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Applicants to Get Better Employment Data To Weigh In Choosing Law Schools

Law school applicants hear this (sound) advice all the time:  Do your research and choose carefully when selecting a law school.  In the future, law school applicants will have better, more transparent, information to work with as they do that research. Better, though not perfect.

The ABA’s law school accrediting arm will require law schools to provide more detailed employment information.  According to Indiana University law professor William Henderson, writing on The Legal Whiteboard, “over the last 18 months, three separate ABA groups — the Questionnaire Committee, Standards Review Committee, and the Council on Legal Education — have given sincere and focused attention to the law school employment controversy. Frankly, I am in awe of the breadth and depth what they have accomplished. Going forward, prospective students will get, at a school-specific level:

  • Type of Practice Setting. Law firms (#, broken down by size), business and industry, government, public interest, judicial clerkship (federal, statel, local by size), employed in academic, pursuing graduate degrees, unemployed (various types) and status unknown.
  • Duration and Quality. For the first time, jobs will be broken out by: (1) full-time versus part-time, (2) long term versus short term; (3) number of law school funded jobs, (4) whether JD is required; (5) whether JD is preferred; (6) whether the job is professional or nonprofessional
  • Uniform Web Reporting. All of this information, plus tuition, fees, employment data, scholarship (including renewal rates), entering student credentials, will be in a relatively standardized format on the schools’ websites.”

 

While this is a good start, Henderson writes that the ABA decision is controversial because “law schools will not be required to report any salary data (on the theory that they are too incomplete on the bad outcomes side to be reliable).”

Nevertheless, Henderson predicts that the new information “will give rise to a whole new rankings industry that will rival and potentially supplant U.S. News” and will allow potential students to use “hard data” to make more precise decisions.  Henderson gives the following examples of ways that applicants can weigh the new information:

  • Why go to a law school ranked #60 and pay twice as much when the new Employment Transparency Rankings show essentially identical employment outcomes for a lower ranked school?
  • More perniciously, why go to Law School X or Y at all when over half of their graduates routinely fail to obtain full-time legal or professional employment 9 months after graduation?
  • And the potential death blow, why should the DOE continue to fund such miserable outcomes when the U.S. taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for the bill?

 

Henderson characterizes these new ABA industry-level transparencies as “a lot like cancer treatment: it can beat back symptoms and buy time, but it won’t necessarily cure the disease.”  For that, he says, law school educators must address ”structural problems” in legal education.

Law School Podcaster is devoting an entire podcast to what law schools are doing to address these “structural problems.” William Henderson, of Indiana University Maurer School of Law is a guest on our upcoming show, Beyond Thinking Like a Lawyer: What Changes in Legal Education Mean for Students.  Other guests include:

 

Stay tuned for the show!

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The Law School Rankings Shuffle

The U. S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools 2013″ is out – and there’s a bit of shuffling around in some of the top spots and a few big jumps elsewhere.

Yale remains ranked #1 (holding the spot since 1990), Stanford moves up to the #2 spot (from #3) and Harvard moves to #3 (Harvard held the #2 spot since 2007 and Stanford had jointly held the #2 spot with Harvard in 2008 and 2009).

There was also some shuffling within the Top 14 (T14).  According to a U.S. News post:  “The University of California—Berkeley School of Law and the University of Virginia School of Law both moved up two spots to tie with the University of Pennsylvania Law School for 7th, while the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor Law School slid from 7th to 10th; Cornell Law School, now ranked 14th, and the Georgetown Law Center, at 13th, switched spots from last year’s list.”

Other notable news includes:

 

Here are the top 20-ranked law schools:

1) Yale University

2) Stanford University

3) Harvard University

4) Columbia University

5) University of Chicago

6) New York University

7) University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia (tied)

10) University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

11) Duke University Law School

12) Northwestern Law School

13) Georgetown Law School

14) Cornell Law School

15) UCLA Law School

16) University of Texas, Austin, Vanderbilt (tied)

18) University of Southern California, Gould

19) University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

20) George Washington University Law School

So, what do the numbers really mean?  Hear directly from Robert Morse, Director of Data Research for U. S. News & World Report in our podcast, Law School Rankings: What Do the Numbers Mean?

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Planning for the June LSAT & Beyond!

By 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).

Two of the more common questions asked by future LSAT takers are: 1) “When should I begin studying for the LSAT?” and 2) “How long does it typically take to prepare for this exam?”

