Interview with Christopher J. Peters, Former Dean and Professor of Law, The University of Akron School of Law
Top Law Schools would like to thank Christopher J. Peters (CJP), Former Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Akron School of Law, for taking the time to answer our questions!
Law School Reputation/Public Perception
TLS: Tell us about University of Akron School of Law. What would you most like applicants to know that they can't glean so easily from U.S. News rankings or from your law school's website?
CJP: Lots, but I'll limit myself to three items:
- At Akron Law, we commonly refer to our community as "the Akron Law Family." This is not just hyperbole; we are a student-focused law school with a long tradition of caring for each other and giving every student individual support on the way to their law degree.
- When people think of Akron Law, they often think of intellectual property law, which is certainly one of our great strengths. What many people don't realize is that our litigation and trial advocacy program is also among the best in the nation. We offer a certificate in Litigation, beginning and advanced courses in trial advocacy, an innovative Summer Trial Academy, and a student Trial Team program that has won 19 national or regional championships.
- Between 20% and 25% of Akron Law JD students originally come from outside Ohio. Out-of-state students can take advantage of our low nonresident tuition, which is below $25,000 per year and only $100 more than Ohio residents pay.
TLS: Whether or not they apply to or ultimately attend University of Akron School of Law, what do you think applicants should consider when choosing a law school? If you had a son or daughter applying to law school this year, how would you advise them to choose between schools?
CJP: I would advise them to find a school that is a good personal fit for them. For example, some students are very self-directed and would do fine at a law school that is not especially student-focused, while other students want a little more personal attention. Some students have a strong interest in a particular area of the law, such as intellectual property or trial advocacy, and will benefit from attending a law school with particular expertise in those areas. This "fit" dimension is something you can't discern just by looking at rankings. I strongly recommend that prospective students make personal contact with people at each law school they are considering, whether it's admissions professionals, members of the faculty or administration, alumni, or current students. If possible, attend an open house or schedule a personal visit. That's the best way to get a "feel" for the place.
TLS: What is your view on the role the U.S. News and World Report rankings play in the law school recruitment and admissions process? How do the rankings affect University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: Once upon a time, before voluminous information about legal education was available to everyone on the internet, the U.S. News rankings served a valuable purpose: they collected in one place a lot of useful comparative information about law schools, such as bar passage and placement rates, admissions selectivity data, and student/faculty ratios. Now all this information is available, in much greater depth, through other public outlets - the ABA, LSAC, NALP, other private websites like this one, and often the law schools themselves. The "usefulness" of U.S. News has been reduced to its "horse race" aspect: excitement, gossip, consternation, and angst over where your law school will finish in the latest rankings. I personally don't see much real value in a one-size-fits-all "comparison" of 200 very different law schools - certainly not when that comparison is disproportionately driven by LSAT scores and the opinions of lawyers, judges, and law professors who may know nothing at all about the school they are rating. As someone who has taught at law schools in three of the four U.S. News "tiers," including two in the top 10, I can say with confidence that the quality of the legal education a law school provides has little or nothing to do with its "reputation" or with the credentials of its entering students. And I am glad to see that U.S. News and other rankings systems seem to matter less and less to prospective law students with each passing year. At Akron Law, we are having tremendous success recruiting, educating, and graduating outstanding future lawyers who don't care much about what our U.S. News ranking happens to be in any given year.
TLS: Is there value to additional metrics (e.g., new rankings like the ones promulgated by Above the Law)?
CJP: A proliferation of rankings, metrics, and other sources of information about law schools is virtually always a good thing. Necessarily each ranking or rating system will focus on different criteria or use a different methodology - like law schools, the rankings need to differentiate themselves to survive. The result is a broader array of information and analysis available to prospective law students. For example, from looking at the U.S. News rankings, you would never know that Akron Law's intellectual property and trial advocacy programs are among the most highly regarded in the country. But the National Jurist/PreLaw Magazine ratings have made this information available to the public. Generally speaking, more sources of information is better than fewer.
TLS: Are there any exciting things on the horizon at University of Akron School of Law? Any new developments, programs, or opportunities you'd like to share with our readers?
