Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pros and Cons On Not Taking Time Off Between College and Law School


This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon

I have a very one sided view of this matter because I did indeed go straight from college to law school, so I cannot speak in depth about the experience of those that took time off.  However, I will speak of my experience having not taken any time off, and what my thoughts are about that decision now that I am looking back.

Pros

A number of my classmates that had taken time off from school and worked before returning to law school had a hard time readjusting to the life of a student.  They had become used to the life where when they got home they could relax, watch tv, cook a nice meal and get some sleep.  But as a student, work starts when you get home.  They say you should be putting in 3 hours of work at home for each hour of class.  Having gone straight from college to law school all I knew was the life of a student, so going home and studying was just part of my normal routine.

Many of my peers that returned to law school later in life were driven by experiences in the real world that they could not stomach.  That can be a great strength for them, which I will discuss below, but it can also be a great weakness.  The first year of law school is almost entirely theory based.  You read cases and you analyze the law through the eyes of these cases, this process is often very abstract and intellectually grueling.  When one is driven by real life experiences it is harder to grasp the theory.  Real life scenarios become touching because of the intricate details that make that story unique, but if you get bogged down by the details in law school you lose sight of what is really trying to be taught – the greater theoretical picture.

You graduate from law school at a young age, and you are thus quite marketable to firms because with youth often comes less jaded personalities, cheaper labor and malleable minds.

Cons

It is easy to feel burnt out entering, arguably, your most important three years of academia off of a 18 year lead up of constant school. 

Across the board I found that students who took time off had more drive then those who didn’t.  They had more purpose in their studies, they knew what it was like to work in the real world, and not enjoy their work, or work incredibly long hours to barely make rent.  Having experienced this they chose to work towards a higher degree in order to free themselves from their former worries, and that gave them that extra push when a lot of students who did not live that experience simply called it a night.

Those who took time off before law school I believe valued law school more.  They recognized the privilege that had been bestowed upon them, and again it stimulated them to study harder, pay more attention in class and also to participate in all that the school had to offer.  It is easier to take the law school experience for granted when school is all you have experienced.

When it comes to looking for a job, you don’t have any experience to bolster you academics.  This can hurt you because your passion for a certain type of law doesn’t carry much weight.  For example if you are passionate about employment law and you are sitting in front of a partner an employment firm who is interviewing you.  The strongest thing you could say, as someone who never took time off, is that you worked for employment firms for 2 months for 2 summers during law school… that doesn’t scream passion.  However, if you can say, for example,  “I worked for X company for X amount of time, there I watched the company exploit and mistreat its workers, but I couldn’t do anything about it because of my title and limited academic credentials.  I decided to go to law in order to put my JD to work in a firm just like this one so that I could be proactive in making right the wrongs I had experienced and I know others continue to experience.”  That tells an employer that you aren’t shooting in the dark and giving employment law a whirl, but rather that you are someone that is safe to invest in because that type of law really is a deeply rooted passion of yours.

I know that my analysis looks unevenly balanced, and that is because I wish I had taken time off before going to law school.  This is not to say that I regret the decision I made, I just believe that I could have made more of my time in law school if I had taken the time to learn how to appreciate it correctly.  I believe that you cannot go wrong either way, so long as you go to law school, because there is so much to be gained from the experience.  And at the end of the day… the grass is always greener on the other side, right?
 
 
This post is a guest post written by a recent law graduate immediately after her third year.  Carolyn Demougeot.  Ms. Demougeot went to Wake Forest Law School and is currently clerking for a federal judge in Washington. 

This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

3 Reasons Why You Should Chose Law School Based on Location


This post is a guest post written by a recent law graduate immediately after her third year.  Carolyn Demougeot.  Ms. Demougeot went to Wake Forest Law School and is Currently clerking for a federal judge in Washington. 

This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon.

Three years ago, I sat down in front of my law school acceptance letters, and began pondering what felt like the “biggest decision of my life”: Where to go to Law School.  In making this decision, I thought back to when I chose where to attend college, and how I made that decision, figuring that it would help guide me on another academic decision.  College was an enlightening time of my life that I cherish profoundly, but ultimately I knew it was a means to an end: graduate school.  I knew going into college that my education was not ending in four years and for that reason it made sense to simply go to the best college I got into.  Sure, location, atmosphere and student body played a role in the decision, however, because I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, it was more important for me to go to the best school I could get into, so I could set myself up for the best graduate program, come four years.

