Thursday, April 03, 2008

Happy Admit Day

Hey! Are you an admitted student?

I was one of those too, a year ago.

Please don't tell me you are pacing around some hotel room here in Berkeley, frantically researching the school, and cramming for the big day tomorrow . . ?

Relax already, it's not an interview -- we already know we want you, so if anything you are interviewing us!

Here is abetter idea: get off the computer, come down to Thalassa, and have a drink. You can even look for me, if you want (I look like this*) and I would be honored to try and answer any questions you have, or put your mind a little bit at ease about law school, or Boalt.

If you dont' make it (I didn't come to Admit Day either), then consider this an open forum for discussion. If you root around here, you'll likely find wiser words than mine here, anyway.

*Too late, dude! The bar is closed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Boalt really not as competitive as other law schools? People keep saying this. But how would anyone know unless they went to more than one law school?

4/04/2008 3:36 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

For four years I've pondered that philosophical question. It's comparable to asking: "How do you know that what you see is really there?" I think I can now answer it.

The trick is separating BS from useful facts ("UF").

BS claim no. 1: No one rips pages out of books in the library here. [Every law school in America will make this claim. It's BS because no one really uses books anymore. This is the equivalent to firms saying, "No one really screams in the hallways here." Umm great?]

UF no. 1: Ask about school policies. The key ones are:

(a) Grading curve.
(b) Ranking of students
(c) When interviewing, do firms prerank students?
(d) ADVANCED: Do firms have informal grade cut-offs for candidates from your school?

Chances are, the answer to these questions will directly correlate to the level of competitiveness of a student body. If the school doesn't rank first years, if the school's curve is generous in that it creates a large gray area, if firms cannot prerank, etc. then it is bound to be less competitive.

B.S. claim no. 2: Every one is really cool. [Another meaningless overgeneralization. How do you define cool? Do they watch Star Trek?]

U.F. no. 2: Measure a student body by what's important to you. Who cares if XYZ Law School has 900 PhDs in its class. That's not what matters to me. I focused on sense of humor. I found it at Boalt. I also loved the fact that the student body did not consist of cookie-cutter forms of ivy/liberal arts grads who had paralegaled at random east coast firm for two years. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

B.S. claim no. 3: "Like every Thursday we have bar review where we go to a different bar in town." [Good. Alcohol consumption definitely aids in the study of law. But at said bar review, what percentage of the attendees discuss law, legal doctrine, and/or the law school?]

UF no. 3: Frequency of kegs in the law school is a sign of mental stability in the student body. Frequency of studying in the library is the polar opposite. Judge accordingly.

4/04/2008 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's worth noting that Boalt's attempt at SEEMING to not be focused on grades/competition creates another kind of pressure altogether.

It starts on the first day when Prof. Bob Berring gets up and gives a little speech where he says the class will be made up of three groups of people: "skywalkers" (I think these were generally amazing students), "red hots" (these are show-off gunners), and "Bobs" (the middle group like him).

Pretty much, this speech just compounds the constant judgment and adds a second possible stigma for law students. Because, as you will find, it is NOT cool at Boalt to do anything that might make it look like you are trying to do well in your classes.

It is cool to ditch class, it is cool to talk about how far behind in your reading you are and it is cool to roll your eyes when someone raises their hand. It is not cool to be the one raising your hand, it is not cool to talk to the professor after class, and it is especially not cool be seen in the library.

Then you have to add to this the fact that, no matter what anybody says, everyone actually HOPES to do well in their classes (at least up to the point when they realize that they just are not going to do so great--then they start to tell themselves that they don't care to make themselves feel better).

People ARE still competitive but must appear to not be in order to fit in to the celebrated/attempted Boalt "culture." This means you have to either not care at all what anybody thinks of you (the mentally healthy path) or live in constant fear of the judgment.

The reason for all of this is: people are extremely insecure because law school is hard and pretty much all the people are smart. So these insecure people alleviate their anxiety by judging others. Berring's speech provides a handy extra category for judgment by students who want to be able to have contempt for those who do better than them (or try) as well as those who make them feel intellectually superior. Also, it gives the people with straight Ps someone to scorn.

