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New Year, New LSAT, New Review Workshop

Deep within the Manhattan LSAT Geek Lair (a real place, by the way, located somewhere in the mountains of Colorado), a team of master LSAT teachers has been dissecting and deconstructing the December 2012 LSAT. While it was Socrates who said “the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing”, we’re never going to stop in our relentless mission to fill the world with all of the geeky truisms of being a top scorer the LSAT.

Join Manhattan Prep on Tuesday evening, January 8th, at 8pm EST for a free live online review of the December 2012 LSAT. Manhattan Prep’s executive director of academics Noah Teitelbaum will be joined by curriculum developer Dmitry Farber to break down the exam’s more difficult questions, as well as to address that age old question of whether or not to retake.

 

 

 

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Holiday Gift Suggestions for Pre-Law and Law Students

 

Screen shot 2012-12-15 at 9.14.58 PM

This would go great with the coffee maker!

Sometimes the best gifts are the most practical gifts. While it’s usually more fun during the holidays to give and receive silly tchotchkes like this one here, or here, you can trust that you (or your pre-law giftee) will appreciate something more useful in the long-run. So whether you’re jotting down your own holiday wish list or buying for an aspiring lawyer, consider some of the following gift suggestions:

1. Black’s Law Dictionary (Standard Ninth Edition)- This is the gold standard for the language of law and a must-have for all pre-law and law students.

2. A Suit / Tailored Skirt and Jacket- Law students need to dress the part. As a 1L, professional attire is especially necessary for on-campus Interviews.

3. Dual Monitors- Having two computer screens in law school can be extremely helpful, particularly when it comes to legal research & writing (LRW) and outlining.

4. Keurig Coffee Maker, Single Serve- For the late nights and early mornings, this coffee maker is fast and requires very little clean-up. Already have one? Pick up a variety-pack of K-Cups.

 5. Vitamins- Being sick is bad. Being sick in law school is really bad.
 
6. Law Journal Subscription- Subscriptions are essential for keeping up with the latest legal content.
 

7. Briefcase- Even if it’s used minimally in law school, a good-quality briefcase will come in handy when students enter into the profession.

8. Briefs- (Literally) This may be as practical as it gets, and let’s face it, law students do not have the time to be running back and forth to the laundromat several times a week.

9. LSATTimer Analog Watch- We’ve mentioned this product in previous posts and it would certainly make a great gift for anyone studying for the LSAT.

10. Manhattan LSAT Set of 3 Strategy Guides- The ultimate gift for all pre-law students!

 

This guest post is provided courtesy of Cory Ferreira at Manhattan LSAT, a leading LSAT-exclusive test preparation provider. If you don’t know much about the LSAT, you can read the Manhattan LSAT intro guide or attend one of the free workshops (available in NYC and Live Online).

Have your eyes on something awesome this holiday season? Let’s hear your suggestions! Leave a comment below or tweet @manhattanlsat!

 

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All I Want for the Holidays: Some Help With My Law School Personal Statement!

 

 

 

Admit Advantage has got you covered with a free webinar tomorrow!

The Dos and Don’ts of Personal Statements

Thursday, December 13, 2012 7pm CST/ 8pm EST

The right personal statement can make all the difference and help you overcome less than stellar LSAT scores or GPAs! Even applicants with great numbers, need top-notch personal statements to make them stand out. The Admit Advantage law director will teach you how to make the best impression with your personal statement and put your application over the edge.

Detailed Q&A to follow.

Click on this link to register now:  https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/321455574

 

 

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Changing the Law School Experience

 

There’s a lot of talk these days about changes in the traditional law school curriculum.  Until recently, a law student’s educational experience hadn’t changed much in the past several decades: law students read and brief appellate cases, and law professors use the Socratic Method to pose a sequence of questions, leading students to think through legal concepts and problems (to supposedly ”learn to think like a lawyer“).

But the tighter legal job market has forced some changes.

Law firms, businesses, and the clients they serve, are demanding that more be done by law schools to train and prepare properly future lawyers while they are still in school. We recently delved into this topic in our podcast, Beyond Thinking Like a Lawyer: What Changes in Legal Education Mean for Law Students.

