The most important soft factors

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wadeny
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby wadeny » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:26 pm

LurkerNoMore wrote:
legends159 wrote:For most softs, how you write about it is more important than what is on your resume.

Make sure the PS tells a coherent story about who you are and what your goals and aspirations are. Treat the soft factors (pick a couple) as anecdotes to illustrate who you are. I think that people with mediocre softs on a resume, who can talk it up and make a cohesive story with a sticking point are those that have "great softs."


This is absolutely the correct answer.

Once you are past the numbers, it is much more about how you tell your story than what the component parts of that story are. Adcoms are looking to see what you bring to the table -- what you did doesn't tell them that, how you have incorporated what you have done into your life/world view does. Some people roll through life doing "impressive" things, but don't really internalize them. Some people pull great insight out of "mundane" experiences.

You want your personal statement (and resume) to indicate that you will contribute something of value when you are sitting in the classroom.


+1. Beyond the hard numbers, softs will help very rarely - basically when you can integrate them into a truly outstanding PS, although I don't even know how often mundane experiences can count toward this. Anyone who thinks, for example, that studying abroad or being the social chair for a fraternity/sorority are "solid" softs is kidding themselves. Based on the PS board here, it's amazing how inflated some people's egos are when it comes to stuff like this.

I would imagine some softs, though, such as URM status, a Rhodes scholarship, published research, etc, can help by themselves whether they are integrated well in an app or not.

crm
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby crm » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:28 pm

would starting out with a 3.0 first quarter, finishing last quarter with a 4.0, graduating in three years with honors be a decent soft or not really matter?

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bees
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby bees » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:31 pm

crm wrote:would starting out with a 3.0 first quarter, finishing last quarter with a 4.0, graduating in three years with honors be a decent soft or not really matter?


Doesn't matter.

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bees
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby bees » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:32 pm

WhiskeyGuy wrote:
bees wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:why do ppl keep putting LSAT and GPA as soft factors? they realize those are the "hard numbers" right? lol thus the other things being the "soft factors"

anyways, i would say the most helpful is URM status. after that things that give noticeable boosts would be:

veteran of the US army
peace corps
teach for america
child of a BIG donor/alumni
rhodes scholar and the like
amazing work experience like having your own very successful start-up company
personally, id say an advanced degree BESIDES a masters, i.e. a PhD/MD cuz damn, those take some work to get

those are the ones that come to mind...for the most part, id say softs just help you break ties, assuming you have the "requisite" amount expected of you lol

besides that, only big ones will pop out like, iunno writing harry potter or winning a medal at the olympics

edit: if PS and LORs fall under here, i guess exceptional ones are quite useful, but i mean, thats hard to KNOW you have gold


Just because it's bugging me: TFA shouldn't really be on that list, right?


TFA should be on the list. Anyone who teaches in deprived areas and for little pay gets points in my book.


Maybe it should be, but I'm saying as far as applications go I've never heard or read anything that would make me think it provides any more of a boost than a random legal internship.

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WhiskeyGuy
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby WhiskeyGuy » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:38 pm

sven wrote:
WhiskeyGuy wrote:
bees wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:why do ppl keep putting LSAT and GPA as soft factors? they realize those are the "hard numbers" right? lol thus the other things being the "soft factors"

anyways, i would say the most helpful is URM status. after that things that give noticeable boosts would be:

veteran of the US army
peace corps
teach for america
child of a BIG donor/alumni
rhodes scholar and the like
amazing work experience like having your own very successful start-up company
personally, id say an advanced degree BESIDES a masters, i.e. a PhD/MD cuz damn, those take some work to get

those are the ones that come to mind...for the most part, id say softs just help you break ties, assuming you have the "requisite" amount expected of you lol

besides that, only big ones will pop out like, iunno writing harry potter or winning a medal at the olympics

edit: if PS and LORs fall under here, i guess exceptional ones are quite useful, but i mean, thats hard to KNOW you have gold


Just because it's bugging me: TFA shouldn't really be on that list, right?


