Law Admissions Lowdown

Top Law Coach advice for aspiring lawyers, published by U.S. News & World Report

Independence Day this year will feel uncharacteristically subdued, with public gatherings nixed and political tensions rising. Even those unable to enjoy a barbecue and fireworks with friends and family may still find themselves embroiled in one of America’s oldest pastimes – political debate. Political passions have deep roots in the U.S., and many dreams of graduating law school are rooted in fiercely held beliefs about the rights, obligations and spirit of American citizenship. Law school applicants shouldn’t feel the need to hide the political or religious beliefs, affiliations and activities that mean so much to them.

If you wouldn't pay to stay in an expensive resort for a week without browsing the website to make sure it fits your style and interests, why would you pay much more money to spend three years at a law school without thoroughly exploring its sales pitch?
Law school websites are a gold mine of information for applicants. Of course, nobody ever called mining gold easy. It takes a lot of digging, sifting and careful appraisal.

A key legal skill is the ability to rapidly assess the credibility of information sources. From emotional witness testimony to sly legal articles, good lawyers know not to trust any source without investigation, verification, and consideration of competing perspectives. Likewise, as a law school applicant, you should be highly wary of what you read on anonymous internet forums, message boards or social media.

American law schools, once stern strongholds of the old guard, now actively seek diversity. Admissions officers are adamant that they’re not looking for applicants to check boxes or fill quotas, but rather to present their identity and life experience holistically, from multiple angles. Diversity can include race, ethnicity, sexual and gender identity, military service, socioeconomic status, faith and beliefs, disability status, immigrant upbringing or conditions of hardship. With so many considerations, who counts as underrepresented?

Congratulations! You got into law school, you made your deposit and you lit a beautiful Memorial Day bonfire of your LSAT prep books. Now what?
It’s hard for anyone to imagine experiencing the first semester of law school, but this year is particularly hazy. Universities are waiting as long as possible to decide whether to reopen campuses despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, with contingency plans for remote classes.
This uncertainty is troubling because the first year of law school is as important as it is intimidating. One thing that eases this gauntlet is the camaraderie of a close-knit campus and the study groups, activities and chance encounters that germinate lifelong friendships, romances, shared interests and enmities. Fortunately, lawyers are problem-solvers at heart, undaunted by unknowns and unclear precedents.

Hi, I'm a college student planning to take the LSAT next summer and I want to get started and prep a year in advance for it. What should I do? – I.G.

Law school applicants should allot at least four months for LSAT prep, but with more time you can lower your stress levels and build some slack into your schedule for times when life gets in the way and you have to shift focus to other priorities. Long-term LSAT prep will be more of a marathon than a sprint, so you want to build the habits and conditions that keep you on track. Ideally, you should approach the LSAT systematically, with a five-stage study plan…

Despite decades of slow progress, women lawyers, lawyers with disabilities and lawyers from racial, ethnic and sexual minorities are persistently underrepresented in the legal field, as shown by annual surveys by organizations like the American Bar Association and National Association for Law Placement. Increasingly, however, law schools, law firms and nonprofits are actively addressing the challenges of minority applicants. Some law schools and organizations have created special fellowships and programs to meet the needs of such applicants.

Last summer, after decades of carefully filling in bubbles on answer sheets, LSAT test-takers in the United States and Canada traded in pen and paper for stylus and tablet. The digital LSAT brought some complaints and growing pains but enabled faster scoring, more frequent test dates and easier accommodations for those with sensory impairments or other special needs. This summer brings a more abrupt change due to the coronavirus pandemic has affected legal education.