I sat down with About.com’s legal guru Michelle Fabio for her take on law school. And by “sat down” I mean exchanged email correspondences, probably from our respective couches, almost certainly in bunny slippers. At least on my end. So without further ado, stuff you should know about legal things.
An interview with lawschool.about.com’s Michelle Fabio
It’s application season; do you have any advice for students currently applying to law school?
Start working on your applications yesterday. If you’re plugging along and ticking items off the application checklist, good for you (but can you move a bit faster?); if you haven’t started yet, at least get working on your personal statement as soon as possible.
With a record number of students taking the LSAT last year, how can a candidate distinguish herself in a crowd of applications?
Two words: personal statement. Your personal statement is your direct line to the adcomm, and you want to make sure your voice comes through. Really show them who you are by writing about an experience that has meant a lot to you and/or shows you have qualities that will be helpful in law school and as a lawyer — persistence, ability to think on your feet, management skills, empathy, etc.
Whatever you do, please don’t just run down your resume in your personal statement. Besides the fact that such an essay quickly becomes a snoozefest, the adcomm probably already has your resume in the file anyway — give them something they wouldn’t know about you from the rest of your file and also provide them with an essay that only you could write.
Do you think law school is a viable option given the increased number of students applying and the flattening of the legal market?
All indicators say the legal market isn’t set to rebound anytime soon, so it’s certainly a risky proposition to attend law school right now, especially if you’re going into heavy debt to do so, and especially if you’re kind of rolling the dice on a school that doesn’t have a great job placement rate. That said, if your heart is set on law school, there’s probably nothing anyone can say to you to make you change your mind, so do your best to stand out from the crowd of applicants (see #2) and then do your best to succeed in law school to maximize your chances of landing a job you want after you graduate.
How can a student know if law school is really for them?
I’ve written an article entitled Is Going to Law School a Good Idea?, which gives potential students several things to think about when making that decision.
You took a non-traditional route after law school, are you glad you got a JD?
Absolutely. I love the law; I just don’t happen to love the everyday practice of law. My work now allows me to keep up to date on current legal developments and write about them, specifically as the official blogger for LegalZoom.com, and I also continue to do some contract work on the side. As a professional writer, I have been greatly helped by “thinking like a lawyer” many times over, so the JD has been useful for that as well.
Any advice for first year law students?
Don’t fall behind. Everyone does at some point, but just don’t let it get out of hand — it really does make a difference during class discussions when you have read the material and have some idea of where the professor is headed.
Our readership is primarily comprised of pre-law students – is there anything else you think they should know or that you wished you’d know before law school?
Prelaw students should be aware of just how different law school is from undergraduate study. Become familiar with how law school classes, material, and exams are structured before your first day, and then revisit that information throughout your first semester to keep you on track for when the exam period arrives.
Michelle Fabio, Esq. is the Guide to Law School for About.com, a New York Times Company.