The Los Angeles Clippers. Red-headed step children. The LSAT writing sample. Certain things in life have a reputation of being less important than their peers, yet their very existence provides amusement to us all. This is an interesting dichotomy, no doubt, and I was reminded of it last weekend when going over my October 2010 LSAT results. The fall LSAT is always disclosed, which means that the LSAC gives you everything back. You can be your own Monday morning quarterback, looking over a couple of careless mistakes on logic games, or you can break the test into sections and see what you need to improve on. You can even look at your Scantron answer sheet, admiring your ability to pencil clearly and forcibly within the bubbles (good job!).
I would argue that besides hitting your target LSAT score, the most exciting and interesting part of getting your score report back is going over your writing sample. You practically forgot that you had to write it while actually taking the LSAT, and you certainly never thought you would see it again. The best part about the writing sample is that it captures a rare moment: you just took a 5 hour test, your mind is somewhat on the ropes, and then you have to write an essay. On the other hand, you’ve been bubbling and reading for hours and it’s refreshing to actually write something. For me, this combination resulted in an impassioned and aggressive plea.
The background: a group of plaintiffs attorneys are trying to decide between two expert scientific witnesses.
The task: make damn sure that they select Dr. Benally by illuminating her strengths; make sure Dr. Rickman never works in this town again.
It’s not often you get to read the first draft of a masterpiece. The LSAC only sends you a scanned copy of your writing sample, and who can blame them. I assume that the original copy is being protected and preserved like the Magna Carta. The following excerpts are for your reading pleasure:
“In selecting an expert witness, I must emphatically insist that the attorneys for the plaintiff select Dr. Rosa Benally, rather than Dr. Josephine Rickman.”
“Emphatically insist?” Not only is this redundant, I’m concerned that these fictional attorneys may mistake my recommendation as a threat. It sounds like if they choose Dr. Rickman, I’m going to flip out, and this is regrettable. Nonetheless, I think I have their attention.
“Dr. Benally’s PhD in pharmacology, as well as her longtime position as a university professor in this field should clearly demonstrate her high level of expertise, which will be required at trial.”
In my mind, Dr. Benally can do no wrong. Superman wears pajamas with Dr. Benally on them.
“While Dr. Rickman is also knowledgeable in the pharmacology field, her high profile and her reputation for self-promotional television appearances may hurt her credibility as an objective, expert witness.”
Ouchhhh. Sorry Dr. Rickman. Maybe if you spent a little more time in the pharmacology lab instead of plugging your book on Hannity, you might have made a better expert witness. Now pack up your things and kindly leave…
“Furthermore, I would point to the series of studies that Dr. Benally led. These studies focused on the specific types of drugs in question, with special attention to their side effects. She is not only a leader in this field, but she has the high-level teaching experience to ensure that these complex scientific concepts are explained clearly in court. Dr. Rickman, on the other hand, has only prescribed the drugs in question. While she has a successful medical practice, she can not match Dr. Benally’s level of expertise for the drugs in question.”
The bottom line: not only is Dr. Benally one of the most qualified expert witnesses that these plaintiff’s attorneys could ever hope for, I would also trust her to babysit my future kids. If there is an earthquake in the courtroom during the trial, I am fully confident that Dr. Benally will make sure that all the women and children are carried to safety before she saves herself. Dr. Rickman, on the other hand, drives a Hummer H2 and hates puppies.
“As though these considerations were not enough, Dr. Benally also has extensive experience as an expert witness in similar trials.”
What are these plaintiffs attorneys thinking!? Lock her down! You think her schedule is going to stay clear forever?
In all seriousness, the LSAT writing sample does matter — to an extent. We have heard from reliable sources that law schools are comparing applicants’ personal statements with their writing samples to see if there are vast discrepancies. In other words, for those who are considering downloading your personal statement from the internet, it would be wise to either reconsider, or to bring your A+ game to the writing sample when you take the LSAT. I hope I have provided a glimpse of how to do that.