By Courtney Gabbara • October 11, 2014
Reflecting back on my pre-law school days, I remember the amount of leg work that goes into researching law schools. Besides basic web browsing, I worked hard to talk to attorneys and gain hands on experience that would help shed some light on how to make myself a competitive applicant. This is when I learned about law school fairs—an organized event where I could actually interact face to face with the decision makers to my law school fate! As a poor undergraduate student, I cannot emphasize enough how important of an opportunity this was for me. Now, as an admissions officer, I value law school fair and forum interactions even more, which is why I want to ensure that you all walk into each fair or forum ready to leave a positive first impression!
- Be Nice: You think this would go without saying, but sadly, many students come to a representative’s table already on the defensive. Remember, we don’t attend these fairs to make you look silly. We attend to be a resource for you, so take advantage of it! The best impression to leave us with is a positive one. This is a chance for not only you to get to know us, but for us to get to know you.
- Be Courteous: Be aware that law school fairs and forums are short in duration and high in attendance. Make sure you are not monopolizing a representative’s time if there is a line at the table. This will help the admissions officer distribute needed information and allow other students in attendance to get their questions answered.
- Go To The Workshops: If attending an LSAC Forum, go to the workshops! LSAC is one of the few companies out there that can provide certain information about law school and the law school admissions process from A to Z. Utilize these opportunities to make yourself stand out when talking to law school representatives, asking substantive questions verses what you could have easily found online.
- Know Your Audience: For the most part, you are speaking to admissions representatives, most of whom have gone through the law school process and are lawyers themselves. They know what they are talking about, so trust the process. You may also encounter a current student, a recent graduate, a financial aid representative, established alumni, faculty, or even a dean. Be sure to tailor your questions appropriately given that person’s background. With this in mind, keep cool if they don’t necessarily have all of the answers you are seeking. These different roles don’t necessarily require that they know every layer of the admissions process or every program. However, rest assured, whoever is available to speak to you knows who would have these answers and will insure you get the importation you are looking for.
- Don’t Ask Us What Makes Us Better Than Our Competitors: Just like in any professional setting, admissions representatives know and respect their colleagues, which is exactly what we are despite working for different law schools. Despite a weaker market, admissions officers are not out to put down “the competition”. Come prepared to ask us about our programs and what we can offer you based on your interests.
- Ask Substantive Questions: We see dozens upon dozens of students per law school fair or forum (more depending on geography). Come prepared with substantive questions to show us that you have done your homework. Although students visit us from all different stages of the pre-law process, there is no excuse for not having questions ready for us. For example, instead of asking us to tell you about our programs, focus in and ask if we could tell you about our clinical or litigation programs. In reality, we could substantively talk about our programs all day, but fairs are short in duration leaving small windows for students to gain a solid impression of the law school. Don’t waste that limited opportunity with broad questions you could get answered through any online legal forum or website.
- Have a plan! When going from table to table, know why you are going to talk to that school. Have questions prepared (see above). The worst thing for any student to do is create dead air because they haven’t done their homework and don’t know why they are there talking to the school. It’s absolutely fine to stumble upon a school that was not initially on your radar, but have a rolodex of prepared general questions to ask in those circumstances. For help, LSAC provides a list at each forum and online for students to utilize as a tool.
- Don’t Just Ask For a Fee Waiver: When coming to talk to a representative at a table, don’t just ask for a fee waiver and walk away. Use that face time wisely and get to know us. A fee waiver doesn’t make us feel like we are a top choice for you and therefore, does not leave a strong impression. It also doesn’t help a student when they follow up later and haven’t given the representative reason to remember them.
- Follow Up: If you have received a business card from a representative, be proactive and follow up! Traditionally, representatives will follow up with you after you have met; however, there may be a week or two delay depending on the time of your interaction based on recruiting season. An email the next day can really help things move along for a student and keep them fresh in the admission office’s mind.
- Ultimately, Be Yourself: You are in control, so act like it! This doesn’t mean you should be arrogant or rude, but that you shouldn’t feel nervous asking questions or talking to the representative about your interest in law school. Some of the best conversations I have had with students at law school fairs had nothing to do with law school! You don’t have to impress us by demonstrating your intimate knowledge of our programs. We want to form a connection with you, so be genuine and keep things organic.