This trend by law schools toward curriculum reform is confirmed by Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of law school admissions officers . The Kaplan survey finds that 68% of law schools have already revamped their curriculum to make their students more “practice ready”; 5% say they’ve decided to so, but haven’t implemented the changes yet; 9% say they are considering making curriculum changes; and 18% say they have no plans to make curriculum changes. Among the curriculum changes some schools have made or are considering making: more clinical work opportunities and giving students more opportunities to specialize in a specific field, which can give them a competitive edge in a field that values specialization.

In our podcast, Beyond Thinking Like a Lawyer: What Changes in Legal Education Mean for Law Students, we heard from those on the front lines of developing new paths in law school to help bridge the gap from law school to law practice, including William D. Henderson, Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.  Henderson detailed what’s being implemented at Indiana University. “We’ve been going down this road for the last four years. We have a 1L legal professions class where students are put into teams, and they… it’s professional responsibility, but it’s also, in addition, satisfying that ABA requirement. It also focuses on giving students the tools to make intelligent career decisions. So, they learn a lot about the legal profession, they meet a lot of practicing lawyers, they… we go through a series of fairly critical readings on the legal profession. We’re hoping that our students can, (A), find a practice setting that resonates with their values, and (B), begin to acquire the skills that are necessary to distinguish themselves in that practice context, all the while using team-based learning to learn the role of lawyering and the model roles of professional responsibility. And it seems to be working fairly well, because we map… or we track the progress of our students on a thing called ‘Law School Survey of Student Engagement’, which allows us to see how our students are doing in a variety of outcome measures over time, and also allow us to benchmark our students against students at other law schools. And because it’s a 1L curriculum, it makes it — which is standard throughout most law schools — it allows us to see how much progress we’re making, and I think that the early results are that we’re making progress. And our faculty is beginning to think about, what are we going to do in the second and third years to extend the competencies that we focused on in the 1L year?

We heard what’s happending at other law schools from Paul Schiff Berman, the Dean of George Washington University Law School and from Nancy Rapoport, the Gordon Silver Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas. We also interviewed Patrick J. Lynch, Co-Founder and Policy Director of Law School Transparency, a consumer advocacy group for law school students. Together they provide insight on the recent measures being taken to meet the new challenges and opportunities in law school education.

Listen to the full show for more on this topic!

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What’s (Law School Class) Size Got To Do With Your Application?

If you’re applying to law school, you might think this is your lucky year.  The legal job market remains weak and the number of law school applicants is down.   With the struggling job market and with smaller class sizes it is really important to work harder and network to take advantage of getting more one on one commitments with a professor.  By looking at it in a positive light, by hard work and networking, you can rise to the top like Steven Gyunn, with his law firm Jones Day. As any master of the LSAT might reason, the smaller pool of applicants should logically help your chances at schools that were “reaches” or “long shots” in recent years.  But, the law schools are confounding this logic by tweaking class sizes in a way that just may eliminate any theoretical advantage for applicants.

There’s a few reasons for this.  By many accounts, this tough economy for lawyers seems to differ from previous down job markets.  One view is that the reductions in class size by law schools reflects a “structural shift” or “rebooting” of the legal profession.  According to a June 2012 report in the Wall Street Journal, “[i]n previous economic downturns, the number of law-school applicants increased, as students who would otherwise have looked for jobs found temporary refuge studying for an advanced degree. But the number of law-school applicants [in 2012] is 65,119, down 14% from a year earlier, according to the Law School Admission Council Inc., a nonprofit corporation that administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).”  Trimming class size will help law schools with job placement prospects for students and in reporting employment data, though it will cost the law schools in the form of lost tuition (law schools are a profit center for most universities).

Here’s the trend in the numbers drop:

•  In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that at least 10 law schools were cutting their class size due to the weak job market for lawyers and a dwindling number of applicants.

• The number of law school admission tests administered in October 2012 tumbled 16.4% from the previous year, according to the Law School Admission Council.