The answer to these basic (yet extremely important!) questions provides a ‘jumping off point’ for folks and helps them plan their lives (or lack there of) during the months spent prepping for the LSAT.

If you are planning to take the June 2012 LSAT, I’ll save you the drama of the rest of this post: it’s time to start studying now! Get started with a diagnostic test. This will give you a great sense of where you are, although you should not get discouraged if you score well below the national average (151) your first time.

When Should I Start Studying for the LSAT?

The answer? Annoyingly, it is very difficult to generalize just how much time an individual needs to prepare for the LSAT. The trend we’ve noticed is that 2.5-3.5 months is typically necessary to maximize ones potential on the exam. This does not mean that it is impossible to thoroughly prep in 2 months or less, nor does it mean that you are a dummy if it takes you six months to prep – it simply means that everyone is different – and that this test is a major pain in the butt!

It is also important to recognize that the amount of real time that you have available to you to put in to studying on a daily/weekly basis will have an impact on how long (in weeks and months) it will take you to adequately prepare. A college student who has dedicated their summer to studying for the LSAT may only need 2.5 months to get ready for their test day, whereas a busy working professional with two children may require a bit more time.

Since the LSAT is only given four times each year (and on very specific dates), my advice for folks trying to determine their timeline is to pick a target test date, and then work backward from there.

When it comes to choosing a target test date, here is what you should be considering:

  • Can I execute a dedicated study regimen in the three months (approximately) before my target test date?
  • When am I hoping to start law school?
  • Do I need a ‘back up’ LSAT test date?

 

Let’s talk in terms of 2012-2013. If you are hoping to start law school in the Fall of 2013, you’ll want to be all done with the LSAT and finalizing the rest of your application by December of 2012, making the June and October 2012 tests great options for you. In this scenario, you’ll have the December 2012 test date as a last ditch emergency option.
At the end of the day, unless you are an evil genius the likes of which the LSAT cannot befuddle, you are going to need to put a lot of hard work and dedication in to your LSAT prep. A little planning can go a long way in setting you on the path to LSAT success!
 
This blog post originally appeared on the Manhattan LSAT Blog.
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Does Your Personal Statement Deliver?

By Linda Abraham, founder and president of Accepted.com. 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. Visit Accepted.com for guidance with your law school application today.

I attended a lecture over the weekend. As the speaker began, he mentioned a couple of ideas that sounded intriguing, and I settled back expecting him to explore them, perhaps tie them together. Then came a few more unrelated ideas. OK, I thought, the first ones must have been warm-ups. It could be interesting if he develops these later concepts.  But he didn’t.

He continued with teasing non-sequitur after teasing non-sequitur. It was a frustrating monologue of disconnected, but potentially engaging, ideas. I was not a happy listener. The person sitting next to me dozed. 

Don’t frustrate your reader. Make sure your personal statement has a point — one point. If you introduce an idea in the introductory paragraph, develop it. Build on your premise, answer your question, tie plot strands together, and clarify as needed the significance of your examples.

Don’t waste your reader’s time or irritate. Deliver on the promise you make in your personal statement’s opening.

This blog post originally appeared on Accepted Admissions Consulting blog.

Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

You can hear more great tips on this topic from Accepted.com’s Linda Abraham in our podcast, Law School Personal Statements & Letters of Recommendation: Where to Begin?

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Aiming for a Top Law School?

If you’ve got your sights set on a top law school, don’t miss our latest podcast, Getting Into a Top Law School: What It Takes To Join the Elite

Law School Podcaster Host, Diana Jordan, interviewed admissions deans from some of the most prestigious law schools, and a leading author/consultant, to find out what sets the top-tier schools apart and how you can aim high and nail your target — if that’s what you want.

And that’s important.  Our guests all say,  first make sure an elite school is what you really want and that it fits with your career and educational goals.

Rankings and reputation aside, there are some very good reasons to aim high.  Michigan’s Dean Sarah Zearfoss says elite law schools will position you better for certain jobs in the legal field. “There are some jobs, like legal academia or certain kinds of clerkships that you simply aren’t going to be able to get to if you haven’t gone to an elite school. There are other jobs that you can break into from a number of schools, but your chances are much higher. And of course, beyond that very practical consideration, there’s the quality of your education. You are going to be training alongside some of the best minds in your generation at the best schools, and we think that’s going to make you a better lawyer.”

