Category Archives: law school

Navigating the law school admissions minefield

Disclaimer: the following post will only interest two sets of people. People who are thinking about applying and/or are applying to law school or people who are bored enough at this moment to be interested in my own application process.

While regular Above the Law (ATL) readers have heard this mantra for a long time, those of you who do not read ATL may have noticed the kinda bad week that law schools have had PR-wise starting with a New York Times expose largely featuring New York Law School (not to be confused with NYU Law). It’s a pretty awesome article actually, and while it does a little too much in excusing prospective law students from their many bad choices (one example being agreeing to pay the full $48K/year for New York Law School), it contained some very telling insight for anyone who is even considering the possibility of attending law school.

Later in the week, an ATL post was published detailing the overarching reaction of law schools who have a very clear interest in maintaining the myth that a legal education is worth every penny that can be squeezed out of you and oh hey, don’t worry about that less than stellar job market out there because that doesn’t happen to our students (the irony of this coming from the third-tiers as much as the Ivy’s is quite enjoyable). Combine that with Thomas Jefferson Law’s response to a lawsuit filed by a former student which can best be summed up as: “well yeah, our law school sucks at preparing you for the California State bar exam (as low as 35% in one recent year), but those statistics were there for you to see. Logically speaking, as a college educated prospective law student, it was on you to see how badly we sucked at doing our jobs as legal educators so we can’t possibly be held liable for the fact that you don’t have a job.” To be fair, I do see the logic there. Why someone would borrow hundreds of thousands to attend a law school that boasts a whopping 35% bar passage rate in 2007 is beyond me. However, it’s quite telling that a school like Thomas Jefferson Law even exists and continues to exist while charging (often) stupid 21-22 year old recent college graduates hundreds of thousands to attend their school. Think back to when you were 21 or 22 years old…how solid were your decision-making abilities back then? Mmmhmm. I’d personally support an ABA-mandated requirement that no law school accept students without at least one year in between college graduation and law school enrollment. Give students at least one year to recognize that their student loans aren’t actually like monopoly money and that you do actually have to pay them back and adjust your monthly budget in order to cover them. I wonder what, if any, effect that might have on the large surplus of 24-25 year old unemployed attorneys out there…

This morning the Times followed up on their weekend story with this discussion series featuring 8 “debaters” on the law school question. I found it a little unfortunate that 50% were current or former law school professors who, again, have a distinct interest in maintaining enrollment numbers because that’s where their salaries come from. Not surprisingly, it was the professors who sang the praises of the “experience” of law school and argued that a hyper-focus on employment statistics and prospects after graduation is too short-sighted. There may be some truth to that, but I’d point out that the job market in general, and the legal job market specifically, is simply not the same animal it was when they were students. Gone are the days where having a Bachelor’s degree really meant anything in a non-technical field (they’ve pretty much gone the way of the high school diploma….a really expensive high school diploma). This effect has made its way through the ranks of graduate schools, business schools, and now even law schools.

I find myself fortunate to be currently working in the field that I, you know, went to school for. My decision to finally attend law school is simply the next logical step for me to make given what I’ve decided I want to do with my life. I feel like I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve pretty much navigated an entirely linear path toward that end goal, and now I will have the distinct pleasure of navigating through the law school admissions process as it currently stands. It will be a matter of not simply jumping on board with the best law school that admits me regardless of the cost; no, it will be a much more complex game of bouncing financial aid/scholarship offers off of the various schools, comparing LRAP and loan forgiveness options and requirements, comparing bar passage rates and employment proportion statistics (e.g. does this school send a lot of people into government hiring or is it overwhelmingly large firm work?), etc.

I have an Excel spreadsheet at the ready. 😉

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Ridiculously Busy Week

This past week and weekend have been sheer insanity of awesome and busy; consequently, you get a bullet-point recap (complete with photos and links!):