So, be careful about Boalt's claims of less competition. At HYS, perhaps they just embrace the fact that they all want to do well, whereas Boalt students try to hide it. If you plan to do well (or try) then maybe you'll be more comfortable somewhere where it is OK to openly care about your grades. If you don't care how well you do or think you might struggle, you'll probably feel better about yourself at the end of three years at Boalt.

I'm not saying that I don't appreciate Boalt's attempts at making law school more comfortable for the students. And I'm sure Berring has the best intentions when he makes his speech--because the people at the top of the class don't really need a pep talk to feel good about themselves. So that's all fair. But just be aware that whether we call it "competition" or not, Boalt is just as judgmental--maybe more--than any other law school.

And, in case you are wondering, once you enter Boalt, nobody is a skywalker anymore. Even if you were a skywalker, your classmates will deem you a red-hot to make them feel better about themselves.

4/04/2008 4:48 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

I don't really agree with that last post. I have fun, and I honestly still work fairly hard. I also know when NOT to work hard (Income Tax I, I am looking at you) and take that P.

What Bob was trying to say was: You are smart, among many other smart people. Not all of you will win. So don't get mad when you aren't the top of your class here.

That doesn't = don't do any work at all, or even advocate pretending not to work. It just means do your best and then relax and enjoy the results, whatever they may be.

To be at a school with this privilege (to not have to "win" in order to get a job/be happy at life) is amazing. So appreciate it.

4/04/2008 5:29 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I don't want to seem like I'm judging 4:48 (thus impairing your mental health), but why do raising your hand, shutting your computer off a minute early to run up to the prof, and stinking up the reading room by not leaving for 72-straight hours necessarily relate to "doing well?"

Have you HEARD anyone actually be judged for getting HHs? Have you heard anyone be judged for publishing an article? Have you heard anyone be judged for getting a position through a faculty connection? Have you heard anyone judged for getting a great clerkship? Didn't think so either. Which brings me to:

B.S. claim no. 4: Boalt culture doesn't let you be successful.

UF no. 4: Boalt culture frowns upon competitive jerks who only act that way for the sake of being competitive jerks. The following are important sub-UFs:

(a) There is nothing you can say in class that can't wait for office hours. Don't waste our time with your senseless inquiry into the bounds of justice. Waste the professor's.

(b) Competitive (and sometimes pugilistic) jerks study at the library.

(c) The jealous/resentful types belong with the competitive Georgetown!!!

4/04/2008 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Armen's UF 4(a):
I think the point is that no one will judge you in the least for asking intelligent, pertinent questions in class. If you are confused about something the professor says, someone else probably is too, so YES - go ahead and raise that hand! No judgment there.

But please, spare us from your arcane, ridiculous, buried-in-a-footnote question that even the professor doesn't quite understand. Take it from the rest of us: no one is impressed. We want to learn the core concepts, and spending 10 minutes off in never-never land dissecting whatever strikes YOUR particular (and irrelevant) fancy is not helpful.

I love this place, really I do. And a big part of why is that students are generally NON-judgmental. Normal, thoughtful, polite human beings will have a great time here.

4/04/2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger devin said...

Hey Patrick. Was that you guiding the tour at 1:30 today? (You had a nametag on, but hell, there may be two... who look similar.)

Thanks for getting us lost! (Kidding.)

4/04/2008 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At admit day today, I was a little surprised by the way in which folks discussed their academics. I'm all for collegiality, disuading gunners, and the P/F system, but is it passe to be a little nerdy and actually interested in your classes? Do folks talk about the content of their classes outside of the classroom? The sense I got was that enjoying your coursework was seen as super lame.

Also, is Dean Edley really that underjoyed with being a law school dean? He brought up how much he "didn't want to come to Boalt and be the dean" at EVERY forum (that I saw him in) in which he spoke.

I was also kind of surprised by the lack of diversity on the AM student panel. Do people refer to their "social justice" interest to indicate their politics to others so that they won't be judged harshly if they go into BigLaw?

4/04/2008 7:00 PM  
Blogger devin said...

To 7:00: I got that feeling at the AM panel as well ("enjoying coursework... [is] super lame"). And the way you mention the "social justice" interest makes it sound like you think they were being disingenuous - is this accurate?

4/04/2008 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi devin,

I don't think they were being disingenuous, but the term "social justice" was thrown around so often that it was unspecific and, for me, lacked meaning/context. It sounded like, for some, there was a tension between how they wished to be perceived (SJ-minded) versus how their career choices would be perceived by their peers.

