Insights from HLS Admissions

Insights from HLS AdmissionsIn an interview with the Yale Undergraduate Law Review, Josh Rubenstein, Dean of Admissions at Harvard Law School, offers guidance for those interested in HLS. He touts the size of the school as an advantage, allowing for more opportunities, such as a larger faculty, huge number of courses, etc. Nevertheless, the school is still broken down into small “neighborhoods,” with smaller sections, reading groups, and clinics.

HLS also has strong support for public interest, including its low-income protection plan, and  international law, with a new 1L Required Elective, study abroad options, and LLM program.

Regarding the admissions process, Rubenstein says they’re looking for two main things: “We are trying to get a sense of what your academic potential is and how you’re going to contribute to the intellectual community, and we are trying to get a sense of what leadership potential you have and what type of impact you have in the greater world, going forward.”  Your academic potential includes all your transcripts, not just your GPA. Letters of recommendation hold a lot of weight, and it’s key to find someone who knows you well to write yours. Rubenstein recommends to “sit down with the person who is going to write your recommendation and remind them of who you are.” Then the LSAT comes into play, mostly as a “confirmatory variable.” When reading the personal statements, the best ones express why law school is a good fit for you, but do so implicitly.

Rubenstein emphasizes that there is no prototype for an HLS student, and that “we love people who have a passion, who have a strong interest, have sort of an established reason why law school make sense for them and what they are going to do something with that degree.” Your interest doesn’t have to be unique—just convey your passion and why you’re drawn to it, and why law school is the right choice for you. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Law School Admissions News Roundup

  • USC Tax LL.M. On Hold- Finally, a law school taking a cue from the current legal market. USC Gould School of Law has decided to shelve its tax LL.M. program due to the recession, The National Law Journal reports. The program would have been the school’s first LL.M. offered to domestic students (it already offers one for international students). Although LL.M. programs are viewed as good “revenue generators” for schools, and ABA-approved law schools have conferred 65% more LL.M. degrees between 1999 and 2009, USC is taking the recession seriously, and won’t offer more degrees as just a money-maker scheme. The school still has ABA approval for the program and can “pursue [it] in the future if demand for the credential improves.”
  • Uniting Law and Business- As the world becomes more interconnected, law schools “are placing increasing emphasis on commercial law and business knowledge, often through innovative joint ventures with business schools,” the Financial Times reports. In fact, about 40 percent of this year’s FT Innovative Law Schools’ listing of LL.M. programs offer joint courses in conjunction with business schools. The University of Chicago has recently started its “Law and Economics 2.0 Initiative,” while the Reading University Law School in the U.K. has founded the Centre for Commercial Law and Financial Regulation together with Henley Business School, and the schools now collaboratively offer three LL.M. degrees.
  • Useful Advice for Law Applicants and Students- U.S. News and World Report offers five ways in which future or current law students can “maximize their opportunities.” For prospective students, try to get your application in as early as possible—ideally, by the end of November, and certainly by the end of December. Also, be wary of your online presence, but take advantage of social networking. When applying, consider schools’ specialties, and once a student, determine if you should focus your studies as well in a specific area. Once you’ve received financial aid offers from schools, leverage them to get more from the school of your choice—just make sure to be completely truthful in negotiations. It is best to get legal experience even before law school, to verify it’s the right path for you. But otherwise, pursuing these experiences as a law student is still worthwhile.
  • Sustainability Law Certificate Offered at John Marshall- John Marshall Law School in Chicago will now offer a certificate in sustainability law, which “allows J.D. students to center their sights on the hot topic of sustainability and its increasing importance in real estate, transactional and regulatory work,” reports the National Jurist. Courses in sustainability law were already offered at John Marshall, but now there is a specific program dedicated to the field.
  • Pace to Launch Solo Incubator- Pace Law School will open the Pace Community Law Practice, a solo incubator, in September 2012. A solo incubator is a “school-supported law firm geared toward helping recent graduates learn how to run their own practices,” according to The National Law Journal. Between five and seven recent Pace grads will work at the practice and will attend seminars while offering inexpensive legal assistance. The University of Maryland School of Law, the City University of New York School of Law, and The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law have all recently opened solo incubators, and more schools are looking into it as well. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Law School Admissions News Roundup