 Little did I know, law school is a whole other ball game.  Law school was not an academic stepping-stone, or at least it wasn’t for me. Law school was the final stop on my train heading for a career.  In choosing a law school I prioritized my guiding factor for choosing a college, going to the best school I got into, coupled with a new paramount factor: tuition.  The unfortunate reality about education in the U.S. is that big name universities, most often come with big prices, and big post-graduation headaches if you don’t have the big firm job to handle Sallie Mae’s wrath.  Although I don’t regret going to the school that these factors lead me to, I realize that my ultimate goal of setting up a career would’ve been better accomplished if I had prioritized a third factor: location.  I would highly recommend to anyone going to law school to think long and hard about where they would like to practice post graduation, and to apply heavily to law schools in that area because it will help their chances at hitting the job market in 3 major ways.

1. Legal Network

Building your legal network while in law school is key (if you want to read more on how to create this network- read Setting Up Your Legal Network While In Law School).  Your legal network will be strongest in the city where your school is located.  This legal network will be invaluable when it comes time to finding summer positions and ultimately a permanent position upon graduation.  Simply put, attorneys that you meet in your town know a lot of other attorneys and have a lot more pull in that same town then outside, and they will enable you to cast a wide net when trying to land a job.
                                                             
Before moving forward I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that a lot of my thought process is geared towards “finding a job” and there is a reason for that.  My second year of law school, I met an attorney who asked me, what many attorneys do, “why do you want to be a lawyer?”.  I responded with my most honest answer, though admittedly cheesy: I want to stand up for those who have always been silenced.  He laughed and shook his head disagreeing with me, he then said “Your number one reason for being an attorney is to make a living.  You can help no one if you can’t even help yourself.”  It is important to start thinking early on about how you intend on making a living with your law career, and I believe that choice starts in choosing your law school.

 
2.  Home Court Advantage

“What makes you want to work in *insert city or state”?  I assure you that this is a question 95% of employers will ask you if you are not applying for jobs in your hometown.  This question, unlike some other ones they ask, is not an icebreaker, it is not frivolous, but rather your answer, in a lot of ways, will eliminate you from making it past this round of interviews or not.  You need to have a strong answer for this question, and having gone to law school in that city/state can give your answer that carries true weight. 

“Yes I am from Virginia, but having attended insert law school name in New York City I can not imagine ever leaving the city.  I have created a strong legal network (names of people you have worked with, people who have mentored you, or affinities you have created), I have grown roots within the community by joining x, y, z organizations and I have lived in the same area for the last 3 years- a place I am proud to now call home.” The reason why this question comes up so frequently is because employers do no want to waste there time, money or resources on a Virginia resident who will go back there in 3 years and leave the firm seeking an employee to train again.  Employers want to know that they are investing in a stable worker who will ultimately be a return on investment, meaning, the time and money put into the new employee will come back two-fold during their career at the firm. 

However, if you are from Florida, went to school in Florida (in-state tuition is a beautiful thing) all the while knowing you want to start your career in New york City… you might have a hard time selling an employer on your dedication to the milieu.  This is not to say that it is impossible, but it is much harder.

3.  Supporting “there own”

There are a lot of attorneys in the United States, in that same vein, there are a lot of law school in the United States that produce new lawyers on a yearly basis.  “The legal job market sure is tough these days” must be on the 2013 “Top 5 most frequently spoken phrases” list.  Because there is truth to this statement employers have taken to “supporting their own” that is to say they support graduates from local schools, dare I say, over graduates from out-of- state law schools.  In addition, firms in every city are full of attorneys that graduated from local schools, and it is no secret that we feel a sense of connection to people that have lived similar experiences to our own, and we inadvertently (or advertently) are more keen on helping those same people over “a stranger”.  This idea of creating ties is the foundation of my theory that it is important to go to law school where you want to practice.  The ties you create, the name you build for yourself and the power of word-of-mouth within any legal community are invaluable when it comes time to start your career.