  • New York, the state I call home, passed that one bit of legislation that you probably haven’t heard anything about…as a result, this year’s Pride celebration was crazy, awesome, and exhausting all at the same time. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! We found out while we were out to dinner at a Cuban place a few blocks from where we’re staying in Fort Greene, and had it not been for the Pride race I was in the next morning, we would’ve probably been out all night. A 3 1/2 hour march down 5th Avenue, people spilling out of bars and restaurants in the village, frozen margaritas, Governor Cuomo, etc.
  • President Obama demonstrates that he still doesn’t get it even after Cuomo’s accomplishment in a Republican-controlled Senate, which is notorious for its dysfunction. His team uses the word “evolving” to describe his position and I use the word “bullsh*t” to describe it.
  • My LSAT score came back, and while I consider it to be a pretty douche move to post things like LSAT scores or even law school grades online (remember this? Cause I do…), I’ll let you all know it was in the 160s, which was not as high as I was hoping for, but still good enough to get me into the law schools I planned on applying to before I took it. There was a harder than average curve (meaning I had to miss less in order to make into the higher scores), but I’m glad it’s over!
  • I ran the 30th annual Pride race in Central Park a mere 12-14 hours after same sex marriage was legalized, and despite the 2 miles we did before the race because we needed to get in 7 that day and the 93% humidity which felt more like 100%, it felt awesome. And most importantly? Rainbow popsicles after the finish line. This should happen at every race.
  • I’m in the process of moving out of my old apartment this week. One funny story so far is Tuesday night I decided that we just had to have my TV and Xbox, and I’d estimate that the place we’re cat/house-sitting at is about half a mile from my old apartment. Paranoid about rolling a 32 inch flat-screen TV along the not-so-even sidewalks of Brooklyn, I enlisted M to come with me after work to help me take the TV and Xbox over. With no car, and the option of an easier method for transportation out of the question, I carried that TV down 3 flights of stairs, the half a mile from Boerum Hill to Fort Greene, and up 4 flights of stairs…my arms are still sore today.
  • I discovered a laundromat around the corner from me that has CNN on the TV’s while you wait, e.g. perfect laundromat for me. There’s some serious stuff going down in Greece and Kabul right now. Yeesh!
  • Rise Against released their video for the song “Make It Stop” last week (or two weeks ago?), and you should watch it if you haven’t already. Fantastic video that had me holding my breath for about 4 minutes:

June LSAT Recap + Staycation Recap

Yup, I’ve got a LOT to cover in this one, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

Day 3 of my first ever “staycation” since, well, since I moved to NYC in 2007 also happened to be the June 2011 administration of the LSAT, which I signed up for because in my infinite brilliance, I let the last one I took during undergrad expire. Who says that one gets wiser with age? I opted to take it at Fordham Law School, which gave me the benefit of knowing exactly where I was going and not having to deal with any of that “oh my god where is it where is it WHERE IS IT??” anxiety that can happen when you don’t know where your testing center is. However, it also formally introduced Fordham’s tendency to, oh, I don’t know, not have any clue what’s happening the day of an event. For example, a little over a year ago, we tried to visit the school because M had been admitted and had arranged a visit to the campus. When we got there, they had no idea what we were talking about. Furthermore, the school was locked up for the day, so our effort was pretty much a bust. When I arrived 15 minutes before the 12:30 deadline to be at the testing center, there was a man from the law library running around trying to figure out what was happening. His question to the group of neurotic 20-22 year olds in the room was “so, is this like a practice test or a study session or something?”

Several people belt out “NO IT’S THE REAL THING AHH!”

Him: “oh, they didn’t tell us about this at all.” And then he ran off to try and figure out what was happening.

Hmmm, this seems familiar. After a while, a group of proctors came down and brought us upstairs a grand total of 15 minutes before the test was supposed to start. My sunglasses got confiscated because, you know, they could really have some sort of secret x-ray or video camera device that will enable me to record the test and transmit it via infrared to the people on the west coast who paid me thousands of dollars to send them the test (never mind that there are multiple versions of the test and they would be playing a kind of roulette hoping to get the same one I had, but hey, it’s their money)…or the more likely option of just being absolutely silly. The test started a full hour after it was supposed to start and other fun moments include when the girl next to me managed to do something to her pencil sharpener that caused it to explode and send pencil shavings everywhere or when the proctors realized they’d handed the tests out incorrectly and had to take them all back and start over.

All things considered, the fact that I felt pretty much fine after it was all over is kind of impressive given the fact that it’s a) the LSAT and b) the sheer volume of nonsense that preceded it.

I promptly went to the pub around the corner from my house afterward and enjoyed my first LSAT-free evening in months. The next day kicked off my actual “staycation,” and it began with the Natural History Museum. I learned very important things on this day including the fact that dinosaurs are ginormous:

And jelly fish still freak me the F out…even when they are GIGANTIC fake ones:

The next day (Wednesday), I went to the beach. It was awesome, and I will never make fun of kids’ sunblock again because this is the first year in several that I did not walk away with a ridiculous sunburn. Cheers to the kids’ SPF 50 sunblock!

On Thursday we attempted to go to the final Yankees-Red Sox game, but we were thwarted by a 3 1/2 hour rain delay. However, it doesn’t appear like we missed much. Thankfully, the Yankees box office announced that our basically unusable tickets would be accepted for a future game as long as it’s not a special event game.