I would have appreciated hearing about the larger swathe of academic and career interests among current law students.

4/04/2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I didn't see the panel, but I can speak to my almost 2 years here.

My 1L year, I did engage in a lot of conversations about coursework outside class. I must admit, that doesn't happen nearly as much now that I'm a 2L, but this is more a function of having a greater interest in the journals and field placements I'm involved in--I have plenty of conversations about those.

To the extent it seemed like interest in class is considered lame, keep in mind that the panelists are current students and finals are coming up. NOBODY likes their classes when exams approach.

To sum up, liking your courses isn't "lame". Law school is way to much work to survive if you hate it all. Every school has its downsides, but overall Boalt is a positive place.

4/04/2008 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, Ashley. Within my group of IP friends, nerdiness is coolness. Talking shop outside of class is one of the most enjoyable parts of learning. I'm sure that no matter your field, you will find classmates similarly engaged intellectually. Disregard the cynics.

4/04/2008 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we've changed our school to "Berkeley School of Law" or whatever, then why were all the signs still Boalt Hall?

Does the $30,000 not include signage?

4/04/2008 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few points:

- When people ask whether Boalt is as "competitive" as other schools, I'm often puzzled what they mean. Do they mean, are people mean-spirited and engage in underhanded behavior? Or do they mean, are students, particularly in the first year, generally trying to do the best they can in a given class, while not resorting to underhanded tactics, knowing full well that Boalt's strict curve makes getting a top grade a zero sum game? As for the first sense of competitive, no, I don't think Boalt has a mean-spirited student body. But I doubt that any of the top schools have such an overtly evil student body. You lose more than you gain from such behavior at a top institution. It's just not worth the risk. But, hey, I don't go to NYU, so I don't know. As for the second sense, yes, I think Boalt students are competitive. The Boalt student body has one of the highest average college GPA's at any law school. They got those GPA's presumably by applying themselves diligently, and, given the high cost of law school and the value of the grades to some future employers, the students at Boalt do not unilaterally disarm. They do the best they can in their studies, striving to improve their position in life. But not in a mean-spirited way.

- Boalt is extremely competitive (in a zero sum way, not an obnoxious, undercutting way) at the top of the curve for obvious reasons. It's very difficult to get lots of HH's with the strict curve that is enforced in most every class. Though Boalt may have a more cooperative school environment than other top schools and, in my experience, has no mean-spirited behavior, it has zero grade inflation because of the enforced curve. Not many top schools can make that claim and back it up. The HH is the most precise grade in the sense that it generally only covers the top 10% of a class. The P, at the opposite extreme, is considerably less precise as it covers 60% of the class. Getting an HH, then, is very meaningful. On top of that, for those who care to research it, an H and P have an almost equal point value when computing class rank and coif, whereas a HH has a much higher point value. You may have gotten an H and missed a HH by a point or two on the exam, but, in rank arithmetic, that H is worth just about as much as a P. But just because it's hard to get top grades all the time at Boalt does not mean that students engage in underhanded behavior.

- A caveat: Perhaps I'm placing too much emphasis on "underhanded behavior" in defining undesirable competitive attitudes. Perhaps negative competitive behavior is more kindly associated with insular personalities who are self-absorbed in studies and remove themselves to some degree from the society of others so as to focus more on self-advancement in coursework or competitive extracurricular activities. If that's our notion of competitive behavior, then, Boalt, like many law schools has students like that of varying degrees of "withdrawedness." But the availability of the P relaxes a good portion of the class after 1L year, if not by the second semester of 1L year.

- Here's another way of thinking about it. After 1L year, students at most top law schools, including Boalt, compete with each other less over grades because they get their firm job based on 1L grades. Boalt students who want clerkships or students who understand the value of a strong transcript as a career credential down the road continue to reach for Order of the Coif and other honors, just like at any other law school. But the presence of the P probably chills out more of the student body than at other law schools. Yet, the top 30-40% of the class (the HH/H strivers) probably stays as competitive as the continuous academic strivers at any other top law school after 1L year.

