Law School Admissions: Why Do You Want to Attend X School?

Posted by Rob Barnett on 12/22/14 3:51 PM

Barnett_12122014_2Does X school makes you wanna dance like Hugh Grant in Love Actually? 

Picture yourself at a law school interview for your top pick school. You’ve already discussed (with fluency and charm) your talents and abilities, but then comes the dreaded question: “Why do you want to attend this school?” Cricket. Cricket. So what do you say? Rankings, location, or famous alumni—sure, those are nice, but don't make for a very satisfying answer. 

What could you say that speaks to your interest in that particular school? If you’re not sure, how can you find out? Here are some of my suggestions, drawing from my experience at Harvard Law, and as a law school tutor in Boston. 

  1. Research student practice organizations at the school and pinpoint your areas of interest.

    These student-led groups will give you the best exposure to the practice of law! You’ll learn substantive legal skills under the mentorship of older students and a supervising attorney, in areas as diverse as criminal defense and small-claims mediation, to transactional work for recording artists. Some of my most meaningful experiences in law school and in Boston were through an SPO! If you can show that you’re familiar with them, it will be clear that you’ve done your research, and put thought into your school selection. 
  1. Explore the clinics that you’re interested in. 

    Clinics are another way for students to practice and gain legal skills while receiving academic credit. You’ll work closely under the direct supervision of a professor, or a team of similarly committed peers. Clinics are demanding – mine at Harvard required at least 10 hours a week, and sometimes up to 20 – but well worth it.Mentioning clinics will prove that you’ve thought about your legal education even outside the classroom.
  1. Look up professors you might want to work with. 

    You may not know exactly what field of law you want to pursue, but there will certainly be professors you’ll be excited about, and will want to learn from.  Browse the faculty directory and find a few professors whose expertise and background peak your interest. You’ll have something to talk about… and a better sense of what you want to do once you’re actually in law school!
  2. Contact a current student to find out what people do for fun.

    Law school is still school, and there’s extracurricular activities everywhere you look.Most schools invest considerable resources in the well being of their students (believe it or not, Harvard has some amazing intramural sports leagues) and they’ll be happy to hear that you’re excited about those options. Don’t worry: schools want you to have fun too!

How to Show Interest Outside of Interviews

If you don’t have the opportunity to interview with a school, you can always write a letter following up on your application, reiterating your interest (by mentioning some of the opportunities above). Whether you recently spoke with a law school student about life on campus, or you’re excited about the work of some professor/clinic/SPO, they’re all great reasons to write! Before my epic days as a law student and law school tutor in Boston, I was initially on Harvard Law’s “hold” list! Then, after a spontaneous conversation with a professor, I wrote a letter to the Admissions Office expressing my excitement… and a few months later, I was in!  It never hurts to be persistent.

Here are some other blog posts written by law school tutors in Boston that you might find useful -- an admissions timeline, new years resolution tasks, and tips for your personal statement! And if you’re unsure of how to start digging in, or need help practicing for interviews, I’m always happy to help! Cambridge Coaching offers law school application consulting and excellent law school tutors in Boston, New York and online, and you can feel free to reach out. Happy New Year, and good luck!

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Tags: law school admissions