There is clearly no one factor that if followed will assure you to have an enriching, positive and career building law school experience, but I wish I had considered the above more seriously before making my decision.  One thing I do know for sure is that law school will teach you a lot if you are willing to learn, and regardless of how easy or hard your path to a job post graduation may be, having gone to law school will forever change you for the better.

This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Some Helpful Tips if Writing Law School Exams


This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon.

If this is your first set of law school finals, our thoughts are with you and we can only say that it is not going to be as bad as you think. Well..perhaps it will be but it will be over quickly.  While the process can be a tough one, with Finals around the corner, we wanted to give you some helpful tips.  Here is a list of things to help you get through the next few weeks.

  • Study In Groups but Find a Good Group

It is impossible for a law student to assimilate all of the information that law school has to offer. As such, studying with a group of people will help you recognize the things that you may have missed. A great approach is for all members of the group to work on a hypo or an exam and then sit down with the group to go over answers.  Remember to listen carefully to the answers of your fellow students because they will always have picked up on things that you will miss.
  • Avoid Study Groups that Waste Your Time

While a good study group is great, cut your losses if you do not feel you are getting anything out of the group or they are wasting your time.  Give it a real chance but you will find that your time will run out as exams near and you will not have time to waste.
  • Make Your Own Outline

Do not use commercial outlines or other outlines that you can download at places like the outline depot.  The benefit of an outline is making your won and your grade will significantly improve if you work on your own outlines. This of course assumes that you went to class and have notes to make a good outline.
  • Do As Many Practice Exams and Hypos as You Can

I was always shocked at how many people entered an exam and had not done even one practice exam. This is a mistake!  You should do as many exams as you can under timed conditions and compare your answers with either the answer sheet or friends
  • Do Not Borrow Time from Subsequent Exam Questions

At the start of an exam, budget your time from each question and DO NOT BORROW TIME.  Those who borrow end up missing easy points on final exam questions. The fact is you likely have gotten as many points from the question you are wasting time on and you can always come back to it if you like if you have time.
  • Make A Schedule

Make a study schedule of what you want to cover and stick to it.  Time is a premium around exam time and you will find that the organized student does best.
  • Go Visit Your Professor

There are many reasons to visit your professor during office hours.  First, Professors often give away what is on an exam.  Second, they can clarify things you do not understand. Third, they will see that you are engaged and this may help your participation grade.
  • Relax

Do not stress yourself.  You should of course take exams seriously but do not beat yourself up or stress too much. this will only lead to poor performance.

Good Luck!!!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lawyers & Law Students Beware! A Con Artist is Just a Phone Call or Email Away


Everyone has either received, or knows someone who has received, an email from the relative of a deposed King (or Queen) of Nigeria where this royal relative is willing to pay you millions of dollars if you would only help them get their money out of Nigeria.   Although this scam is obvious to many, the perpetrators of this fraud have managed to defraud some out of either their personal information or their money.  As of late, I have become aware of a similar (although somewhat more sophisticated) scam and the targets of this scam are lawyers & law firms. 

A week ago, I had the following discussion with a law student that works with me:

“I am not sure if we normally do this type of case but I thought that I would bring it to you and see.  A friend told me that a Nigerian oil company, ARC, was suing General Electric for some equipment that GE failed to deliver to them. They are looking for a law firm in NY to handle a $10,000,000 contract dispute and I was wondering if the firm would be interested." 

This struck me as particularly interesting because a few weeks earlier I had a discussion with a fellow lawyer about a very similar fact pattern where Company A (the company that contacted the law firm) was suing Company B (a large well known multinational company) and the contract dispute was over the failure to build ships & deliver equipment.  What makes this scam incredible is that unlike the emails from the relative of the deposed King of Nigeria that are often riddled with spelling errors and obvious indications of fraud, Company A produced very authentic looking documentation to support that a contract actually existed.  (Purchase agreement, ship building specifications, etc.) The fraudsters also set up phony telephone numbers & email addresses and were able to conduct several phone conversations and exchange various emails with the law firm without initially raising suspicion. 

