Law School Discussion Driving You Crazy?

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My readers know that I hate to be negative, but I’ve been asked to address my feelings on LawSchoolNumbers and Law School Discussion so here goes.

My major problem with these forums is that you can’t trust what people say because you don’t really know where the advice is coming from. The people posting information are your competitors. They have an interest in intimidating the competition and spreading rumors. Even if members have the best of intentions, it’s still a case of the blind leading the blind.

Another reason I urge my clients to stay away is because the tone taken by writers on LawSchoolDiscussion is often arrogant, rude, exclusive, elitist and boorish. I haven’t seen a productive discussion on this site. I think it cultivates paranoia and I urge my law school admission consulting clients to stay away. (After all, what do you hope to gain by asking complete strangers to comment on your personal statement? Why show your goods to the competition?)

LawSchoolNumbers is an improvement; it still makes people paranoid and you still can’t trust what people say about themselves, but at least people are usually polite and civil to each other and it does help you organize your own information all in one place. Just remember, it’s not as anonymous as you think and once you start law school you probably won’t want people knowing what your LSAT score was….. When you meet someone at law school and mention playing soccer at X school undergrad, they will remember you….

If you want real information about law school admissions, there are better resources – call the law schools admission offices, a pre-law advisor, or a law school admission consultant. Read a book by a credible law school admissions expert, read blogs by law school admission counselors, and consult other credible sources.

Also, law school applicants spend an extraordinary amount of time on these sites when they could be doing something either productive or enjoyable. (Life is short – either do something productive to boost your chances for law school admission like volunteering for a good cause or reading a thought provoking book, or enjoy your time with friends and family because time will be short once you start law school).

I know there are law school applicants who live and die by these forums and they will probably say I have a financial interest in steering people away from the free advice available on these sites. However, I provide free advice to 5,000 law school applicants a month via this blog and do so in the hopes of providing insight and expertise without the paranoia ; )

21 thoughts on “Law School Discussion Driving You Crazy?

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Thank you for posting about this, I think you are right to caution on the level of anonymity, or lack thereof. Respectfully, I think you are wrong about LSD and I think your criticisms would be more accurate if directed at certain other forums that I could name. Sure there are trolls on LSD, like there are at pretty much *any* forum, but you ignore them. And sure, it may be the blind leading the blind – but most posters will include the disclaimer: take this with a grain of salt. And that advice is true of any consulting – Ivey and yourself included. It’s also common sense I think. I have valued both the commiserating, and the congratulating on LSD and feel like it’s a mostly supportive environment. You just stay away from the ugly threads (and they are easy to spot). *Some* of the posters there are elitists, snobs, jerks, and many seem to be nice people as well. If I believe everything my law student and lawyer friends tell me, that’s probably going to be true of my 1L class too.

  2. Thanks Ann! My senior year of college I watched law school applicant friends repeat the phrase “Well LawSchoolNumbers said…” again and again, with a half-crazy, glazed look in their eyes. So when I found myself doing the same thing, I thought it would be a good idea to step back and evaluate this situation. Good suggestions about more productive ways to spend your time while you wait to hear back. Thanks for your input.

  3. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Good point, Anonymous. The saying goes – “If you don’t know who the jerk is in your section, it’s you”…. There are nice people and jerks everywhere. The question is whether the value outweighs the detriments….

  4. Anonymous on said:

    I have enjoyed reading your blog over the past few months, but I strongly disagree with your opinions about these websites. I have made some good friends on top-law-schools.com and lawschoolnumbers.com, mainly because I don’t think that “the people posting information are [my] competitors”, as you say. That is a rather cynical view of the situation, and I prefer to think of these people as my future classmates and colleagues. As long as you ignore the crazies, these sites can be invaluable resources and I can’t imagine going through this process without them.

  5. Leroy_Fish on said:

    Ms. Levine, I think you are right to a certain extent. Applicants need to make sure they choose the correct websites to visit and also understand that these people posting on the message boards oftentimes have no idea what they are talking about. I have had some good experiences on lawschoolmongoose.com, but my buddy Rusty visited autoadmit and was appalled at the the people on that site. There were racial epithets being thrown around and Rusty wasn’t used to hearing those types of things. Keep up the good work on this blog, and I look forward to your future entries! After hearing so much law school elitism on the Internet, you are a breath of fresh air.

  6. Anonymous on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I totally agree with this post. The elitism that is expressed on those boards is downright disgusting. I noticed one guy brought up lawschoolmongoose.com. I think you’ll see that LSM is just as bad or worse than the rest. They have their so called “toilet list” of law schools there. Where do these people come up with this stuff?? It’s like if you’re not AT LEAST T-25, you’re not worthy. It’s too bad that so many pseudo-experts have donned this high-hat way of thinking.

  7. Anonymous on said:

    To respond to the comments above,

    With the exception of the disgusting autoadmit (which is currently dealing with a lawsuit), all of these discussion sites have positive and negative aspects of them, and positive and negative posters. Whether you choose to visit top-law-schools.com, lawschoolmongoose.com, or lawschooldiscussion.com, you will find a whole host of varying opinions. That is what law school discussion is all about. But to say that you “haven’t seen a productive discussion”? There are incredibly productive discussions every day on these sites. I recommend people pick on website, and if they aren’t getting help, then try another. The Internet is full of wonderful people who love to help, and it would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to dismiss all of these sites and all of their posters.

