Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

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DerekMeeker

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:31 pm

supersplittysplitter wrote:Hey Dean Meeker,

What's your advice for keeping in touch with admissions offices? If we're on the WL and we already sent a LOCI back in April or May, should we send a brief email once a month throughout the summer to express our continued interest? Or should we only reach out again if we have significant updates? I don't want schools to think I've forgotten about them, but I also don't want to sound really repetitive, so I'm in a tough spot.

Thanks!


Hi there. Being on the WL during the summer is a tough spot indeed! But, yes, staying in touch is important and I think you are spot on by doing it about once a month (absent significant updates). Also, any time the Admissions Office sends a general update about the WL, you should send a brief email to reiterate your interest. It is hard not to sound repetitive when sending multiple LOCIs or emails, but that's okay. You want to stay on their radar and remind them of the value you will bring to their class/community and why their school is where you want to be. If financial aid is not an issue for you and you would attend the school unconditionally, do let them know that. Good luck!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:43 pm

sideout09 wrote:Hello. Thank you for your service here. I have a bit of a non-traditional flavor to my application, and I think someone with your experience will be better suited to answer these kinds of question given my unique-esque experience/background.

I graduated in 2009 from Berkeley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. My GPA was 3.1 and let's say my June LSAT score is going to be around 165, given my PTs up until that point. Reasons for my low GPA is a combination of immaturity during my first couple semesters, ~20 hr workweeks throughout sophomore and junior years, and getting into a bicycle accident one semester when I took a few weeks off from classes but did not withdraw due to financial reasons (I don't know if that's legitimate or naive, but there it is). Since graduation, I've worked at a couple different engineering companies, and during the last two years, I've been working as a patent engineer for a reputable IP law firm doing patent prosecution. I have every intention in becoming a patent attorney, and I believe I can write a compelling personal statement regarding this. My recommendations will most likely come from the partners at my firm including one of whom is a lecturer at a local law school and with whom I took a patent law class. I'm wondering what your thoughts are at my chances of getting into a top 20 school like UCLA, USC, and Northwestern? I've heard that Northwestern might be doable given that they have a reputation of favoring people with work experience. Any other school? If these schools seem unlikely, would you recommend taking the LSAT again in October (assuming the 165), and if so, what should my target score be?

Lastly, I've been reading that schools are starting to seriously consider a candidates' marketability. While I don't mean to be haughty about this, I've been told that my background in EECS combined with my experience with patent prosecution make me very marketable for patent law, but I'm not sure how much this plays into my admissions chances. If you can shed some light into this, that would be great too.

Once again, thank you very much.


Hello. First, you will definitely want to write an addendum to discuss the issues that affected your academic performance. Was there at least an upward trend in your later semesters? That will help. In any case, just be honest about the issues and own the mistakes you made. They want to hear that you take responsibility and have learned from the mistakes. It also certainly helps that you were an EE/CS major from one of the very best schools for that program. Your certainty with regard to your career goals and your excellent (and desirable) work experience and skills will be a huge asset as well.

All of that being said with an LSAT presumably below those schools' medians and the GPA being what it is, they will still be reaches. But you are the type of candidate that a school would admit with lower numbers if they're going to do it. You MUST apply early in the process, because if they're going to admit you, it would most likely be very early in the process, or very late in the process (after wait-listing you). And those are great schools to target. I would add Michigan to the list, too. You are absolutely correct that schools are considering applicants' marketability more these days, so it is a good strategy to focus on that in your application.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby lazyfromage » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:22 am

Hello Dean Meeker, thanks so much for fielding all these questions with such thorough responses.

I have a 3.5 GPA from undergrad that I maintained consistently throughout the four years, except for one semester in which I got all B's and ended up getting a 3.0 (which was mitigated the next semester with a higher than average GPA for me). Is this dip low enough to be looked upon unfavorably by T-14 law schools when reviewing my transcripts?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:19 am

lazyfromage wrote:Hello Dean Meeker, thanks so much for fielding all these questions with such thorough responses.