If you decide that a top school is what you really want, then apply!  Your numbers (LSAT and GPA) will be vitally important, but they are not the entire story.  Too often, prospective students just look at the median, instead of also at the 25 percentile. 

Michigan’s Dean Zearfoss says that the top law schools are less fixated on the numbers than you might expect. “Because of the size of their pool and the success with which they recruit people, you have a little more freedom to look beyond the numbers at the top schools. So once you’re convinced that someone can do the work, you’re trying to decide what they’re going to contribute to the classroom dialogue, and what kind of future they’re going to have as a professional. So, it’s likely to boil down to, you know, an assessment of those factors. So, you know, we look for work experience, or an indication of leadership ability, or a commitment to a particular field or cause, or in some cases, just simply looking for smarts that aren’t reflected in the scores. So, for that you might look at the impressions you get from the quality of someone’s writing, or the tenor of recommendation letters.

You’ll also hear from the following guests:

 

Listen to the full show to hear more!

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Spotlight: Law Career Specialties

When thinking about legal career specialties, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is a criminal attorney – a lawyer who defends the accused or prosecutes him/her.  But for current and future law students, there are dozens of other interesting practice areas to consider (like banking, corporate, transactional, bankruptcy, just to name a few).  And for those interested in civil litigation, there is also a wide range of specialties, everything from personal injury law to complex environmental litigation.  So, what exactly is personal injury law?

You’ve seen the movie: the courtroom scene where the plaintiff shows up with a neck brace, taking the witness stand to testify against the evildoer who caused their pain. In real life, this type of lawsuit is called a personal injury action. Personal injury claims are the basis for civil lawsuits (or actions) between two people (or parties). Usually, a party brings the lawsuit against someone who has wronged or injured them in some way. Ultimately, the goal of the lawsuit is to receive money to compensate them for the way in which they were wronged or injured. Here are the five most common types of personal injury claims.

1.     Automobile Related Injuries

Personal injury attorneys will tell you that most of the cases they see are traffic related. Ranging from collisions to pedestrian incidents, cars cause the most legal disputes of this type.

2.     Property Damage

Remember those games of catch when you were a kid? Did you accidentally break a window? If so, and you managed not to get sued by your angry neighbor, consider yourself lucky. You dodged the bullet known as a property damage suit. Anything from that bungled pitch to bringing your pet bull into a china shop, with this claim, if you break it, you bought it.

3.     Malpractice

Any licensed professional can be sued under this claim. However, the two most targeted professions are doctors and attorneys. Some states even have specific laws dealing with this issue as it affects doctors and attorneys. Malpractice means that the injured person trusted the professional to perform their job correctly, and the professional failed to do so.

4.     Slips, Trips, and Falls

Here’s another well publicized personal injury claim: injury to someone’s body. Examples of this type of claim are slipping on a spill in the grocery store floor, injuries sustained in a bar fight, or falling down the stairs.

5.     Defective Products

Bringing up the rear is the personal injury claim for defective products. These types of claims are the reason for warning labels on products. Next time you see a warning label, you can thank personal injury attorneys for keeping you aware of any way in which this product has caused damage previously. When a product injures a person while the person was using the product in a reasonable way, a defective product claim emerges.

This guest post is authored by Jeremy Danielson, a personal injury attorney, with a practice in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Last Minute LSAT Tips for February test-takers!

With just days to go before the February LSAT, we gathered some helpful tips from our podcasts and posts.
“[T]he last week, I generally suggest to people to increase the amount of review and decrease the amount of new exposure because there’s not a lot you’re going to learn in that last week. But what you can do is set your timing and set your rhythm. And remind yourself of the things you’ve learned because the thing you want to avoid is that you do lots and lots of preparation and then the minute the test starts, you throw that all out the window. Suddenly, you’re going to hit a homerun. You’re not going to give up on any single question and you go for it and then you do worse than you really could do.”

 

“So what you want to do on test day is score your best score.You’ll want to switch up your strategies. So that last week is time to set your strategies and set your timing. And probably some people won’t like hearing this. I wouldn’t drink the week before the LSAT. I would also – exercise a lot. The brains and muscle, it thrives on oxygen. It’s proven that exercise increases the number of neural connections, which helps you change how you think which is really crucial for the LSAT.”

  ˜Noah Teitelbaum, Managing Director of Manhattan LSAT. Noah had a great post he shared with Law School Podcaster back in June 2011, Week Before LSAT Tips. It’s a must-read for February test-takers!