CJP: Yes, tons! To mention just a few:
- Akron Law is piloting a Summer Start program this year that allows JD students to begin their studies in May rather than waiting until August. Students can use the program to get a head start on their degree requirements, or just to ease into their law school studies by spreading out the first-year curriculum over 10 months rather than 8. The Summer Start program supplements our very successful Spring (January) Start program, now in its third year, which this year enrolled nearly 40 JD students.
- Akron Law has received a $300,000 grant from LSAC and DiscoverLaw.org to host a Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) program each of the next three summers. The program will bring 20 undergraduates, mostly from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, to our Akron campus in June for a four-week immersion in legal career opportunities and law school prep.
- Also this summer, Akron Law faculty will lead a group of law students on a unique two-country, three-city study abroad program in Japan and South Korea. Now in its third year, the program was recently named a "Best Law School Study Abroad Excursion" by National Jurist Magazine. It's fully ABA approved and is open to non-Akron Law students.
TLS: How would you describe the students at University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: This is a tough question to answer, as Akron Law students are such a diverse bunch. If I had to generalize, I would say they tend to be hard-working, polite, self-motivated but outgoing, socially conscious, and pragmatic. Although many of them are from other parts of the country, their work ethic and their natural friendliness strike me as typically Midwestern.
TLS: What's student life like? When students aren't studying or taking classes, what types of activities might they engage in?
CJP: This is also a tough question to answer due to the diversity of our student body. A great many of our students participate in sports or are die-hard sports fans. Many of them do volunteer work in the community. We have a significant number of creative students - musicians, actors, and visual artists. Northeast Ohio provides tons of opportunities for extracurricular activities - hiking in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, attending professional sports events, enjoying the music or food scene, and participating in the arts, to name just a few.
TLS: How many students participate in student-run legal journals?
CJP: We have one outstanding student-edited law journal, the Akron Law Review, which has long been ranked among the top 100 general student-edited law journals in the country. Between 40 and 50 students serve on the Law Review staff each year.
TLS: Aside from journals, what are the most popular legal extracurricular activities available to students of University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: Our student competition teams are enormously popular and very successful. Our trial advocacy teams, for example, have won (by my count) 19 national or regional titles in the last quarter-century. An Akron Law trial team recently won our region and took the silver medal nationally in the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition and will compete in the prestigious "Top Gun" Tournament of Champions next fall. Our moot court and client counseling competition teams also have enjoyed tremendous success.
TLS: What sort of clinical opportunities are available for students? Are there any clinics University of Akron School of Law is especially proud of?
CJP: Akron Law offers a wide variety of clinical opportunities to its students. The clinics include Civil Practice, Immigration, SEED (Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development), Reentry, Trademark, Domestic Relations, and Health Law and Policy.
Several of our clinics have received recognition for their work. PreLaw magazine in November 2014 recognized the Reentry Clinic as one of the top 15 innovative law school clinics in the United States. The magazine also profiled the clinic in its winter 2015 issue. In 2015, the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) recognized the clinic as an "Innovative and Outstanding Program." In addition, in 2016, the AALS recognized the Reentry Clinic students for their outstanding pro bono contributions.
Two of our other clinics have received similar recognition. The SEED clinic received the U.S. Small Business Administration's "Legal Services Champion" award for its work with small businesses. Our Civil Practice Clinic was honored with the Akron Bar Association/Community Legal Aid "Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year" award for its partnership with legal aid in providing free civil legal services to low-income clients.
TLS: What are the best and worst things about going to school in Akron?
CJP: The best thing about going to school in Akron is the outstanding "bang for the buck": the cost of living is low, but there are pro sports, outdoor activities, and great music, arts, and food just around the corner. Also, Akron Law is a few blocks from the state and federal courthouses and the business district where many of Northeast Ohio's top law firms have offices. The worst thing for many people is the winter weather, although as a native Michigander, it doesn't bother me much. On the other hand, the springs, summers, and falls are lovely.
TLS: Many law schools have emphasized practical, skills-based learning in recent years. Has University of Akron School of Law taken any steps in this direction?
