Creating Your Own Rankings List

September 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm (Applying to Law School)

After submitting most of my law school apps, I immediately began fantasizing about receiving acceptances to law schools and how I would decide which one was right for me.  I’m less concerned about what U.S. World News & Report tells me about which law school is best and more focused on what I think which law school is best for me.  There are several factors I’m most concerned with: 1) Employment Rate;* 2) Bar Passage Rate; 3) Student to Faculty Ratio; 4) Overall Vibe From the School; and 5) Desirability of the City/Location.

*Disclaimer on Employment Rate: be careful when looking at a school’s employment rate.  Generally, the statistics provided by the school is a percentage made up of all of the law students who voluntarily reported they were employed.  Common sense dictates that law students who are not employed may sheepishly decline to participate in the survey.  Further, employment means employed.  This may mean working as an over-educated barrister, oops, barista at Starbucks or actually working as an attorney. 

With the help of my mathematically-inclined best friend, I came up with a rubric and points system that I could assign to each law school and come up with a number that I could use to assess which school placed higher in my own rankings.  I wrote-up a long blog post about how I came up with this and how you could do your own mathematical equation but put it aside for a few weeks.  Then, I was listening to the Law School Podcaster on my ipod and someone mentioned that the www.admissionsdean.com website had a free user-friendly (no math required) tool to create your own rankings.   Eureka! This is way easier and faster.  You can select from a drop down menu up to five elements that will be factored into your own rankings, including what percentage/weight each factor is given in computing your list.  So I scrapped my previous draft blog post and instead provide you with this link: Create Your Own Rankings

Admittedly, Admissions Dean has pretty much become my new obsession.  Every chance I get I can’t resist but log-in to checkout my profile, see if other applicants have applied to schools I have applied to, and read up on the exclusive interviews with law school deans.  All of this, mind you, is free! Plus they have monthly contests and giveaways. 

Shortly after updating my profile to include my first law school acceptance and scholarship, I received my first wall post congratulating me.  The author: the President and Founder of Admissions Dean himself!  When I first tried out the “create your own rankings” feature on my outdated internet browser and had a minor technical difficulty when trying to submit my selected criteria for the ranking, I contacted the admissions dean administrator and received a response in minutes.  This was a stark contrast to the communication (or lack thereof) I attempted with www.lawschoolnumbers.com which is basically an abandoned site that users continue to use.  Law School Numbers is valuable in the sense that there is a good history of past admissions cycles to look back on. But it seems that Admissions Dean is quickly emerging as the gold standard of tracking the law school admissions cycle (who has applied with what numbers, who has gotten acceptances, who has received rejection letters, etc.).  Admissions Dean also provides helpful articles, tools, and a search feature that really makes the provided data even more useful. For example, I wanted to know how many people have already received law school acceptances. I was able to browse the users and sort by acceptances.  (BTW, it was just me and a few other lucky individuals).

During my email communications with the AdmissionsDean.com President and Founder, Don Macaulay, he acknowledged that there is not much that can be done to compete with the historical data that Law School Numbers has amassed, but he says, “We have surpassed LSN during this cycle (2010-11) in the number of applicants we have registered (we have about 850 and they have about 410).”  It seems to me that this early number is a good indication that AdmissionsDean.com is the preferred site for law school applicants.  We are still very early in the cycle, so I’m sure that number (and the gap) is growing daily.  Obviously, sites like these are more useful with the greater number of users inputting data. So I hope that my law school applicant readers will consider sharing their information (anonymously) on AdmissionsDean.com.

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What not to type in an online law school chat session

September 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm (Applying to Law School)

I love it when law schools host online chatroom sessions which typically allow interested applicants a chance to ask questions directed toward the Dean of Admissions, Director of Financial Aid, a few students, and maybe even a law professor.  These chat sessions are a great way to get valuable, candid information and are super convenient.  Usually the interested applicant first registers to participate in the chat (using one’s name, email address, and sometimes additional identifying information).  Yet when the applicant logs in to the chat, they type in a screen name and it is clear these interested applicants think they are flying under the radar with their stealthy names. But the catch is – to access these rooms, you have to follow the link you were provided in an email (after registering with identifying information).  So for example, one applicant used the screen name “bonethugs” yet the organizers of the chat knew who this individual was based on the link they used to get to the chat.  Anyway here are some recent comments made by a few “anonymous” chatters:

bonethugs: I had problems with my professors during undergrad. They were not that smart.  If I chose to attend Elite School of Law, will I have similar issues? Are your professors good?

Susieq:  How much do I really have to study for law shool (sic)? I can usually get by with just absorbing all I need to know in class, can I do the same for law school?

twinkies: What is the social life like at Elite School of Law?  Being a campus with a good football team is a plus, right?

Jones: Do you offer free healthcare?

Tippy: I’ve had two DUI’s on my record, do I have to disclose them? Will this keep me from being admitted?

