Waking up this morning I felt another panic rising, and knowing that it couldn’t be the 1L’s and their creepy gunner vibe again, I realized that it was the height of law school app season, and that thousands upon thousands of future con law profs, documentary-worthy prosecutors, and Democratic presidential nominees are out their trying to figure out how to best present their application packages. I know that fall LSAT scores have already come out, and that everyone has spent the last three weeks driving themselves insane looking at the numbers spit out by the LSAC GPA/LSAT/BloodType Calculator. So, I thought I’d help alleviate some of the stress you Zero-L’s must be feeling with a few nuggets of wisdom that I wish someone had shared with me when I was in your shoes.
1. Narrow Your Search
The wonders of the LSDAS, the envy of grad students in all other disciplines, are well known. It is beyond rocktacular that there is one clearinghouse for all of your application needs, and that you can do most of the stuff online, and that you only need each of your recommenders to send in one copy of their letter. It’s great.
But don’t let this go to your head. Just because you can send out 120 applications with relative ease doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. After looking at the numbers, I’m convinced that, this year, 60 applications should be sufficient. Any self-respecting applicant will want to plaster the top twenty-five, but after that you’ll have some choices to make. This year is bound to be even more competitive than last year, so you have to make them count. I suggest concentrating on schools where you know at least three or four people on the admissions committee, or, at the very least, schools to which you’ve donated at least $50,000 in the last two years. Schools with libraries named after your Dad are also good.
2. Embrace Your Shortcomings
Admissions committees don’t want you to ignore that crappy GPA or that sub-standard list of extracurriculars. They want to see you think like a lawyer, which means working with what you’ve got. Only have one Academic All-American honor to your credit? Who cares. Were named a Truman Scholar but only a semi-finalist for the Rhodes? So what. Only managed a 178 on the LSAT—Big Fucking Deal. To really impress the adcoms, you need to cast these blemishes in the best possible light, make academic lemonade out of academic lemons. Show them that you’re not afraid to own up to your imperfections, and that you know how to take defeat. Lord knows, if all you could manage in undergrad was a 3.92, you’re going to be in for a lot of defeats once you get to law school. It's best that you start learning to deal with that now.
3. Don’t Lie About Your Criminal Record
I’m serious about this one. They are lawyers. They find things out. Even if you were using a fake ID and wearing a sweet Kirk Cameron mask when you mistook the meter maid for a working girl and asked for her “professional opinion,” they will track your ass down. Seriously.
4. But If You Are Going to Lie, Fucking Lie
The bigger the lie, the more people who will believe it for awhile. Until they run your credit history and check in with the FBI and Interpol, you can be anyone you want to on your law school application. So take advantage of this opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, and live a little.
Instead of noting that you graduated with honors, go ahead and say that you were the valedictorian. Or instead of just listing that you speak fluent Spanish, you could up the ante and write that you speak fluent Spanish and Mexican. Maybe you worked for Microsoft…well, why not say that you founded Microsoft? Remember: When it comes to false advertising, more is more.
5. Forget the Extras
Though it was exactly correct about everything else having to do with law school, Legally Blonde has wrongly convinced lots and lots of aspiring law students that sending in a videotape of them in a bathing suit is the one magic bullet they need to slay the admissions dragon. But they’re wrong. Admissions committees don’t want videos of you in a bathing suit, nor do they want clippings from your days as a stringer for Teen Set or pictures of you receiving your Lightsaber Construction Merit Badge. All they want is an application package that gives them a real picture of who you are, and how you’ll perform as a law student. That’s all.
(But if you’ve already gone thru the trouble of making the video, I’d hate to see it go to waste, so feel free to FedEx it my way, and I’ll make sure that the Yale folks get it ASAP. We’re totally tight like that.)