•  A recent survey indicates that the trend toward reducing law school class size appears to be getting broader.  ”According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of law school admissions officers*, 51% of law schools have cut the size of the entering class; 63% said the reason was the contraction of the job market in the legal industry. And more cuts may be on the way; of the law schools that have not cut the size of their entering classes, 28% say they will likely do so for the current application cycle.”

•  The ABA Journal reports the 1L enrollment drop is even steeper:  “About three-fourths of 201 ABA-accredited law schools had declines in first-year enrollment this fall, according to preliminary statistics from the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. . . This represents a drop of 9 percent from the fall of 2011 and a drop of about 15 percent from historic highs in 2010. Overall, 44,481 full-time and part-time students began their legal studies this fall, compared to 52,488 in the fall of 2010.”

Faced with fewer applicants to choose from, law schools still seek ways to maintain their selectivity in the all-important US News & World Report rankings. As Professor William Henderson at Indiana University told the Wall Street Journal, “[b]y cutting the number of places available, a law school can be just as selective, or even more so, about prospective students’ LSAT scores and undergrad grade-point averages.”

So, while at first glance, the smaller pool of law school applicants might seem to place you in much better position at that “reach” school, don’t be surprised if last year’s LSAT/GPA grid remains a fairly good predictor for your admissions chances this year.

The silver lining here is that Kaplan’s 2012 survey reports some good news for applicants on the financial aid front.  “Compared to the 2011-2012 cycle, 47% of law schools have actually increased the amount of financial aid they have been able to provide students for the 2012-2013 cycle; 41% say they kept their level of financial aid at last year’s levels.”  Here’s some food for thought on that point from Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep: “financial aid from law schools is almost always merit-based, not needs-based, so assembling a stellar application that includes a high LSAT score, strong GPA, well-written personal statement and compelling letters of recommendation is incredibly important.”

Check out these podcasts to hear how to make your application stand out!

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Telling Your Story: Slicing Through the Writer’s Block

A personal statement is really no more than telling a story—one that illuminates the “you” a law school would be lucky to have in its student body. In this series, “Telling Your Story,” jdMission Senior Consultant Mary Adkins discusses how elements of storytelling can—and should—be applied to your personal statement. Stay tuned for more in this series!

We all suffer from writer’s block sometimes, and it can be particularly brutal when the stakes are high… like when you are trying to get into law school.

One way to cut through the blockage is to make a stream-of-conscious list of word associations. Start with a memory (e.g., first grade), a person (e.g., grandmother) or a place (e.g., the beach), and then just write down every word that comes to mind for the next two to three minutes. Do not worry if the words that come to mind are absurd (e.g., tuna, rabbits, dominoes)—they are coming from somewhere, and one of them just might trigger a memory that makes you think, “Ah! That could have a place in this essay.”

This advice may sound a little silly and unguided, but that is precisely the point. When you are experiencing writer’s block, that is a sign that you are too “in your head”—that is, your conscious mind. You need to hop over from your left brain to your right, which is less judgmental and more creative.

The word association list is a tool for doing just this.

Here is one I just did, to give you a sense of how the process can work:

France
Baguettes
Family
Mom
Driving
Parking garage
Parasailing
Pole
Jumping jacks
Downstairs neighbor
Teaching
Quiet
Elevator
Anger
Piece
Peace
Smoking
Karaoke
Time
Aging
Growth
Distance
Frankfurter

When I look at this list, some things just seem ridiculous (frankfurter?), but others spark ideas I could run with. Downstairs neighbor, for example, reminds me of a story I have about my neighbor that might work well for an essay.

Give it a shot. At two minutes, what have you got to lose?

This is a guest post by jdMission, a professional law school admissions consulting firm, specializing in helping law school applicants identify and showcase the strongest aspects of their candidacy in their application.

You can sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with jdMission by submitting the form found at http://jdmission.com/consult.php.

For more information on this topic, check out Law School Podcaster’s podcast, Law School Personal Statements & Letters of Recommendation: Where to Begin?

 

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The Undergraduate Perspective: Lessons Learned the Summer Before I Applied to Law School

 

Adam Goodman is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is majoring in History and Political Science. Adam is a guest blogger for Law School Podcaster, documenting his decision to go to law school and his progress through the law school admissions process. When Adam is not studying or writing, he can be found charming co-eds, playing intramural sports, and participating in various philanthropic events.