  8. As another poster has commented, it certainly is best to not trust one source exclusively, taking the slew of information best with a grain of salt.

    However, insofar as LawSchoolMongoose’s Toilet List is concerned, please venture into the Discussion Board to see the dialog and thought process behind its creation before assuming its elitist undertone is the driving force. While the name may not be flattering, the harsh reality is that job prospects and potential salaries upon graduation are truly not worth the amount of debt accrued to attend. There are many lower tier schools that have similar acceptance numbers, but will yield a much greater return on investment.

    The toilet list does not condemn these schools; however, it does seek to warn prospective applicants.

    Although LSM is very new, just launching in December, there are many guides in the works, with a handy admissions calculator and graph to illustrate admissions probabilities.

    Thanks for the article, Ann. I completely agree with you on the unreliable nature of mass rumors and discussion. But the few sites that seek to extend information (free from common user editing) certainly have some redeeming factors.

  9. Anonymous on said:

    As a frequent poster on one of these forums, I just want to say that not everyone is out to get you. I know I give honest advice to people without regard to how it helps/hurts me. I also want to say that these forums are invaluable when it comes to preparing for the LSAT. TLS’ LSAT Prep forum is wonderful. I came to the forums scoring well (in the low 160s) and ended up improving drastically. I credit a lot of that to the forums. These people are going through the same thing you’re going. They can link you to resources, give you tips, share stress relief techniques, etc, etc. I don’t know how accurate their advice is when it comes to applying (my cycle hasn’t started yet), but for the LSAT it is an extremely useful tool.

  10. In the interest of disclosure: I’m an administrator on one of the sites mentioned in the comments here. Your argument seems extremely cynical and, despite your protestations to the contrary, slanted to favor your own industry. I can imagine Microsoft making similar arguments to push against Wikipedia in favor of Encarta, or against open source software.

    That being said, even your basic premise is not entirely correct. At our site, we have a number of current 1Ls posting advice and recounting their practical experience with the admissions process, who have nothing to gain from misleading applicants. Our site was founded by someone who has been out of law school for a number of years now and is running it at a loss as a labor of love.

    Also, a number of your suggestions are simply not feasible. Books can’t answer questions, and admissions offices are often only able to give vague platitudes in response to direct questions. Another unfortunate truth is that many pre-law advisers are various universities are not any better informed than you average poster on one of these sites. (And in some cases, they are substantially worse.)

    There are no hard feelings about anything you’ve posted, and you’re welcome to respond on our forum if you are so interested.

    I would hope that anyone looking into the law school application process will take advantage of all the resources out there, and not avoid some because of posts on blogs that resemble fear mongering.

    Jared “Corsair” Smith
    http://www.top-law-schools.com

  11. I think the generation of students applying to law school right now are pretty adept at processing information they read online, knowing exactly how much weight to give to the various advice that is given. There’s a general understanding that we’re all doing our best to make sense of the incredibly untransparent admissions process. Personally, without these websites I would’ve applied to schools I couldn’t have gotten into, done far worse on the LSAT, and would be making my ultimate choice come spring without having picked the brains of many current students who show up to answer questions about their schools.

  12. Anonymous on said:

    I felt the urge to comment on this article. I agree to a large extent with what you say, but I feel obligated to comment on one particular site, top-law-schools.com

    I believe it is a mistake to lump this particular site in with the others for several reasons. First, the site is not merely a discussion board. It also provides law school articles, profiles, and links to numerous helpful sites for pre-law students, current law students, and those who have graduated with their JD and moved on.
    Additionally, the goal of this particular site is to be a resource where people can come for advice, to discuss their fears, wants, and desires. While it is true that many students there are seeking an education at a top school, it is by no means an elitist forum.
    Finally, the majority of people who visit that forum develop genuine friendships with individuals who will be there future classmates. One thing that you overlooked in your blog is that moving far away to a new school can be a rough experience for anyone, and I think that developing ties with others before moving makes the transition much easier.
    In closing, while I find your blogs informative, I was displeased to note that you mentioned top-law-schools without discussing specific pro’s and con’s about that particular site. Instead, you made a mere mention of it and then lumped it in with several other sites which are nothing like top-law-schools.
    I found this to be misleading to readers.

  13. I felt the urge to comment on this article. I agree to a large extent with what you say, but I feel obligated to comment on one particular site, top-law-schools.com

    I believe it is a mistake to lump this particular site in with the others for several reasons. First, the site is not merely a discussion board. It also provides law school articles, profiles, and links to numerous helpful sites for pre-law students, current law students, and those who have graduated with their JD and moved on.
    Additionally, the goal of this particular site is to be a resource where people can come for advice, to discuss their fears, wants, and desires. While it is true that many students there are seeking an education at a top school, it is by no means an elitist forum.
    Finally, the majority of people who visit that forum develop genuine friendships with individuals who will be their future classmates. One thing that you overlooked in your blog is that moving far away to a new school can be a rough experience for anyone, and I think that developing ties with others before moving makes the transition much easier.
    In closing, while I find your blogs informative, I was displeased to note that you mentioned top-law-schools without discussing specific pro’s and con’s about that particular site. Instead, you made a mere mention of it and then lumped it in with several other sites which are nothing like top-law-schools.
    I found this to be misleading to readers.