 

Organize and Prepare for Test Day:

You should already know how long it’s going to take you, what the parking situation is like, and basically have your routine planned out for you.

 The night before the test, you should lay out all of the things you’re going to need, most important of which are your admissions ticket from the LSAC, photo identification.

And the day of the test, get up early, have a good breakfast. If you’re the type of person that needs coffee, then drink.  Don’t screw with your routine but also sort of scale back on the caffeine a little bit. 

Try to remain calm. Try to, again like I said, if you’re going to do anything, get something you’ve already done like in logic game you did well on that week and just walk yourself through it, put yourself in the right mindset.

“And then get to the testing center early. You’re going to be waiting a long time. It’s a lot of waiting to start the test. It’s a lot of nervous waiting. Try not to talk to too many people. You might have friends that are taking the test that day but it’s really not going to help you to talk to them. There’s a lot of nervous energy. And so being able to remain composed and put a section behind you and look forward and focus on the task at hand, the next section, that’s instrumental to doing well on the test.”

 And here’s a few helpful reminders LSAC sent out recently for February  test-takers:  

 

•     Feb LSAT registrants–check your http://LSAC.org account the night before the test. Reporting addresses can change at short notice.

 •    To make sure you can get into your testing site, check photo ID needs 1 more time at    http://bit.ly/tmHVSw.

 

For more great LSAT tips, you can listen to these great Law School Podcaster shows:

Good luck to all!

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Is the ABA to Blame for the High Cost of Legal Education?

 

By Accepted.com, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company, that has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to over 450+ top schools since 1994. Visit Accepted.com for guidance with your law school application today. 

Segal is at it again. In his latest piece for The New York Times, he shifts the focus to the ABA and its detrimental impact on legal education. Segal notes that in order for a law school to even obtain provisional accreditation, it must meet a large number of standards, which inevitably raises tuition. Most states require a degree from an ABA-approved school in order to practice law, which leaves prospective lawyers with little choice when accruing debt in order to eventually find a job. And then to pay off those debts, they must earn an adequate salary, charging more than many in need of legal aid can afford. Segal points out the paradox: “The United States churns out roughly 45,000 lawyers a year, but survey after survey finds enormous unmet need for legal services, particularly in low- and middle-income communities.”

As opposed to other countries, in the U.S. there is generally only one option for legal services—hiring a lawyer trained by an ABA-approved law school. And many believe that ABA’s standards are “one-size-fits-all and overly rigid, which drives up the cost of both a diploma and of legal services.” For a school to be considered for provisional accreditation, it must be in operation for at least a year, which makes this whole process not only “expensive,” but “risky,” as well.

Segal brings up the case of Duncan School of Law, part of Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, which had been awaiting provisional accreditation. The school finds fault with the ABA’s methods, charging them for their raised expenses and tuition. However, as Above the Law points out, about half of Duncan’s budget goes to paying its faculty, which cannot be overlooked: “Segal does a lot to try to indirectly blame the high cost of professorial salaries on various rules, written and unwritten, about attaining ABA accreditation, but there’s no way to completely gloss over faculty greed and deans (who are themselves part of legal academia) being all too happy to keep paying into the system that keeps salaries high for all.” We cannot keep pointing fingers at different culprits in the case of exorbitant legal education, until faculty salaries are taken into account as well.

But, with all this blame directed at the ABA, it has “noted that it would be an antitrust violation to cap or limit the number of law schools.” So, one would expect the thumbs-up for Duncan. However, two days after the NYT article, the school was informed that the ABA had denied them provisional accreditation. Reasons for this move were not disclosed, but The National Law Journal reports that “the council had identified problems with the academic credentials of the school’s incoming students and the school’s ability to provide academic support to those students.” That’s not how Above the Law sees it: “The timing of this, three days after the New York Times published its article, creates the unmistakable impression that the ABA denied accreditation in retaliation for the school bitching to the Times.” Yet, apparently the ABA made their decision weeks before Duncan was notified.

Regardless of what transpired with Duncan, the NYT still brings up an important issue, one which is addressed by USC Law professor Gillian Hadfield. Instead of one avenue for training lawyers, Hadfield envisions “a range of options that would entail an array of educational degrees and a broad spectrum of prices and formats for legal services.” This way, those who want to work in the legal field but avoid hefty tuitions can do so, and everyone would be able to afford legal services at some level. Yet, Above the Law notes that this solution would “require a nationwide reinterpretation of legal services.” Plus, schools like Duncan Law would still want to train “full-service, do-it-all lawyers,” which is “very lucrative.” As it sums up, “the ABA doesn’t force prices to be high, so much as it refuses to require costs be controlled.”

