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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Law School Admissions: Accomplishment, not just Promise
I've spent the bulk of my time over the past couple years, blogging about the woes of the American law school landscape and the bleak legal job market that's been dotting it. Things haven't really turned around yet, but people are still going to law school, and still working as attorneys.
Which means that, even if the number of LSAT takers is down, and even if some law schools are rolling back scholarship money and faculty-the beat still goes on. The Ivies and other top tier schools have been largely unaffected by the downturn. The cream on the top of all the student bodies continues to take elite jobs with elite firms and high courts.
So how then, should applicants be approaching the application process? Well, pretty much the same as before. Your LSAT score is your ticket. For better or worse, scores above 170 are going to land you some pretty elusive invites. Scores under 140 funnel you into a different tier. Either way, you're still going to need to flesh out your application with other information about who you are. Including a rich personal statement.
Unlike undergraduate admissions, your application reader doesn't want to hear a lot about your potential. At least not unless it is built on the back of some real experience. All too often, I see law school personal statements laden with platitudes about how the applicant wants to "help others" or "make change in the world". That's all well and good, but by the time you're applying to law school, you should already have done that.
This isn't to say you should keep directing your reader to your goals in law. Just make sure they have a solid foundation. Law school is hard. And if it's a tough job market you're facing, you need to be committed to the challenges. Wanting to be accomplished isn't the same as showing up at the table with a real-life CV.
So take it seriously. Know what you want and why you deserve it. It's still your job to make the tough sell.
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