Inspiration: Two Success Stories

Law School Expert Blog

Success Story #1: Law School Waiting List Dreams Do Come True

I get a lot of comments on the blog asking whether a waiting list is a “soft-reject.” My response: only if you do nothing to follow up and campaign for yourself. Today, one of my clients called me with wonderful news – she was admitted off the WL into her dream school (a top 10 law school) with both an LSAT and GPA at the 25th percentile for that school. How does this happen? She didn’t take “no” for an answer. Even though the school said in its WL letter that they didn’t want additional materials and no follow-up was necessary, she followed up. She visited. She wrote persuasive, professional letters. She had additional, relevant letters of rec sent. She convinced the school she was a sure thing. Even though she wasn’t in the priority ranking of the WL, today, on June 15th, she was admitted to her dream school. Lawyers are advocates. Start by being your own advocate. Take action and you’ll never have to wonder “what if?”

Success Story #2: Choosing Your Right School, not U.S. News’ Right School

I have another client, let’s call him “Steve.” Steve applied to law school a year ago (without my help) and wasn’t happy with his results. He really wanted to go to Law School X (a top 25 USNWR law school). He didn’t get it. So about a year ago, we started working together. He ended up getting in to School X (with a scholarship) and also into a Top 15 law school. He has spent two months struggling with his decision. Top 15 school is far away, but sounds fun and prestigious. School X is close to home and a great fit for his career goals and social life. He visited both campuses. He talked to local prospective employers. He learned that they would rather hire someone locally who clerked with them during law school than someone from a more highly ranked law school. As I say in the book, “Don’t be a snob. Think about where you want a job!” Choosing his original dream school, right in his backyard, where he is already hooked into the legal community, is the right decision for Steve (no matter what USNWR might say).

5 Responses

  1. Awesome success stories, Ann!

    Both feel close to home. Though, I remain on waitlists at 3 top 20 law schools, and 1 potential defer to a high tier 2, I’m opting to sit out and retake to at least have exposure to the tier 1, so I can have a full range of possibilities to consider more seriously. Id hate to be aiming for a top10 only to find out I was a better fit at a lower rank. But I hate the ‘what-if’ feeling. Gotta knock that out!

    I hope both have a wonderful experience!

  2. Both great stories, but I really wish I knew what a “waitlist” meant when I applied to both law school and my undergrad! I feel like “waitlist” is a cop-out for admissions teams at schools, they sort of accept you, sort of don’t, and then generally refuse to provide more information. I have even heard from friends about being placed on “numbered” waitlists, as in you are the 17th person on the waitlist. Sounds good, but how many people are offered spots on the waitlist each year? The admission’s office refused to say.

    I’m sharing this around, clean, simple law school (and life!) advice.

    1. Spencer, the answer is that law schools don’t know from year to year how many people will actually show up on the first day of school (how many who have sent deposits will actually attend) so they need to hedge their bets with a WL. If they told people,’ You’re #17 and we’ll take 20″ then why would they bother with the WL? They don’t know how many they will need from year to year, that’s the whole point. A WL is only a cop-out in the sense that schools don’t want to admit anyone whom they don’t believe will actually attend because they don’t want to dilute their acceptance rates for rankings…..

    1. JD Underdog,
      I never understand this logic: #14 Georgetown is worth attending, but UCLA and UT aren’t because they are tied for #15? What if someone actually (GASP) wants to practice law on the west coast? If they can’t go to Stanford or Berkeley they won’t earn a living or enjoy a respectable career? I have lots of friends who earn good livings as attorneys who attended 3rd and 4th tier law schools, and they are actually in charge of all hiring decisions at their firms. One just hired a newly minted bar-passer who attended a state bar school….
      There’s more than one way to practice law, and small firms are more likely to hire than BigLaw right now….
      I disagree with your conclusion, but I do appreciate your comments and welcome your participation on the blog.

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