CJP: At Akron Law, we have emphasized experiential education in various forms for a long time. We have a variety of clinics, and we offer many externship opportunities, often within walking distance of the law school. We have very successful student competition programs, such as our trial advocacy team, which has won 19 national or regional titles. We have an innovative Summer Trial Academy, which allows students to develop cases in teams with practicing lawyers and try them before real judges in their courtrooms. We integrate experiential learning directly into our first-year curriculum; for example, our second-semester Civil Procedure course (which I teach) is structured around a simulated court case. And our Academic Success Program works one-on-one with students from the first year onward to develop their skills in legal analysis and legal writing.
TLS: What role do you believe law schools should play in preparing students for the bar exam? And how have your graduates fared with bar passage in recent years?
CJP: Law schools cannot afford to leave their students on their own when it comes to bar exam preparation. Fortunately, multiple studies have shown that the skills students need to pass the bar are the same skills they need to be successful in law school and ultimately in legal practice: the abilities to absorb, process, and organize large quantities of diverse information, to apply general rules to specific sets of facts, and to effectively communicate complex analysis and arguments. At Akron Law, we prepare our students for bar exam success in a number of ways. Our three full-time Academic Success professionals work with students beginning in the first year to develop their analytical and communications skills. We have a special course in the second semester of the first year for at-risk students; we provide one-on-one tutelage throughout the second and third years; and we have two special courses in the third year focused on bar exam prep. We also run workshops for students leading up to the February and July bar exams, send a support team onsite for each exam, and provide a $2,250 fellowship to each student for a commercial bar prep course. As a result of these efforts, we were named one of the nation's top law schools for bar exam prep by National Jurist Magazine in 2017. Our ultimate bar passage rate - passage within two years of graduation - is over 90%.
TLS: Most law schools have a core 1L curriculum requiring civil procedure, contracts, torts, constitutional law, property, criminal law, and legal writing. Does University of Akron School of Law stray from these requirements? Are there any additional classes students are required to take before graduation?
CJP: At Akron Law we require 88 credits for graduation, 49 of which come from specific course requirements. During the first year (first two years for part-time students), we require contracts, torts, property, criminal law, two semesters of civil procedure, and two semesters of legal writing - pretty standard stuff. We also require a 2-credit course in legislation and regulation during the first year. Our upperclass required courses are constitutional law (2 courses), evidence, professional responsibility, legal drafting, one credit of advanced legal research, and 6 credits of designated experiential learning. Unlike most law schools, we also require students to complete at least 30 hours of pro bono service before they graduate; 15 of these hours must be in service to people of limited means, and 10 of them must be in law-related service under attorney supervision.
TLS: Other than the core required classes, what courses would you suggest students take before graduation?
CJP: The safe answer - and not a bad answer - is to take all the bar-track courses, that is, subjects tested on the Ohio bar exam. My own somewhat idiosyncratic view (although it is backed up by empirical evidence) is that success on the bar exam is related more to study habits and analytical and communications skills than to particular subjects taken in law school; but it turns out that most of the bar track subjects also happen to be subjects that well-rounded lawyers should know something about. So a student can't go wrong by taking the bar courses.
TLS: Could you please explain the weight or emphasis given to each part of a student's application, such as GPA, LSAT score, personal statement, and letters of recommendation?
CJP: We employ a holistic approach to reviewing an applicant's entire file. We believe that all aspects of an application provide probative value regarding the potential for success in law school and as a practicing lawyer. Of course, LSAT and UGPA are important, but we frequently admit students well below our historic medians for these criteria because of other "plus" factors, including life experience, connections to the law school or the community, and the ability to contribute in one or more ways to the diversity of our student body. Conversely, we will deny admission to an applicant whose quantitative predictors are high but who has serious character and fitness issues or whose application suggests they are not serious about attending Akron Law.
TLS: The personal statement seems to be the part of the application a prospective student can most independently influence. Can you offer applicants any advice regarding writing the personal statement?
