Law School Forum Dos and Don'ts

DO:  

  • Wear appropriate clothing. You certainly don’t have to wear a suit but don’t show up in your pajamas or club wear either. Business casual is the best option.
  • Speak and act in an adult, professional manner.  
  • Use the opportunity to ask specific questions that can’t be answered by brochures or websites. Some examples:  What factors can improve an applicant’s admissions chances beyond numbers? What percentage of your students secure [employment/clerkships/public interest jobs]? How important is professional experience before law school? Is there a preference for it to be law related? What is the typical numbers profile for students who get scholarships/Is there a GPA or class standing requirement to keep it? Etc.
  • Try to think ahead about what schools you definitely want to see before you go. At check-in, you will receive a table map, and there may be a large, poster-size maps as well. Consult those ahead of time and note the schools in which you are interested, so you can be sure to hit those tables. For juniors and seniors especially, try to do some research ahead of time to pare down the list of schools you want to see (visit LSAC.org and look at their interactive Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools).
  • Be considerate of other patrons and limit your questions, especially if there’s a big crowd at the table.  Intricately detailed or very personal questions should be saved for a phone call or email. Feel free to ask for the representatives’ business cards so you can follow up.  
  • Speak for yourself. Applicants that allow their parents or significant others to ask questions on their behalf don’t make a good impression.
    Politely ask if fee waivers are available or if there is a way to request them.
  • If you are attending the fair with friends, do break away from them and visit tables on your own. It gives you the chance to ask candid questions and will prevent you from defaulting to passively listen in on someone else's interactions.
  • Once you reach a table, introduce yourself in a friendly, professional manner: Say your name and something about you (year in school, major), offer a handshake, and make eye contact. A professional first impression goes a long way.
  • During downtime, or in between visits to tables of your top law schools, take the opportunity to visit the tables of a few schools that you did not consider before. You might be surprised by what you learn and may even find a new school to add to your list with your desired criteria if you keep an open mind.
  • Bring a professional looking bag or backpack with you to carry all of the admissions brochures you will collect! I can't tell you how many times I've seen students accidently lose grasp of a big stack of bulletins, they drop them all over my table, or just forget them there once they leave.Bring water with you... You will appreciate having it after a lot of talking. Along the same line, bring mints with you. Mints, and not gum, as you do not want to be the person chomping away or chewing while trying to speak to an admission representative.

DON’T:

  • Feel the need to ask a question if you don’t have any. Simply listening in to other questions is fine. Or, politely pick up materials, and say thank you.
  • Try to get a prediction on your chances of admission. You won’t get a straight answer.
  • Hand out resumes or personal statements. Representatives don’t have the time to review them and won’t have any way of keeping up with them.Give representatives your “elevator pitch” or any sort of spiel — and don’t ask for a spiel from the school. Overt sales pitches are off-putting and will only leave a negative impression, and asking a school to pitch you on why they’re a good law school does not reflect positively on you either.
  • Attempt to impress the law school representative with your debating skills. Even if you believe that lawyers are supposed to be argumentative, this is not the place for it.
  • Restrict your law school choices based on rankings, prestige, etc. Determine what criteria are important to you and then find schools that fit them.  
  • Show off, talk about yourself or your credentials or experience in an arrogant way. This will win you negative points and will likely result in an unproductive conversation with the admissions person.
  • Ask about the school's USNWR ranking. This is something you can find online with a quick Google search, and is off-putting to most schools.
  • Wait in a long line to speak to a school if you're crunched for time. Though some schools will inevitably be popular and busy throughout the entire time of the fair, there are usually breaks in the crowds. So keep watch of the table, use your time effectively by visiting other schools, and then go back when you can maximize your time and the representative's attention during your quieter table visit.
  • Try to sell a watch to an admissions rep (This happened to Mike Spivey at an LSAC Forum years go). Don't try to sell anything, including yourself. Just be yourself!

You might find this past blog post helpful — Forums & Fairs: Win, Lose or Draw?