Don’t know what an LSAC Law Forum is? You should! Law forums are events held in various major cities around the country where prospective law students have an opportunity to talk personally with representatives from ABA-approved law schools. Almost every ABA-approved law school sends representatives to these events, which are held in hotels and conference centers. These reps have information and documentation about their schools, and are also available to talk to students and answer questions.
If you’re a prospective law applicant, law forums are a great opportunity to get your questions answered, and get information on the schools you’re interested in. They are an incredibly useful tool. However, they are most useful if you take the time to think about what you’ll do at the forum, and how you’ll approach the experience.
Here are some tips.
Read the LSAC Law Forum page on the LSAC website.
It may seem a little obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of students who sign up for a forum without any idea of what it actually is, or what they can do there. Get informed! Be proactive! Know about the different programs and schools that will be at your specific forum, know where the event is being held, and be familiar with what time the doors open (and close). The LSAC Law Forum webpage has a wealth of information: A video, a listing of all the cities where forums are being held (along with links to register for each), a PDF of what you can do on the day of the forum, a listing of all the workshops you can attend, and a list of other law fairs being held around the country and in Canada.
Much like your law school applications, “winging it” doesn’t really work with Law Forums. Know what’s being offered, and you’ll be better able to take advantage of it.
Dress to impress.
I have been to many a law forum where students are walking around in cut-off jean shorts or swim trunks, tank tops, and sandals. I want you to stop and think about this for a moment: Who is at the law forum? It’s not just LSAC reps. It’s also representatives from all the different law schools you’re going to be applying to. Many times, it’s not just any old law school rep, it’s the actual Director or Dean of Admissions for the school! Would you visit a law school, ask for a meeting with the Dean of Admissions, and then show up in beach wear? I certainly hope your answer to that is a resounding NO. In the same way that you would dress up to meet with the Dean in their office, dress up to meet them at the forum. If nothing else, think of it as returning the favor: They’re dressing up for you, so you dress up for them. Remember this: You never know who’s taking notes on whom they’re meeting, and the last thing you want is a scribbled note next to your name talking about how you looked you were going to a pool party. Business casual is your friend.
Know where you’re going.
You don’t want to be running around the forum like a chicken with its head cut off. You also don’t want to get overwhelmed (and law forums are definitely a place where you can get easily overwhelmed). Come with a list of schools you want to talk to and get information on. You’ll get a map of where each school is when you check in at the forum–go right to each school on your list, and don’t get distracted. It’s easy to waste time and miss out on talking to schools when you’re unprepared.
Just like it’s important to know where you’re going, it’s also important to come prepared with specific questions you want answers to. And, please, make sure they’re not questions you can easily find the answers to on the school’s website. The last thing you want a school rep wondering is why you can’t use Google. If you have specific questions about classes, professors, or offerings, now is the time to ask. Asking about their particular application review process, or how much weight they place on the personal statement, letters of rec, or transcript is also good. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that whoever is at the schools’ table can answer this question: “What are my chances at your school?” Not only is that a question that would take much more than 5 minutes of conversation to answer, it is also impossible for the rep, who has no idea what your qualifications are, to answer with any degree of accuracy. It also serves to uncomfortably put them on the spot–and the last thing you want is to make them uncomfortable (and, side note: Giving them your LSAT score and GPA won’t make the question any easier to answer, so try to refrain, if you can).
Have a business card handy.
Although every school’s table will likely have a sign-up sheet where you can enter your name and contact information, it doesn’t hurt to have a card with your name, your phone number, and your email that you can give out. You would be surprised at how often reps ask for this information (particularly if they don’t have an immediate answer to your question and said they would email you). Plus, it lets you ask for their card in return, which can come in handy down the road. It will also make you look much more professional than the kid at the next table who is rummaging in his knapsack for a pen and a scrap of paper to scribble his name and email on. Don’t force it on anyone, but have it available in the event that an opportunity arises where you can hand it out. On top of being efficient and neat, it will make you look professional, which is exactly the right kind of impression you want to have.
Bring copies of your résumé.
Although certainly not mandatory (or even a necessity), this is one that is nice to have available. Much like a business card, a copy of your résumé can definitely come in handy. Just like a business card, though, don’t force it on anyone. Some reps will ask if you have one (particularly if you get into a conversation detailing what kinds of activities their law school likes to see an applicant be involved in, for example), and it looks good on you if you have an actual one to hand out. Think about investing in some nice résumé paper, too.
Don’t hog the rep.
Yes, reps are nice, and they will talk to you as long as you want them to, but keep in mind that you’re not the only person at the forum, and that others would like to have their questions answered, too. And it’s not just about common courtesy–the last thing you want is a rep wondering why you’re still talking when there’s a line of ten people behind you waiting to have their say.
Take advantage of all the offerings.
As I noted at the beginning of the this post, forums are about much more than just the school reps (although that’s certainly the meat of it!). There are workshops you can attend, and LSAC reps you can speak to. Make a day of it! The more information you can gather about law school, the LSAT, and the law school admissions process, the better!