Archive for the ‘Admissions’ Category
Congratulations on your offers of admission! How do you decide where to go? Do you go with the best name brand school? The school that offered the largest scholarship? The one that sent you the nicest swag package?
If you are deciding between two or more schools, attending Admitted Students Day events is an excellent way to decide which program is best for you. Your visit could help you make a final decision about where you will spend the next three years of your life.
- Have an opportunity to speak with current students about their law school experiences (Do the students feel supported by the institution?)
- Speak with administrators from financial aid and career services and get a sense of the support and institutional commitment to the students
- Speak with faculty members to discuss your areas of legal interest and see their level of engagement and enthusiasm for teaching
- Likely get a chance to feel the 1L experience by participating in a mock classroom situation with actual professors
- Have an opportunity to explore the campus and surrounding neighborhood and decide for yourself if the environment is appealing to you (Does the school feel big enough for you? Is it cozy enough for you? Do you feel physically safe?)
- See what sort of housing opportunities are available to students and how much it will cost
- See what your transportation needs will be (Will you need a car? Does everyone Uber?)
- Interact with other admitted candidates (Is this a community that you want to join?)
You should also ask current students and the appropriate administrators about student resources like clerkship opportunities, public interest opportunities, clinical opportunities and the availability and competitiveness of other resume-building opportunities. Ask about the percentage of students who participate on Law Review and other journals and the process of joining. Ask what sort of networking opportunities and career services programming are provided and when.
Before you attend, email the admissions office and ask if the school will offer a travel stipend for you to attend the Admitted Students Day event. It never hurts to ask politely. Prepare your narrative and decide how you will introduce yourself to your future colleagues and faculty. Do some research into the city/town so you can make casual conversation.
On the day of the event, dress in business casual unless otherwise directed. You might feel awkward and shy, but EVERYONE is feeling the same way. Stand up straight, shake hands, talk less and smile more. You might feel apprehensive about appearing less than impressive to admissions or faculty. Remember that the event is a means for the school to impress YOU and get you to commit to their program.
Welcome to Law School Success Stories, where we discuss 7Sage applicants who made the most of their GPA and LSAT score.
👤 Who: “Sanjay,” a recent college grad
- 📈 Top LSAT: 170
- 📉 GPA: 2.99
- 🏆 Accepted at UVA
🔎 Initial Assessment
Sanjay had applied the previous cycle and been accepted to GW and Fordham with substantial scholarships. During the year since applying, he had taken the LSAT two more times (for a total of five attempts), ultimately raising his score from 155 to a whopping 170. This made him determined to take another crack at the T-14, despite having a GPA well below their 25th percentiles.
A phone call with Sanjay revealed that he was not only a finance whiz, but a funny and down-to-earth guy. His low GPA had been due, in large part, to a debilitating skin condition that struck him at the beginning of college. The resulting social anxiety caused him to miss classes frequently during his first and second years. Sanjay saved up enough money to begin a new treatment regimen, and by the fall of his third year, he was earning good grades.
Our task, then, was to convince the admissions committee at a T-14 school that his GPA didn’t reflect his ability to succeed in law school, and that Sanjay was so smart, ambitious, and congenial that they simply could not turn him down. We developed a three-part strategy:
Once upon a time, the LSAT was the only game in town for law school applicants. Things began to change in 2016, when the University of Arizona Law allowed applicants to apply with a GRE score, followed by Harvard Law the next year. Nearly forty law schools now accept the test.
The Case for Taking the GRE
The GRE has a lot of advantages from the perspective of a test-taker. Available throughout the year and across the world, it’s easier to schedule and more convenient than the LSAT. The GRE will also feel more familiar to anyone who’s taken the SAT or ACT, and most test-takers find it less time-pressured than the LSAT. The test has special advantages for applicants with quantitative skills, who may find it easier than the LSAT, and for anyone applying to dual-degree programs, who may have to take the GRE in any case. Finally, if an applicant decides to cancel her GRE score, the test doesn’t show up on her record. If an LSAT-taker cancels her score, by contrast, the test still shows up on her score report.
Nevertheless, there are some reasons to hesitate before you go all in on the GRE.
It seems like no one talks about anything else. But where did this term come from and what does it actually measure?
Where the Term "T-14" Came From
The term "T-14" refers to the top fourteen law schools according to U.S. News and World Report (USNWR), a publication that specializes in rankings. But why fourteen instead of ten or twenty-three or five? Because the top fourteen schools have stayed fairly consistent according to USNWR.
Let's repeat that for emphasis: they've stayed consistent according to USNWR.
But USNWR's rankings are somewhat arbitrary. Here's how USNWR determines them:
Notice that USNWR rankings are mostly a measure of reputation. This is a little odd, because USNWR also helps perpetuate these schools' reputations.
To some extent, the rankings are a self-fulfilling prophecy: the longer you maintain a high USNWR rank, the better your reputation…and the higher your USNWR rank. No wonder they stay static at the top.