CJP: The personal statement should be well-written and interesting. As many law schools (including Akron Law) do not conduct interviews as part of the application process, the personal statement stands in place of an interview.
TLS: How often do you find statements that really stick out from the crowd? What do these statements consist of?
CJP: A personal statement that is compelling and extremely well-written will catch our notice. A personal statement that provides unique insight into an applicant's background, or the driving force motivating the student to pursue a legal education, makes the personal statement stand out from the crowd. Sometimes a compelling personal statement makes the difference in close cases.
TLS: Are there any personal statement topics that applicants should probably steer clear? Any clichés or pitfalls to avoid?
CJP: Applicants should treat the personal statement as an example of their capacity for professional writing. It should follow all the applicable rules of spelling, grammar, and good composition - it should not resemble a text message or a social media post.
TLS: Do you come across personal statements that actually hurt the applicant's chances?
CJP: Rarely. In such cases, the problem almost always is poor grammar, spelling, or composition, not the subject matter of the essay.
TLS: Some schools allow students to submit a "diversity statement" separate from the personal statement. How does University of Akron School of Law view such statements? If such statements are potentially helpful, can you discuss when a diversity statement is or is not appropriate?
CJP: We do not allow a separate "diversity statement," but we certainly encourage applicants to include in their personal statements any information or examples that help demonstrate their ability to contribute to the diversity of our student body and of the legal profession. Students can contribute meaningfully to diversity in many ways, including but not limited to a background as a member of a historically underrepresented ethnic, racial, economic, or other minority group.
TLS: Could an applicant significantly improve his or her chances of admission by drafting a personal statement specifically discussing an interest in University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: We encourage applicants to address the question "Why Akron" in their personal statements. This can provide our admissions committee with insight as to whether a student is seriously considering Akron Law itself, or rather is simply submitting a large number of generic applications to many law schools. In close cases, a demonstrated interest in attending Akron Law in particular (or lack thereof) can make the difference in an admissions decision.
LSAT and GPA
TLS: Realistically speaking, how large a part of the admissions process are factors other than a candidate's GPA and LSAT?
CJP: Performance on the LSAT and academic performance leading up to law school are some of the most important factors in the admissions process. There is an empirically demonstrated link between these predictors and ultimate success in law school, and in particular in the first year of law school.
TLS: How does University of Akron School of Law view applicants who apply with multiple LSAT scores? Do you only look at the highest score, or do you consider all scores in the aggregate?
CJP: We consider all scores in the aggregate. However, the highest LSAT is given the greatest weight in the decision process.
TLS: If an applicant cancelled an LSAT score, does the school like to see an addendum explaining why?
CJP: Yes, we do.
TLS: What is the latest LSAT administration an applicant can take and still qualify for admission during the admission cycle? If an applicant is placed on the waitlist, can a new summer LSAT score help his or her chances?
CJP: We strongly recommend that applicants take the LSAT no later than the March administration for admission in the fall semester. Applicants on our wait list may submit June LSAT scores to improve their chances of eventual admission. It is possible that we would accept a new applicant based on a June LSAT score, but the likelihood of this grows smaller as we approach the beginning of our fall semester, as spaces in our entering class fill up. At Akron Law, we also have a Spring (January) Start option and a Summer (May) Start option for the JD program; applicants to the Spring Start program should take the LSAT no later than December (and ideally before), and applicants to the Summer Start program should take the LSAT no later than March.
TLS: Beyond undergraduate performance and LSAT score, what else does University of Akron School of Law look at when reviewing applications?
CJP: We look at work experience, community involvement, diversity factors, and other aspects that make it likely that this applicant will succeed in law school.
TLS: How much do you value pre-law school work or life experience?
CJP: We value these things highly, particularly to the extent that they demonstrate either a likelihood of success in law school that the quantitative predictors (LSAT, UGPA) do not fully demonstrate, or the capacity to contribute meaningfully to the diversity of our student body and the legal profession.
TLS: What can "K through JD" applicants do to stand out in the application process?
