Located in the heart of vibrant and historic Boston, Boston University School of Law offers enormous breadth to its students, and today, we’re speaking with its Dean of Admissions.
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I’m delighted to have on Admissions Straight Talk Alissa Leonard, Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment at Boston University School of Law. Dean Leonard attended Oberlin College and earned her AB in History. She has been in admissions at BU Law since 2008 and brings 15 years of experience to our conversation today.
Dean Leonard, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [1:37]
Thanks very much for having me.
My pleasure. Can you give an overview of the more distinctive elements of the BU Law JD program? [1:41]
Sure, I’d be happy to, and you’ll have to stop me when I run on too long because I love this question.
We’re in the center or heart of Boston obviously. If I look out my window, I’ve closed my shades, but you would see the Charles River with folks on it on this sunny day. You would see the State House from my office. Boston’s obviously a major legal market. It’s the hottest biotech city in the country. The First Circuit sits here. We’re big on tech and innovation, and of course, it’s a very youthful city because of all the schools and colleges here.
On top of being in the middle of Boston, we’re part of a large research institution of 36,000 students. It has remarkable benefits, concrete as in opportunities for dual degrees or for students to just take up to 12 hours of graduate-level coursework anywhere at BU towards their degrees, but also sort of lifestyle enhancements like an outstanding gym and that sort of thing.
Within the law school, we have a deep and broad curriculum. We have an outstanding portfolio of experiential opportunities that maybe we’ll talk about. We guarantee a clinical opportunity to any student who wants one. We have a broad range of study abroad programs. We have just expertise, a faculty renowned, not only for their legal research, but for their talent in the classroom.
So I think we feel very strongly about a student’s ability to find their path, even change their path during the three years, and we might want to talk about that, for all sorts of avenues toward their eventual practice. We also offer students a community of support, by which I mean students are assigned a faculty mentor, career development advisor, an upper-level student and an alumni mentor if they would like one upon entry to the law school. So I think this gives students an extraordinary opportunity of designated people from whom they may seek advice and counsel as they proceed into the building of their professional careers.
It really sounds like very robust support. [3:45]
Yes, I think so.
Now, when I was preparing for the call, I was really struck by the breadth of the law school, and you’ve touched upon it in your response to my last question. Can you go into a little bit more depth? I noticed that BU Law has, for example, a special program in transactional law as well as study abroad programs and a concentration in international law. There’s a lot more, but those two programs caught my eye. [3:49]
Sure. I think I’ll start with the transactional practice program, which I’d say is the premier such program in the country. It started here about 12 years ago. It is not a secret that most lawyers do transactional law, not litigation, but law schools traditionally didn’t train students. The training was often training they got in firms in transactional work. And so here, we have an outstanding program taught in large part by senior practicing attorneys in the community that is a hands-on program with a very low student-faculty ratio.
For instance, if you do the transactional program concentration, which you don’t need to do to take advantage of the courses, a required course and the first course in that series is Contract Drafting. And every lawyer is going to encounter contracts whether they are doing transactional work or litigation. But this is a class, I think we were up to 11 sections last year.
Wow, that’s a lot. [5:15]
And each class has just 12 students because it’s a very hands-on class. So learning the ins and outs of a contract, doing the drafting, doing the redrafting, doing some negotiation. And those have been really fulfilling classes. I know that we get a lot of feedback from students once they’re in firms or other practice settings about how somebody handed them a contract and they knew how to read it, so it’s proved to be a big advantage to our students.
And then there are a series of courses from which you can choose if you want to do the concentration, like Mergers and Acquisitions or International Tax, a wide variety. But in each case, you would end with a simulation course, which is a semester-long course not with live clients, but it’s a simulation course of a deal. Students walk through the deal, whether it’s a pharmaceutical company and a drug maker or a business or an international acquisition. These are remarkable experiences for our students to leave law school with.
That sounds remarkable. [6:24]
I think there’s been a big commitment over the last decade, I would say, to the law school keeping its pulse on the practice to be sure that our students are practice-ready. And so the Transactional Law Program is part of that effort.