Mikey: I have a 2.9 gpa and 144 lsat, I’m in the rung (sic) for som subantial (sic) schlrsps (sic) write?

Seriously!? I’ve got to hand it to the administrators who organized and answered questions during the chat. They kept it professional and responded with answers for all of these questions, but despite this, I left the chat feeling like there was no way I could attend a school where these dummies were my classmates.  Hopefully the admissions staff keeps records of these idiots and puts their app on the auto-reject file. I want to be at a school that challenges my mind and allows me to learn from my classmates – not one that makes me want to bang my head up against a wall. I can’t imagine people would ask these questions if they were having a face to face conversation with these representatives from the law school, so why would they ask them when they think they are anonymous?  Smarten up people!

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I am officially going to law school.

September 19, 2010 at 12:42 am (Applying to Law School)

I received my first law school acceptance today.  Not only did I receive an acceptance, but I received a full-ride scholarship valued at $113,400.  I never expected this. When I retrieved my mail today and saw the large white envelope with the ever-identifiable law school logo my hands shook – I knew it had to be an acceptance.  But when I read the letter informing me that I had been granted a scholarship for the full amount of tuition in honor of one of the founders of the law school, tears poured down my face. I’m speechless.

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Decision Mailed.

September 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm (Applying to Law School)

I have already applied to 5 schools and plan to submit a 6th app later today.  I’m so glad that I was able to apply early. Many experts have predicted that last year’s increase in the number of law school hopefulls submitting apps will seem like a slight upward trend compared to this year’s increase. So I wanted to have my apps submitted before schools would be too swamped to take the time to read my materials beyond my numbers.  You can imagine my surprise when I checked the status checker on Wednesday to find that just two weeks after applying, a decision was mailed.  I will be waiting for the mailman when the mail arrives today, though, of course, it may not come until Saturday or Monday. Oh the suspense! I really want my first law school acceptance. I will keep you posted!

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Why Law? Why Now?

September 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm (Applying to Law School)

The economy stinks.  The unemployment rate is sickening.  I get that now is a good time for a lot of people to take a good look at their personal and professional goals and reassess.  Some are now afforded the opportunity (thanks to job loss, etc.) to pursue graduate school.  Now is not, however, the time to run scared – without alternative options – to law school. 

Fortunately, for those of us who have worked in the profession in some capacity, we have a pretty good idea what we are getting in to.  (60+ hour work weeks, billing in 1/10th of an hour increments, higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse, not to mention heightened divorce rates).  But even still, many of us (myself included) are still determined to make the journey. 

I’ve thought a lot about how I arrived at the decision to pursue a law degree and I thought I would recount it on my blog.  For me, it came in phases.

Phase I.  I took on a third-attorney in 2008. He was a fresh graduate out of law school – and was roughly my age.  I didn’t have a problem with that until he started making comments and insinuating that I couldn’t possibly know what he knew . . .after all, I had no formal education. Admittedly, this made me mad.  But, after my temper cooled I thought to myself . . . if I know all that I know now, sans a formal education, how much more could I learn with formal education?  (And yeah, sure, I wanted to prove I knew it all too).

Phase II.  I asked the managing partner about our firm’s policy on continuing education.  The response was that they would encourage and pay for me to pursue an ABA accredited paralegal certificate program at our local university. 

Phase III.  I immerse myself in my studies and continue to crave and yearn for more legal knowledge.  Not only did I read my assigned textbooks, but I went out of my way to read books that challenged my mind – material that required interpretation and critical thinking about the law.  Entering my final semester was bittersweet.  I didn’t want to see my studies end and I felt like I wasn’t done enriching myself.  I also started to feel confident enough in myself that I knew I would feel suppressed if I wasn’t able to act as an independent thinker, making critical and important decisions for myself.  I also wanted to take the reins and advocate for others (not just helping someone else help others).

Phase IV.  I entered my undergraduate degree program with the sole purpose of pursuing law school.  I reassessed constantly, making sure I wasn’t doing this just because I was bored or insecure with other areas of my life.  I was especially careful to make certain I wasn’t doing this just to prove something to my bosses or prove that I am worthy or respect.  This was truly for me. And, I believe, for the right reasons.

The turth is – law is not a security blanket or a door to financial wealth.  The job market is just as bad as other professions.  There are few who get lucky and make a ton of money. Maybe on movies and t.v., but not in real life. But how happy are they, really?  Only they themselves can know.  Plus, in real life, its not that cool to say “trust me, I’m a lawyer.”  Because trust me, I’ve heard it, and its just pompous.

If your without relevant experience and unsure, I recommend checking out Angela’s blog post, “Top 10 Ways to Test Drive the Law” at Choosing Law School.

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Anonymity

September 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm (Applying to Law School)

If  I were an admissions committee person I would want to know as much as I could about a person beyond the materials provided to me by the applicant.  Time permitting, I would delve into cyberspace to dig for the dirt.  I would also want to know where else this applicant has applied.  How serious is this person about my school?  Is my school considered their safety or their dream school? 

