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Book Review: Law School Confidential

This book is a top-notch guide to navigating the U.S. law school application process and provides a realistic picture of the day-to-day grind of law school.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   01-02-2016

Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience by Robert H. Miller, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

If you're applying to law school in the United States, you may need a strategy to help keep you organized and stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Robert H. Miller's Law School Confidential uses straight talk, sound advice, and gentle humor to help students sort through the maze of law school application processes, standardized tests and bar exams to stay on top of things.

Trial lawyer and bestselling author Miller, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, begins upbeat: "If you feel a yearning to have an impact on how our society works, law is a great way to do that. It is essentially a license to improve people's lives." The arduous three year path he lays out, however, is another story.

The book provides a realistic picture of the day-to-day grind of law school. It warns you not to be fooled by "Suits" and the allure of the legal life portrayed by high-gloss television legal dramas. The suits aren’t that expensive, the parties aren’t that wild, and the offices you will be interning in aren’t that stylish, for the most part anyway.

"The study of law is lonely. There are study groups, but you don't get to a study group until you've read the material for the week, and you won't stay in one long if you don't keep up with the work," warns Miller.

The book portrays law school the way most lawyers remember it — a grueling rite of passage. The reading assignments take hours to complete as student are often asked to read about appellate court decisions which are usually filled with legal jargon.

Students are usually expected to spend two hours of preparation, perhaps reading and writing briefs for every hour of class in a given subject, such as torts or constitutional law. It sometimes takes a first-year student, known as 1L, two hours to read a four-page case as they run back and forth to their law dictionary every few words. Most students are often required to take a legal research and writing class in their first year.

This book reveals very little of the personal, emotional journey of becoming a lawyer, but as an overview of the academic rigors of the law student life, this guide is top-notch. It is useful for readers thinking about attending law school, or in the early stages of beginning a J.D — which is an equivalent of an LL.B. in India. Miller takes readers step-by-step through the application process touching on recommendations, essays, rolling admissions, financial aid and even how many schools you should apply to. Your best bet is to apply to a minimum of two reach schools, two match schools, and three safeties. The book is at its best when telling students how to tackle the LSAT and outlines good test prep strategies.

The book has a chapter featuring interviews with the hiring partners at two prominent U.S. law firms to discuss what makes an attractive candidate for an initial hire and what makes someone "partner material" down the line.

The chat with recruiters is combined with extended interviews with law school admissions deans and a diverse group of young practicing lawyers. Law School Confidential has built-in appeal for students and parents seeking a behind-the-scenes look at the esoteric workings of elite U.S. law school admissions.
 

Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site and writer for Forbes India. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.

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