A Bold Law School Recruiting Proposal

Law School AdmissionsFor the last year and a half, there has been a steady stream of articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces about the law school recruiting process. Some have explored new apprenticeship models employed by law firms, others have focused on what law schools are doing to protect students, still others have put a renewed focus on public interest fellowships and job opportunities. Most, however, have merely predicted more doom and gloom. It’s perfectly fine to report what is going on out there, but how many more profile articles and pithy blog posts do we need about stranded 3Ls with no prospects?

That’s why it comes as such a relief to come across an opinion piece about the legal recruiting pipeline that actually suggests bold and decisive action. Not only that, but the author of the article, Aric Press, actually goes so far as to call law firms out and challenge them to push the envelope. Thank you, Aric Press!

In the piece, Press lays out the situation clearly. The old way of recruiting – where NALP puts rules in place that allow firms to go do the meat market on campus interviewing circuit, follow it up with four months of “call backs,” and then submit offers – isn’t working and neither NALP or the individual law firms are doing anything to react to new realities. This part of the article is all well and good, but nothing we don’t already know. What was so interesting to me is where Press took it from there, as he laid out a plan for firms to go outside the NALP system in their recruiting efforts. This plan includes a call for transparency, honest interviewing approaches, and probing to see if the applicant has practical skills that will match the firm’s needs. Press even calls for a two-step interview process with the second session serving as a mock client interaction, to truly test out whether the firm and the law student are a good match for each other.

Having worked in a law firm where everything is hidden behind the magic curtain until it’s “too late,” I am all for increased transparency and more rigorous interviewing processes that truly flesh out proper fits. Press has put forward a fairly bold initiative that would vastly improve the quality of law firm hires and give law students a much better view into life at individual firms. And all at a time when the recruiting process badly needs a facelift. Sounds like a win all the way around.

Now we wait to see if anyone paid attention.

For more information on law school admissions or for help incorporating career goals into the application, visit our law school admissions site or call our offices at 1.800.925.7737!

Veritas Prep on Law School Podcaster

If you are interested in applying to law school and are not already listening to the Law School Podcaster, we definitely recommend that you subscribe and tune in. Law School Podcaster has done a great job of assembling top admissions experts to weigh in on all of the key aspects of the admissions process and the JD experience as a whole. For someone considering law school or in the midst of the application process, it can be an invaluable resource.

Furthermore, we are excited to be a regular contributor to Law School Podcaster! Our Director of Admissions Consulting, Adam Hoff, was recently featured as an expert guest for the second time, weighing in on Personal Statements and Letters of Recommendation.

Give it a listen before tackling your own personal statements. If you would like to speak to Adam or one of our other law school admissions experts about your personal statements and letters of recommendation, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 to set up a free consultation.

Applying to Law School After the New Year

Law Schoo Admissions
Nearly every law school in the country features a rolling admissions process that runs from early fall to mid-to-late spring, which means that it falls to the individual students to research and determine when it is the right time to apply.

From our experience, the biggest waves of applications come at two distinct times:

1. Before Thanksgiving
2. In January

The reason for the first wave is pretty clear — ready candidates want to get their applications in as early as possible due to various rules of thumb that may or may not be true (we can cover these another time). Regardless of the reasons driving this first wave, most of the candidates applying before Thanksgiving tend to have thought things through and know what they are getting into.

With the second wave though, we see a different type of student applying — often, the candidate is coming off a holiday season spent going home to see family and friends, confronting “what do you plan to do next?” questions, and generally panicking about their future. They come back to campus for their last semester of school and decide to do what so many college seniors do when they lack a clear vision for their immediate career: they apply to law school.

With that in mind, what should this second wave consider?

For starters, any student applying after January 1st is probably in far greater need for consulting than those submitting applications during the first, pre-Thanksgiving wave. While we contend that all candidates benefit from proper consultation (given the vast improvement that one can make to his resume or personal statement with the help of an expert), it is especially important for a later applicant to seek counsel and advice from an expert. Whether that person is a consultant for a company like Veritas Prep or a qualified friend, family member, or academic advisor, getting insight from a trusted advisor is invaluable when confronting a major life decision that might be rushed or compromised by outside influences. A consultant can help candidates assess their chances of gaining success at various law schools, help select programs that make for good fits, and — most importantly — can make sure that candidates answer critical questions such as: Why a JD? Why now? Why these schools? Without giving real thought to these issues, a law school applicant is in real trouble of making a regrettable decision.

Next, a January applicant must consider the situation within admissions offices. Understand that the individuals reading applications and making admissions decisions are coming back from a short holiday break with a renewed energy to review files … but facing an ever-shrinking number of available seats in the class. So you have a reader who is generally optimistic about the task at hand, but hindered by the natural limitations of the process. It is important to tailor your personal statement and overall application accordingly: strike a positive and passionate note in your writing samples, while taking extra care to find unique traits and qualities that will help you rise above the crowd. For those applying early, it is all about mitigating any weaknesses that might keep them out, but for someone applying after the new year, the focus often must shift to the most positive story one can tell. It is about sweeping the reader off his or her feet at a time when they are predisposed to see the “good” in candidates.

