Monday, October 18, 2010

Law School Recruitment Forum Review, Part 1

The following is the experience of one of our clients while visiting the Boston LSAC Law School Recruitment Forum.  On Wednesday, we'll post the second part of the review, including some more Q&As from the panel and overall takeaways.
I have been hanging on the fence for a while about whether I really wanted to go to law school or not. I already had a graduate degree, so I knew the type of course load that awaited a returning student; I had been out of school for a bit, so I knew that side too. In order to convince myself, one way or another, I decided that I needed to do something proactive – I attended a Law School Forum.

The Boston Law School Forum was held on Saturday, October 16th at the Renaissance Waterfront by the World Trade Center. The Renaissance is very easily accessible by public transit and, as the name implies, on the water. I don’t know if anyone reading has eve been to a fair of this type before, or a conference, but most of them are housed in run of the mill, older, gaudy or cheap hotels. The Renaissance was none of those. There is some truth to the idiom about not judging a book by its cover; but you know what? If that cover is beautiful and creates an ambiance of sophistication and excitement, and in general makes the event wonderful, then judge away!
  • What I expected
I am not really sure what I expected going to the forum. I think I was expecting a whole bunch of people trying to sell you on their schools, not being really helpful at all –more of like interacting with a used car salesman. I was expecting to receive a whole bunch of literature about the schools, and have to walk around introducing myself to people and trying to show a modicum of interest and intellect.

In some ways, the forum lived up to my expectations, and in others, well I was more than pleasantly surprised. From the moment I walked up to the registration table (and got my free LSAC bag!), I noticed the ridiculous amount of people dressed in suits or slacks/jackets/blazers. And I say ridiculous numbers because it happened to be just about everyone but me.  I was sporting some faded grey jeans, a plaid flannel and a grungy backpack.

Why would you dress up? Couldn’t tell you.

My advice would be to ditch the dress clothes and go in what you feel most comfortable. You aren’t going to make a lasting impression on anyone while at a forum filled with thousands of people, and no one was offered a seat in a law school because of how you are dressed.  I can guarantee that I made a good impression on most of the admissions representatives I met. Many of them gave me their cards and specifically asked me to follow up with them and remind them about the conversation that we had had so that they could put me in touch with members of their faculty, administration, or just offer general advice.

I started the morning with Forum 101, an info session geared towards making your time at the forum as productive as possible. University of the Pacific Dean of Admissions, Adam Barrett, and Coordinator of Admission and Recruitment for University of Missouri, Michelle Heck, ran this session. This session was crazy good.  Here are some of the questions that came up and a condensed version of the response.

Q: When should I take the LSAT?
A: When you are ready. Don’t take the LSAT if you are going to be sacrificing your score, and don’t take it just to see what it is like. On the other hand, know when you are going to be applying for school and make sure you take the test with enough time to possibly take the LSAT again if you didn’t do how well you wanted: have a back-up plan incase something goes wrong. Also remember that even though the LSAT is only a portion of your application (a very important portion) a lot of schools use it as the biggest determining factor in merit based aide, so the better you do, the better chance you have of getting more/better money.

Q: This was a general question about application essays.
A: Both Adam and Michelle spoke at length in terms of “what-not-to-do” and the biggest pet peeve of admissions folk –not proofreading. I lost count of the number of time that they mentioned PROOFREAD during this question. Adam also spoke about how this portion of the application is too see if you write well and that this is an opportunity for the admissions committee to learn more about you. He gave us a personal story about his own personal statement, and how he wrote it about how he paid for school by being a hotdog vendor. Adam joked, “Any hotdog vendors in here? I didn’t think so!”

Q: There were a lot of questions about when and if to use addendum.
A: Both Adam and Michelle were adamant about using addendums if and only if they enhance you application. They also said use common sense. Basically, don’t have too many, and if you have any glaring instances of anything, EXPLAIN IT. Tell the admission people what happened and how you have moved on from it/what you have learned from it.