This is going to be a lengthy post that covers multiple different topics, so much so that it gets the "one blog to rule them all" picture above. It involves this current cycle (first post), the upcoming cycle (next two posts), and some major announcements on our end. There is a lot going on, and I wanted to say I'm excited as ever for the upcoming cycle (which is going to be a very intersting one to follow — if you noticed our tweet, LSAT registrations this summer are up 24% from last year), honored to work with such an amazing team, and privileged to have gotten to know so many clients from past cycles and stay in touch with them as their legal careers progress. All of us at Spivey Consulting are committed to taking an active engagement with our upcoming cycle clients, and in navigating the admissions process as a whole. Again, this will be an exciting cycle with change in so many areas. Get ready for the ride!
Onward to this massive blog.
1. For this current cycle, we want to take some time to answer a question: "What do I do if I am on the waitist and I have already sent the school letters/pings/visited, etc. multiple times?"
This was asked on the Law School Admissions subreddit, but we've heard it from prospective clients as well. My stupid analogy for how to approach the WL has been this. You are the captain of an old battleship, and the school you are targeting is another ship miles away. You have, let's say, 6 cannon balls with which to try to hit the ship. You really don't want to fire all six at once when that ship is 5 miles away. Fire away, be patient, fire another when it's 4 miles away, be patient, etc. But what if you've already fired all 6 cannonballs?
You can still ram the ship, keeping my again idiotic analogy. Ram it when it is right next to you, i.e. a week before orientation. Almost all schools have late withdrawals, for personal reasons or otherwise. Reach out and say while committed to a great school, it isn't "x" school and you'd still matriculate in a heartbeat. This works for some lucky people every year. It worked when I was an adcom, and it worked for a client of mine a few years ago at Stanford (not to mention many others). You can also have another LOR sent in, if apropos and epecially if you haven't done so before. So by the very nature of the process, you have not depleted all of your options. Just please don't keep making up reasons to ping schools week to week. They will red flag you.
2. Do schools average LSAT scores?
Also on every internet message board, replete with folk lore and legends of ages past. I really, really want to finally crush this substantially outdated yet pervasive myth. Schools do not care about averaged LSAT scores. They don't. They will see all of your scores on your CAS report for sure, and they may even have an automated process of averaging the LSAT scores, but they will not use the average to make the decision. Perhaps it plays into the holistic language and messaging. But they care about the high score for the most powerful reason of all — it determines how they are measured in their job performance. No school admits based on averages because your class LSAT medians would go down, because no other school is doing it. If you were a dean of admissions, there is no chance you would average scores if you cared about your job. So you can put this myth well behind you. As I like to say, the LSAT (or some other test now) is like taking a class with several tests, but the professor only counts the highest one. Most people would retake until they got it right. And that's our advice on the LSAT -- if you are unhappy with your LSAT, retake the test without worrying about the average.
3. "Is it really all LSAT and GPA?"
Yet again, recently asked on Reddit. Our firm doesn't do LSAT prep. We don't do undergraduate, MBA, or any other admissions. If there were ever a business that would be incentivized by saying "LSAT and GPA are just a small part of the equation," it would be us. But we aren't going to say that, because your first priority should be LSAT and GPA — they are what get you in the gate or what pulls the gate closed on you. I'll say it the strongest way I can to prove the point. If you have money to spend on either an admissions consultant with real admissions experience or on an LSAT prep course, spend it on the LSAT prep course.
So why is there an application, and why have you done so many awesome things to build your resume and get life experience? Because sadly, every single year no matter if the cycle is up or down, we get hundreds upon hundreds of emails from people with great scores and great GPAs who have had horrible cycles, for any number of a thousand reasons. Here is how I would think of it.
Admissions consists of three buckets you want to fill as high as possible. Bucket number 1 is your LSAT/GPA. It's the gatekeeper and 70% of admissions. Fill that thing as high as you can. I once read a file from an applicant with a 180 LSAT and a 4.0 GPA from their physics major at Harvard, and his bucket was overflowing there. You don't need to 180, but you do need the highest score you think you can get. See above on retakes and not avergaing.
The next bucket is 15% of your admission. It's your "softs" — what you have done throughout your life that stand out in a positive way (or in a negative way in the case of C&F factors). It's often too late to add much more, but how you present them factors into bucket 3.
Bucket 3 is your application quality. Also 15%. That comment about the emails we get in deluges in March - July — that's generally because the applicant had zero softs, or zero strategy in their application. Remember, a well written essay is necessary for admission, but far from sufficient. There are so many minor landmines here of which you couldn't possibly be aware. Want a seemingly trivial example? I, and some of my good friends and former collegues in admissions, hate emails addressed as "to whom it may be concerned" — it can signal a lack of caring (yield protection) or laziness. Catch the wrong adcomm on the wrong day who just made 25 admits, and if your LOCI starts off "To whom it may concern," you might just go straight to the deny file. Odd, small things like this happen every cycle. I could go on forever on this.
So yes, LSAT and GPA over all else. But people with the exact same numbers are admitted, WLed and denied at the exact same schools every year. Why? Because buckets 2 and 3 matter a heck of a lot, especially at the margins, and most applicants are at the margins somewhere. Here's more on that.
4. We have just added Tom Robinson to our team straight from his position as Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School.
This is an exciting hire for us, and I am thrilled. How valuable is Tom? They replaced him with a newly created "Assistant Dean of Admissions" position. Karen knows first hand what a great addition Tom is to this team since she first hired him at HLS before she left! Every year we have sent more clients to Harvard than any other law school — and this makes our fourth hire out of HLS. It also does something to which we have committed for every single year of our firm's existence — it keeps us current by having someone at the firm who came to us directly and recently from law school admissions. We do this because admissions policies change every year. As I mentioned, there are only a few firms out there with consultants who have real admissions experience. But we are the only firm that has people come on every year straight from admissions offices, and we are the only firm that also works with law schools designing and developing their admissions process. We get better every year because of this, and we certainly just got better adding Tom. His bio can be found here.
5. Capacity for 2018/2019 Admissions.
We had already just about exceeded 50% capacity, but created a good deal more room with the addition of Tom Robinson. Our a la carte prices start as low as $300, and we have commited to not raising our rates on larger packages from last cycle at least through the summer.
Want to discuss whether we can help you stand out? It's as simple as emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at (703) 624-7205. If we can help you, it's what we do best. Feel free to contact us at any time!
6. Leadership Coaching
We will soon be launnching a new program, Leadership Coaching, which will be run by two people wth exceptional coaching experience and with formal training out of the foremost coaching program at Georgetown following their JD's from Harvard and Duke Law, respectively. More on this soon but it is designed for high-performing individuals to get to the next level -- at their current job or via switching careers. We will announce it via twitter and LinkedIn soon, please help us spread the word!