And are there also clinics that they can participate in terms of let’s say, obviously they’re under the supervision of lawyers or the professors, but where they can work with people, small business people or whatever? [6:42]
Yes, there’s some transactional work, I believe, in our two clinics, which are intellectual property clinics with MIT. We’re the only law school with clinics with MIT. One is the Startup Law Clinic and one is the Technology Law Clinic. Those are both year-long clinics with live clients supervised by full-time faculty. Most of our clinics are serving clients who couldn’t afford representation in the criminal law clinic or the civil litigation program. And some are policy clinics.
So we have a Legislative Policy Clinic, that’s one of the only ones I believe in the country. I can see the State House. So students have the opportunity to work on legislation, and we also have an International Human Rights Clinic that’s largely a policy clinic. Otherwise, we’re focused on live-client clinics, and as I mentioned, guarantee students the opportunity to take a clinic.
And the other program I asked about was the International Law Clinic, which transactional law is kind of the bread and butter of lawyers, right? Like you say, most lawyers draw up contracts. That’s what they’re there for. International law is kind of the other end in that it’s probably a very narrow slice of law, of the practice of law. Do you want to touch on that for a second? [7:47]
Right. So there’s public international law and private international law, and we have scholars teaching in both those areas. We also have a concentration that consists, of course, of courses. We have an International Law Journal and we can talk about what law school journals are, if we get to that.
That’s a great question. Go for it. [8:26]
Right? So rather bizarrely, in the field of legal academics, most law professors are writing scholarship, that is with the goal of having it published, which is what all academics do, but in the field of law, those pieces of scholarship are published by student-edited journals at law schools. So the most prestigious journal is typically the law review, and if you remember in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is trying to get onto Law Review. That is historically a gem, an achievement that you would put on your resume that would be of interest to employers.
So we have six journals here and that’s extracurricular. In some cases, students may receive some credit, but it’s something that you would do in your second and third year. You would compete to be on a journal at the end of your first year. Here at BU Law, you would rank your preference of journals. And these are student-run organizations. They have editorial boards, they receive submissions from faculty across the country. They read them, and then they work with the chosen authors to edit and publish them, all the while many of them are writing what we would consider lengthy and very narrow papers, legal papers called notes is the term of art. And some number of student notes will also be published by the journals.
That’s how much of legal scholarship goes. It’s a great opportunity for students. We have six journals. We have a law review. We also have a Journal of International Law, Technology and the Law. We have a bunch of them. So the students who like to write and research, that’s a great place for them.
I’m not sure how we got there, but I could go back to study abroad if you want.
Okay. So we have a very large portfolio of study abroad opportunities, 15 single-semester programs in 11 countries. Those are single-semester programs. Most are taught in English, not all of them. Some are in the language of that country. These are programs in Europe, Asia, and South America. And we also have six JD LLM programs, and LLM is a further advanced degree in the law. And so in these programs, in the three years that you would typically take to earn your JD, you can earn both a JD and an LLM, say in international arbitration at Paris, too. You have to speak French.
These are not programs that many people do, but for the right student, they are amazing opportunities and many of our students consider them life-changing and transformative. If nothing else, you’re exposed to another culture and another way of thinking about the law and a different legal system. I think you would choose them not maybe as you would choose a study abroad program as an undergrad, like, “I want to go to Australia.” That’s not how you would choose it. There are different areas of specialty at these law schools, although they’re not entirely law schools, one’s a graduate school, one’s a business school, where you would match your substantive area of interest in the law with the strength at the other institution.
So this is a great opportunity for our students. People can read more about these experiences on our website, and it’s just another way that we offer opportunity. There are a lot of choices to make during your three years of how to spend your time.
Again, I was really struck by the breadth of the programs. That’s kind of why I wanted to ask about those. But let’s turn to admissions now. That’s obviously your area. I know that BU Law accepts the LSAT and the GRE.
Approximately what percentage of the applicant pool has applied with the GRE, let’s say last year? [11:52]
About two and a bit percent.
So still very tiny. [12:15]
A very small slice, very small slice. Yep.
Are you even able to say with that small percentage if the GRE is equally predictive of success in law school? Not really? [12:21]
I cannot because we’ve only been taking it for a few years. One year, we didn’t even have any matriculants with the GRE. And of course, now we’re faced with the GRE having a new version so things have gotten even more complicated.