CJP: I can't claim to be familiar with the term "K through JD." If this refers to applicants who have not taken any time off between undergrad and law school, then factors like extracurricular activities during school, leadership experiences, community involvement, connections to or interest in Akron Law or the Akron community, diversity of background or experience, the difficulty of the undergraduate major, and the quality of the personal statement can cause an applicant to stand out.
TLS: Applicants often have difficulty choosing and approaching potential recommenders. Can you offer some general advice regarding letters of recommendation?
CJP: For traditional students (students applying to law school right out of college), letters of recommendation from professors are very important to our admissions committee. For students who have been out of college for a while, letters from employers or prominent members of the community can be helpful. Generally speaking, letters of recommendation are most helpful if they speak to the applicant's academic ability, problem-solving capacity, work ethic, professionalism, communications skills, or character - qualities that relate to success in law school and legal practice. Letters should come from individuals who actually know the applicant; generic letters of recommendation are not helpful to the admissions committee.
TLS: Tell us how University of Akron School of Law treats transfer applicants. How many transfer students do you take each year? Where do these students come from?
CJP: We evaluate transfer applicants on a case by case basis. To the extent that the law school has the capacity to accept a particular transfer and the transfer is qualified, our admissions committee will consider a transfer application pursuant to our transfer policy. The number of students we accept as transfers varies from year to year. Often our transfer students come from other geographic regions and have personal reasons for wanting to move to northeast Ohio.
TLS: What are the most important criteria for selecting transfer applicants? Is the LSAT score still relevant? How about undergrad performance?
CJP: Demonstrated performance in law school is more important than LSAT score and undergraduate performance when evaluating a transfer student.
TLS: How many students transfer out of University of Akron School of Law after 1L year to attend other institutions?
CJP: In recent years, the number of students transferring from Akron Law after the first year has been in the low single digits. Last year (2017) we had one student transfer out after the first year.
Career Opportunities and Employment Outcomes
TLS: Describe the legal market in Ohio. What's the outlook for the next few years?
CJP: The legal market in Northeast Ohio is improving and is healthy. Many medium and large law firms have resumed Summer Associate programs and are making permanent offers to those law students after a several year hiatus. The entry-level market continues to improve. Areas including Health Law, Intellectual Property, Tax, Business, and Litigation are also growing in our market. There are some new law firms popping up. We are also seeing an uptick in hiring of JDs in alternative careers, including compliance and risk management.
TLS: What are the most common career paths for graduates of University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: Private practice (approximately 65% of Akron Law's graduates.) Many of our graduates in private practice are in firms of 25 or fewer attorneys. Many of our graduates also land positions in Prosecutors' and Public Defenders' offices.
TLS: On average, how many graduates leave the state for work?
CJP: Typically, between 15% - 20% of Akron Law's graduates leave the state for work each year.
TLS: How many students get paid law firm jobs - ones that turn in to full-time employment after school - through the on-campus interviewing process?
CJP: About 20% of the class.
TLS: What about a student who graduates in the middle of the class - the true "median" student, so to speak. What sort of work can they realistically expect to have in 2018/2019?
CJP: Students who graduate in the middle of our class can expect to have opportunities in public interest firms, government positions, and positions with small and medium sized law firms.
TLS: Nearly every law school has recent graduates who cannot find permanent, full-time legal employment. What does University of Akron School of Law do to help them get on track?
CJP: Akron Law's Career Services Office provides full service to our graduates. We send out bi-weekly emails with new job opportunities and career tips and a monthly alumni newsletter, including job opportunities, networking events, alumni events, articles, and pro bono opportunities. We also offer individual graduate counseling, including connecting grads to part-time or project-based work, job search advice, mock interviews, résumé reviews, etc.
TLS: Do you think transfer students are disadvantaged at all when it comes to seeking employment?
CJP: No, at least not with respect to students transferring in to Akron Law. Transfer students immediately have access to our Career Services Office and its resources and have the opportunity to begin exploring externships, internships, and clerkships during the fall and spring semesters of their second year.
TLS: What is the median (not average, but median) debt for a graduate from your law school who finished school this year? Given the employment opportunities for the average graduate, is this debt load tenable?
