Applying to Law School? Need Some Expert Advice?

Interview with Ann LevinePlease welcome guest writer John Passmore, assistant managing legal editor in Houston, Texas, who interviews Ann Levine, expert on law school admissions.

Talking with Ann Levine, author of The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert (3rd ed.)

The law school experience begins far before you sit down for your first class. First comes the law school admissions process. With a to-do list including the LSAT, your personal statement, letters of recommendation, scholarship applications, and much more, the process can quickly become daunting. If the process has you looking for some expert advice, you may be looking for lawyer, law school admissions consultant, and author Ann Levine. Formerly a law school admissions director, after founding Law School Expert, Ms. Levine helps students navigate the admissions process as an admissions consultant. She has recently published the third edition of her popular title The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert. We were able to ask Ms. Levine some questions about her work and why her book The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert could help you on your law school admissions journey.

As a former law school director of admissions, author on law school admissions topics, and experienced law school admissions consultant, it is clear that you are passionate about helping individuals get into law school. Where did this drive come from? When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of the challenging law school admissions process?

I initially thought I’d pursue a career in higher education. My father was a dean of a college and I loved how change could be instituted through higher education policy. My first job out of law school was at the University of Denver College of Law, and I was all set to begin a PhD in higher education. Then, I got a job as director of admissions and jumped to another school for that opportunity. I loved working in law school admissions—my favorite part was giving advice to applicants based on all the applications I was reading. I started Law School Expert in 2004, and I love that I’m part of launching people into their careers and that I get to be part of their success stories as they go on to change the world. For people who read my blog and books and listen to my podcasts, my goal is to help them make good decisions about their lives.

The third edition of your book The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert recently launched. What aspects of your experience do you try to provide through The Law School Admissions Game? What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

My aim is to help people make smart decisions throughout their law school application cycle. This includes how to prepare for the LSAT, what to include on your resume, who should be writing letters of recommendation, how to explain strengths without sounding arrogant or boring, and how to explain weaknesses without creating more doubt in the mind of the reader. I hope to dispel myths about the admission process, to explain it in a way that applicants can understand and relate to, and that they know what to do to promote themselves effectively within their law school application materials. I also hope to make people feel prepared and more assuredand less anxious about the whole endeavor.

Why a third edition and why now? What led you to write a new edition?

Well, it’s been four years. And there have definitely been changes. For example, the number of times people are now allowed to take the LSAT (no more restrictions!) and evaluations versus letters of rec (evaluations are a thing of the past!). The new book is completely re-written to reflect today’s realities regarding the job market, law school rankings, when the LSAT will be offered in the coming years (it’ll be 6 times in 2018!), and increasing reliance by law schools on interviews. Also, after a while my jokes and analogies get stale. The American Idol references just don’t play anymore.

The first edition on The Law School Admissions Game came out in 2009. What is the biggest change you have seen in law school admissions since that time?

That applicants are a lot more savvy. That’s thanks to more information available on the Internet, and to more people having read my book! Also, we went from law school being hugely in demand during The Great Recession, to applications dropping off around the time of the second edition, to a steady hold and slight increase overall (but reduction in high-LSAT scorers) in the current admission cycle.

Law school applicants come in all shapes and sizes—those reaching for acceptance at top law schools and those reaching for acceptance at any law school. Do the advice and strategies presented in The Law School Admission Game speak to the law school admissions struggle of both groups?

I speak to both groups. I have clients who go to Harvard and Stanford, and clients who are thrilled to get into their regional law school, and everything in between. In the book, I differentiate between these groups occasionally, but I honestly believe that everyone’s applications need to be strong. It’s just as important to someone whose reasonable reach school is Michigan State to have a great application as it is for someone applying to University of Michigan. It’s important for both of them to make good decisions about whether they are ready to take the LSAT, how to explain a low LSAT score, etc. Most of the advice applies to everyone.

As law schools fight harder and harder to attract high-quality students, some law schools have raised their scholarship offerings to entice students. If securing scholarship funding is a priority for an applicant, should their admissions strategy be different than a student seeking to simply be admitted to a reach law school?

Absolutely! First, the person who wants to leverage scholarships should not apply under a binding admission agreement unless it’s one that includes a large scholarship if admitted. If scholarships are important to you, you should apply to more schools where your numbers are strong.

Before you even get to law school tuition, the application process can be an expensive one. For applicants weighing the costs of getting help—be it through a consultant, a book, or another admissions resource—trying to evaluate the potential return on investment can be tough. Some may be tempted to just go it alone to save some money. How would you encourage applicants to think about spending money on the law school admissions process itself?

Budget that each application will cost about $100 (including the fee for the Credential Assembly Report through LSAC), unless schools give you fee waivers. It’ll cost you about $140 to register for the LSAT and another $140 to register for Credential Assembly Service, which is non-negotiable. Find free blogs, podcasts, and LSAT materials. You will need money for LSAT prep material (especially official prep tests)don’t skimp on that. If you have anything left over, LSAT prep comes first. Good LSAT prep options online start at about $500 and go up and up and up from there. You should never have to spend more than $1500 for a fabulous prep course, or $2000 if you’re doing tutoring. There are ways to spend more, but they just aren’t necessary. Unless you have a lot of problems in your application and you’re naturally brilliant at standardized tests, LSAT prep should be prioritized over admission consulting services.

Other than buying a copy of The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert (3rd ed.), with years of consulting applicants, what one piece of advice would you give applicants as they prepare to embark on their admissions process?

Make decisions that are right for you, not for your parents or anyone whom you’re trying to impress.

For more from Ann Levine, visit her website – lawschoolexpert.com. Her new book The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert (3rd ed.) is available in paperback or audio book.


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About John Passmore

John Passmore is an assistant managing legal editor in Houston, Texas. He received his B.A. from Texas A&M University and his J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

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