How would I do this? I would browse sites like www.lawschoolnumbers.com, www.top-law-schools.com, www.admissionsdean.com, etc. If its early enough in the cycle before I have received hundreds of applications I could probably discover who’s who based on the date applied and the applicant’s numbers.  I would also google the applicants name and try to view their Facebook and MySpace accounts. 

I consider myself a reasonably prudent person . . .and admissions people are no different.  So is it possible that my above-mentioned scenario is exactly what happens? Should I be closely guarding what I’m putting out there in cyberspace?  Probably. 

What about after law school?  I want to be able to network and make friends with classmates without them worrying I’m blogging about them behind their backs or saying things I wouldn’t otherwise say in person.  I also don’t want to lose valuable contacts by seeming professional in person and then a total drunken flake on Facebook.  These are just some things to think about. 

Recently, one of my all-time-fav bloggers, “I don’t wear skinny jeans” reported that he realized his cover was blown. By the time I logged onto check out his blog, it was deleted.   Without knowing the circumstances or knowing why he felt he needed to abruptly end his blog, I am speculating he found himself caught up in an awkward situation with a classmate, professor, or even potential future employer. 

With that said, I’m planning to continue blogging until I’ve passed the bar and possibly beyond, but will be careful to keep my identity as the “Law School Dreamer” fully intact.

Anonymously yours,

Law School Dreamer

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Television Legal Dramas

September 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm (Misc.)

Other than the long running Law & Order (which I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen) it seems a lot of legal t.v. shows don’t catch on.  My all time favorite was TNT’s “Raising the Bar” featuring Zack Morris . . . oh wait, I mean Mark Paul Gosselar.  It was cancelled after just two seasons.  Another one that I enjoyed but was cancelled after just 12 episodes was “Conviction” which I believe ran on NBC. 

Beginning September 15th NBC will air a new show, “Outlaw” which features a SCOTUS justice that steps down from the bench to seek justice.  While I like the concept, I question just how realistic this show will be.  C’mon, a SCOTUS Justice stepping down to take another job?  Geesh . . . didn’t Rehnquist actually die while still serving on the bench?  Anyway, I will definitely tune in, but have reservations about getting emotionally invested in yet another legal t.v. show only to have it cancelled. Is it worth the investment of time if it ends up ending abruptly? 

Watch NBC’s trailer for “Outlaw” which premieres September 15th at 10/9C.

UPDATE: after having viewed the pilot episode of “Outlaw”  I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed! I like the storyline, the seemingly accurate legal references, and the “feel good” story of justice being served. I highly recommend it, but I hope it lasts!

UPDATE: I tuned in last Wednesday hoping to catch the show but apparently it has been moved to Fridays 10/9c.  Hmmm . . . is this an early sign of a failing show?

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Who’s the most OCD Law School Applicant Ever?

September 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm (Applying to Law School)

 . . . that would be ME.  I think I’m a law school applicant gunner. I’ve got my top 5 law school apps out already (and have status-checked all of them).  According to my lawschoolnumbers.com account, I am the first person to apply to most of the schools I’ve applied to.  How’s that for leading right of the gate?  Best of all . . . just one day after submitting an app to my top-choice school my status changed from “application received” to “application complete.”  Woot! I hope that’s a good sign!  

The important disclaimer I should mention though is, I had my personal statement and resume finalized a month ago, my LOR’s were submitted weeks ago, etc. I did not sacrifice the quality of my application for the sake of submitting it earlier. I still obsessively checked and re-checked everything before clicking submit.  As I think most experts will agree, sending an app in early is not worth it if its full of errors.

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If today was your last day . . .

September 3, 2010 at 12:31 am (Misc.)

This song has gotten me through a lot of really long, stressful days.  I especially enjoy listening to it on my way home from school, at 10:00 p.m. after I’ve been up since 6:00 in the morning and worked 10 hours and then studied for five. I had the chance to see Nickelback in concert twice last year and they were fantastic.  Anyway, I thought I’d share it with you. I live by it.

Click Here

And if you really like it and want to feel inspired, read the lyrics:

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day’s a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?

Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’re never living twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?
And would you find that one you’re dreaming of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you’d finally fall in love if today was your last day?

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are

So do whatever it takes
‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life
Let nothing stand in your way
‘Cause the hands of time are never on your side

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?
And would you find that one you’re dreaming of
Swear up and down to God above
That you’d finally fall in love if today was your last day?

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Christmas in . . . September?

September 1, 2010 at 11:22 am (Applying to Law School)

I awoke at 4:00 a.m. wide awake, eyes wide.  I thought to myself, it really is September 1, its finally here!!!  I pushed back the covers jumped out of bed and ran to my laptop and logged onto LSAC.org to truly discover . . .yes, its here.  Law school application season has officially begun!  Good luck to everyone! 

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