- Students at Boalt do seem to respect and applaud the academic and extracurricular achievements of their peers at Boalt. The person who gets nearly straight HH's and lots of AmJur's is praised and respected, if his or her identity is known. The Moot Court champ is similarly haled. But, at Boalt, because of the culture of modesty and restraint, it's often hard to identify those students (particularly the grade champs). But those students don't choose to stay hidden because they expect the derision of their classmates if their identity is revealed. They may not be revealing their grades because they'd rather not have their social interactions with their classmates filtered through the lens of, "Oh, I'm talking to the AmJur king or queen, I better be cool or try not to say anything stupid." It's not an anti-intellectual impulse that drives those students to be modest. Those students may openly embrace discussion of "the law" in the corridors of the school. The school faciliates the academic achievers' desire to stay anonymous because it does not post the book award winners or offer yearly prizes to top GPA achievers, though I realize it does recognize a valedictorian at the end and eventually hands out coif designations. Boalt's choice to honor such continuous academic accomplishment at the end of one's time at Boalt is consistent with its mission of not letting grades get in the way of social and community interaction for most of the three years at Boalt. Yes, Boalt has a competitive grading system (again, zero grade inflation and a zero sum curve and a ranking system for clerkships, academic positions, and coif that disproportionately privileges HH's over H's) and firms can fairly easily use our grades to rank their candidates and create spreadsheets of rank, but the school does its best to not allow ranking designations to seep into the culture of the school in a negative way. And that's asking a lot of a law school. Law is so, so hierarchical a culture. Boalt does its best to shield its students from some, though not all, of the hierarchy during their three years among the redwoods and pleasant pastures of Berkeley.

- There are plenty of Boalt students who talk about Contracts, Torts, Tax, Fed Courts, and Admin Law etc. outside of the classroom. Perhaps they're not posting on this board, but we've got plenty of them. And the discussion, in my experience, is not snooty and exclusive; it's open-minded and fun. It involves students hashing through the doctrine together, envisioning hypotehticals, and understanding the chinks in the doctrine's armor from a doctrinal and policy perspective.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts. I hope you admits enjoyed your day at Boalt. Congrats on getting in and good luck with making your choice! Our school is lots of fun.

4/04/2008 10:01 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

its not like they changed the name of the building. it is still Boalt Hall, but they just call it Berkeley Law outside of the campus.

Like, for example, nearly every other law school in the country (they are all named something, usually stupid).

The Arizona State Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law is one such mouthful. ASU Law.

I'm looking forward to University of California, Berkeley --- Sonsini School of Law.

4/04/2008 10:06 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Devin @ 6:32:


*Nobody* knows how to get from the third floor of Simon, to old Boald, and back again, without backtradcking. Trust me!

4/05/2008 1:14 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

6:27 -- Excellent amendment to UF 4(a).

10:01 -- Not sure why you think HH is overvalued, but that's a debate best left for another day. I think you hit the nail right on the head about how Boalt minimizes the impact of competitive forces that drive the legal profession. I've been very saddened to see some of the competitive tendencies that law schools foment actually explode to the surface in practice. Really sad.

4/05/2008 2:33 AM  
Blogger McWho said...

Excellent response, 10:01. I think that pretty accurately captures what I have seen at Boalt.

4/05/2008 9:42 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Well said, 10:01.

I don't have much to add, except to second Armen's list, and to say that I am a bit more sympathetic with 4:48 than McWho was. If a person wanted to start putting a student down here, they would not insinuate that the student is dim-witted. They start suggesting the student is a "red-hot" or a "gunner." That's too bad, because red-hot and gunner are empty phrases which convey little more than disapproval. Everyone agrees that it is desirable to not be a red-hot or a gunner, but it is much harder to find consensus on the distinction between red-hotishness and good old fashioned dorkiness (which is a personality trait all of us share whether we admit it or not).

For my part, I really enjoy 'talking shop' outside of class. I remember having an 2-3 hour conversation about products liability in Cafe Intermezzo last semester, which only ended because the employees were kicking us out so they could lock the door. I don't think those conversations are "gunnerish" or "red-hotish" -- we are learning about fascinating, complicated stuff. From my point of view, a person would have to be crazy to not want to think/talk/rehash it in their free time. People have different attitudes about that, I realize, but there is mine.

I do have some thoughts regarding competitiveness in general . . . Sometimes I think that when law student and admits are discussing competitiveness, they are really talking about spitefulness and ill will. Many of us have been in highly competitive environments that are healthy and supportive. We have also been in highly competitive environments that are unhealthy and vindictive. The salient difference isn't the level of competition, it is the attitudes and social environment in which that competition takes place.