Shortly after the law firm was retained, Company B “settled” and Company A told the law firm that the check was going to be sent to them.  A few days later an authentic looking check arrived but by that point the law firm was suspicious.  When the law firm called Company B directly it was discovered that Company B had not ever heard of Company A and no dispute ever existed. 

The exact mechanics of this scam are unclear but subsequent research suggests that Company A sends the law firm an authentic looking check which they deposit in their trust account.  At almost the same time, the law firm would wire funds from their operating account to Company A and Company A would disappear with the money.  (Presumably before the false check is detected).  Other frauds involve elaborate money laundering schemes where Company A uses the law firm to launder large amounts of cash that they claim are a settlement from a dispute.  (Money launderers are willing to pay large amounts in fees to launder money).

There are two lessons that lawyers (and others) can learn from this.  The first is simple. If something looks to good to be true, it usually is neither good nor true.  Most scams are based on an overwhelming desire for the scammed party to benefit or “win” something and when someone is offering you easy money there is usually a reason.  The second lesson for lawyers is, know your clients.  In all of the lawyer fraud cases I have heard of, the appropriate due diligence either revealed or could have revealed that the law firm was dealing with a fictitious party.  The due diligence process should not stop and you should take a closer look at your clients if you start to receive suspicious information from the them during the attorney-client relationship.  These fraudsters thrive on the fact that many law firms are looking for business so lawyers and law students beware!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Great Way To Market Yourself as a Law Student - Some Great Ideas From Our New Book Law School Lowdown.


A Few Good Marketing Ideas for Law Students
A simple Google search is one of the first things that a prospective employer does when they are considering hiring a law student.  While a student cannot control everything that is on the Internet, he/she can perform a number of simple tasks to improve his/her profile and market strengths.  In my new book, Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job, I describe just how important it is to find everything at your disposal to ensure you can find employment, and given the competition and difficulty surrounding finding a legal job, it is never too early to start marketing yourself.  Here are three simple marketing ideas for both pre-law and law students.
  1. Set up A Student Webpage and Claim the Website Domain Associated With Your Name
I received an email from a first year law student, and he posed a very interesting question.  His email read;
“What is your personal opinion of law students having their own resume-styled website? I tried to do some research and could not find many that existed. Having an undergrad degree in Graphic Design, I’ve built my own. What do you think?”
Setting up a personal webpage to market yourself is an excellent idea! This idea extends far beyond law students and is an excellent thing to do for anyone including students in other disciplines, lawyers, and also any other professionals. This is a great idea for anyone that is or will be looking for a job and/or anyone that could benefit from positive marketing.  Here is the student’s site: www.justinhwalters.com
Justin is exactly the type of innovative law student that our profession needs and the idea of creating your own website to showcase yourself is something that I wish I had thought of.  Also, it is always a good idea to use part of your prior life (in Justin’s case marketing and graphic design) to make some money or compliment a new legal or professional life.
There are several reasons why setting up a Website A Good Idea.