That’s true. [12:42]
So I don’t know. I think for students who haven’t taken a test yet, in other words, they haven’t done a first degree that required a GRE and they’re just trying to be efficient and move along, I think it makes more sense to take the LSAT. And there are interesting things about it. For instance, the GRE scores writing, and you would be surprised or I have been surprised by some of the quite low scores on the writing section of the GRE.
And that would be a red flag in law school.[13:14]
Yes, it would. Yes, it would.
What is the best time to apply in your opinion? [13:17]
I love this question. So I started in this business in the ’90s and then took a break for a while, and I actually think the answer changes every cycle, and oh, that I had a crystal ball because I don’t know how the cycle’s going to go. So sometimes I hear people saying, “Early, early, early.” Maybe. I think it’s clear that late is bad, or rather than bad, perhaps I would say you are disadvantaged if you apply in March or April.
Maybe you can also define what is early and late? [14:02]
Sure. I’ve always thought of early as Thanksgiving. If you apply before Thanksgiving for BU Law, it’s early, if we’re not talking about binding decision programs, for which we have many different deadlines.,We could talk about that. But generally, I would say by Thanksgiving is early. I’m not sending out decisions in September and October because one of the things I want to know before I start sending out decisions is, “What is the applicant pool going to look like this year?” And there’s no way to know in September and October. And also, we’re recruiting in September and October and we’re typically getting systems up and running, and for a lot of reasons, there isn’t a reason to rush.
After November, I think it gets harder to be definitive about whether in a particular year someone’s outcome would’ve been wildly different or it doesn’t have to be wildly different. It could just be different, and the student could be disappointed. Now, I recognize that, and I think we had a crazy cycle a couple of years ago. That cycle, it made sense. We didn’t know it at the time, but applying early was a huge advantage. That has not been consistently true.
So I think there’s never a downside to applying on the earlier side if you’re prepared, if you’re happy with your materials, you’ve been thorough, you’ve taken the test, but someone shouldn’t be discouraged by applying later in the cycle because the way I think of it, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If they’ve applied at the end and have been waitlisted as a result, they’re a competitive applicant. They may still be admitted. And if not, law school’s not going anywhere, so worst-case scenario, they could work or go to school for another year and then reapply the next cycle.
Is there a disadvantage to applying as a reapplicant? [15:48]
Not at BU Law, not in any way, unless the person was admitted the prior cycle and did not come. I actually have a question on the application that asks if you applied the prior cycle and then it says, “If you were admitted, please explain why you didn’t choose to attend.”
Is that specifically at BU Law? Was it a different law school? Do you still want to answer? [16:09]
No, it was BU Law. Yeah.
It was just BU Law? [16:13]
I figure, okay, I admitted you once and you didn’t come. Why are you applying again?
Makes sense. [16:19]
I tend to be cautious with those applications.
Actually, I think it’s rather generous of you that you ask the question because a lot of schools will say, “We admitted you last time, you didn’t come. Forget it.” So I think that’s a nice thing, if you will, a generous thing.
What are your top tips for the personal statement at BU Law? [16:24]
We have a prompt, so my top tip is follow the prompt. And you would be surprised at how many people don’t, and readers get very frustrated. Some schools don’t have personal statement prompts. Some schools have very general ones. Ours is essentially, why do you want to go to law school? We’re asking the question because we’d like to hear the answer, and if you don’t answer the question, sometimes we can be left and a reader will say, “I don’t know why this person wants to go to law school.”
And so your application is the opportunity to make the case for your admission. You have all the different parts, which together, should come together in your favor. And the personal statement is where we hear your voice, so if we’re saying to you, “Please tell us this information.” You ought to answer the question.
Excellent advice. [17:31]
Some other things. I’m a little old school, so sometimes we’ll see somebody conclude that’s why they want to attend Law School X. Well, I’m not Law School X, I’m BU Law. And so occasionally, because I do think we’re in higher education, I do think there could be a learning component here. We will send an email to the applicant and say, “Would you like to review your personal statement?” And I got a few back last cycle who said, “No thanks, I already proofread it.’