TFA should be on the list. Anyone who teaches in deprived areas and for little pay gets points in my book.


I think u mean Americorps Vista. TFAers get plenty of money.


TFAers get paid the same wage that any other first year teacher would be paid, which is usually around $35,000. I wouldn't call this "plenty of money," especially if someone lives and works in a high cost of living city. AmeriCorps obviously pays less than this.

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englawyer
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby englawyer » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:48 pm

i think work experience is greatly under-valued on TLS. a two year stint at even a decent job can be a strong asset.

first, it has been said a number of times that people with experience are doing better at OCI. schools surely realize this and will seek to add those with experience to their class to get better job stats.

second, it is a strong diversity component. you will automatically be judged above someone fresh out of u-grad with similar numbers and softs. for example, check out these stats from SLS:

* directly from college: 30%
* 1-2 years after college: 43%
* 3 or more years after college: 27%

to me, straight from u-grad types are competing for only 30% of 170 spots at stanford, ~ 51 spots.

someone w/ YHS numbers will have a much better chance at Y/S with work experience IMHO. this probably is in play with the rest of the law schools to some degree, but is particularly noticeable at the top level, where the schools look beyond the numbers.

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bees
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby bees » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:50 pm

englawyer wrote:i think work experience is greatly under-valued on TLS. a two year stint at even a decent job can be a strong asset.

first, it has been said a number of times that people with experience are doing better at OCI. schools surely realize this and will seek to add those with experience to their class to get better job stats.

second, it is a strong diversity component. you will automatically be judged above someone fresh out of u-grad with similar numbers and softs. for example, check out these stats from SLS:

* directly from college: 30%
* 1-2 years after college: 43%
* 3 or more years after college: 27%

to me, straight from u-grad types are competing for only 30% of 170 spots at stanford, ~ 51 spots.

someone w/ YHS numbers will have a much better chance at Y/S with work experience IMHO. this probably is in play with the rest of the law schools to some degree, but is particularly noticeable at the top level, where the schools look beyond the numbers.


Wouldn't we also have to take into account the % of applicants who are applying directly from college vs. a few years off?

I'm not saying you don't have a good point, but you can't look at this with only one set of numbers.

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observationalist
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby observationalist » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:52 pm

Schools look at softs in a few different ways:

1) as a way to round out the class and bring together a diverse group of interests and make law school a lot less boring (small-business owners vs. peace corps vs. jazz musicians vs. former athletes, etc);

2) as a way of pulling in people who will be competitive in the job market (strong professional networks, reputable UGs, work experience that indicates strong interpersonal skills, engineering backgrounds, etc);

3) people who have clearly delineated nontraditional interests that will be exploring different career paths than private practice, which can increase the overall placement rate down the road and keep the others happy (peace corps, TFA, Americorps, NRDC, political experience, etc);

4) as a way of mining for successful applicants who have LSATs/gpas that will keep them out of higher-ranked schools and may therefore have been overlooked by other admissions teams... sort of like scouting for the next American Idol. this one seems labor-intensive and few schools probably do this route, unless it's tied to one of the more obvious softs in the categories above.

This is my second American Idol reference today... time to get back to my seminar paper. Feel free to call me out on putting together an incoherent list that does nothing to answer the OP's question. Just pointing out the different ways in which softs are viewed by the adcomms.

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englawyer
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby englawyer » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:53 pm

you are right, that would certainly be useful info to have. it looks LSAC only assembles these statistics at a macro-level though (ex age 22-24). it is hard to tell which of those are straight from u-grad and which are not.

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Kohinoor
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:55 pm

Ragged wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Top soft factors:
1) Personal statement
2)URM
3) LSAT
4) GPA

Y'all need to work on your essay writing.

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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby sven » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:14 pm

WhiskeyGuy wrote:TFAers get paid the same wage that any other first year teacher would be paid, which is usually around $35,000. I wouldn't call this "plenty of money," especially if someone lives and works in a high cost of living city. AmeriCorps obviously pays less than this.