I am really happy here. I like law school, I like my peers, and I like going to class every day. I don't feel the spiteful vibe here at all, (but maybe I am clueless -- it has happened before!) I would also say that there is plenty of competition to go around. But I think it is in general the healthy kind. So, is it competitive here? Yes. But is competitiveness per se really what you were asking about?

Finally, I think this tread typifies interactions between Boalties in general. The people I know are bright, thoughtful, and kind. Just like the above posters. These are the kind of people you will sit next to in class, should you come to school here this fall. It seems like a pretty good bunch to me.

4/05/2008 12:52 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

Point of information: Patrick is a total red hot. ;)

4/05/2008 1:34 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I was thinking of something like this, but with the words "too hot to handle" . . . on inside of my right forearm . . . big.

Really big.

4/05/2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armen is right about most of the substance of what he says. For those of you who find it ironic that he puts so much value on humor but is usually a lot less funny than he thinks, give him a break. He's a lawyer, not a comedian.

I think most people at Boalt come in being competitive and wanting to do really well, but not very many are jerks about it. I have pretty good sense of what other places are like because I had friends and acquaintances in lots of law schools before I came here, and I paid attention because I knew I might go too. Boalt is distinctive in that it is rare to know how someone is doing. There are a handful of people you know are doing well, and a handful you know are barely making their P's. Mostly, you know people by who they are and what they do outside of class. That's a very good thing. It is uncommon.

I want you to know another thing. The stigma on talking grades has another very positive effect. For the vast majority of people who are not going to end up with prestigious clerkships or working for the very top firms, grades are not the biggest factor in your future success. Except for those two groups, you are much better off choosing wisely in how you spend time outside of class than putting extra time into scoring another HH. You have a huge number of opportunities in law school that have nothing to do with your classes, and you will probably never have so many of them again. I admit I came in wanting to have it all, but I soon realized that I was not going to both make coif and also prepare for my future career, and I chose to put my time into the activities that would help advance my career rather than increase my GPA. I am out now, and I can report that I chose very wisely. I think it is much easier to make that choice at Boalt, and a big reason is the curve. Even if you aren't looking for a job where grades matter a lot, it is embarrassing if you have a lot of C's and not B's or B+'s. Really, each C you get would be a little embarrassing if you're someone who is used to achieving. At Boalt, a P simply isn't specific enough to be embarrassing. If you have nothing but P's, that might still be bad, but that's easy enough to avoid if you care. It's a system that allows you to do what is best for you and your career. That's huge.

4/05/2008 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thing that makes Boalt different is who's on top. Everyone I've known who went to any law school (even Boalties) was struck at how much it is like high school in some way or other. But Boalt is like high school in a much less insidious way. Or maybe it's like a much less insidious high school. Some high schools are like the ones you see in the movies - there is a pretty clear social structure, with the jocks being the popular types and everyone fits into a place on the ladder until you hit the outcasts on the bottom, and the popular kids treat everyone else like crap, everyone else secretly hates them but can't do anything about it outside the movies. Most law schools seem like that. At Boalt, I think there is the same tendency to regress to high school stereotypes, but I didn't feel like there was the same fixed social structure. It was like a high school where you had different groups of people who were all doing their own thing. They still tended to act like they were in high school, but the chess club kids and the D&D kids weren't outcasts, and the jocks were just another group of kids doing their thing. Of course, there were some groups of kids at Boalt who thought they were at the top of the food chain, but everyone else seemed to either forgive them for that or ignore it; but I only knew a few people at Boalt who really felt like they were victims of the social structure. That is very different from the stories I heard from friends at other schools.

Oh, and the other thing different about Boalt is that if there was a group of people at the top of the food chain, it was the ones who go around talking about their "social justice" affiliations. Naturally, any of them have their heads up their asses, and they tend to be the ones who create a lot of the Boalt stereotypes. All in all, though, they are mostly harmless to those who aren't interested in The Cause (whatever that turns out to be). And it makes for a nice counterbalance to the corporate law influence that permeates all law schools. If you tend to be one who finds the social justice types a little grating, you can take comfort in the fact that most of them end up at the firms along with the rest. It's just too easy to get a job that way. But then again, maybe everything will be different when you arrive.