I started to write this section myself but then remembered that Justin had already done an excellent job summarizing on his website why setting up your own website is a good idea.  As such, I will quote Justin and his words echo my exact thoughts;
“I believe there is a need for students to have their own websites with their resumes, portfolios, and contact information.  I believe it is beneficial for professional students, especially those studying law, to be able to place a personal website address on their business card or in the signature of their email. Having a website can be appealing to prospective employers because it shows you are independent, creative and ready to advance into a more professional role.”
I will only add one additional point and that is that the webpage puts all of the relevant information that an employer wants (short bio, resume, writing sample, skills) in one place and makes it all easily accessible.  Given that employers spend very little time assessing candidates you want to make your information as easy to access as possible and a simple webpage accomplishes this.
I am not a web designer but am confident that with a bit of determination I could create a page like the page that Justin has created. WordPress is the web design tool of choice but if you do not want to use that there are many other options available with templates that will get you started.  In terms of hosting the website, that costs around $5 a month (a more complex website would be maybe $8 a month because it has more space) and you will pay around $10 a year for domain name. (You should try and nab your own name – just think of where Barack Obama would be if he had not purchased his domain namewww.barackobama.com years ago).
  1. Set up a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a professional network social media website and every law and pre-law student should join.  LinkedIn is NOT Facebook and your “connections” are business connections rather than “friends.”  As such, it is not unusual to connect with someone just because you have some business aspect in common.  When you develop a profile, the site lists all of your relevant educational and professional credentials and this site is a key tool used by employers to find candidates.  I am interviewing someone this week for a position with my law firm and I “met” her on LinkedIn.   Also, my law firm, Scott Legal Services, P.C., recently signed a large client and I met the contact on Linkedin.
  1. Watch What you Post on Social Media
I have a friend who owns a company that attempts to repair damaged internet reputations.  Everything that you allow to be associated with you on the internet can and will come back to either help or haunt you.  When something you regret hits the internet, the best that my friend’s company can do is attempt to get the “bad” things associated with a person moved to a lower Google page.  Regrettably, it is NOT possible to eliminate negative things posted about you or by you on the internet.
The Lowdown for Law Students
In this economy you cannot afford to be at a disadvantage and it is important to ensure that you are constantly improving, marketing and selling your brand.  This should start early in your career and creating a website is a great networking and marketing tool.   Creating your own personal website and properly using social media also forces you to give some thought to what important things you want to showcase to the world and may encourage you to constantly reevaluate key aspects to showcase.
Here is an excellent example that demonstrates that proper networking and marketing goes a long way. In this case, Justin sent me his website and as a direct result of his marketing and networking efforts, I hired him to work on my law firm website.  I also referred him to a number of my friends and they paid him to work on their websites.  How is that for marketing efforts quickly finding a job!  This is only one example of how innovation and marketing yourself in the new cyber world can increase your chances of success and put money in your pocket.
This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron’s Publishing) – Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To Select a Study Group in Law School