I don't mean to sound like an asshole for dwelling on this, but TFA salaries are very much commensurate with living costs. In NYC, they get 46,000, which is actually considerably more than most fresh college grads can hope to make in that city. They get around 42,000 in Philly, too, which is pretty great especially because its such an affordable place. TFA is certainly a really commendable and impressive thing to do and while the teachers work super-hard, they're not making any kind of financial sacrifices to work as 22-24 year old teachers.

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WhiskeyGuy
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby WhiskeyGuy » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:02 pm

sven wrote:
WhiskeyGuy wrote:TFAers get paid the same wage that any other first year teacher would be paid, which is usually around $35,000. I wouldn't call this "plenty of money," especially if someone lives and works in a high cost of living city. AmeriCorps obviously pays less than this.


I don't mean to sound like an asshole for dwelling on this, but TFA salaries are very much commensurate with living costs. In NYC, they get 46,000, which is actually considerably more than most fresh college grads can hope to make in that city. They get around 42,000 in Philly, too, which is pretty great especially because its such an affordable place. TFA is certainly a really commendable and impressive thing to do and while the teachers work super-hard, they're not making any kind of financial sacrifices to work as 22-24 year old teachers.


Come on man, you are cherry picking. The highest salary paid to TFAers is 47,000; most teachers do not have starting salaries that high. TFA teachers work across America, many in states that pay starting teachers in the low and mid 30 thousand range. Considering that those selected for TFA are quite competent and would be competitive in a job search, many are clearly making a financial sacrifice. FYI, the lowest salary is 27,000 -- these people certainly are making a financial sacrifice.

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rockchalk86
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby rockchalk86 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:14 pm

I truly believe my Americorps Vista service in a Legal Assistance office has been huge for me. Two of my 3 acceptances so far have mentioned it in acceptance letters and I just got a 45k scholly from Michigan with numbers much lower than people only getting 30k or less. I know that my GPA and LSAT got my foot in the door, but my Americorps stuff has definitely been a huge factor. Especially in a competitive position like the one I got. Over 100 applicants for my position because it involves legal work and soooo many Americorps are planning on law school.

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PDaddy
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby PDaddy » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:35 am

Here's a general list of softs that can strengthen an application. Of course, the list is not exhaustive.

Overcame disadvantage (economic/financial/geographic)
Attended rural school/school where significant numbers of students drop out, and where few go to college
Overcame physical trauma/lost relatives
Cared for ill/terminally ill loved one (especially if it interrupted studies)
Raised sibling(s)
Worked during high college and/or even high school
Overcame racism
War veteran/Police Officer (especially if wounded)
Physically "disabled"
College/Pro/Olympic Athlete
Ran own business
Awards for performances at jobs, such as high sales, great service, loss retention, etc (cite how recognized)
Extensive community service (i.e., Teach for America, AmeriCorps, United Way, etc)
Attended school in another country/military brat
Multilingual
Started/ran charity
Taught while in college or did internships/externships in "education field"
Participated/assisted on prestigious or worthwhile research project
Authored/wrote a book, magazine, manuscript, script, play, movie, published diary, critique, article, etc
Ran innovative website
Saved life of a stranger
Escaped gang/criminal activity to become a stellar student
Overcame drug/alcohol addiction or counseled addicts
Worked in a prison/juvenile detention facility
Had an offbeat career
Professional artist such as: actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, photographer, author, cartoonist, painter
Unusual skills (ex: circus work, breeding animals, etc)
Holds a graduate or professional degree or certificate
Wrote insane essays about any of the above!
Last edited by PDaddy on Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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englawyer
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby englawyer » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:29 am

PDaddy wrote:Here's a general list of softs that can strengthen an application. Of course, the list is not exhaustive.

