As the former Dean of Admissions at UChicago, I’m sure she knows this fact firsthand. :)

One complaint I DO have about both books is that the personal statements, while decent examples of good writing, are 1. WAY WAY too long, unless you are writing an essay for Berkeley (who likes long PS’s, by the way). 2. The majority of them are from people who had AMAZING stories, not just amazing writing skill. The reformed alcoholic, the immigrant child who came from nothing to attend an Ivy League college (hello, Ms. Sotomayor!), the girl with a Holocaust survivor grandmother who endured anti-Semitic taunts and discrimination in high school. To these people that have these stories and have faced these struggles, all they need is a strong knack for writing—the compelling story is already there. Most people DON’T have these struggles, however, and I wish both authors (or any authors) spent more of their examples on the “typical” applicant who grew up upper middle class in a one or two-parent home, had a part time job at McDonald’s in high school, played intramural basketball in college while studying psychology and business, and now works at a pays-nothing marketing firm in Manhattan.

If anyone finds a good source of compiled essays to fit the above bill, let me know and I’ll be sure to add it here.

In addition to her book, Ivey also has a website that I think is pretty great. It has some useful articles about the admissions process, FAQ about particular topics (Should I write an addendum about my crappy LSAT score the first time? Should I visit a school while on waitlist?) and lots of other tidbits, including (sometimes) job postings for JDs. She has a consulting service too if you are into that sort of thing, but you’re on TLS, so you have a default, free and sometimes insane consultant right here :wink:

Reveiws of What to Read After You Submit Applications, While You WAIT FOR ANSWERS, or after you’ve gotten in:

As I’ve previously mentioned, I found this time to be REALLY nervewracking, the waiting killed me. To fill the time, I picked up some ‘How to Succeed in Law School’ type books. Here are my personal reviews (yes, I know, start the taunting for reading so many, blah blah blah…)

The Law School Breakthrough: Graduate In The Top 10% Of Your Class, Even If You're Not A First-Rate Student by Christopher Yianilos
Pretty crappy in my opinion. Written by a guy who, according to his book, REALLY messed up when he first got to his decent but not amazing law school, but learned his lesson quick and now will show you the way to ensure you don’t face his same fate. Fine if you just want to ‘do well’ but I don’t think this book alone will get you to the Top 10%.
Bottom Line: Not Recommended

Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams by Richard Fischl
I haven’t finished this one but I kind of like it, except the crazy ‘how to highlight in 7 different colors to succeed in case briefing’ thing. I like the approach to reasoning and overall I think it’s quite useful.
Bottom Line: Good insights, with a grain of salt on the Technicolor studying techniques

Planet Law School II: What You Need to Know (Before You Go), But Didn't Know to Ask... and No One Else Will Tell You by Atticus Falcon
This book will TERRIFY you. In fact, one of my friend’s father, who is a lawyer, has taken this book away from her because he says it is just WAY too extreme. It basically says that if you don’t start studying 8 hours a day from day one you will be homeless and on the street, that not making law review is the death of your livelihood and your ego, and has schedules of ‘what to read before law school’ of actual law school material (stuff on torts, crim, contracts etc.) that run for 3 weeks, 3 months, a year. A YEAR???? If you are totally neurotic, this book is certainly for you. Despite its extremism, I think this book is a reality check for many people, especially those coming straight out of college, about how different LS is from undergrad and that, for most people (with the exception of the ‘gifted genius’) you will have to work MUCH harder than you did in undergrad. As a 0L I cannot claim this to be gospel truth, but the bottom line is, no matter WHERE you went to undergrad, the people at the top law schools are like a much more elite group of people than in college. I also actually liked that it gave some outlier examples of insane professors, insane classmates, and the treacherousness of things like putting studying/reading off until the end or getting yourself wrapped up in a non-productive study group. Beyond that, however, the book was a LOT over the top in my opinion.
Bottom Line: Worth a read to scare you straight into working hard, but don’t make this your Holy Book for succeeding in law school.