Oh, gosh. Oh my goodness. [18:02]
Okay, well, lawyers must read closely, must proofread. People are going to be representing people or companies’ interests here. This is not a joke. It’s a learning opportunity, but it’s also… So you certainly want to proofread carefully.
And a more recent trend I’ve seen, I don’t know, it’s hard to talk about, but I’ve seen tremendously personal information in personal statements. And it’s both hard to read because we’re human beings, so it’s hard to absorb. We can’t do anything about it. If somebody’s reporting a crime that they haven’t reported to anyone else, I don’t care to be the bearer of that information. And it often, in those essays, for whatever reason, strays from the professional presentation of why the person wants to go to law school.
So in other words, mentioning these difficult circumstances, and many of us unfortunately have had them, could be a 100% appropriate in a personal statement. That’s the reason you want to go to law school because you’ve seen the inadequacy of the criminal justice system. That’s very different than an extensive personal statement that details… I’ve had trigger warnings in personal statements. So if you find yourself writing a trigger warning, I would suggest that you think about this in a professional context. Your application may be shared with the Bar. It’s going to be housed in a law school. So you want to be professional in all of the presentation of your material. And so there are ways to handle sensitive information without providing a lot of it.
I’ve actually heard that from others. My guess is that part of the reason for this, this trend, if you will, is that the schools are looking for resilience. Well, if you’re looking for resilience, you have to have overcome something or come back from something. And the degree of pain that you experienced is also an evidence of resilience. I’m not defending it. [19:55]
No, no. You’re right. And I think it’s worth writing about also.
But there is a way to write about it. [20:33]
I would not discourage a student from writing about it at all. It’s the way it’s written about.
Right. And I think the other thing is that for applicants to remember, this is something that I’ve advocated for years, is you want to show that you’re stronger after whatever it is that you went through than damaged goods. [20:37]
And that you’re ready.
Right. The example I’ve given, if you’ll bear with me for a minute, is years ago, we had a double stroller. I had six kids, and that thing went through from number two to number six. But I think when the sixth one was a baby or the fifth one was a baby, the metal frame broke and I think it was the sixth one, I knew I didn’t want to replace it because I wasn’t going to have more kids.I had to find a place that would fix it. So I went, actually it was some boat shot in the marina. I lived, at the time, near the beach, and they soldered it together. And I said, “Is the solder going to be a weak point? Is it going to break more? Is it going to be prone to breakage?” And they said, “No, the solder is going to be stronger than any other part.”
And I said, “That’s how you’ll have to come out in your personal statement, like that old stroller.” Which by the way, after the number six was three or four or whatever, I no longer used it, I gave it away and somebody was still using it. I had no idea what happened to it after that. But that’s how you want to come out. If you had some horrible, traumatic experience that you’re using to show resilience, and most people have had difficulties in their life, hopefully not too horrible, you want to show that you are stronger, like that broken piece on my old stroller that was soldered together. [20:55]
That’s a beautiful way to illustrate it. Yes.
So let’s go on. Enough from me. I’m here to interview you. What about the optional essay? Is it basically a diversity statement? [22:17]
It’s an optional essay. It’s based on a requirement the ABA put in recently to Standard 303 that everyone needs to have fluency in. And I would have to look because I don’t want to misquote this.
“Consistent with the American Bar Association, Boston University School of Law believes that knowledge about bias, cross-cultural competency, ability to understand people from different backgrounds and engage with them effectively, and racism are central to the legal profession. Please tell us how your education, training, or lived experience has deepened your knowledge about bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism, and/or prepared you to explore these topics at BU Law.”
That’s a new addition to the standards and the ABA standards. The ABA, American Bar Association, as you know, are our accreditors of law schools and so all law schools now are going to be required to provide, I believe, two opportunities for students to learn around these topics. So, this is the question.
I will say, and I don’t expect this to change, I ran some data. We’ve always had an optional statement, and this one will be optional as well. And typically, about 44% of students have written that optional essay. It’s by no means required. And sometimes students find that the content they want to share actually fits in with the personal statement and they prefer to write one. So I wouldn’t expect that to change much this cycle.