I have a 3.5 GPA from undergrad that I maintained consistently throughout the four years, except for one semester in which I got all B's and ended up getting a 3.0 (which was mitigated the next semester with a higher than average GPA for me). Is this dip low enough to be looked upon unfavorably by T-14 law schools when reviewing my transcripts?


Hey there, you're welcome!

I don't think the one semester dip in this case will have much impact on your application given the consistency throughout the other semesters. That said, was there anything in particular that affected your performance that semester (e.g., external circumstances)? If there was something specific that contributed, depending on what it was, you could write a brief addendum to explain.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby mamsiey » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:52 am

Hi Dean Meeker:
I am an international student from a third-world country. My UG GPA is 3.75 and i am aiming for 175+ on the October LSAT. I want to get into T14s with full scholly. I dunno how feasible that is considering schools don't factor foreign gpas. Also, why does UPenn seem to waitlist international students. Do I particularly have a chance at Upenn.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:09 pm

mamsiey wrote:Hi Dean Meeker:
I am an international student from a third-world country. My UG GPA is 3.75 and i am aiming for 175+ on the October LSAT. I want to get into T14s with full scholly. I dunno how feasible that is considering schools don't factor foreign gpas. Also, why does UPenn seem to waitlist international students. Do I particularly have a chance at Upenn.


Hi there. If you score a 170+ on the LSAT, you will certainly have a good shot at some T14 schools. Given that the GPA won't count in terms of admission statistics, you basically want to aim to be above a school's median LSAT score to at least be competitive. That said, these schools are still going to carefully assess your academic record and your writing skills. The top 7 schools in particular will pay close attention to your academic curriculum/performance, so even a 175+ won't mean automatic admit.

Penn wait-lists a lot of applicants, not just international students. They have 240-250 seats for an applicant pool that is close to 6,000, thus more applications per available seat than most of their peer schools. They want to know why you are interested in Penn and how you will contribute/add value to the Penn community, so do write the Penn values essay. I would also advise that you articulate your motivation for law school and career goals, either in your personal statement or in the Penn essay. Their placement statistics are among the very highest of the top schools, so showing them that you have a clear sense as to your goals and that you will be marketable to legal employers will add great value to your application.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby osgiliath » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:58 pm

First off, I wanted to thank you for responding to so many questions in such a helpful manner.

My question relates to my abysmal GPA and how to mitigate it on my application via LOR's, addendum, etc. I'm taking the LSAT in October, so I'm leaving that out of the equation for this particular discussion (for what it's worth, I'm practice-testing in the lower 170's).

First, the details: I graduated in 2011 with a 2.8 GPA. My GPA in my final year was 3.46 (not very impressive still, but hopefully establishes the beginning of a positive trend in my work ethic since then) and 3.9 in my final quarter. My final year was also my heaviest course-load. Now, I have been at my current job for 2 years where I work on grant-funded rule of law and human rights projects with developing countries (based in the US but have spent 3+ months on the ground). My several internships during and after college were also in human rights and international justice, and my whole application and personal statement will revolve around that.

LOR's: I will be getting both of my LOR's from my supervisors at my current job, and I was wondering if they should directly address the change in my work ethic since college (i.e. saying something like "John Doe received a 2.8 gpa in college, but you would never have guessed it based on his current drive and work ethic) or if they should indirectly address it by never mentioning my GPA and just talking about my work ethic, accomplishments, and other positive traits they see. Would mentioning my GPA make it seem like I coached my recommenders and hence make make their LOR's less genuine and carry less weight?

Addendum: I would not attribute my poor academic performance in college to any earth-shattering circumstance beyond things that every other human on earth encounters such as relationship problems. It really was a case of me lacking direction, drive, and maturity, thinking that a college degree was "just a piece of paper", and other nonsense. Should I still write a short addendum highlighting my positive upswing in my final year and then very succinctly outlining my positive trajectory since then?

Other: I received an official award and bonus for a certain project at my current job, with a very flattering description explaining how I went "above and beyond" what my team members did and what was required of me. Would this be worth including in my application to strengthen the case that I am no longer the 2.8 GPA me? If so, what is the best way? (I.e. Mention it in my addendum and attach the award/description; have my recommenders mention it in my LOR's; or some way that I am not thinking of?).


