At its best, working with an admissions consultant is a mutually beneficial, rewarding experience where both parties learn from one another, and where the consultancy can add a tremendous degree of value to the admissions process. Words we use in the world of admissions are “elevating factors” and “bumps” – what a consultant should be able to provide to each one of their clients is an exceptionally sound strategy to give the applicant individualized and elevating factors, essentially to create a brand for each applicant for every school to which they apply.
That does not mean, of course, that every applicant needs a consultant or that there are any guarantees in law admissions. For starters, there will always be variables beyond anyone’s control: the size and/or quality of the overall applicant pool, the specific applicant pools of each school to which you may be applying, the goals for the law school that year, (surprisingly) even the mood or workload of an admissions officer reading your file on a given day. We could go on. Additionally, you may not need a consultant. We (The Spivey Consulting Group), as a firm, turn down nearly as many clients as we take. If we can’t give someone applying to only far stretches enough of the “bump” – or if we think based on an applicant’s numbers and professional demeanor, experience, etc. that they already have their own elevating factors, there would be no reasons to engage with one another. We only want win/win relationships. There are a number of applicants every year that have already created their own wins -- be it through tremendous grades and test scores, professional experience, excellent mentors in the legal and pre-law arena, etc. If you are reading this and that all sounds familiar, an admissions consultant isn’t likely a need.
All of that said, a few points to consider.
Almost all applicants have a stretch school or, more likely, set of schools. Very few are above both medians with exceptionally buttoned-up applications or without any complexities that need to be addressed. Know that your LSAT and uGPA are the most important factors. Don’t ever let someone – anyone – tell you otherwise. After all, law school is an academic program, and these numbers provide some good information on your potential for academic success. But beyond that, the questions you want to ask yourself are this: Do I need something that soundly and strategically differentiates me at a school or schools I dream to attend? Do I want to remove some of the anxiety I am feeling through this process? Do I want someone who can guide me through the complexities of the admissions process by working with someone who has evaluated admissions files and made admissions decisions? Do I have any sense for how to negotiate scholarship(s)? Do I know why some people are admitted off a wait list while others with the exact same numbers are denied? How do I handle the growing arrays of admissions interviews and additional essay questions? Do I have a particularly challenging set of circumstances I need to explain? These are just some of the reasons people choose to use an admissions consultant.
There is a tremendous amount of bad law school admissions advice online, often from other applicants or online mythology (see, for example our blog on the topic), but sometimes even from well meaning advisors or diffuse answers to simple questions (e.g. the uber-prevalent mythology that schools average LSAT scores). The genesis of our firm was from reading such advice and wanting to make a difference by providing the factual answers to so many unanswered or wrongly answered questions. It is why we only focus on law admissions and why we only hire people with law admissions experience.
If you do think you may want to use a consultant, explore who you might work best with. Some people click wonderfully together for a variety of reasons – common backgrounds or knowledge of particular schools may just be a few. But also please be careful. There are a disturbing number of law school admissions consultants with no admissions experience. Would you hire an author to help prepare you for the LSAT simply because they believe they can help you ace the writing sample? Find someone who can give you advice because they have evaluated applications from the other side. It is our considered opinion that those people have the best strategy and will yield the best results – because everyone else seems to be just throwing blind darts at a dart board through an often nuanced, lengthy, and complex process.
Finally, whatever you do, know this: law school admissions changes every year – be it with more standardized test possibilities, more interviews from more schools, different essay questions, etc. What doesn’t change is the following: law school admissions professionals are asked to be the gatekeepers for a community – and they rightfully take this mandate seriously. Applicants to law school who can stay professional and upbeat despite a stressful and lengthy process often are the ones who see themselves coming out on top.
We wish you the very best of cycles!
– The Spivey Consulting Team