Law School Confidential (Revised Edition): A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students by Robert Miller
If Planet Law School is the over-the-top, law-school-will-kill-you tome, this book is the little-bit-underseasoned, just-work-hard-and-it’ll -fall-into-place novella. It has some good sections (although they are all too short and vague in my opinion), especially on the topics of internships/associateships/how to set yourself up to make law review, and I like that it is written with actual law school students’ comments incorporated, but I think if this was the only book you read you might be a little underprepared for how to respond if you aren’t doing that well, aren’t ready to work hard etc.
Bottom Line: A good read with good sections on many topics, but not the be-all, end-all and not detailed enough

Learning Legal Reasoning: Briefing, Analysis and Theory by John Delaney
With its cartoon drawings and large book format, this book reminds me of a “times tables” workbook from elementary school, and that is kind of what it is, a workbook. I just have started going through this one and I actually really like it. Delaney doesn’t spend much time on ‘what law school will be like’ he just gets down to how you should start thinking/reading through cases etc. with a lot of examples. At the very least, this book will introduce you to one way to think about studying, and I actually think its usefulness for me as a 0L comes from the fact that I can understand the logic/flow/examples given in the E&Es (‘Examples and Explanations’ study guide series) a little better, which hopefully will prove useful come the fall.
Bottom Line: I like it a lot, especially the fact that it is a workbook-type-book, but will have to report back about its true usefulness once I’m in school.
Note: Delaney also has a couple of other books, one called How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams and I think one on criminal law, that I haven’t read

A couple others I haven’t read but that look decent (according to Amazon reviews lol)
How to Succeed in Law School by Gary Munneke
The Law School Labyrinth: A Guide to Making the Most of Your Legal Education by Steven Sedberry

xoxo, animalcrkrs

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Re: animalcrkrs' "Definitive Guide" to the Application Process

Postby animalcrkrs » Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:15 pm

The Definitive Guide Chapter 9: Wisdom from beyond the application cycle grave!


Okay people, a quick post for those of you in the midst of the application process (I hope that this guide has been helpful thus far) I could go on an on about "surviving first semester" advice of things I've learned, but as this blog is focused on the application process I will instead focus on things I did or wished I'd done during the application process/before I started law school.

Before you pack up to move to law school and while you are thinking of what school to pick, keep in mind what you want to do to stay sane. Law school is hard work and for some can be challenging, isolating, and the most difficult thing they've ever done. I can think of more than a handful of people in my class this first semester who got really lost and it affected their grades, performance, friendships and quality of life. So....think about these things NOW, write them down, and keep them top of mind when you launch into 1L orientation:

1. Think of your *not giving this up* short list. You'll need it.
One of the things I learned in my time out of school was that if I didn't keep some priorities for myself, I'd quickly lose myself to other priorities that ostensibly were about me but really didn't "feed my soul" as Oprah would call it. Cheesy, yes. Necessary? HELL YES.

- What are the one or two things that are "feed your soul" necessities? Spending time with a good book or the new season of Jersey Shore? The gym? Spending dinnertime with your sig-o or playing with your puppy? Volunteering at the local homeless shelter? Napping? Whatever it is, these things need to stay constant up until exam time. No excuses. If you let your one or two things slip out the window, it won't be long until things fall apart. You'll feel overwhelmed because you never escape law school to volunteer, your sig-o will start to resent you because you are never around, you'll gain 10 pounds and lose energy because you've stopped your daily run. Get the picture? I know it may sound trite, but the people I know who stayed sane, including me, stayed that way because they pulled themselves away from campus and refused to discuss or think about their classes for at least a little period of time each day. And it is also, in my opinion, fairly intimidating for those who are letting themselves slip to see someone who is staying sane/fit/happy in their midst and wonder...HOW do they do it????? Never a bad thing to keep others intimidated to some extent (mmwaaahhhaaaha!) (Yes, the Daily Show or Monday Night Football totally count toward that total, thank GOD!)