Thanks again for helping all of us out here at TLS. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby gnomgnomuch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:34 pm

I think I echo the rest of us when I saw thank you so much for answering our questions so thoughtfully.

My question is in regards to getting a masters degree abroad - at a great, but no Oxford/Cambridge uni. (For me It'll either be LSE, UCL or Edinburgh.)

Will that degree (an MPP) be beneficial on it's own - especially if it'll come with work experience - or will it just be seen as a decent soft, but that's it.

More broadly, how are advanced degrees in the social sciences viewed when considering admissions to the top schools, provided the grades are there. Can that lead to extra consideration for scholarship money, or maybe turn a waitlist into an acceptance?

Thanks so much!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:42 am

osgiliath wrote:First off, I wanted to thank you for responding to so many questions in such a helpful manner.

My question relates to my abysmal GPA and how to mitigate it on my application via LOR's, addendum, etc. I'm taking the LSAT in October, so I'm leaving that out of the equation for this particular discussion (for what it's worth, I'm practice-testing in the lower 170's).

First, the details: I graduated in 2011 with a 2.8 GPA. My GPA in my final year was 3.46 (not very impressive still, but hopefully establishes the beginning of a positive trend in my work ethic since then) and 3.9 in my final quarter. My final year was also my heaviest course-load. Now, I have been at my current job for 2 years where I work on grant-funded rule of law and human rights projects with developing countries (based in the US but have spent 3+ months on the ground). My several internships during and after college were also in human rights and international justice, and my whole application and personal statement will revolve around that.

LOR's: I will be getting both of my LOR's from my supervisors at my current job, and I was wondering if they should directly address the change in my work ethic since college (i.e. saying something like "John Doe received a 2.8 gpa in college, but you would never have guessed it based on his current drive and work ethic) or if they should indirectly address it by never mentioning my GPA and just talking about my work ethic, accomplishments, and other positive traits they see. Would mentioning my GPA make it seem like I coached my recommenders and hence make make their LOR's less genuine and carry less weight?

Addendum: I would not attribute my poor academic performance in college to any earth-shattering circumstance beyond things that every other human on earth encounters such as relationship problems. It really was a case of me lacking direction, drive, and maturity, thinking that a college degree was "just a piece of paper", and other nonsense. Should I still write a short addendum highlighting my positive upswing in my final year and then very succinctly outlining my positive trajectory since then?

Other: I received an official award and bonus for a certain project at my current job, with a very flattering description explaining how I went "above and beyond" what my team members did and what was required of me. Would this be worth including in my application to strengthen the case that I am no longer the 2.8 GPA me? If so, what is the best way? (I.e. Mention it in my addendum and attach the award/description; have my recommenders mention it in my LOR's; or some way that I am not thinking of?).


Thanks again for helping all of us out here at TLS. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


Hi there. Happy to provide some guidance.

LORs: I would not have your recommenders address the GPA directly since they are not professors and did not know you then. Rather, as you note, have them focus on the skills, characteristics and qualities that they have observed (that your academic record implies were absent): work ethic, drive, commitment, passion, focus, judgment, maturity, etc., and of course specific skills that they can speak to (e.g., analytical, writing, research, communication, interpersonal, etc.).

Addendum: Yes, write a short addendum with 2 parts. 1) Concisely explain why your GPA was low (the lack of direction, drive, etc. -- leave out the relationship problems) i.e., be honest, OWN the mistakes you made, express regret. 2) Highlight the upward trend in your final year and, yes, succinctly outline your positive trajectory since then (i.e., my early academic record is not indicative of my potential or who I am NOW).

Other: The mention/description of the award can be included in the second part of your addendum and could also be addressed by one of the recommenders - whichever is the more appropriate to discuss it.

Best of luck!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby lawschooleder » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:32 pm

Hi Dean Meeker- I'm reposting this from the Spivey thread as I would love a second opinion/perspective:

What would the repercussions be for backing out of an ED agreement before classes start? Would it hurt my ability to get into top schools in the future?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:55 pm

[link redacted] wrote:Hi Dean Meeker- I'm reposting this from the Spivey thread as I would love a second opinion/perspective:

What would the repercussions be for backing out of an ED agreement before classes start? Would it hurt my ability to get into top schools in the future?