When should an applicant write an addendum in your opinion? [23:52]
Sure. I love them, actually. So as a reader, I’m trying to construct a narrative, I’m trying to understand who this person is and their trajectory so far and where they’re headed. So if I see an anomaly, I’m looking at a transcript and it’s a strong transcript and there’s a poor semester, sometimes, well all the time, I think it’s human instinct to try to fill in the reason. So for instance, if I see pre-med classes freshman year and the grades aren’t strong, and then there’s a flip to poli sci and the grades are strong, in a way, that tells a story. But sometimes you don’t know, and sometimes you might make the wrong assumption. If you look at the resume and see someone, for instance, joined a fraternity the semester their grades tanked, you might say, “Well, that might be why,” but maybe that person’s, God forbid their grandmother died. Things happen. And so you lose an opportunity to tell me the truth of what happened.
So I recommend people really look at their whole application closely and think or show it to a friend, where are questions that aren’t answered? And if you can’t answer them somewhere obvious, then write an addendum, whether that’s about a poor test score, a big gap between test scores, a semester of poor grades.
I think we haven’t talked about the pandemic yet, but boy did that… It was terrible. Even saying that, I get a little funny feeling. I’ve seen so much trauma and so-
It was really hard on kids. It was just hard. [25:35]
It was really hard. It was really hard. Schools went remote, people didn’t have good living circumstances or they had immunocompromised family members, whatever it was, it wasn’t easy. And so there are resume gaps, for instance. I’m going back to the addendum, and I think people should own that also, and I think it’s completely fine to write about that.
And none of these need to be long. Three or four sentences is a great length. We’re reading a lot. The only ones I don’t like are, again, a little too detailed about digestive disorders. That sort of thing is unnecessary. But if you had a bad test administration because you were sick, I don’t need to know more than that. And so I actually find them very helpful. And we don’t limit the number.
Now, if somebody has four or five, you do start to question that. So you want to use common sense in all parts of your application, but I really think they can be helpful.
It’s a matter of showing judgment. [26:37]
Judgment, common sense. [26:40]
Yeah. Both things the lawyers need. Yeah.
Right, right. Professionals need them.
Are there any blemishes on one’s record that would be an automatic denial, like a criminal record or academic dishonesty or dismissal from an undergraduate program or something like that? [26:45]
Well, I would never say never. It depends on the severity of the incident. A lot of people drank in college. That’s not a secret. A lot of people had incense in their dorm rooms or candles. That’s not going to prevent a strong student from admission to law school. Now, years ago I read an application of somebody who threw a pumpkin out their dorm window and was expelled because you can actually really hurt someone.
Hurt somebody, sure. [27:24]
Or someone who set off the fire alarm inside the dorm, the sprinkler system. These are not crimes without victims potentially. So I think there’s that distinction.
And then there are, of course, convictions. I will say that in Massachusetts, we’re constrained about what we may ask in character and fitness questions. For instance, we don’t ask if someone has been arrested. You’ll see different questions in different states. And that’s another place where students should be savvy and read the question carefully. But I would say we’re reviewing each case as it comes through. And of course, if we’re talking about felony convictions, that’s a serious matter. I’ve seen felony convictions for downloading music back in the day. That would be very different than reading somebody who’s convicted of a violent crime.
And would distance and time from the incident also be a factor? [28:17]
I think in general, distance and time from a number of things in the application are a factor, whether it’s from grades, test scores or this as well. Yeah, yeah.
Is full-time work experience a nice-to-have or really important to BU Law? I noticed that 64% of the students had one or more years of postgraduate work experience. That’s a pretty large number. [28:31]
It is. Typically, a quarter to a third of the class comes straight from undergrad. Those students have as much success as students who have been out doing other things. But there’s no question that life is long and there are a lot of things to learn that will help you in law school and in the practice, and if you’ve been working on those things before coming to law school, I think you’re that much further ahead. And it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for people straight out of school. So I would say nice-to-have.
Nice to have, that’s pretty good. That’s clear. And in terms of experience, whether it’s full-time work experience or internships as an undergrad or part-time, whatever, do you like to see experience that is closely related to law, like working in a legal office or legal clinic or perhaps in politics, policy, or something like that? [29:12]
We have a lot of students who have been legislative aides or paralegals in a variety of settings. For some students, I think it’s important to be proximate to the practice to kind of figure out what it’s about and whether they really want to invest three years of tuition and time and make it their career. It’s serious business. Other people, for whatever reason, maybe they’ve wanted to be a lawyer since they were a kid, maybe someone they admired was a lawyer, are certain of their path and really want to take the opportunity to be in the Peace Corps, walk the Appalachian Trail, be a carpenter.