As Published in Bloomberg Law.  This advice is one of the many great tips that you can find in Ian E. Scott's new book, Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job. (Barron’s Publishing).  Find out more about the book by clicking here.
One factor that can contribute to success in your first year of law school is a good study group. When I was a law student, I had a great study group of two other classmates, and when you find the right group, the experience can be extremely positive.
A study group is important as it is nearly impossible to absorb every important aspect of every case you read in your classes by yourself. Even if you are the best note taker in the world, you may still miss some important points that your study partners picked up. In my own experience, my study partners sometimes informed me of points that turned out to be on the exam and I believe that my grades were higher as a result of working with a study group than they would have been if I studied completely on my own. In addition, the very nature of the law school course work and being a lawyer lends itself to discussion and debate, and a study group provides an excellent forum to develop the essential skill of explaining your point and convincing others.
 Typically, a study group meets to review and discuss the cases and complex material assigned in class. The group may meet prior to the examination period during the outlining process or after outlining has been completed, or following individual classes if a particularly difficult topic was covered. The meetings are not brainstorming or the traditional “studying” and as such, it is a good idea to meet after all members of the group have had a sufficient amount of time to review and digest the material. In some cases, meetings occur after each member in the group has completed the same practice exam so that the group can compare answers.
The selection of a good study group is tough. You of course want to find smart people but you also want to avoid the obnoxious people who will monopolize the entire session with their inane ideas. Also, you want people that are conscientious and will come to the sessions prepared and ready to contribute. Another important factor is finding people that have the same temperament that you do. Calm should be with calm and Type A should be with Type A. Having similar grade expectations is also important so that all members of the group are striving towards the same goal. You also want people that you get along with to make the pain of intense studying a bit more pleasant.
The ideal number of people in a study group is three or four in my opinion. I lean towards three so that each party can clearly express their ideas. More than four may add too many different perspectives and diminish the overall benefit of a study group.
Regarding the selection of someone smart, remember that the people who are the most vocal in class are not necessarily the people who do the best on exams. More often than not, you will find that the person that receives the highest grade in your class is a person who has not said a word all semester. Perhaps this is because the quiet type is often paying attention and is not distracted by what they are going to say next. As such, do not discount someone because they do not speak in class as they may be exactly the study partner you are looking for. Both of the people in my study group were very smart and did not say a word in class unless they were called on. It was clear from observing them during the year though, that they were paying attention in class and taking notes.
Another thing to consider regarding finding a smart person is that some people who did very well in their undergraduate studies may not grasp law school very well. As such, it is tough to really know who is “smart” from who is not and you will really have to go with your gut.
Also, it is important to find someone that you can coexist with for a long period of time. I remember many long nights with my study partners in my first year and it was nice to spend them with people that did not get on my nerves. My study group and I still all regularly go out to dinner and I am sure we will be life long friends who shared a very positive bonding experience.
Finally, while inclusion of people you may have been friends with prior to law school in your study group is an option, you should vet them objectively and focus on whether or not you have the same study habits. A good friend is not always a good study partner so tread carefully here.
To sum up my opinion regarding finding the right people for a study group, I will say that you do not need the people in the class with the highest grades in your study group but rather people who you get along with, that are similar minded, work hard and have assimilated all of the information throughout the year. These are the people that will help you.
Who Should Not be in Your Study Group?
Beware of the “barnacle.” He or she is the person that latches on to your study group and whom you just cannot get rid of. This person wants to join your study group so that he can benefit from all of the work you have done but is a freeloader. This person usually contributes nothing, will waste your time and will irritate you and stress you out. My own first-year study group initially included such a person until we got rid of him after the second exam.
Unfortunately, it is hard to identify a “barnacle” as they usually put forth a very good sales job. However, once included, there will be signs the decision was not a good one. In my own situation, the “barnacle” consistently missed meetings or showed up late and came unprepared. He always had an excuse for not doing what he was supposed to do and invited others to join (who also were not helpful). Also, during the few meetings we had with him, he would frantically take notes as if we were in class and we were his professors. One of the first clues that we had made a mistake was when he suggested “exchanging” outlines even before we had our first meeting, which the rest of us thought was odd.
You should also not select someone that you see frequently misses class. If they miss class, they will miss study sessions. Moreover, a person who never attends class will not be very beneficial filling you in on points that you missed because they will not have class notes. The same rule applies to those who are in class but not really in class. For example, you should also avoid people you observe on the Internet during class or who are generally not paying attention. If they are more interested in surfing the net than the course material, they surely will not have good notes and will likely drift off during your study group sessions also.
Also, be careful of “the holdout.” The holdout will join your group to take what they can get but will be silent even when they have relevant things to share. Unfortunately, some are preoccupied with the curve and think that any information that they share with anyone (even their study group) will mean a lower grade for them. Everyone in your study group can get an “A” and it is very unlikely that any assistance you give to other members of your group is going to make any difference whatsoever to your grade.
Finally, I would avoid forming a study group with someone that I was in a relationship with. While it may be more convenient, you want to be able to let your ideas flow freely and the last thing you want is an argument in a study group to flow in to your personal life. Also, if you break up during the school term, you will be stuck finding a new member after most of the class has already formed groups.
Even though you must be careful who you let in, I strongly recommend you make the effort to find some like-minded people to form a study group. Do not be afraid to break up the group if it is not working but the advantages of forming a group made up of the right partners cannot be ignored.
Ian E. Scott is a Harvard Law School Graduate, lawyer and author of Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job. (Barron’s Publishing) Mr. Scott worked as a corporate litigator in the law firm Cleary Gottlieb and currently runs his own law firm Scott Legal Services, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up. Law School Lowdown is a comprehensive law school success guide that offers practical advice on a number of relevant law student topics. Find out more about the book by clicking here. Mr. Scott is also author of the blog Law School and Bar Exam Success Tips.