  • Does No LSAT = More Diversity?– As part of a conference at the University of Virginia School of Law on improving diversity in the legal sector, a panel of admissions experts didn’t feel that getting rid of the LSAT would increase diversity at law schools. One reason mentioned was that admissions officers might focus on less objective factors without the LSAT. Those in the other camp might point to the fact that Hispanic and African-American test takers have median scores below those of whites. However, “that gap […] is evident across all major standardized tests, not just the LSAT.” Another issue is that some schools rely too heavily on LSAT scores, and perhaps those results should be emphasized less.
  • More First-Time Test Takers Passed NY Bar- As reported by New York Law Journal, of those who graduated from ABA-accredited schools and took the July New York bar exam for the first time, 86.1 percent passed, up by 0.5 percent from last year. However, 69.2 percent passed out of all the 11,182 July test takers, compared to 70 percent, 72 percent, and 74.7 percent in the previous years.
  • Best Law Schools for ExternshipsThe National Jurist has adjusted its externship rankings to only include full-time law students. The rankings are based on a ratio of field placements to enrollment, with University of St. Thomas taking first place. Filling out the top five are Northeastern University, University of Utah, Brigham Young, and Thomas Jefferson.
  • Can Anyone Become a Lawyer?– In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Clifford Winston argues that anyone should be able to practice law—whether or not he/she has a J.D. or passed the bar. Accordingly, the poor would be able to afford legal services by those with less training, while others can choose to pay higher fees for more formally trained lawyers. Potential competition from “non-lawyers” would also bring down legal costs in general, Winston speculates. He also calls for a better assessment of lawyer quality by consumers, since “in the absence of an open, competitive approach to information about the quality of legal services, the existing licensing and discipline system creates a false sense of security.” Above the Law, among others, takes issue with Winston, noting that he doesn’t differentiate well between quality and quantity, and is not using common sense. A blog from The Washington Post argues that deregulation would not only lower standards, but quality as well. A better solution would be to reform law schools “by offering a better balance of the doctrinal, skills, and values education that students need to become competent legal professionals.” Additionally, the bar exam could become less concentrated, and instead be extended over years and test a number of skills. It seems that whichever side you fall on, some modification of legal education and training is in order.
  • Pre-Law Students Are Facing Reality- Potential law students are taking off their rose-colored glasses. A survey by Veritas Prep revealed that 68 percent of respondents would still apply to law school even with the knowledge that many would not be able to find jobs after graduation, versus 81 percent last year, The National Law Journal reports. More students are expecting to take on loans—49 percent, as opposed to 38 percent in 2010. Plus, the top concern for 73 percent of those queried is to find a job that would enable them to pay back their student loans. Last year, most were concerned with finding an “appealing long-term career.” While location and prestige remained the top two factors in choosing a law school, more students this year are considering affordability as well.
  • Interested in an International LL.M.?- The National Jurist covers everything you need to know, including what to consider when choosing a program, and researching its faculty and courses. While international students are more likely to pursue these LL.M. degrees, U.S. students are increasingly drawn to the courses as well. The article also has a comprehensive guide to all LL.M. programs offered at U.S. law schools. ~ Helping You Write Your Best



Summer LLM Program at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley announced a new summer LL.M. program this week:

"Berkeley Law is pleased to introduce a new Summer LL.M. program, to begin in the summer of 2009. In this program, international students will earn an LL.M. degree by attending classes over the course of two consecutive summers…

"Summer courses are intensive, three to four weeks in duration, offered in sequence. Completion of this program should allow students to meet all educational requirements to sit for the California Bar Exam. A minimum of 21 units (20 units for U.S. trained law students) is required for completion of the LL.M. degree."

The program’s tuition is not yet set, but should approximate the cost of the year-long LL.M. program at Boalt. The 2009-10 application to the summer LLM program is currently available.

 For more context on Berkeley’s new program, please see UC Berkeley Launching Summer LL.M. Program.