I'm not Dean Meeker. However, I "backed out" of an ED agreement in 2011 after being offered a job. I then reapplied to the same school (UVA) three years alter and was offered a full ride. I was also given full rides to several other t14s. So unless you can't provide a compelling reason to back out - work experience, etc. - you're fine. In fact, if getting work experience, you'll be better off when you reapply.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby lawschooleder » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:17 pm

FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
lolspamlink! wrote:Hi Dean Meeker- I'm reposting this from the Spivey thread as I would love a second opinion/perspective:

What would the repercussions be for backing out of an ED agreement before classes start? Would it hurt my ability to get into top schools in the future?


I'm not Dean Meeker. However, I "backed out" of an ED agreement in 2011 after being offered a job. I then reapplied to the same school (UVA) three years alter and was offered a full ride. I was also given full rides to several other t14s. So unless you can't provide a compelling reason to back out - work experience, etc. - you're fine. In fact, if getting work experience, you'll be better off when you reapply.


Thanks! I do have work-related reasons for withdrawing, was just wondering I will be placed on any sort of law school blacklist if I do so. That's reassuring, though.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby junkaccount » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:22 pm

Hello Dean Meeker,

I have a question that I haven't seen yet on TLS forums, so I thought I would ask it here...

I am having trouble focusing on a topic for my personal statement and the only thing I can think of is a story I have written before for scholarship essays. In the past, I have had great luck with winning scholarships (7 in total out of 9 applications) by writing about a very personal story that involves the fact that I left school at the age of 13, became a teenage mother a few years later, and ended up on welfare programs and in public housing, etc. Then I returned to education as an adult in a successful way: my grades were good (3.8 GPA), I became the student body president of a large college, I did 20+ public speaking gigs focused on education, I did an above average amount of extracurriculars (25+ committees), etc. and other stuff like that. This story is very much something that scholarship committees like to hear, I've found. It serves an inspiring purpose, and it really embodies the whole "American dream" and/or redemption stories that people seem to love so much.

But I'm wondering if this is an appropriate personal essay topic for law schools. I'm going to be very frank here in saying that I believe (and I have no evidence if this is true or not) that the scholarship committees I won over in undergrad (all social-justice-y organizations) were more into redemption stories than (perhaps) law school admissions committees are. In general, most people seem to have a negative view towards teenage welfare moms. There is a lot of judgment, and I've found that the topic can incite strong opinions as much as any hotly debated political topic can.

Would I be making a mistake to write about this "redemption story" in my law school essays? Should I assume that I would be judged harshly for it by law school ad-comms, which might be more traditional than the social-justice orgs I won all those scholarships from? Or could this story be a benefit to my application package? (3.8 gpa/ I pt around 170, want to apply to T14's)

Any advice would be helpful, and be as blunt as you want - I'd rather hear harsh truth and avoid a personal essay disaster than a warm and fuzzy answer!

Much thanks.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:03 am

gnomgnomuch wrote:I think I echo the rest of us when I saw thank you so much for answering our questions so thoughtfully.

My question is in regards to getting a masters degree abroad - at a great, but no Oxford/Cambridge uni. (For me It'll either be LSE, UCL or Edinburgh.)

Will that degree (an MPP) be beneficial on it's own - especially if it'll come with work experience - or will it just be seen as a decent soft, but that's it.

More broadly, how are advanced degrees in the social sciences viewed when considering admissions to the top schools, provided the grades are there. Can that lead to extra consideration for scholarship money, or maybe turn a waitlist into an acceptance?

Thanks so much!


Yes, there is definitely some added value. An graduate program in policy would include advanced coursework that requires critical reading, research, and writing -- skills that are obviously very important for law school. There is also a close connection to law, so I am assuming that your MPP studies and subsequent work experience are contributing to your interest in law school and future career goals. Discussing that thread as part of your application, via the personal statement or a supplemental essay, would be helpful (i.e., show how it contributed, what you gained from it, how you can apply it, bring value to a law school classroom, etc.).