I have about a month and a half until I take the LSAT — in all its terrifying glory. These last few weeks are flying by.  While I try to fight the temptation to give in to the lazy days of summer, I am working hard to try to get my application materials for law school in order. My reasoning for doing so is simple.  The sooner all my law school applications are done, the better. With rolling admissions at most law schools, the sooner my  LSAT, and application materials are done, the better chance I have of getting into my top choice school.

In truth I am finding the application process on the LSAC website much less horrifying than the undergraduate application process. Everything is digital, compact, and in one place. Everything being in one place with a standard application is great. In terms of personal statements, I recommend that you get them done early so you have time to look them over. Get them reviewed by family, friends, the writing center at your school etc. Get some reviews in! Then modify as you see fit. Sell yourself in your application and make sure everything is spelled correctly!

Possibly the most frustrating aspect of the applications process for me has been the letters of  recommendation. With recommendations in the hands of those you ask to be your recommenders,  the time tables for getting those recommendations in to LSAC is  often beyond your control.  I found it helpful to ask recommenders for recommendations early in the process. If you can give your recommenders a deadline, it’s a good idea so they can hopefully work on getting yours done before everyone else starts to get theirs in or start asking for them. Professors are often balancing multiple requests for recommendations so it’s helpful to be “first in line.”  Without becoming a “stalker,”  follow up and confirm your recommendations have been  sent to LSAC or to the schools you are applying to..

The application process is not the only thing that keeps me busy these days. The LSAT  itself is a marathon that you must train for, day in, day out. You can always improve. In many ways, LSAT prep has helped me keep busy over the summer. I try to do several pages of LSAT problems a day to keep myself fresh, to work on my timing, and frankly, just to get better. The top law schools are looking for LSAT scores in the 170s. A range of impossibility? For many yes, but it’s always good to target your best, whatever that is. And who knows, with enough practice, prayer, and the planets aligning on test day, I just may land an impossible 180. Or so I tell myself anyway.  Go to work on those practice problems, get comfortable with them, and get comfortable with the test in general by taking as many practice tests as you can. When taking a practice test, replicate the conditions that you know you will find yourself in come test day. Is your test at 8:30 in morning? Take those practice tests at 8:30. By replicating test conditions, from the time allowed for breaks to filling out the basic information on the scantron, the more comfortable you get with the test, the more prepared and less stressed you’ll be on test day.

At this point in the admissions process, school selection is important,  and you should have an idea of where you want to apply.  If you are unsure, remember that everyone has a certain list of criteria that they look for when applying that will lead you to a certain school. Despite the rankings, Harvard Law might not be the school for everyone. Having an idea of what kind of law you would like to practice can help in your decision making. Since I have an interest in practicing international law, the first thing I began to look at when starting the application process was to look for schools with good international law programs. Schools in Washington D.C fit the bill, with many offering excellent internships for international law.

Offering a certain program should not be the only criteria when applying to a school. What is the student to faculty ratio? What internships can you apply for during the semester? How important is geography to you and do you know where you want to begin your career after law school?  (A local law school often provides a great foundation for networking and your job search). Does the campus you are considering meet your needs in terms of resources? Is student life there a good fit for you?   Of course,  money will also be an issue. If you get into a law school that costs $50,000 a year, how will you pay for it?  How  do you decide between a law school that might offer more scholarship money and one that is potentially more prestigious or closer to your top choice. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of books and housing  These are the questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether or not to apply to a certain school. If some schools are out of your price range, why bother paying the application fee if you know your enrollment at a certain school is not financially viable? These are the issues you will face during the application process.

The best things you can do to answer these questions is to go to the schools you are looking to apply to, take a tour, go to  the information session and ask a lot of questions along the way. If you do not know what you want just yet, asking questions when you visit schools can give you a better idea of what you want in a law school and in a degree, from financial aid to internship opportunities.

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New Podcast Helps You Countdown to the LSAT With a Plan for Success

Once you’ve registered for the LSAT, and your test date is on the calendar, it’s time to figure out how you’ll prepare for the test. How much time is enough time? Where do you begin?  Our new podcast explores your crunch time until the LSAT and our guests help you develop a time-based plan that focuses on what you need to do between now and the time you take the test.