It's also worth pointing out what the rankings are not. They are not primarily a measure of employment outcomes. They are not at all a measure of how prepared you'll be to succeed. "Faculty resources" is a poor stand-in for educational quality, as you can see in a more detailed breakdown of the ranking methodology:
Let's question some of these assumptions. Does the fact that a school spends more on its instructors, library, and supporting services mean that it is better? Maybe—or maybe it's just in a more expensive location. Does the amount a school spends on its instructors and library and supporting services really matter more than twice as much as the students' employment rate at graduation? Do you, or does anyone you know, care even 0.75% about how many volumes are in the school's library?
The point isn't that these rankings are bad. The point is that rankings—any rankings—necessarily rely on assumptions that may not hold true for you.
So, back to the most important question:
Does attending a T-14 school matter?
It depends on what you're looking for.
Graduating from a highly ranked school usually makes it easier to do the following:
- Get a job in Big Law—especially the first time around
- Get a federal clerkship
- Pursue legal academia
But graduating from a T-14 school does not guarantee a job, and graduating from a school of lower ranking doesn't mean you can't get a job in Big Law. Your class rank, network, and interviewing skills also matter a lot.
If you're contemplating a specific school, you should take a look at the latest ABA-disclosed employment outcomes.
We’ve rounded up five spectacular personal statements that helped students with borderline numbers get into T-14 schools. You’ll find these examples to be as various as a typical JD class. Some essays are about a challenge, some about the evolution of the author’s intellectual or professional journey, and some about the author’s identity. The only common thread is sincerity. The authors did not write toward an imagined idea of what an admissions officer might be looking for: they reckoned honestly with formative experiences.
At 7Sage, we have worked with hundreds of law school applicants from China, South Korea, and many more countries, and we have assembled the following FAQ to help international students gain admission to America’s top law schools.
An LL.M. is a one-year master’s degree for candidates who already have a degree in law, and it can help them switch to a new field of law, get a new job, or gain a professional edge. Read about why you might apply and how to maximize your chances in our admissions course: https://7sage.com/admissions/lesson/all-about-ll-m-degrees/.
The annual uproar about law school rankings might lead you to believe that the rank of the school you attend is the only factor in determining whether you will become a successful lawyer. As Above The Law points out, the T14 law school rankings, as determined by US News and World Report, rely heavily on inputs – especially peer assessment, grades, and LSAT scores — while ATL’s rankings rely more heavily on outputs like jobs and starting salaries. Given that the two lists overlap quite heavily at the top, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling like you might as well say goodbye to your law career before you’ve even read your first case note if you don’t get into a T14 school. But don’t lose heart! Many, many law school graduates attend non-T14 schools and go on to have successful law careers.
I speak from experience. By way of background, I graduated from Emory Law School squarely in the middle of my class. It was a great place to go to school, with whip-smart professors and clinics, but it was not T14 when I attended and still isn’t (though it’s been solidly T25 for many years). Emory is also located in Atlanta, which, for all of its charms, was not the city where I intended to practice upon graduation. Like so many others, I had my eyes set on New York City. I managed to write myself onto the law review which, given my highly mediocre class ranking, definitely helped boost my resumé. This, combined with my comfort with interviewing, helped me land a job in Big Law in the New York office of a Chicago-based firm, where I specialized in real estate law.
I jumped ship after five years and wound up in Cardozo’s admissions office, where I counseled prospective students about whether they should or shouldn’t go to law school, and why they might be a good fit for Cardozo in particular. I later returned to practicing real estate law with the New York City Economic Development Corporation. As a lawyer, first in private practice and later for the City of New York, I regularly interviewed candidates for summer associate and lateral positions. While I can’t speak for every law firm or government agency, I do think I have some insight about whether attending a T14 law school really matters—so here goes!
When does attending a T14 law school really matter?
Welcome to Law School Success Stories, where we discuss 7Sage applicants who made the most of their GPA and LSAT score.
👤 Who: “Sarah,” an applicant who grew up in China and moved to the United States for college.
- 📈 LSAT: 169
- 📉 GPA: 3.33
- 🏆 Accepted at the University of Michigan Law
- 💵 $35,000 merit scholarship
🥅 Goals and Strategy
Sarah knew she wanted to take her law degree back to China, and the cachet of a T-14 school was important to her. Her parents, however, had a limited ability to pay for her education, and as a Chinese citizen, she wasn’t eligible for federal loans, so she was also hoping for a merit scholarship. Continue reading
Welcome to Law School Success Stories, where we discuss 7Sage applicants who made the most of their GPA and LSAT score. Please note that we changed certain details to protect this applicant’s anonymity, but we did not change his numbers or results.
👤 Who: “Neil,” a recent college grad of Southeast Asian descent
- 📉 LSAT: Under 149
- 📈 GPA: Over 3.8
- 🗞 Two-year résumé gap
- 🏆 Accepted at a T-14 school
- ✍️ Handwritten note from the dean: "I loved your essays" (and more)
🌘 The Strategy: A Shot at the Moon