We have students from all walks of life, a lot of scientists. I think everybody brings different skills and so I wouldn’t say it’s something we look for, especially since I think people aren’t always given substantive work in some of these settings. So they may not gain the skills that they could gain in a different setting because it’s easy to Google what skills do lawyers need and sort of do a self-assessment and find an opportunity where you can sort of check some of those skills off. If you’re not comfortable speaking in public, for instance, and you know you’re going to be called on during the first year of law school, why not sort of get that taken care of before you start law school? And you might or might not be able to do that in a law firm or a legal setting. You might be better off knocking on doors for NYPIRG or something.
So I think there are a lot of different ways to approach it, in other words, and so it’s not something we look for.
What factors do you weigh in addition to GPA and LSAT? [31:12]
Sure. So I think all law schools say they do a holistic review by which we mean we’re looking at everything. So even when you say, “Besides the LSAT or the test score and the GPA,” even the GPA, we’re dissecting. We get a lot of information and we can maybe talk about that separately, but in terms of the other things, we’ve talked about, the personal statement. I am a huge fan of resumes, really interested in what’s on the resume. Same with letters of recommendation and any additional materials submitted.
So all of those things can make or break a decision at different points. We have a large applicant pool here, so we’re going to have to distinguish among people, and that’s where test scores and GPAs don’t do it. That’s not an interesting way to look at the whole person. There’s a lot more there to see.
You said it before, you’re looking at the whole package, you’re looking at the resume, you’re looking at the personal statement, the addenda, the optional essay if it’s written, the letters of recommendation. What qualities are you looking for? [32:14]
Curiosity, potential for growth. No one’s tapped out at 22, one hopes.
Hope so. [32:28]
Signs of growth. Often you hear that talked about in letters of recommendation. “I had her as a freshman, and now as a senior, I see the following,” and you see the transformation. A good community member is really important. If someone has a letter, and we should talk maybe, or maybe we can talk about letters of recommendation, but if someone has a letter that says, “Susan didn’t let anyone else speak, wasn’t open to…” And you do read those letters. Or somebody who simply has a resume that suggests no outside activity of any sort, no interest.
So I think we’re looking for, I don’t know that well-rounded is really the word, but curious, engaged students with a sense of purpose, even if they don’t know exactly where their career is going to go, but some energy, some energy behind wanting to get there and to get there with their colleagues, not against them, if that makes sense.
You’ve touched on letters of recommendation a couple of times. What is the role of letters of recommendation in your evaluation process? [33:37]
I think they can tell us a lot about how the person is in the classroom, and this is school, so I like academic recommendations. We require two letters, accept up to four, and prefer academic letters. I think they can speak to growth, they can speak to initiative, sometimes resilience and determination. We’ve seen letters coming out of the pandemic where students really distinguish themselves by staying engaged on Zoom and being able, despite difficult circumstances, to put in the work and complete an independent paper or honors thesis or a seminar with energy, which was clearly appreciated by professors, by these letter writers who are really struggling also to pivot to teaching online.
They can warn us of difficulties. I mean, I always say to students, “You need to request a strong letter, and if the person hesitates at all, you need to thank them and leave.” I’m sure you offer the same advice.
I give the same advice, almost verbatim. [34:50]
Right? And I don’t love seeing those letters. They break my heart a little bit. Now, we have to use our judgment about the letter writer too because if the letter writer is a little less than ideal, you don’t want to blame the applicant. But if the letter writer seems to have standing and be a member of the faculty and is saying something negative, that is not going to go anywhere. That’s a warning.
But we read beautiful letters and sometimes you read letters and you’re like, “Oh, the faculty would… I can even think of a faculty member who would love to teach this person.” They’re super engaged with the content, they’re showing up, they’re leading the classroom discussion, they’re in office hours, yes. And then you look at the resume and you start to see the other side of them, and it starts to all come together.