4/05/2008 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Along with the high school analogy, I'm pretty sure 4:45pm is STILL bitter about high school. Stop projecting!

4/06/2008 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. There's some pretty meaty posts here. Let me quickly offer my own 2 cents:

Competitiveness--I think Boalt's grading system reduces competitiveness, because (a) you can't do poorly (no C grades), and (b) there's no readily available GPA to precisely compare yourself to your peers. That being said, I think Boalt's curve benefits the top and bottom quarter, to the expense of the middle 50%--who have a hard time distinguishing themselves among all the Ps and Hs.

Hs versus HHs--10:01 is right: it's really the HHs that determine class rank, in terms of clerkships, etc. In other words: you should shoot for the HH or the P.

Avoiding the red-hot moniker--I think Armen's post at 6:09 shows why people don't want to appear too academically eager. That is the most disingenuous "I don't want to seem like I'm judging" I've ever seen. While gunning is disliked at every school, I think there is a concern by many about participating at all. On the plus side, I think it's great that people don't generally know who got the AmJur in any given class. I usually get the gamut of grades each semester, but I usually advertise when I get the P, but don't tell anyone when I do really well.

Diversity at Admit Day--I think there are two factors here: (a) giving admits what is thought they want ("We love social justice!"), and (b) the narrow range of students who volunteer or are chosen to participate in Admit Day. I don't know whether students who want to do M&A or IP litigation are volunteering or not, but I think it would be nice if they were SOMEWHERE at Admit Day.

4/07/2008 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i did well at boalt. graduated top 10, had some amjurs/prossers, law review, federal clerkship. compared to my former coclerks who attended peer schools, i think boalt is more calm. this is why: at every other school that grades, folks are fighting for the B-/C+ break, or at chicago, for every little numerical breakdown. at boalt, after october of second year, half of the class realizes that they have their firm job and that they will likely get 75% Ps and 25% Hs, with no rhyme or reason to how much they study. so they work hard, but not like crazy, because there is no meaningful distinction for them to work toward. folks who are always on the H/HH break still work a lot harder, because they want the clerkship/justice dept/etc job that requires coif. here's the thing: you don't know as a 1L where you will be in the class. so take the Rawlsian approach, put yourself behind the veil of ignorance, and think about the odds. make the choice that gives you the best outcome no matter where you land in the class. the odds at any school are 9:1 that you will not be in the top 10% of the class and 1:1 that you will be in the bottom half of the class. and boalt is better rawlsian choice, whether you are in the bottom 50% or coif. from the bottom 50%, you will work less hard since the odds are you will get a P no matter what, and not suffer because of the lack of particularity of the grading scale. from the coif position, you get the benefit of a generally more relaxed atmosphere over places where everyone is constantly slaving for a B+. Folks at boalt--top and bottom of the class--work hard and are usually engaged. But it's best to go to school where life is generally pleasant. guacfest, kegs in the courtyard, and sunshine, aside from the grading scale, mean that folks at boalt seem a lot happier than my friends from chicago and NYC schools.

4/07/2008 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have advice for people on Boalt's waitlist? Is there a better place for me to post this question?

4/07/2008 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:51 - I was a waitlist admit, and my biggest piece of advice is to keep showing your interest. I sent in an extra LOR and replied to their "are you still interested?" email even though it said to only reply if you are no longer interested. I don't know if my acceptance had anything to do with those things, but I like to think they helped.

4/07/2008 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:51: Your extra letter of rec did not help. You were ranked high by the committee that reviewed you and you ranked high overall on the waitlist. That is why you got in. Boalt does not re-review your application when you send in new things.

4/08/2008 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woops..message above was to 8:17.

To 7:51-find out your rank to see if you have a chance of getting in off the waitlist. If you aren't high on the list it is best to focus your energy on schools that you did get into. However, if Boalt is still your first choice you can always re-apply.

4/08/2008 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:22 - if you have insider knowledge as to the waitlist system at boalt, answer me this: why did I get in after my friend who was in the 2nd quartile, even though I was in the 1st? This seems to show that the rank has little to do with the order you get in...

4/08/2008 10:57 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

. . . some admit advice is listed here, at the Shark, if you think you might be interested.