As you begin studying for the LSAT, you need to first figure out where you stand. There are geeky types who need virtually no prep, but Noah Teitelbaum, the Executive Director of Academics at Manhattan Prep, has a guide for the rest of us mortals. “The overarching idea is to avoid just taking LSAT after LSAT. That only works for people who are naturally good at standardized tests. All those people need – and let’s envy those people – all they need is exposure. For the rest of us, we need to learn a strategy, we need to practice that strategy and focus-practice that, and then mix it into full LSAT practice tests. Otherwise, we’re just going to be repeating the problematic or mistaken strategies that we might have come up with on our own.”

In the podcast, Teitelbaum lays out a plan for all 4 phases of prep work and you’ll hear how to maximize your study time — and what to focus on — from Glen Stohr, Kaplan Test Prep, Senior Manager for Content Development and  Cathrina Altimari-Brown: LSAT Student, Legal Assistant, Google.

Listen to the full podcast to hear more!

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Free Webinar Helps You Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out

Sponsored by Admit Advantage and Back By Popular Demand…

The Dos and Don’ts of Personal Statements

Monday, 11/5     8pm EDT

Time is getting short! Don’t spin your wheels over your personal statement. Join us for a discussion of the key features of a successful statement. The right personal statement can make all the difference and help you overcome less than stellar LSAT scores or GPAs! Even applicants with great numbers, need top-notch personal statements to make them stand out.

The Admit Advantage law director will teach you how to make the best impression with your personal statement and put your application over the edge.

Detailed Q&A to follow.

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/337068462

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Law School Admissions Tip #8: Reasons for Choosing a School

 The Top 15 Things Every Law School Applicant Should Know is a series that will teach you the ins and outs of successful law school applications. Stay tuned for the remaining elements. This week we’ll discuss reasons for choosing a school.
 
 
 “Just as students like to be courted and wooed when they are looking for schools, colleges and universities also love to be loved.”
 
 The way they figure it, if you love them enough, then not only will you readily accept their offer of admission, but maybe you will even donate money to the school after you graduate. When you submit your application, it is important to make it clear to your reader why you have selected their school, and what your motivation is for the selection. Tell them why you want to go to their school by citing sound, reasonable, and authentic reasons. Unfortunately, location and convenience do not fall into this category, so what does?
  • A specific focus or specialty

Suppose that you have decided that you want to practice family law once you earn your degree. Your essay supports this thesis, your extracurricular activities point to this focus, and you know attorneys in the field with whom you have discussed the pros and cons. Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University all have excellent programs and are all on your list. If family law is your goal, then let these schools know that the reason you are interested in their program is that it is a perfect fit for your educational and professional aspirations. Of all the reasons to choose a school, this ranks amongst the most important.

 

  • Location, but only as framed around the idea that you are established in the community and therefore have the connections that you need in order to land a job post graduation

 

We’ve all read how the numbers of attorneys sometimes surpass the number of available jobs. Law schools like to know that once they have graduated you from their program, you have a plan for how to get a job. As in all job markets, networking can be one of the best ways to find a job once you graduate. Particularly if you are an older applicant with ties in your community, attending school where you are established makes the most sense.

  • Desire to continue at the same school where you have done your undergraduate work

 

See the note above about schools loving to be loved. If you have so enjoyed your undergraduate work at Cal, and can’t imagine leaving Berkeley for any other spot, then applying to Boalt Hall is an easy decision, and one which the admissions committee will embrace.

When writing your essay, you don’t want to waste a lot of space with effusive, over the top accolades about the school, but it makes sense to let them know that the reason you are applying and are interested in attending is because you have gone through a well thought out, logical, and substantive process when making your list of schools, and their school has risen to the top of the list. Get this point across and your application will get the attention that it deserves.

By Catherine Cook, an Accepted.com admissions consultant, published author and former Duke Law admissions officer. Accepted.com, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company, has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to over 450+ top schools since 1994.

This blog post originally appeared on Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog.

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