CJP: In 2017 (the most recent year for which we have data), the median amount of law school debt among our students who graduated with any law school debt was $72,763. While I have not seen comparisons to other Ohio law schools with respect to median debt, I know that Akron is among the lowest law schools in Ohio in average debt at graduation. (Our average debt is about the same as our median debt.) This debt load, while nothing to take lightly, is very tenable given the employment opportunities in our primary market of Northeast Ohio. The average salary of our 2016 graduates was $65,511, and the median salary was $59,620.
TLS: Some schools have adjusted class size in recent years to mediate the difficulties of un- and under-employment for recent law school graduates. Has University of Akron School of Law taken any steps to adjust class size?
CJP: In 2010, we admitted 177 students to our entering JD class. In 2017, that number was 159. So our current class size is about 10% smaller than it was seven years ago. I anticipate we will stay at about that size for the foreseeable future. Our placement numbers remain strong: for the class of 2016, our overall employment rate ten months after graduation (including one student who was pursuing another degree full-time after graduation) was 91.4%, which is higher than the national average.
TLS: Are law schools doing enough to ensure that prospective students get enough information to decide whether to go a quarter-million dollars into debt for a J.D.?
CJP: That's a reasonable and important question. Allow me to begin my answer by noting that it would literally be impossible for an Akron Law student to incur $250,000 in debt for their law school education. Our full-time tuition (resident and nonresident) is under $25,000 a year, and in 2017, our average graduate who incurred law school debt had $73,013 of law school debt upon graduation. That's the second-lowest average debt number of the nine law schools in Ohio.
That said, $73,000 is a lot of money, and students need to know what they're getting into before they commit to law school. The ABA has done a good job of requiring member schools to disclose accurate and complete information relating to cost of attendance, debt and financial aid, and outcomes such as employment and bar passage, among other data. At Akron Law, as with many other law schools, we go beyond what the ABA requires and disclose substantial more information regarding employment, bar passage, scholarship renewal, and educational debt. All this information is available on our website at http://www.uakron.edu/law/admissions/facts.dot. Generally speaking, with the many sources of information now available about law schools, I think a prospective law student can make a well-informed choice about the costs of legal education.
TLS: What sort of tuition increase should entering students anticipate over the next three years?
CJP: Minimal, if any. Our resident tuition and fees have increased by less than 1% per year over the past five years and have stayed the same for the past two years; our nonresident tuition has actually decreased over the past five years and is now just $100 more than resident tuition. We are committed to maintaining low tuition rates and are unlikely to impose any significant increases in the near future.
TLS: What sort of financial aid opportunities are available for applicants? How does the school allocate these resources between need-based and merit-based awards?
CJP: For entering JD students, we offer generous merit-based scholarships, which are valid for the entire duration of a student's legal studies, provided the student remains in good standing. We do not impose special GPA or class-rank requirements to keep these scholarships. For upper-division students, we offer a variety of scholarships based on merit, need, a combination of these, or other special factors. A complete list of upper-division scholarships is available on our website (http://www.uakron.edu/law/admissions/udscholarship.dot). Currently Akron Law also offers a bar review scholarship in the amount of $2,250 to each of our graduates to defray out-of-pocket costs of a commercial bar review course. More information about Akron Law scholarships and other sources of financial aid is available at http://www.uakron.edu/law/admissions/financial-aid.dot.
TLS: How are students selected to receive scholarships?
CJP: Applicants for admission as first-year JD students are selected based on the information provided in their application; they do not need to specially apply for scholarships.
TLS: Are scholarship packages for entering students ever contingent on academic performance? If so, why impose restrictions like this? Isn't that putting a lot of pressure on scholarship recipients?
CJP: Because scholarships for entering JD students are merit-based, they will be offered based on LSAT score, UGPA, and other indicators of likely success in law school that appear in a student's application.
TLS: Are scholarship packages for entering students ever contingent on academic performance? If so, why impose restrictions like this? Isn't that putting a lot of pressure on scholarship recipients?