I also read some books, ate some good (and sometimes not so good) food, played some video games, and slept occasionally. I deem this staycation a success!

Last night before…

Tomorrow’s LSAT and then my week long vacation!

The nice folks over at PowerScore highly suggest taking the day before the test off and doing something you enjoy instead. Having done this once before, and also recognizing that if I don’t have it now, no amount of last minute cramming’s really gonna make much of a difference, Margot and I decided to visit a street fair and walk around our old neighborhood instead. After I woke up this morning and completed my first long run since the Brooklyn Half-Marathon of course…if there’s anything that keeps my mind clear and my nerves steady, it’s running. 🙂

To be honest, I’ve been ready to take it for the past two or three weeks, so I’ve simply had to pursue a “maintenance” plan in order to keep it in my brain through tomorrow. For those who don’t know, the LSAT is a test that consists of the following qualities:

  • Tests your reading comprehension and ability to ascertain abstract concepts like how the author “feels” about the topic or a particular point in the passage based on his/her word choice and/or overall tone in the passage. Other items can include what was the main point the author was driving at, and hey, if you were going to give this rather nebulous bit of text a title, what would it be?
  • In a section known as “logic games” (officially called “analytical reasoning”) it will set up something like a fruit-eating scenario and tell you certain things that you must remember at all times such as: 1) if Kay eats the apple, then Larry eats the orange; 2) if Larry eats the orange, then Nina does not the banana because she thinks it’s gross; and 3) if Kay does not eat the apple, then Peter eats the banana. You got all that? Okay, now you need to tell me what must absolutely happen if Nina eats the banana. [hint: every rule has a contrapositive, and for #2, that is if Nina eats the banana, then Larry does not eat the orange; furthermore, if Larry does not eat the orange, then Kay does not eat the apple, etc…]
  • You will not be tested, in the least, on your ability to practice law or be a lawyer.
  • There will be an “experimental” section that will try out new ways to screw with your brain (because that’s what LSAC likes to do) that will not be counted against your score, but you’ll have to do it anyway. Also, this section will be one of the first three sections, and you will be expected to keep your wits about you for the final two sections because those definitely count. And no, LSAC does not pay you for this; consider it your community service for the month.
  • The word “statute” will not appear (okay, most likely won’t appear anyway…) on this test. You will not read a single statute on this test. This is not about testing you trying to be a lawyer, remember?
  • You will be asked to read numerous random arguments about anything from the process of photosynthesis to whether or not the town’s proposal to ban a hotdog eating contest should be implemented. Most of these will be an argument of some kind (e.g. there will be a main conclusion and then underlying premises of some kind that hopefully back that conclusion) though some will not be. You must now strengthen this POS argument, or perhaps further weaken it because it sucks lots, OR even better, you’ll have to identify a similarly bad argument (e.g. “parallel”) from among the 5 answer choice paragraphs that do wonders for your ability to stay within the 35 minute time limit for that section.
  • And last but not least, you’ll be asked to provide a writing sample (in pencil…bleh) after you’ve finished your five 35 minute sections of fun (of which, remember, only four will count). This sample may be used by law schools looking at your application; it may not be. It certainly doesn’t count for or against your score, but hey, it’ll be fun! I promise!
Yes, I’ve taken this test before. Over 5 years ago in fact, which means my score expired and I have to do it again. However, I’d argue that even if one had not taken this test before, they should be able to come up with the characteristics I outlined above, with varying levels of snark of course, because they should have been studying and practicing up to this point. If not, well, not my problem and hey, you’ll benefit me in the curve, so have at it! Tomorrow’s plan is this (thank all that is sacred for the 1 pm start time tomorrow): wake up around 8ish, shower, breakfast, 1 or 2 logic games, a couple of logical reasonings, and perhaps a reading comp passage if I have time before jumping on the train with plenty of time to spare and a ride up to Fordham. Check-in time is 12:30, and at that point that’s all she wrote. A final note: why on earth did I need to print out a 2×2 inch photo of myself as I will appear on test day, affix it to my admission ticket, AND provide my driver’s license and be thumb-printed? The 2×2 inch photo requirement is apparently new, but I’m not exactly sure why it is necessary given that my official state driver’s license plus thumb print will be taken…I’m trying to take the law school admissions test here. If I was THAT good at faking my identity and/or committing fraud, do you really think I’d be looking into the legal profession right now? Next stop after the LSAT? Most likely the beach. I have a serious vacation that’s calling my name here.