By Tatum Wheeler • June 01, 2017•Law School, Pre-Law
I am pleased to introduce Nathan Fox, founder of Fox LSAT, a LSAT prep company with courses available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and online. Nathan earned a 179 on the February 2007 LSAT, started Fox LSAT in 2009, and graduated from UC Hastings in 2010. He is the author of multiple LSAT books including Introducing the LSAT, The Fox LSAT Logic Games Playbook, and The Fox LSAT Logical Reasoning Encyclopedia. He is also a co-host of the Thinking LSAT podcast.
Thank you so much, Nathan, for speaking with Ms. JD today. Let's get started. You've mentioned that no one grows up wanting to be a LSAT instructor; however, career days across the country have those looking to be stockbrokers and journalists, two of your previous jobs. When did you realize that LSAT preparation was your calling? What advice would you give to those that aren't sure about that law school is theirs?
Nathan: I hated, and quit, a dozen jobs before I stumbled into teaching in my early thirties. I loved teaching immediately, but it took a couple of years before I started seeing it as a permanent career. It sounds kind of funny, but LSAT teaching is the only job I have never wanted to quit. I guess that's why I'm still doing it.
It's almost too good to be true. My students are a bunch of smart, earnest 20-somethings with a huge incentive to do well on this test. To me, the LSAT makes perfect sense—in fact, I find it quite enjoyable. So now I get paid to stand up in front of the room and talk about something I enjoy, and I get to help these bright young folks understand it in the same way? And then they're super-grateful to me when they go on to Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and the like, and/or get full scholarships (and even living stipends in some cases)? And over the years I get to watch their legal careers grow? Imagine: Before I die, I'll have multiple judges, law firm partners, probably some elected officials, and all sorts of other bigshots in my LinkedIn contacts, simply because I was lucky enough to catch them in a LSAT class at the beginning of their careers. It's awesome.
Anyway, I have been very lucky to find something I love so much, and not get trapped by any of my previous jobs. So my constant advice to young people is to quit things. Please keep searching until you find something that 1) you love, 2) you're good at, and 3) you can get paid for. You can definitely get paid to be a lawyer if you're good at it. But if you don't love it, you'll be miserable.
If you're not sure that a legal career is right for you, please figure this out before you start law school. Law school is an incredibly expensive lesson for the roughly 50% of people who attend but don't end up practicing law. Go out and interview lawyers! Get an internship in a law firm. Make sure that you know what lawyers actually do, how much they actually get paid, and how many hours they actually work before sinking three years of your life and $150,000 (or more) into a JD you might never use.
You're inching towards the hundredth episode of the Thinking LSAT podcast. What insight have you taken away from hosting the show?
Nathan: I'm gushing now because you've asked me about my two favorite things. Teaching's one, and the other—perhaps even better—is my podcast. Which, of course, was also an accident.
The biggest insight I have from running the show for three years is that anyone can start a podcast. It's incredibly easy. Buy a USB microphone for less than $100, get a friend to do the same, then get on Skype and start talking. Throw it up on the Internet and hope people listen. We went into it with zero expectations, and now we get listener mail from all over the country. It's extremely gratifying.
The LSAC just released some considerable changes including new partnerships with CLEO and Khan Academy, a new President, a digital test trial, removal of LSAT maximums, and a change in the number of test administrations. What can pre-law students take away from these recent developments? Are you planning to adapt your preparation services to address these changes? And if so, how?
Nathan: The most exciting news for law school applicants is that the LSAC has eliminated the "three times in two years" maximum and that they're considering offering the LSAT more than four times per year. Having only four chances per year is a very real barrier for applicants, especially when you compare the LSAT to the GRE and GMAT, which are offered continuously throughout the year, with shorter registration lead times, and give you your score back instantly while LSAT students wait three weeks. I'm excited that the LSAC is taking steps toward more open access—simply doubling the number of test administrations per year would be a huge help, so I have my fingers crossed on that.
Early feedback from the digital LSAT trial is overwhelmingly positive! But we have no idea when this will be launched, or what impact it will have on test takers. The content of the test isn't changing, in any case. So, students probably just need to keep hammering away at the old PrepTests.
My courses are constantly adapted to incorporate the newest LSAT tests as soon as they're available but other than that I don't have any immediate changes planned. I'm now in my 11th year teaching LSAT, and I've watched as the test has changed extremely slowly over that time. So I don't think I will have to completely overhaul my course and my books anytime soon.
You famously make your phone number and email address available to anyone. What is the most common comment you receive? How do you manage to stay organized and keep up with all the incoming messages?
Nathan: The most common comment I get is a tie between "wow, I can't believe you actually answered your phone" and "wow, I can't believe you emailed me back so quickly." Again, I mostly think this illustrates that anyone can start a business. If that's all it takes to stand out, how hard can it be? I know how hard LSAT students are working, and I know how much their preparation means to their entire legal career. So naturally, I get back to students, readers, and podcast listeners as quickly as I can. Anything less would be disrespectful.
Inbox Zero is the only productivity tip that I offer students. Basically, don't use your email or voicemail inboxes as to-do lists. Instead, empty those things out, all the way down to zero, every single day. It's life changing.
You wear so many different hats and balance multiple responsibilities: author, business owner, podcast host, and teacher. Can you offer any tips for those balancing LSAT preparation with other duties such as family, work, and school?
Nathan: Students usually overestimate how long they need to study each day, and underestimate how many days they need to study. You do not need to study for 6 or 8 hours in a single day. I would vastly prefer that you study for one hour per day, every single day. If you have more than one hour, that's great. But the important part is doing a little bit every single day. It takes most students 2-3 months, at least, to be fully prepared.
Finally, what's your last piece of advice for those taking the June LSAT in less than two weeks?
Nathan: If you're taking the test June 12, at this point you're either prepared, or you're not going to be in time for the June exam. At this point, the main factors you can control are sleep, diet, exercise, fresh air—do whatever it takes to get yourself into a happy, focused, calm space before the test. If you've done the work, then you've seen your practice test scores increase significantly over the past few months. There's no reason why you can't match those results on the June 12 test. And if it doesn't happen, there's always September.
Thank you very much, Nathan!