October 11, 2010
The Law Zombie, Great as a Faculty Member, Less So as a Law School Applicant: Advice from YLS Admissions Dean
It's good to know some law schools read the personal statements of applicants. Of course when it is Yale Law School, the high GPA and LSAT scores of applicants makes reviewing applications a necessary screening process. On (203) Admissions Blog, Associate Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa writes about some common errors on personal statements. My favorite is the Law Zombie post:
This is a person who really loves THE LAW. He is passionate about THE LAW, loves debating THE LAW, and can spend hours reading about -- yes, you guessed it -- THE LAW. And he's not afraid to say so in his application.
while the Law Zombie might make a great addition to our faculty, there are a few things I find troubling about him as an applicant. First, I'm a little wary about someone who glamorizes THE LAW too much, especially before going to law school. I mean, legal cases are interesting and all, but the real study (and practice) of law isn't just about reading sexy Supreme Court cases and camping out all night to get into an oral argument like it's some kind of rock concert. Some of it is tedious and mundane, and an applicant who is a little too excited about THE LAW strikes me as potentially unprepared for or naive about what law school -- and being a lawyer -- is really going to be like.
Which brings me to the second point. It's not enough to just love THE LAW. That's like saying you love books -- yeah, so what? Law encompasses many different subjects: torts, contracts, constitutional law, property, law and economics, criminal law, etc. It also has different aspects: procedural, substantive, jurisdictional, etc. When someone simply says they are "fascinated," "excited," "passionate," etc. about THE LAW, I have no idea what that means. What, exactly, are you excited about? Why are you fascinated by a particular issue? How is your interest related to anything else that's happened in your life? It's unlikely that you just spontaneously developed a rabid interest in the subject, so you need to dig a little deeper if you're going to translate your passion into something that makes you compelling as an applicant.
Rangappa offers some advice for law school applicants: (1) tone it down a bit; (2) don't go overboard in expressions of love for the law; and (3) get out more as in "[i]t's OK to have other interests. Maybe you can watch some reality television. I recommend Project Runway."
Perhaps there are other law school admissions blogs "out there," but (203) Admissions Blog looks like one folks thinking about applying to law school should check out.
Hat tip to Do You Love to Argue? Are You a ‘Law Zombie’? Yale Law School Is Not Impressed by Debra Cassens Weiss (ABAJ) which reviews additional posts by Rangappa. [JH]