Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips for law school applicants.
Non-traditional applicants to law school face different barriers to admission and have different concerns regarding school choice, finances, and post-graduation career options than their counterparts who attend law school directly (or within a year or two) of graduating from college.
Three recent law school graduates who fit this mold when they applied took the time to share their thoughts and perspectives in order to benefit future applicants. One graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law in his mid-40s (Scott), one graduated from Notre Dame with a JD/MBA after serving in the military (Todd), and one attended Western New England after 20+ years as a paralegal and office manager for a large law firm (Susan).
1. What were some of your concerns applying to law school as a non-traditional applicant? What were some challenges you faced because you were not right out of college?
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Lee Burgess offers advice for pre-law students on how to spend the summer before law school.
The question is often presented to us about what to do in the summer before your 1L year. Some future law students are working full time. Some are taking a break after graduating from undergrad. The burning question is — what should you do to help you be best prepared for your 1L year?
First, a personal story. I didn’t do anything to get ready for my 1L year. I was working full time prior to the start of law school and I left my job just a week or so before orientation. I think I went shopping and bought some new jeans because I wouldn’t have to dress up every day anymore. I know, great planning. Do I regret the decision to do nothing related to law school prep? Not really, in the sense that I needed to work and save money to help pay for law school. And I was able to catch on to law school well enough. But my first semester grades (to be perfectly honest) were not the best grades of my legal career. My grades went up during law school, as I continued to master the law school skill set. I have to wonder what would have happened if I had invested some time during the summer before law school getting up to speed on what law school exams looked like. I will never know, but in hindsight it might not have been a bad idea, something to consider at least.
But now having the start to my law school career well into my rearview mirror, here are five things you should do to get ready for your 1L year.
A law school that perennially gets the bottom-tier/unranked tag from U.S. News and has never been ranked by the ATL Top 50 — indeed, a strong contender in this year’s Worst Law School bracket — is billing itself to prospective students as a bona fide peer of schools like Duke, Northwestern, and even Yale.
You know what it takes to sell underachieving law schools? It takes brass balls.
I agree with some of LSAC’s past policies and am happy to see others, like the flagging of score reports, go. I think that it’s hard, though, to contribute much to this conversation by worrying about people faking their way through an ADD exam . . . without knowing what an “ADD exam” means in this setting. It’s hard to move the issue forward by insisting that LSAC discourage abuse without being unfair. . . without knowing what LSAC has done in the past and why.
I’ve worked as a clinician administering many of the tests used to assess learning disabilities and difficulties, and I’ve helped individuals whose tests show they need intervention. (My favorite may be the Woodcock – Johnson Battery, just because of its name.) I currently use cognitive science to study how people best learn in law school. I may not be an authority like Dick Woodcock, but you could do a lot worse than me on a legal blog. So, I’d like to fill out the picture in the LSAC story a bit more….
As we previously mentioned, LSAC and the Department of Justice have entered into a consent decree over LSAC’s alleged discrimination against disabled people. LSAC agreed to pay $7.73 million to settle the claims against it, and to make policy changes. Most notably, LSAC will no longer denote when a person has received extra time on the LSAT.
That is great news for disabled people who want to be treated with fundamental fairness when taking this important test and applying for law school. It’s also great news for anybody who can fake their way through an ADHD exam and wants a little more time than everybody else…
As we’ve discussed before, law schools have handled the declining interest in law school in a couple of ways. One method is to just admit fewer people. Another response involves lowering entrance standards so you can admit the same (or even greater) number of students as you did when times are good.
Both strategies are temporary solutions to a long-term problem, but the latter method is particularly short-sighted. Turning your law school into a place that admits everybody who can scrawl their mark on a FAFSA form is not a sustainable answer to the crisis in legal education.
It would appear that one law school searching for a new dean is trying to grapple with that problem….
Since we released the ATL Top 50 Law Schools last week, we’ve received a fair amount of feedback and criticism regarding our approach to ranking schools. As noted (again and again), our methodology considers “outcomes” only — the idea being that, in this dismal legal job market, that’s all that truly matters. Our rankings formula weighs six outcomes; these three below were the most disputed:
• Supreme Court Clerks. This is simply the number of SCOTUS clerks produced by the school over the last five years, adjusted for the schools’ size. By far, this is the most heavily criticized aspect of our methodology. “Preposterous!” “Irrelevant!” “Reflective of some weird fetish on the part of one of your editors!” And so on. To which we say, sure, SCOTUS clerkships are irrelevant in assessing the vast majority of schools. Properly considered, this component is a sort of “extra credit question” that helps make fine distinctions among a few top schools.
• Federal Judgeships. The number of sitting Article III judges who are alumni of the school, adjusted for size. Some complain that this is a lagging indicator that tells us something about graduates from 25 years ago but little about today’s students’ prospects. Besides, aren’t these appointments just a function of the appointees’ connections? True enough, but this is certainly an indicator of the enduring strength and scope of a school’s graduate network — surely a worthwhile consideration. Connections matter.
• Quality Jobs Score. The percentage of students securing jobs at the nation’s largest law firms combined with those landing federal clerkships. The principal criticism with this metric is that it fails to include some categories of desirable job outcomes, including so-called “JD Advantage” jobs and certain public interest/government positions. However, parsing out the “good” jobs from the rest is the problem. Whenever we could, we used the most straightforward, obtainable, and well-defined data points, with the goal of a “quality jobs score” as a reasonable proxy for quality jobs generally.
Read on for a look at which schools rated best in each of the above categories, as well as on Employment Score and Lowest Cost. We’ll also look at some of the biggest gainers and losers in the ATL 50, plus significant differences between our rankings and U.S. News….
While prospective law students are making their final decisions on where to drop their deposits, some of them have much more than their future legal careers on their minds. Neatly tucked away in our top search terms today — just above people erroneously clicking through hoping to find pornography on a legal website — is perhaps one of the most absurd questions we’ve ever seen.
Screw career outcomes and starting salaries! Prospective law students want to know which prestigious law school will help them get the most tail. Keep reading, because we’ve got an answer for you…
File this one under #firstworldproblems. Today we have a guy who got into the University of Chicago Law School and Duke Law School, and he’s getting money from both.
But he’s getting a little more money from Duke… which is about as close as you’ll ever get Duke to admitting that it’s not “the Harvard of the South” because Harvard wouldn’t give you a dime to draw you away from the UofC (no offense, Brian Leiter).
So what should this guy do, other than be happy and email ATL about his good fortune? Well, you probably need a little more information…
Lat here. Tomorrow is a big day. First, April 15 is Tax Day; we hope that you’ve filed your return — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of. Second, it’s the deposit deadline at various law schools. We hope that you’ve made up your mind — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of.
Helping people make informed decisions is the goal of our popular column called The Decision. We field queries from prospective law students choosing between different schools, offer them advice, and ask ATL readers to weigh in as well.
Now, on to today’s scenarios. We’ve titled them “Jersey Boys” and “The Book of Mormon,” for reasons that will soon become apparent….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.