Finally, understand that time is of the essence. Many make the mistake of thinking “well, I waited this long and the application deadline is March 1st, so I’ll just apply next month.” This is a surefire way to limit your chances of achieving admissions success. That optimistic glow that admissions officers bring back to the office after the holidays fades fast — in part due to human nature during the winter months and in equal measure due to the ever-shrinking number of spots available. With each passing week in January and February, admissions officers start to lose their zeal and optimism, making it much harder for you to win them over with your essays.

If you need help determining whether law school is right for you or if you are looking for help with your personal statement, resume, and overall application, call the law school admissions experts at Veritas Prep at (800) 925-7737.

Types of Financial Aid for Grad Students

Financial Aid Guide
Last week we announced our new Veritas Prep Guide to Financial Aid, a free resource for new admits or anyone else who’s thinking ahead and wondering how they’ll pay for their graduate degree. We spend most of our time working with applicants who are stressed about just getting into school; how to pay for it is considered a “nice problem to have.” Once you are faced with this problem, however, it will likely hit you like a ton of bricks, so it pays to start thinking ahead and familiarize yourself with the financial aid landscape.

The following descriptions will help students understand the various types of financial aid awards:

  • Scholarships

Surveying the Law School Landscape

If you are a law school applicant, chances are you already heard about the recent LexisNexis survey that presented some pretty brutal sentiments among current law students. That said, it is still worth reviewing the survey summary and accompanying law-related blog posts to take in the carnage. Basically, when it comes to law school and the legal industry, nobody is happy.

The headline numbers from the survey are as follows:

  • 21% of law students “regret attending law school.”
  • 35% do not “feel adequately prepared to succeed in the new marketplace.”
  • 65% feel that “law schools don’t teach the practical skills needed in today’s economy.”

Yikes. That’s a lot of disappointment. And on top of that, as businessinsider.com points out, the people hiring law students aren’t happy either, as 71% of clients feel that firms aren’t doing enough to cut costs and 77% of firm lawyers think their clients are being cheap and sacrificing quality.

It all boils down to frustration across the board with the process. What is interesting and ironic about this mess is that law school is arguably the easiest graduate program to adapt to new trends and econimic climates. It is a professional degree program that often occupies a more academic and esoteric space, rather than concentrating on vocation. So at a very basic philosophical level, law school has always had room to move toward being more practical. Beyond that, there is literally an entire academic year with which to work. Talk to any law student and ask them about their 3L year. In almost every instance, you will hear that students coasted, relaxed, got bored, explored hobbies, and basically just counted down the days until they graduated and had to take the bar. Virtually everyone knows that the third year of law school is a borderline waste of time. Given that there’s an entire year to play with and the desire from every interested party for more hands-on learning, it seems crazy that the discussion even persists.

It will be interesting to see if we have finally reached an apex in this ongoing debate about how law schools teach students and if changes are in the offing … or if this is just the latest flurry of commentary that dies out and leaves us with more of the same. It feels “big,” but so have other surveys and op-ed pieces and controversies. All we can do is wait and see how it shakes out.

But the bottom line is that today’s law school applicant needs to be aware of what is happening within law schools and out in the legal community. Surveys like this can help inform choices and create opportunities to express proper motivation (in the face of negative trends) — both of which are extremely important components of a law school application. If you need help deciding whether law school is right for you or if you need help with your law school applications, give us a call at (800) 925-7737.

Harvard Law School Abandons Public Interest Program

Law School Admissions
It feels like just yesterday that we were analyzing Harvard Law School’s “new” public interest program that granted free tuition to 3L students going into careers in public interest. In fact, it was a year and a half ago. Now? That program is no more, as Harvard announces that the groundbreaking free 3L public interest program is being shut down in the wake of the economic recession and the university’s shrinking endowment.

To Harvard’s credit, those students who are currently enrolled and may have relied on this program in making their decisions to attend HLS will still be eligible for the free tuition. However, the $2.7 million price tag is rendering a great idea as nothing more than a failed experiment.

For applicants, this represents an opportunity, believe it or not. There is perhaps no better time to apply to Harvard on a public interest platform than now, as the school is no doubt sensitive to what this will do to its graduation figures years down the road. Furthermore, students are probably finding HLS less appealing as a public interest destination without that free third year, so there may be less competition for those who take that angle. Besides, the public interest fellowships and loan forgiveness programs that remain in place are still competitive with those at most top schools, even if they are more traditional in how they work (e.g., forgiveness of outstanding loans for each year of public interest work).

If you are interested in discussing various public interest programs or law school admissions in general, please give us a call at (800) 925-7737.