This blog post originally appeared on Accepted Admissions Consulting blog.

Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

 

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Taking a Look Inside the Minds of Law School Applicants

Here’s some insight into what today’s law school applicants are thinking about.  Veritas Prep, a leading law school admissions consulting provider, released the results of its annual “Inside the Minds of Law School Applicants” research report, and not surprisingly, it seems the plight of new lawyers in the challenging legal job market is weighing more heavily on prospective and current applicants.

Among the findings, the study from Veritas Prep noted a 13 percent decrease in law school applicants who would still apply even if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields. Only 68 percent of respondents indicated they would still apply in such circumstances, compared to 81 percent in 2010. Also of interest, only 26 percent of respondents believe they will always be able to find a job if they have a JD, a nine percent decrease from last year’s results.

The survey, conducted in June and July of 2011, was distributed to those currently applying or considering applying to law school including Veritas Prep’s law school admissions consulting clients and subscribers of preLaw Magazine and Law School Podcaster. Nearly 150 current and prospective law school applicants participated in the survey, representing a combination of both college graduates and current undergraduates. A breakout of select findings is below:

Professional Aspirations and Concerns

•  Finding a job that allowed them to pay off their student loan debt (73%) supplanted last year’s top issue, which was finding an appealing long-term career path (68% of respondents as opposed to 79% of respondents in 2010).

Law School Financing

•  Although the number of respondents (21%) relying on grants and scholarships remained unchanged, the number expecting to finance their education through student loans grew substantially, from 38 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2011. Perhaps somewhat related to this increase was the fact that in 2011 only nine percent of respondents indicated parental support would help them finance the degree, as opposed to the 14 percent expecting parental support last year.

Law School Research and Selection

•  Location continues to be the most important factor in selecting a law school (71% this year, 69% in 2010). Although prestige and ranking continue to be important considerations (64% in 2011, 63% in 2010), this year career placement rate displaced prestige and ranking as the number two consideration, with 67 percent of respondents considering it a high priority (versus last year’s 62%). Additionally, the affordability of a legal education has assumed a higher priority for respondents: 60 percent (versus last year’s 54%) cited it as a consideration in the law school selection process.

Veritas Prep’s law school admissions consulting services ensure that Veritas Prep clients are successfully poised for admission to their select law schools.  Learn more about Veritas Prep and how they help applicants gain admission to the world’s most competitive schools.

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What’s Your Major? New Podcast Looks at Best Studies for Undergrads Interested in Law School

Your pre-med friends have no doubt been taking science classes since freshman year as they work their way towards the MCAT and applying to medical school. If you’ve got law school on your mind, you probably already know that there’s no particular course of studies recommended and there’s no single path to  prepare you for a legal education.

Still, a big question law school applicants ask is, what can you study as an undergrad to position yourself well for the admissions process and for law school itself.  We’ve devoted a whole show to this topic, What’s Your Major – The Courses That Help You Get In and Succeed in Law School.

To start, Associate Dean for Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, Ann Perry, says there isn’t one major in particular that will help you prepare for the LSAT. Perry sees and accepts a variety of majors. “I’ve admitted into the law school here music majors, math majors, political science majors, engineering majors, biology majors, accounting majors, philosophy majors. So, there’s a lot of majors represented in the law schools across the country.”

Of course, each major comes with its own strengths,  Sarah Zearfoss, Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, University of Michigan Law School says. “If you’re talking just about grades, it is… basically, it is very rare at Michigan Law School, at least, to see students with science, math or engineering majors who end up at the bottom of the class. Those students always seem to do pretty well. But grades are not the entire story. I also think that people with those majors may have a bit more work to do to get up to speed in terms of learning the historical context behind the evolution of law. So from that perspective, history and poli sci majors have a huge advantage. And English majors are very, very well-trained in close reading of huge amounts of text, which is another important skill in law school, and so forth. I do think that most majors will give you some specialized training or knowledge that will give you an edge in some law school subjects.” Dean Zearfoss also shares some insight about faculty preferences for students with different backgrounds and areas of study.

In our podcast, host Diana Jordan also interviews the following guests:

 

Listen to the full show!

 

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