  14. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    I am not sure where the last few posts are coming from. I did not mention Top Law Schools of Auto Admit in any of my posts. I have not spent time on Top Law Schools and limited my discussion to LSN and LSD. I did not mention AutoAdmit because the problems of inappropriate discussion are well documented on the blogosphere.

  15. Anonymous on said:

    Ann, while your post regarding LSD and LSN are correct, I would agree with others that http://www.top-law-schools.com is a very different forum. From reading the profiles, interviews with the Dean of Admissions at the University of Minnesota, and getting great advice on the LSAT forum, this application cycle has been much more successful then it would otherwise have been without http://www.top-law-schools.com. It is very different from LSD, which I found very abrasive and not friendly whereas I have met many future friends who I will see at law school next year. Online forums are like the entire Internet, a huge difference in the quality of the offerings but I can say that I am thankful that I found both your informative site and http://www.top-law-schools.com.

  16. Michael "Mike" Bolton on said:

    1. These posts come from people like myself who feel you criticizing the notion of Law School Discussion Boards covers all of them. You focused only on negatives instead of even mentioning the positives. These posts are intended to correct that and show that these forums have both a use and a purpose.

    I’d also mention here that I for one, and I think many others on TLS, work desk jobs and are chained to a computer for most of the day. Given the downtime of any entry-level job, I think making relationships ahead of law school and discussing the anxieties of the admissions process makes TLS as valuable as anything one can do before attending law school.

    2. I am curious why you would not consider LSN very reliable. On the whole it can be somewhat useless, but doesn’t it provide some specific guidance when deciding how to spend the several hundred dollars (sometimes over 1,000) on applications? There’s no question that certain trends in admission can be ascertained from LSN.

  17. Anonymous on said:

    I find your view of LSN to be extremely cynical. There is no better source of information upon which prospective applicants can judge their chance of admission to law school currently available. This data is particularly useful for students who are considered to be “splitters” and for whom the typical 25/75 percentile breakdowns are mostly useless.

    While there may be advantages to remaining anonymous for individual posters, I am surprised to hear that you advise your clients to avoid contributing to this useful database. Obviously any self-reported data needs to be looked at critically, but for anyone intelligent enough to attend law school, this should not prevent beneficially utilizing this wealth of information.

    Honestly, I bet you take advantage of this data when advising your clients. It would be stupid not to use an available resource. Where else can you get a good sense of what numbers are required for admittance to a school and what sort of merit scholarships can be expected? Of course, why do students need to hire an admissions councilor if this information is already freely available…

  18. Anonymous on said:

    I have witnessed some autoadmit-esque “aggressive sex talk” and extreme elitism at Top Law Schools–It’s cute that the posters at TLS believe they’re above the fray, but it’s not the case.
    Still, even with the drawbacks, I think that discussion forums like LSD and TLS can be very useful. For example, the LSAT advice on these sites is fantastic. You will not find a higher concentration of top scorers sharing their study techniques and experience (for free, no less) anywhere else. Don’t understand why you got a question wrong? Make a post on LSD and you’ll get detailed breakdowns of the question from several posters.

    There are also some great threads about writing personal statements. As far as peer-review editing, you can read someone’s posts and decide whether you trust them with your essay. It’s mutually beneficial to edit essays because you can get a sense of personal statement trends, what works and what doesn’t, and when you edit a really excellent draft you’ve found a great writer who owes you some essay feedback. I’ve never heard of anyone having a negative experience with this on LSD.
    These forums and Lawschoolnumbers are great as long as you don’t get obsessive. I don’t think that compulsive checking for LSAT scores or other people’s acceptances is healthy or helpful–and when you find yourself doing that, it’s time to get away from the computer!

  19. James Stanley on said:

    Nope, Top Law Schools is no different from the rest. It is extremely US-centric and posters belittle even new posters and especially lawyers from other countries. The posters are arrogant, rude and beyond saving in many cases. I recommend staying far, far away from top-law-schools because for a forum that’s supposed to be full of top students, the reality is that most are average students trying to have an ego boost!

  20. Doosh Bagley on said:

    Many law students are jerks. This is why I don’t feel sorry for them when they graduate owing over 100K in debt and can’t find a job. They are basically screwed and too arrogant to realize it. A lot of the male students think it’s going to be easier to get laid with that JD on their business card and that they can throw their weight around in social situations. Of course they have an elitist mentality. Why should this surprise anyone? If you don’t like the people on these forums, maybe that’s a clue you should go elsewhere….to another career field.

    The people who tell us that law school is a losing game, are being honest. They aren’t trying to kill the competition, because it’s far too late for that. The legal field is saturated and won’t improve for many, many years. Good luck you’ll need it. For real.

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