Also, Armen steered the following comment from another thread, over to this one:

Anonymous said...
Is Boalt a good place to go if you're not really interested in practicing law, but only minorly interested? Specifically, I am referring to someone who is interested in getting involved with social entrepreneurship and business, and who wants to get a "good degree" and some stability before embarking on his own. If not Boalt, what would be a better law school to do this at?
Second, would anyone here choose Boalt over Yale or Stanford?

4/08/2008 8:58 AM

I have a couple of thoughts.

First, I too hope that Boalt is a good place for people who are not necessarily interested in practicing law, because that's how I describe myself. I love law school (I am a red hot, after all), but I am keeping some other options open for myself precisely because I am not entirely certain that the practice of law is for me. On the other hand, I have never practiced law, so I just don't know yet -- I have two more years and a couple of internships in which to make up my mind.

With regard to which school to attend. . . It's such a personal thing, but I'll share what motivated me. I was accepted to two of the three schools you mentioned. Because I am still not sure about what I want to do when I grow up, my decision to attend Boalt was motivated by financial factors. Financial factors notwithstanding, I like it here a lot, and I am really happy to be here. (But given my personality, I would probably be happy at a lot of other schools as well.)

If you are serious about getting a good degree and stability before embarking on your own, and not necessarily practicing law, ect., then my advice is this: look closely at the financial commitments each of those law schools will require of you. While I suppose there is a sense in which being chained to massive debt is "stable," it's probably not the stability you seek. What you are really after is flexibility, and there is nothing like unmanageable debt to start closing doors. (Well, I can think of a few other things, but they're beyond the scope of this conversation.)

Those are just my two cents. You should also know that I'm not particularly interested in business or entrepreneurship, so given your needs, there may be more important factors out there than motivated me. Have you considered an MBA, or a JD/MBA program?

4/08/2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Broken link above. Sorry. Here is the post at the Shark.

4/08/2008 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the admit quoted in Patrick at 11:13----if you are not interested in practicing law, don't go to law school. I remember before I went to law school that I often said that I wasn't sure if I wanted to practice law, and other people (not lawyers) would always say, "Well a law degree is great to just have. You can do anything with that." Having now been to law school, I would never say this. Law school is great if you want to be a lawyer, but if that's not what you want, you are better off spending three years (and not spending over $100K) doing what you actually want to do.

If you just want a good degree, and for some reason have a few years and some money to burn, then you might as well just go for the school with the best name. Otherwise, maybe consider a JD/MPP, if you're interested in social entrepreneurship. But don't go to law school just to go.

4/08/2008 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:57 again--I met MBA/MPP, not JD.

4/08/2008 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

back to 7:51 re: wait lists:

I'm a wait list admit. I was ranked in the second quartile for non-residents. (They separate wait lists into residents and non-residents, which may explain 10:57's comment.) I was admitted sometime in June, so I ended up having to put a seat deposit down at another school and then back out of that slot when I got into Boalt. Once I got here, I did just fine - no Ps during my first semester - so you definitely shouldn't feel like you're anything less than qualified coming off the wait list.

4/09/2008 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't make it to the admit day, so this blog really is very helpful. I have a few questions....

1) does Boalt have any formal study abroad/externship programs? A lot of other law schools have a list of study abroad options on their websites, but I couldn't find any on

2) does Boalt really have 0 international student population? (according to the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools)

3) high 3rd year attrition (21 students left Boalt in their 3rd year?) again.. according to the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools

Thanks in advance!

4/19/2008 5:17 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Wow, you're lucky I get comments e-mailed to me.

1. No. But like most peer groups, you can get credit if you do a summer abroad at an ABA accredited program. But I don't think that's the best way to spend your summer. If you want to go abroad for the summer, Boalt's faculty are very helpful in recommend and pulling strings for internships.

2. No, that's not true. We have an entire LLM program for international students. They're either wild and outgoing or quiet and meek. Our JD program probably does have 0 international students.

3. Did 21 Boalties drop out during the third (least stressful) year? No, absolutely not. And you can't transfer as a 3L. So what gives? Well, some took part in our Harvard-Boalt exchange program, some went to other law schools to study, and yet others took leaves to pursue once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Boalt was supportive for each of them as long as they complied with graduation and other requirements.

4/19/2008 9:10 AM  

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