2. What is the general theme of your social life for first semester going to be?
Again, may sound trite and dumb, but I found that having a "plan" was useful...not that I wrote it down or anything lol. But the general theme for me was this. I did NO trips and had NONE of my friends visit me first semester, and I stayed in town for Thanksgiving and had dinner with one of my good friends from my previous job whose family is in my law school town rather than go home since Thanksgiving was right before reading period. Sound terrible? The no trips/no visits thing WAS, but on the other hand, I didn't lose a whole weekend for a bachelorette party in Vegas the weekend before a Monday midterm like another girl in my section lol, and now that I have a better handle on the whole thing, I have several trips planned/friends coming next semester to make up for it :) The Thanksgiving thing was a GREAT idea because I was able to finish up all my outlines before reading period started and avoid family guilt for not hanging out with them over the holiday (I am paying for it now, trust me!)
I also planned to get seriously out of hand drunk at some bar reviews but to in general take it easy on the weekends (still went out almost every weekend but easy on the drinking) to make sure I could make the most of those days (I generally did ALL my reading for the week on the weekends, so I could ALWAYS decide to go out on a weekday and peel myself awake for an early class semi-hungover but fully caught up on reading with notes)

Point is, have some sort of game plan so that you don't let the reading slip away from you, have to feel guilty about taking weekend #8 for a trip to kayak with your buddies, or get to the end of the semester and have NOTHING to show for it in the way of notes/outlines/readings done.

3. Does the school(s) you are considering have the ability to give you what you want?
I only say this because of a couple of people I know in my class right now. One is from out west and obsessed with being outdoors, and the lack of outdoor activities/time etc. has sort of given him the law school equivalent of seasonal affective disorder lol. He is miserable, and I suspect might have been better served by a school a little more in the boonies where he could take a quick hike/bike etc. to "feed his soul"--something you don't get much of in the middle of a huge city with tons of work looming over you.
Another person I know was not ready to move so far away from the friends and family they've had since birth a 3 hour plane ride away from where they are now. Not that you would necessarily know this going in, but if you suspect this might be you, think long and hard before making the move, it might be a great change, or it might make you miserable.

4. What is the game plan if you bomb your first semester?
I know, no one wants to think about this. But if you are not going to a top school and especially if you are going to a really low ranked school where people frequently drop out or transfer, or if you were "planning" to transfer going in (hello, 1 in 10 chance you'll be in the top 10%) need to give it some SERIOUS thought. It may mean you readjust your dreams of clerkships/academia/litigation for other more realistic lawyering goals, it may mean you take a leave of absence to figure out if law school and all that debt it really worth it (true, you'll already be a lot of $$ in debt, but I know someone who is doing this now), it may mean you swallow your pride and meet with the student affairs people/career services people/your profs from that semester to figure out where you went wrong and how to fix it/where to go next.
But do think about it. Then, resolve NOT to think about it anymore until you get your first semester grades back and cross that bridge if you come to it!

If you are coming out of undergrad where mom and dad paid for everything, or if you are just not used to living on loans after a cushy job doing x, or if you are planning to propose to your sig-o and need to save $$ for a wedding etc., you need to think about budgeting. It sucks. It's no fun. But being broke/in debt is MUCH worse.

5. Advice I thought was stupid/things I think are NOT worth thinking about
- Reading a whole ton of E&E's/pre law books. One or two, fine. More than that, really not necessary. Those pre-orientation workshop things? Overrated. Just one person's opinion here.
- Overthinking the relationship you are in when you are too young to be doing that or putting too much stock into finding someone right away in school. Focus on yourself. Your sig-o and your sex life are certainly important, don't get me wrong, but don't overthink it at the expense of your grades!
- Spending too much time on TLS is not recommended. Set yourself some sort of cap during the app/choosing process, or you WILL go freakin' crazy. Then, once you pick a place, go wild on the X class of 20XX page. But don't drive yourself up a wall spending hours to see if some random person you've never met got a call from school Z and think it will have an immediate impact on your day/life/application. Chill out and go for a run.

Perhaps some more to come later...but this is all the wisdom I have for now!! Good luck and PM me with any questions!! xoxo, animalcrkrs

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