It can certainly be a distinguishing factor in the admissions and scholarship process amongst candidates with similar numerical credentials. As noted above, it is up to you to show how it distinguishes you/adds value.

Good luck!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:45 pm

junkaccount wrote:Hello Dean Meeker,

I have a question that I haven't seen yet on TLS forums, so I thought I would ask it here...

I am having trouble focusing on a topic for my personal statement and the only thing I can think of is a story I have written before for scholarship essays. In the past, I have had great luck with winning scholarships (7 in total out of 9 applications) by writing about a very personal story that involves the fact that I left school at the age of 13, became a teenage mother a few years later, and ended up on welfare programs and in public housing, etc. Then I returned to education as an adult in a successful way: my grades were good (3.8 GPA), I became the student body president of a large college, I did 20+ public speaking gigs focused on education, I did an above average amount of extracurriculars (25+ committees), etc. and other stuff like that. This story is very much something that scholarship committees like to hear, I've found. It serves an inspiring purpose, and it really embodies the whole "American dream" and/or redemption stories that people seem to love so much.

But I'm wondering if this is an appropriate personal essay topic for law schools. I'm going to be very frank here in saying that I believe (and I have no evidence if this is true or not) that the scholarship committees I won over in undergrad (all social-justice-y organizations) were more into redemption stories than (perhaps) law school admissions committees are. In general, most people seem to have a negative view towards teenage welfare moms. There is a lot of judgment, and I've found that the topic can incite strong opinions as much as any hotly debated political topic can.

Would I be making a mistake to write about this "redemption story" in my law school essays? Should I assume that I would be judged harshly for it by law school ad-comms, which might be more traditional than the social-justice orgs I won all those scholarships from? Or could this story be a benefit to my application package? (3.8 gpa/ I pt around 170, want to apply to T14's)

Any advice would be helpful, and be as blunt as you want - I'd rather hear harsh truth and avoid a personal essay disaster than a warm and fuzzy answer!

Much thanks.


How is this for the "harsh truth": You have a GOLD MINE for your law school personal statement! It is absolutely appropriate for your personal statement: overcoming significant personal and socio-economic challenges to get your degree (and doing very well academically), becoming a student leader, spokesperson, etc. shows courage, perseverance, grit/determination, focus, discipline, maturity, and a number of other qualities and skills that are essential for success in law school.

Tell your story, show how/what you've learned from it, how you applied those lessons and taught/influenced others as a result, and, importantly, how it may have informed where you are today, i.e., why you are applying to law school and what your career goals are.

Best of luck!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:47 pm

[link redacted] wrote:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
lolspamlink! wrote:Hi Dean Meeker- I'm reposting this from the Spivey thread as I would love a second opinion/perspective:

What would the repercussions be for backing out of an ED agreement before classes start? Would it hurt my ability to get into top schools in the future?


I'm not Dean Meeker. However, I "backed out" of an ED agreement in 2011 after being offered a job. I then reapplied to the same school (UVA) three years alter and was offered a full ride. I was also given full rides to several other t14s. So unless you can't provide a compelling reason to back out - work experience, etc. - you're fine. In fact, if getting work experience, you'll be better off when you reapply.


Thanks! I do have work-related reasons for withdrawing, was just wondering I will be placed on any sort of law school blacklist if I do so. That's reassuring, though.


For reasons that will become obvious, I will answer this question later today. Stay tuned!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby lawschooleder » Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:02 pm

deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
lolspamlink! wrote:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
lolspamlink! wrote:Hi Dean Meeker- I'm reposting this from the Spivey thread as I would love a second opinion/perspective:

What would the repercussions be for backing out of an ED agreement before classes start? Would it hurt my ability to get into top schools in the future?


I'm not Dean Meeker. However, I "backed out" of an ED agreement in 2011 after being offered a job. I then reapplied to the same school (UVA) three years alter and was offered a full ride. I was also given full rides to several other t14s. So unless you can't provide a compelling reason to back out - work experience, etc. - you're fine. In fact, if getting work experience, you'll be better off when you reapply.