CJP: No, not at Akron Law. Our entering JD student scholarships are guaranteed, in the same amount, for as long as a student pursues his or her legal studies at Akron Law and remains in good standing. We do not impose special GPA, class-rank, or other requirements to keep these scholarships.
TLS: Do you offer any additional scholarship awards to retain current students based on their performance during law school?
CJP: Yes, we have a variety of upper-division scholarships based on merit, need, and other criteria.
TLS: What sort of financial aid is available for transfer students?
CJP: We typically do not offer scholarship assistance to transfer students. Transfer students may be eligible for third-party scholarships; more information is available at http://www.uakron.edu/law/admissions/financial-aid.dot.
TLS: Describe any loan repayment programs University of Akron School of Law offers. Who is eligible for loan repayment assistance?
CJP: Akron Law students may be eligible for government-sponsored loan repayment or loan forgiveness programs. Eligibility for these programs varies. More information is available at http://www.uakron.edu/law/admissions/financial-aid.dot.
TLS: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Any parting thoughts for applicants considering University of Akron School of Law?
CJP: As I said in response to an earlier question, choosing the best law school is about finding the right fit for you. If you're looking at rankings or other publicly available metrics, look beyond the comparative rankings or ratings themselves for the raw data beneath. What is a school's bar passage rate (not just first-time, but ultimate)? What is its placement rate? What kinds of jobs are its graduates taking, and where? What is unique about its programs or its curriculum? Is the law school located in a place where you'd be comfortable spending three or four years of your life? How supportive and involved are its alumni (this says a lot!)? And perhaps most importantly, what is the "feel" of the place - will you be at home there? Do the faculty, students, and staff generally share your values? Will they pay attention to you as a person and actively help you achieve success? Most of these questions can't be answered without making personal contact with people at a school, ideally by visiting the school and speaking directly to current students and faculty (not just to admissions staff). In fact, if you might be interested in Akron Law, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call (330-972-7343). I'd love to speak with you!
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Published July 2010 Introduction Top-Law-Schools.com would like to thank Asha Rangappa, Associate Dean for Admissions at Yale Law School, for taking the time to answer our questions! TLS: Since becoming Associate Dean in 2007, you have reached out to th
Interview with Josh Rubenstein, Former Assistant Dean for Admissions at Harvard Law School
Interview with Renee C. Post at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law
Interview with Former Dean Rita C. Jones of Boston College Law School
Interview with S. Brett Twitty, Former Director of Admissions, W&L Law
Interview with Lillie V. Wiley-Upshaw, Vice Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, University at Buffalo Law School
Interview with Nikki Laubenstein, Director of Admissions at Syracuse University College of Law
Interview with Janet Laybold, Former Associate Dean, Admissions, Career and Student Services, Washington University School of Law
Interview with Anthony Crowell, Former Dean of New York Law School
Interview with Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf, Former Co-Deans of Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Interview with Alyson Suter Alber, Associate Dean for Enrollment Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Interview with Jeffrey A. Dodge, Former Associate Dean of Students, Academic Affairs & Administration, University of Idaho College of Law
Interview with L. Pilar Mensah, Assistant Dean for Admissions; Sondra R. Tennessee, Associate Dean for Student Affairs; and Tiffany J. Tucker, Assistant Dean for Career Development, University of Houston Law Center
Interview with Jay L. Austin, Former Assistant Dean, Admissions and Student Financial Services, UC Irvine School of Law
Interview with Mathiew Le, Former Assistant Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, University of Washington School of Law
Interview with Daniel M. Filler, Dean and Professor of Law, Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Interview with Donald Tobin, Dean and Professor of Law, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Interview with Amy Mangione, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions, Albany Law School
Interview with Christopher J. Peters, Former Dean and Professor of Law, The University of Akron School of Law
Interview with Carla Pratt, Dean and Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law
Interview with Michelle Rahman, Associate Dean for Admissions, the University of Richmond School of Law
Interview with Verna Williams, Interim Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, the University of Cincinnati College of Law
Interview with Allen Rostron, Former Associate Dean for Students and the William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar and Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
Interview with Faye Shealy, Former Associate Dean for Admission, William & Mary Law School