Overcame disadvantage (economic/financial/geographic)
Attended rural school/school where significant numbers of students drop out, and where few go to college
Overcame physical trauma/lost relatives
Cared for ill/terminally ill loved one (especially if it interrupted studies)
Raised sibling(s)
Worked during high college and/or even high school
Overcame racism
War veteran (especially if wounded)
Physically "disabled"
College/Pro/Olympic Athlete
Ran own business
Awards for performances at jobs, such as high sales, great service, loss retention, etc (cite how recognized)
Extensive community service (i.e., Teach for America, AmeriCorps, United Way, etc)
Attended school in another country/military brat
Multilingual
Started/ran charity
Taught while in college or did internships/externships in education
Participated/assisted on prestigious or worthwhile research project
Authored/wrote a book, magazine, manuscript, script, play, movie, published diary, critique, article, etc
Ran innovative website
Saved life of a stranger
Escaped gang/criminal activity to become a stellar student
Overcame drug/alcohol addiction or counseled addicts
Worked in a prison/juvenile detention facility
Had an offbeat career
Professional artist such as: actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, photographer, author, cartoonist, painter
Unusual skills (ex: circus work, breeding animals, etc)
Holds a graduate or professional degree or certificate
Wrote insane essays about any of the above!


good list, but you forgot what is in my mind the most important/game-changing soft: scholarship that is distinguished on the national level. Rhodes, Marshall, etc.

With the right stats, I imagine that is one of the few things that can make you "auto admit" at YLS (kind of laughing inside at the concept, but it could be true).

umichgrad
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby umichgrad » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:18 pm

I'm wondering if maybe there's a soft category that's being overlooked, and that's the exit rankings aspect. Say you have two applicants with identical numbers, both exactly at median. Say they have nearly equal work experience EXCEPT that one has worked for two years as a teacher and the other has worked for two years at a law firm. I happen to think the latter gets points not because it is related to law (as we've seen that paralegals don't actually get much of a boost) but because it's assumed you've made connections that will help you be employed quickly after law school. When reporting their % employed at, say, V50 firms making 160 or more right out of school, wouldn't you want the kid that already had a foot in the door at a firm?

Just wondering. I think it's helped me this cycle.

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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby Kiersten1985 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:21 pm

umichgrad wrote:I'm wondering if maybe there's a soft category that's being overlooked, and that's the exit rankings aspect. Say you have two applicants with identical numbers, both exactly at median. Say they have nearly equal work experience EXCEPT that one has worked for two years as a teacher and the other has worked for two years at a law firm. I happen to think the latter gets points not because it is related to law (as we've seen that paralegals don't actually get much of a boost) but because it's assumed you've made connections that will help you be employed quickly after law school. When reporting their % employed at, say, V50 firms making 160 or more right out of school, wouldn't you want the kid that already had a foot in the door at a firm?

Just wondering. I think it's helped me this cycle.


Here's hoping.

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englawyer
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby englawyer » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:32 pm

umichgrad wrote:I'm wondering if maybe there's a soft category that's being overlooked, and that's the exit rankings aspect. Say you have two applicants with identical numbers, both exactly at median. Say they have nearly equal work experience EXCEPT that one has worked for two years as a teacher and the other has worked for two years at a law firm. I happen to think the latter gets points not because it is related to law (as we've seen that paralegals don't actually get much of a boost) but because it's assumed you've made connections that will help you be employed quickly after law school. When reporting their % employed at, say, V50 firms making 160 or more right out of school, wouldn't you want the kid that already had a foot in the door at a firm?

Just wondering. I think it's helped me this cycle.


pure speculation: helps more and more as you go down the rankings, less and less as you go up the rankings. YLS will probably not care, but a school ranked 20 or so would probably strongly factor this into the decision.

jbrowning82
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby jbrowning82 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:43 pm

yeah I gotta tell you that Peace Corps is really big. Im 3.05/169 and Im getting acceptances and scholarship offers that blow my mind.