It is a puzzle that you’re really looking at with different elements.
Does BU Law consider update letters from applicants who have something significant to tell you after they submit their application and before hearing back from you from waitlisted applicants also? [35:42]
Love them. And in fact, again, in my old-school ways, we often request additional grades almost regularly, particularly if someone’s graduating in three years and they’ve applied in the fall, I’ll ask for another semester’s worth of grades. But if someone finishes a thesis, takes a new job, gets an internship, there’s no reason not to update us.
The only thing I would say, I would implore students to include their LSAC number and to remember this remains a professional process from start to finish. So we don’t love salutations of, “Hey, here’s some news.” That’s not really how lawyers write.
Professionalism is something to keep in mind. [36:42]
Yeah, through the whole process. But it also, it shows interest on the student’s part because what we’re trying to do is ascertain, “Does this student really want to come here?” So if somebody’s providing an update, I’m going to assume they’re thinking about BU Law in a very serious way and they want us to see their accomplishments or understand their situation. So yes, absolutely, we’ll add it. It’s very easy in this paperless environment to add that right to the file.
Good to know.
Now, you’ve mentioned some mistakes that you’ve seen along the way. Are there other mistakes that come to mind that applicants frequently make in the application process? [37:10]
I think some applicants devalue themselves or feel that they shouldn’t include things as part of their narrative in their resume or in their statement that aren’t law-related, and that could not be more untrue.
So if you have had to work over the summer as a cashier at the grocery store or a waitress so that you can pay your tuition, that’s really valuable information in the law school admissions process. It’s concrete evidence that you are trusted, you know how to show up for work, you know how to deal with difficult people, you have good time management skills, and that goes double for term time.
Same with athletes. If I read someone is, I’m not a football fan particularly, but if I read that someone’s on the football team, I’m like, “They have a second job,” or a competitive swimmer, runner, many sports.
They have team skills too. [38:17]
Right, team skills, and they’re getting their work done because I’m looking at their transcript. So I think sometimes people, they just edit themselves too much in the application process, and it’s better to be authentic and present your full self and let us parse out the skillset and see the value. I had somebody who was a personal care attendant and didn’t have it on his resume, and I was like, “Boy, that is a tough job. A tough job that says a lot about you.”
A lot of responsibility. Like you say, show up whenever the hours were. [38:48]
Someone’s completely dependent on them. And same for unpaid. If people have family responsibilities, same thing. It doesn’t have to be a paid responsibility. And I like a very robust resume, not a resume you would use for employment, but a resume for the law school application process.
That’s great insight. Thank you. What would you have liked me to ask you? [39:17]
Oh, that’s a tough one. A couple of things come to mind. I think you didn’t ask me why I love it here, and so I’ll answer that one because I’ve been here long enough to see students from beginning to partners at firms and in nonprofits, and so I think why I’ve stayed and why I love it so much is our students are a remarkably talented and diverse group of people and very energizing to be around. I think that’s what I’ll say.
Now, you said you had a couple of things, so is there something else you want to also raise? [39:54]
I think if people really want to go to law school, they’re going to go to law school. Law schools are here to support that process. I’m sure it’s not just BU Law. You can call law schools, you can ask questions, you can visit law schools, you can apply in multiple cycles. There are all sorts of ways to go about applying, and sometimes I hear stress, that makes me sad, about, say, writing the personal statement, which is a very straightforward working document. It’s meant to answer a question, it’s not meant to be a work of art. But I think I would need another hour to go further.
Well, we’re running out of time and I don’t want to impose further. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing your insider perspective on BU Law, the program, the admissions process. This has been wonderful.
Where can listeners learn more about BU Law? [40:41]
Sure. Our website is a great starting point. We’re easy to find and there’s lots to read about there.
- BU Law School Admissions
- Are You Ready for Law School? (Accepted’s Law School Admissions Quiz)
- 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Application Essays
- How to Get Accepted to Fordham Law – podcast Episode 529
- LSAT and Law School News – podcast Episode 509
- How a Non-Traditional Applicant Gets Into UCLA Law – podcast Episode 507
- How to Get Accepted to Berkeley Law -podcast Episode 504
- How to Get Into Georgetown Law – podcast Episode 489]