2013 Bloomberg Finance L.P. Originally published by Bloomberg Finance L.P. Reprinted with permission.  The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sitting for the LSAT in October or December? How to Prepare for the LSAT


The LSAT is an integral part of your law school application and it can make it or break it for you.  Many have asked what the key to success is.  Our new book, Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job, has many important pointers on this subject and here are some pointers.

There are many courses that you can take to prepare you for the LSAT.  I paid over $1000 for a month long in class course and it was helpful.  Signing up for a course will increase your score for sure.  Some course providers like Kaplan  provide a money back guarantee if you get a lower score on the actual exam than your first practice test.  This is somewhat misleading though, as it is virtually impossible to get a lower score than your first attempt as your first attempt is done without any preparation. 
 
A preparation course is a great way to prepare as the course will stress some exam “tricks” and you will also do several practice exams in exam like conditions.  Moreover, the course will force you to stay focused and set a fixed schedule for you to devote to exam studying.  If you are not disciplined, a preparation course is highly recommended.  LSAT preparation has really changed over the years and the traditional classroom courses offered by Kaplan and other providers are not that appealing to some.  As such, you may want to try LSAT freedom, LSATMax, Manhattan LSAT, or  FindMyLawTutor.  They all offer alternatives to the traditional LSAT courses and you can find out more about them by accessing their websites. 

The key to doing well on all sections of the LSAT is practice.  You should complete hundreds if not thousands of questions prior to the exam so you should become very familiar with the patterns of the different questions.  Of course though, part of doing well on the LSAT will be your aptitude for doing well on this type of standardized test.  Notwithstanding this though, you will always be able to improve your score with practice.

As part of this practice, you should sit for several timed exams and you should grade them to see how you are doing.  In fact, when you take many practice exams and grade yourself, you will have a good indication of the score you will get on the actual exam.  As such, if you sit for a timed practice exam two day prior to the actual exam, you will have an excellent idea of how you will score.  When I sat for the LSAT, I scored within two points of my final practice exam and many students have recounted the same thing to me. Do not expect a miracle on exam day.

This is one of many law school admission tips that you will find in the new book, Law School Lowdown (Barron's Publishing). Order it today by clicking here

http://www.amazon.com/Law-School-Lowdown-Secrets-Application/dp/143800317X

Good luck!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Need a Reference Letter for Law School - Some Tips of Who To Ask To Write it.


When you complete your law school application you will almost certainly be asked to submit a number of reference letters.  Many prospective law students have asked me who they should ask to write them and here are a few pointers. 


The key to any reference letter is that it is relevant and comes from someone that knows you and can speak to why you would succeed in law school.  Letters should be current (written within the last 6 months), and keep in mind that admission’s committees are not looking for character references. To this end, the best letters come from your college professors who know you and are familiar with your academic achievements.  This usually means that you had the professor for a semester or you had performed research for the professor.  In addition, if you received a high grade in his/her class this will also help. 

If for some reason you cannot get a professor to write a letter or you have been out of school for a long time there are other options.  Another good letter is a letter that comes from a lawyer that knows you and can speak to your scholarly potential.  This is especially the case if the person will be able to illustrate why you would do well in law school.  Another great source is a past or current employer -- especially if the employer can write about your analytical skills, problem solving ability or scholarly ability.  Finally, another good area is a relevant reference provider (someone who can speak to your intellectual ability) that attended the law school that you are applying to.  Keep in mind that college professors are at the top of the list but these other categories are also options.

It is also important to develop a strategy when selecting the base of reference providers that you select.  Specifically, pick reference providers from a wide range of areas that the admission’s committee will find useful.  For example, select a couple of professors, a couple of lawyers and a couple of people from other relevant areas.  When I applied to Harvard Law School, each of my letters was selected to cover off an area that I thought would interest the admission’s committee.  Namely, one came from someone that attended Harvard, another came from a Judge that could speak to my scholarly ability, others came from professors where I did well in their class and others came from my previous employers.  Each was strategically selected and the selection worked well for me. 

Do not fall into the trap of submitting what I will call an irrelevant reference letter to a law school.  This includes a letter from a professor who is a friend of your parents or who you have never met.  Also, letters from friends, family members, or people that you have not met (even if they are famous) will generally be disregarded.  These types of letters will actually hurt you as the admission’s committee will wonder why you could not find a relevant reference. 

Make no mistake that reference letters are important. Give your selection some careful thought as in addition to the content, the people who are deciding whether or not to admit you will certainly review who you have selected.

You can also see this article on LSAT Freedom.  LSAT Freedom is an excellent LSAT preparation course who offers LSAT preparation online.

This summary is one of many law school admission helpful tips in the new book Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing the First Job – (Barron's Publishing) - Author Ian E. Scott.  You can order Law School Lowdown on Amazon by clicking here.