Thanks! I do have work-related reasons for withdrawing, was just wondering I will be placed on any sort of law school blacklist if I do so. That's reassuring, though.


For reasons that will become obvious, I will answer this question later today. Stay tuned!


It's actually become a moot point for me as, after assessing my situation, I've decided to matriculate as planned. I'm sure your response will be useful for others with similar dilemmas, though!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby iceballoon » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:38 am

Hi Dean Meeker,

Thanks for your super informative and helpful posts!

I'm pessimistic about my situation. I only got LSAT 164 at the third attempt with a 3.83 GPA, which means I can't retake recently.

I only have worked in a start-up in my home country, but graduated from an American college. Since that start-up was small and newly established with less employees, I worked with its CEO&Founder and reviewed contracts and contacted with legal counsels for her. I was learning to analyze and helping to revise some clauses under professional helps. And it's a chance to know how a start-up to run and grow and what legal helps and supports it needs. However, I worked there only for several months. So I doubt whether this experience can help my application. Overall, I think I got a very slim chance to get in T14 and don't know if I should apply the 2015-2016 cycle or not.

Thank you!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Smoking Gunner » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:03 am

iceballoon wrote:Hi Dean Meeker,

Thanks for your super informative and helpful posts!

I'm pessimistic about my situation. I only got LSAT 164 at the third attempt with a 3.83 GPA, which means I can't retake recently.

I only have worked in a start-up in my home country, but graduated from an American college. Since that start-up was small and newly established with less employees, I worked with its CEO&Founder and reviewed contracts and contacted with legal counsels for her. I was learning to analyze and helping to revise some clauses under professional helps. And it's a chance to know how a start-up to run and grow and what legal helps and supports it needs. However, I worked there only for several months. So I doubt whether this experience can help my application. Overall, I think I got a very slim chance to get in T14 and don't know if I should apply the 2015-2016 cycle or not.

Thank you!


A friend of mine got into GULC, Cornell, UVA, and Duke this cycle with a 164/3.8, and he doesn't have any softs or real work experience, so it's definitely possible for you to get into a T14. The real question is how you'll be financing law school. If you're taking out loans I would probably go for a T2 with a significant scholly, or rethink law school all together. I'm sure Dean Meeker can speak more to this, but that's just my 2 cents.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby a93212 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:23 pm

Dean Meeker,
I have a very important question for you, but before I ask the question, I'll give you some background information. I have some serious C&F issues relating to past legal trouble; however, I do not have to disclose my past to half of the T14 schools because my record is sealed. While my record is sealed, I had a legal case going on for around three years, during which I turned my entire life around and excelled in school; however, I had to take off a semester and attend a boot-camp style program. Now, here's the question: how do I answer the question on the application,"has your education ever been interrupted for a term or more? If so, explain the circumstances." Can I just say I took off due to personal reasons? Or is that too vague and will it be a red flag for adcomms? Will they ask me what those personal reasons are during an interview or on a phone call, or will they just assume that a family member passed? For the schools that I'm applying to, which I'm not obligated to disclose my cases for which I was granted youthful offender status, I don't want to tell them If I don't have to. Do you have any suggestions for going about this in an effective manner? Thanks in advance.
Last edited by a93212 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:02 pm

a93212 wrote:Dean Meeker,
I have a very important question for you, but before I ask the question, I'll give you some background information. I have some serious C&F issues relating to past legal trouble; however, I do not have to disclose my past to half of the T14 schools because my record is sealed. While my record is sealed, I had a legal case going on for around three years, during which I turned my entire life around and excelled in school; however, I had to take off a semester and attend a boot-camp style program. Now, here's the question: how do I answer the question on the application,"has your education ever been interrupted for a term or more? If so, explain the circumstances." Can I just say I took off due to personal reasons? Or is that too vague and will it be a red flag for adcomms? Will they ask me what those personal reasons are during an interview or on a phone call, or will they just assume that a family member passed? For the schools that I'm applying to, which I'm not obligated to disclose my cases for which I was granted youthful offender status, I don't want to tell them If I don't have to. Do you have any suggestions for going about this in an effective manner? Thanks in advance.


