Today, I am happy to offer you an interview with Ann K. Levine, who kindly agreed to talk to me about her perspective on the law school experience. Ann K. Levine, Esq. is a law school admission consultant and proprietor of www.lawschoolexpert.com. She is also the author of the pre-law advice blog LawSchoolExpert (http://lawschoolexpert.blogspot.com). Ann is the former director of admissions at two ABA law schools and, since opening LawSchoolExpert.com in 2004, she has helped 600+ law school applicants nationwide create strong applications and strategies for their admission to law school. For more information about Ann's background and experience, see http://www.lawschoolexpert.com/experience.html
- Lawsagna: How was your learning experience in law school?
Ann Levine: I used parts of my brain I never knew existed. I felt stimulated and successful in a classroom setting for the first time. It wasn't about the end result of grades; I actually enjoyed the exercise of taking the exam and thinking through each problem and issue, applying my accumulated knowledge from the semester. I know this made me a big geek in law school, but this learning experience gave me confidence in many aspects of my life - even socially, as it gave me the confidence to run for student bar association office and to seek jobs I never would have considered myself eligible to hold.
- Lawsagna: From your experience as a law school admissions consultant, what are the main misconceptions about law school that applicants hold and share with you?
Ann Levine: #1 - that the LSAT is the only thing that matters. #2 - That their individual experiences are so unique and exceptional that law schools will completely overlook the LSAT. #3 - that you have to overcome paralysis or save someone's life to write a fantastic personal statement. (One of my clients said to me today that she feels the obstacle she has to overcome is not having had any obstacles to overcome! I assured her there were plenty of ripe topics from her life to address).
- Lawsagna: What skills do you consider important for a successful learning experience in law school?
Ann Levine: Self-reliance is vital; do the work yourself. That's how you learn. If you do rely on others, be sure about the quality of their work. There is no lazy way to grow from the law school learning experience. Obviously, self-discipline goes along with that. You need to keep on top of the work each week. Set up a study schedule and spend time each week reviewing/outlining the previous week's class notes. Don't leave review and outlining for the week before exams. That's the time to use your already-completed outlines and narrow them down - from 50 pages to 20 pages to 10 pages to 5 pages to 2 pages. This is how you learn the material and apply it on exams.
- Lawsagna: Do you feel that law school applicants know what the life as a lawyer entails? Do they have a realistic picture of the legal profession?
Ann Levine: Absolutely not. I didn't, and very few of my clients really understand the practice of law before their first job after graduation. Even summer clerkships fail to provide a realistic experience because law firms sugarcoat the work and culture for recruitment purposes. Most law school applicants see law as a prestigious, financially-viable career that has some level of excitement and personal satisfaction. This is not wrong, but it's not the whole story. The bread and butter of law practice - court procedures, filing pleadings and motions, the discovery process, due diligence work - is not about standing up in court. It's about detail work, lots of paper, keeping track of deadlines, and incredibly long hours.
- Lawsagna: What are the most common mistakes law applicants make in the admission process?
Ann Levine: I just posted an article about the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Law School Applications (http://lawschoolexpert.blogspot.com/2007/10/5-common-mistakes-in-law-school.html). For mistakes in strategy, I'd have to say #1 - Applying to the wrong schools; #2 - Over-emphasizing the rankings; #3 -Applying too late in the game to take advantage of rolling admissions; #4 - Taking advice from the wrong people (see my response to the next question for more on this); and #5 - picking the wrong person to write a letter of recommendation http://lawschoolexpert.blogspot.com/2007/07/lors-part-1-absolutely-no-family.html
- Lawsagna: I imagine that the law school application process is stressful for many applicants. Do you have any tips or suggestions on the ways to alleviate or manage that stress?
Ann Levine: Listen to people who can help you and do not listen to people who cannot help you. Your peers (competition) are not the right people to listen to, whether your friends or strangers on law school discussion boards. A good pre-law advisor, a good law school admission consultant, a good LSAT tutor, will help you manage each task during this stressful time in your life. Take each step individually rather than setting broad goals. For example, it's fine to put on your to-do list that this week you're going to ask 3 people to write your letters of recommendation. It's not reasonable to say you're going to fill out all of your applications this week. Unreasonable goals cause stress because you'll always feel behind.
- Lawsagna: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Lawsagna?
Ann Levine: My next webinar will be held on Saturday, October 27th at Noon EST/ 9 a.m. PST. It's entitled "I have my LSAT score; Now What?" and will provide a "to-do" list for the law school application process. The one-hour webinar will be offered FREE to Lawsagna readers. To register, email me at email@example.com
Thank you, Ann, for sharing your insights with Lawsagna readers!