Just yesterday, the latest batch of starry-eyed dreamers sat for the LSAT (although the number of these hopeful 0Ls seems to be in freefall). As they wait for the scores to come in, these aspiring JDs will no doubt be doing their research and narrowing down where to apply. Law school applicants have no shortage of resources at their disposal to help them in making their decisions and navigating the process: from U.S. News to Princeton Review, from Anna Ivey to Top Law Schools. But we all know that there is no decision-making tool as beloved as a ranked list. People love rankings — such time and energy savers! We suspect more application and matriculation decisions are made by perusing rankings than will ever be admitted to.
Regular readers of this site might recall that a little while back we published our inaugural ATL Top 50 Law Schools ranking. We are proud that we, rather than burying our methodology in the footnotes or an obscure appendix, prefaced our rankings release with a detailed discussion about the choices we made in devising our methodology.
Whatever the subject matter, anyone looking to rate or rank anything has to make some choices between three basic methodological approaches:
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Anna Ivey helps prospective law school applicants improve their résumé for fall applications.
Are you staring at your résumé and experiencing a mild sense of panic wondering how you’re going to beef it up between now and the time you submit your applications this fall?
You may be tempted to sign up for a flurry of impressive-sounding activities, but remember that quality matters a whole lot more than quantity. Admissions officers know what résumé padding looks like. In fact, they have a finely tuned antenna for that sort of thing. Any activity where you list your main contribution as “member” — i.e. just showing up — isn’t going to count for much.
You’ll also have to list start dates for your jobs and activities, as well as hours per week, when it comes time to apply. It will be completely transparent if all of a sudden you discover a grand passion for immigrant aid volunteering, or sustainability work, or the inner workings of the Dodd-Frank Act three months before you apply. Track records matter.
Living in a post-Oprah Show world is tough for people like me. Oprah was the one who convinced many that no matter what happens in your life, it’s not your fault. There’s always how your mother treated you, how you were bullied in third grade, your bad relationships, and, of course, the law school that held a gun to your head while showing you fake statistics and promising a job handed to you at the same time you shake the dean’s hand and receive your degree.
While I believe anyone stupid enough to choose a law school based on their job placement statistics should never, ever, ever, be a practicing lawyer, there are many of you out there. Even though you should run as fast as you can to another profession or career, I want to help you at least try to find a legal job so in a year you can realize that the real problem is that you never wanted to be a lawyer anyway — you were just looking for some easy cash, like everyone promised.
As a favor to you, and for the five-figure fees I receive at ATL for writing this column, I provide these little nuggets of weekly advice which are both appreciated (privately) and excoriated (anonymously). I realize one of the problems that causes seemingly intelligent people with law degrees to respond with unintelligible rants about how I “don’t understand” is that I am actually working, as a lawyer. As misery loves company, there is the notion that because I’m not sitting in my parents’ basement lashing out at the computer screen in an effort to convince people not to go to law school, I am just wrong.
So before you throw in the towel and go to that world of becoming a social media rock star, I want you to know that I’m not the only one out there giving you advice that does nothing but anger you. There’s also Anna Ivey….
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Anna Ivey explains to prospective law school applicants what they can expect in the upcoming application process.
You watch Law & Order reruns. You spoke to some lawyers who applied to law school ten years ago. You have a friend who is in law school right now, and he says you have nothing to worry about. You even looked at a sample LSAT test that a colleague of yours was taking. It looks doable enough. Maybe someone even told you to take the test cold to “see how you do.” You figure you’ll have a personal statement to write and some recommendations to line up, no big deal.
You think you know what the law school application process will be like, right? Think again.
Most prospective law school applicants are not fully informed about what will actually be required of them in order to apply to law school. That lack of information causes applicants to misjudge, and often underestimate, how much of their time and effort they will need to produce strong application materials.
So what should you expect from the application process? This week, we’re starting a series of tips on how to get yourself mentally prepared for what lies ahead if you hope to submit strong law school applications this fall.
Way back in 2008, I noted with skepticism the University of Michigan’s “Wolverine Scholars” Program. I wasn’t the only one. The initiative allowed Michigan undergraduates with very high GPAs to get into Michigan Law without having to take the LSAT.
The program seemed like a pretty obvious attempt to game the U.S. News rankings. It’s so obvious that the now disgraced former Dean of Admissions for Illinois Law, Paul Pless, who had a similar program at his school, had this to say about it:
I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.
Pless was talking about Illinois’s iLeap program, which was substantially similar to the Wolverine Scholars program at Michigan.
The Pless quote came out earlier this month, as the admissions director was being ushered under the bus by Illinois Law as the “lone gunman” for its embarrassing admissions scandal.
With the spotlight on a Big Ten school that manipulated admissions statistics for years, Michigan very quietly canceled its Wolverine Scholar Program.
There’s been much less fanfare about the end of the program than there was about its start. In fact, we obtained FOIA documents that contain various emails from Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker and Dean of Admissions Sarah Zearfoss.
They talk about the program, and the how “the blogs” are covering it….
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This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.