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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:32 pm

englawyer wrote:
umichgrad wrote:I'm wondering if maybe there's a soft category that's being overlooked, and that's the exit rankings aspect. Say you have two applicants with identical numbers, both exactly at median. Say they have nearly equal work experience EXCEPT that one has worked for two years as a teacher and the other has worked for two years at a law firm. I happen to think the latter gets points not because it is related to law (as we've seen that paralegals don't actually get much of a boost) but because it's assumed you've made connections that will help you be employed quickly after law school. When reporting their % employed at, say, V50 firms making 160 or more right out of school, wouldn't you want the kid that already had a foot in the door at a firm?

Just wondering. I think it's helped me this cycle.


pure speculation: helps more and more as you go down the rankings, less and less as you go up the rankings. YLS will probably not care, but a school ranked 20 or so would probably strongly factor this into the decision.

This all assumes that working as a paralegal at a firm makes the firm more likely to hire you. In the vast majority if cases, I would guess it doesn't. How many paralegals do you think there are that eventually want to go on to be lawyers? Do you think any/most paralegals who worked at a firm are going to be able to come back to that firm just because they did research for them for a year or two? Regardless of how they may hold themselves out to be, firms are businesses first and foremost - not families. They will not hesitate to take a "more qualified" graduate of a better law school over somebody who worked at the firm as a paralegal for a year or two. It's not even a question when considering job applications, with some very rare exceptions. The experience is great for understanding what the legal profession is actually like, having an idea how it feels to do much of the grunt work (so that when you're a lawyer yourself, you know what kind of work/pressure they are subjected to), and things of the sort. It very rarely opens up a door to the firm for when you graduate, unless you leave for a particularly prestigious school.



bees wrote:
WhiskeyGuy wrote:
bees wrote:Just because it's bugging me: TFA shouldn't really be on that list, right?


TFA should be on the list. Anyone who teaches in deprived areas and for little pay gets points in my book.


Maybe it should be, but I'm saying as far as applications go I've never heard or read anything that would make me think it provides any more of a boost than a random legal internship.

TFA is very highly prized. That's one of those factors, as somebody else alluded to in this thread, that is often mentioned when discussing the make-up of an incoming class. We were told how many TFAers we had during our opening orientation. Also, even though they're not advertised (and apparently the admissions office denies it if inquired about), I know several people who received Deans Scholarships that specifically said something along the lines of "Dean's Scholarship - Teach For America."

To put some more statistics behind this, there were 35,178 applicants in 2009, and only 4,100 were accepted - 11.7%. It's not an easy thing to be accepted to, and it is an even more difficult thing to complete. I have all the respect in the world for anyone who manages to do TFA.

tsub
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby tsub » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:46 pm

WhiskeyGuy wrote:
sven wrote:
WhiskeyGuy wrote:TFAers get paid the same wage that any other first year teacher would be paid, which is usually around $35,000. I wouldn't call this "plenty of money," especially if someone lives and works in a high cost of living city. AmeriCorps obviously pays less than this.


I don't mean to sound like an asshole for dwelling on this, but TFA salaries are very much commensurate with living costs. In NYC, they get 46,000, which is actually considerably more than most fresh college grads can hope to make in that city. They get around 42,000 in Philly, too, which is pretty great especially because its such an affordable place. TFA is certainly a really commendable and impressive thing to do and while the teachers work super-hard, they're not making any kind of financial sacrifices to work as 22-24 year old teachers.


Come on man, you are cherry picking. The highest salary paid to TFAers is 47,000; most teachers do not have starting salaries that high. TFA teachers work across America, many in states that pay starting teachers in the low and mid 30 thousand range. Considering that those selected for TFA are quite competent and would be competitive in a job search, many are clearly making a financial sacrifice. FYI, the lowest salary is 27,000 -- these people certainly are making a financial sacrifice.


I'm currently in my 2nd year of TFA right now. The average college graduate from my university makes around $29,000 starting salary (my state has a low COL), but I know that many TFA people from my school had very nice job offers in the $50,000 to $60,000 range. In my placement I make about $45,000 a year, but when you think about the hours I work I probably make less than most babysitters and newspaper boys.