Oh, yes, simply saying "for personal reasons" is a huge red flag. No, they won't assume that a family member passed; they will assume you are hiding something because it is negative. And even if they give you the opportunity to explain via an interview or phone call, which many will not, you then also have to overcome the obstacle of not being open about it to begin with. You will have to provide some specific details. But keep in mind, that admissions committee are human beings; they will consider all the information you present and will certainly be more empathetic if you: 1) take responsibility/own the mistake, 2) show how you resolved the issue/changed/made amends or improvements, and 3) present evidence of other experiences -- academic, professional, person -- that show the past conduct is not indicative of who you are now (or have been for however many past years.)

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:03 pm

Smoking Gunner wrote:
iceballoon wrote:Hi Dean Meeker,

Thanks for your super informative and helpful posts!

I'm pessimistic about my situation. I only got LSAT 164 at the third attempt with a 3.83 GPA, which means I can't retake recently.

I only have worked in a start-up in my home country, but graduated from an American college. Since that start-up was small and newly established with less employees, I worked with its CEO&Founder and reviewed contracts and contacted with legal counsels for her. I was learning to analyze and helping to revise some clauses under professional helps. And it's a chance to know how a start-up to run and grow and what legal helps and supports it needs. However, I worked there only for several months. So I doubt whether this experience can help my application. Overall, I think I got a very slim chance to get in T14 and don't know if I should apply the 2015-2016 cycle or not.

Thank you!


A friend of mine got into GULC, Cornell, UVA, and Duke this cycle with a 164/3.8, and he doesn't have any softs or real work experience, so it's definitely possible for you to get into a T14. The real question is how you'll be financing law school. If you're taking out loans I would probably go for a T2 with a significant scholly, or rethink law school all together. I'm sure Dean Meeker can speak more to this, but that's just my 2 cents.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:10 pm

deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Smoking Gunner wrote:
iceballoon wrote:Hi Dean Meeker,

Thanks for your super informative and helpful posts!

I'm pessimistic about my situation. I only got LSAT 164 at the third attempt with a 3.83 GPA, which means I can't retake recently.

I only have worked in a start-up in my home country, but graduated from an American college. Since that start-up was small and newly established with less employees, I worked with its CEO&Founder and reviewed contracts and contacted with legal counsels for her. I was learning to analyze and helping to revise some clauses under professional helps. And it's a chance to know how a start-up to run and grow and what legal helps and supports it needs. However, I worked there only for several months. So I doubt whether this experience can help my application. Overall, I think I got a very slim chance to get in T14 and don't know if I should apply the 2015-2016 cycle or not.

Thank you!



A friend of mine got into GULC, Cornell, UVA, and Duke this cycle with a 164/3.8, and he doesn't have any softs or real work experience, so it's definitely possible for you to get into a T14. The real question is how you'll be financing law school. If you're taking out loans I would probably go for a T2 with a significant scholly, or rethink law school all together. I'm sure Dean Meeker can speak more to this, but that's just my 2 cents.


It is definitely worth applying to T14 schools at which your GPA is at or above median, and there are several. You might also consider applying ED to your top choice. (In any case, it is important that you submit your apps in general very early in the process.) The strong academic record, combined with solid LORs, excellent essays, and a clear articulation of why you are interested in law school and what your career goals are will significantly improve your chances. That said, you will want to apply broadly given the LSAT, and have plenty of target schools in the 15-25 range. (And possibly even broader for greater scholarship consideration as the the post above notes.)

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:21 pm

And now for an update...For those of you who have not heard, I will be joining forces with Mike Spivey and Karen Buttenbaum as a partner with Spivey Consulting. A link to the press release is below. So this thread will soon come down. I appreciate the many grateful notes and messages I have received. Please feel free to reach out to me on the Spivey thread or directly at derek@spiveyconsulting.com with future questions. I am excited about this new partnership and combining our experiences and networks.

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/press- ... onsulting/

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Winston1984 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:50 pm

Is Spivey going to require you to change your tar to some kind of fox?



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