So, while it is possible that we COULD be making more money, we chose to make a financial sacrifice to serve the students in our communities. The salary I make now allows me to live a comfortable lifestyle, so it's not exactly a burden, but this is definitely an experience you don't do for the money.

umichgrad
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby umichgrad » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:51 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:This all assumes that working as a paralegal at a firm makes the firm more likely to hire you. In the vast majority if cases, I would guess it doesn't. How many paralegals do you think there are that eventually want to go on to be lawyers? Do you think any/most paralegals who worked at a firm are going to be able to come back to that firm just because they did research for them for a year or two? Regardless of how they may hold themselves out to be, firms are businesses first and foremost - not families. They will not hesitate to take a "more qualified" graduate of a better law school over somebody who worked at the firm as a paralegal for a year or two. It's not even a question when considering job applications, with some very rare exceptions. The experience is great for understanding what the legal profession is actually like, having an idea how it feels to do much of the grunt work (so that when you're a lawyer yourself, you know what kind of work/pressure they are subjected to), and things of the sort. It very rarely opens up a door to the firm for when you graduate, unless you leave for a particularly prestigious school.


Actually, I meant a different type of work, like a long-term internship or fellowship or some sort. For example, I have made very strong connections at the firm at which i work now, and there's certainly a possibility that come 2L hiring time that could work very strongly in my favor. Then again I don't want biglaw, so I guess we'll never know :)

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PDaddy
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby PDaddy » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:58 pm

englawyer wrote:
Re: PDaddy's list above
good list, but you forgot what is in my mind the most important/game-changing soft: scholarship that is distinguished on the national level. Rhodes, Marshall, etc.

With the right stats, I imagine that is one of the few things that can make you "auto admit" at YLS (kind of laughing inside at the concept, but it could be true).


Thanks for the compliment!

I didn't forget those. I just don't consider them "soft". After all, they are game-changers with the right stata, by your own admission. Soft factoors don't really work that way. They are game changers "for the right people with the right objective factors". Do you see the distinction? The weight soft factors carry is situational, which is a good thing. But that makes the process so unpredictable. This is why I caution people against advising applicants with certain stats to or not to apply to certain schools. None of us really knows what a person's chances are.

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gochrisgo
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby gochrisgo » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:04 pm

_
Last edited by gochrisgo on Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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MahaloMontana
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Re: The most important soft factors

Postby MahaloMontana » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:11 pm

PDaddy wrote:Here's a general list of softs that can strengthen an application. Of course, the list is not exhaustive.

Overcame disadvantage (economic/financial/geographic)
Attended rural school/school where significant numbers of students drop out, and where few go to college
Overcame physical trauma/lost relatives
Cared for ill/terminally ill loved one (especially if it interrupted studies)
Raised sibling(s)
Worked during high college and/or even high school
Overcame racism
War veteran/Police Officer (especially if wounded)
Physically "disabled"
College/Pro/Olympic Athlete
Ran own business
Awards for performances at jobs, such as high sales, great service, loss retention, etc (cite how recognized)
Extensive community service (i.e., Teach for America, AmeriCorps, United Way, etc)
Attended school in another country/military brat
Multilingual
Started/ran charity
Taught while in college or did internships/externships in "education field"
Participated/assisted on prestigious or worthwhile research project
Authored/wrote a book, magazine, manuscript, script, play, movie, published diary, critique, article, etc
Ran innovative website
Saved life of a stranger
Escaped gang/criminal activity to become a stellar student
Overcame drug/alcohol addiction or counseled addicts
Worked in a prison/juvenile detention facility
Had an offbeat career
Professional artist such as: actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, photographer, author, cartoonist, painter
Unusual skills (ex: circus work, breeding animals, etc)
Holds a graduate or professional degree or certificate
Wrote insane essays about any of the above!
Last edited by MahaloMontana on Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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