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Guerilla Tactics for Getting into a Dream Law School

Before you invest US$ 50,000-60,000 in going to law school, you should really kick the tires: Talk to law faculty members and people who have studied in the US. Then make a decision.
BY Geetanjali Bhushan |   01-11-2010

I didn’t just bounce out of bed with the idea of flying off to the US. I was motivated to undertake the rigorous (and costly) endeavor to study in a top American law school after being a practicing attorney for six years in New Delhi. I was a litigation associate in the office of Counsel for the Government of India, in New Delhi for two years. Then I moved into private practice as a corporate associate in the Luthra & Luthra Law Offices. Both jobs helped me in writing the dreaded personal statement and gave me significant insights. They helped me address the most commonly asked question: “Why do you want to get a law degree.”

Since I had already earned my LL.B (the equivalent of a Doctor of Law JD) degree from the University of Kanpur, and had five years of work experience, I came to Georgetown University Law Center, in Washington DC to earn a LL.M degree. I specialized in corporate transactions and negotiations. If you have work experience, the LL.M. program is tailor-made for you.

I didn’t just bounce out of bed with the idea of flying off to the US. I was motivated to undertake the rigorous (and costly) endeavor to study in a top American law school after being a practicing attorney for six years in New Delhi.

Here is how you start. (At least this is what I did, and trust me, it worked). You can Google the top ten law schools in the US. Then visit the school websites to pen down their requirements. Figure out exactly what are the academic credentials, degrees and test scores the schools need to consider you as an applicant.

One great way is to print out school admission forms and tick off what requirements they have. It’s like engaging in a “fill in the blanks” exercise once you know what blanks you have to fill in. You must remember you have five years to fill those blanks and it should be the best fill-ins, since you have time to work on it. Pick more than one school at least six schools if not more. They all want co-curricular activities. Things like editorial positions, competitions, sports (a lot of focus is on writing and speaking abilities) basically they want to see leadership skills and your ability to multi-task and still stand out and shine academically.

Pick more than one school —at least six schools if not more. They all want co-curricular activities. Things like editorial positions…(a lot of focus is on writing and speaking abilities) — basically they want to see leadership skills and your ability to multi-task and still stand out and shine academically.

The LL.M. Program is an intensive nine-month study program. You get into it after you graduate from law school. When you go into law school keep your focus and goal in mind all the time and participate in all moot court activities. Become a member of the editorial team. Try and take lead positions if you can. Write law articles. Ensure some of your articles are published. Really work hard on your scores as well. During summer and winter breaks go out and get internships with lawyers and law firms. This will a) add to your resume and b) will give you a little insight on what area you may want to specialize in when you graduate. Additionally, all US law schools want students coming from South Asia to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test scores.

Always trawl the Internet to see what financial aid and scholarships you can apply for to pare down the cost of your expensive law education. There are some great scholarships like the Fulbright.

Most importantly, start testing the waters early if you want to study abroad so that you have a few years to create an excellent resume to get into the law school of your dreams.

Alternatively, you may consider doing a JD (Juris Doctor) it’s an equivalent of an LL.B. If you intend to work in the United States, a JD is advisable it gives you a solid grounding in US laws. It also makes you more hirable in a whimsical job market! For a JD, you need to have completed an undergrad program and earned a B.A., B.Com or a B.Sc degree. If you want to practice patent law, you need to have a science background.

After that you have to take the standardized TOEFL and the LSAT tests. Your LSAT score will make or break you. Some law schools will not give a second glance at your application unless you have a decent LSAT score. You have to take a practice LSAT to score well. Since you’re going to be reading a lot of complex case material during law school, the LSAT is heavy on reading comprehension and logic. 

Always trawl the Internet to see what financial aid and scholarships you can apply for to pare down the cost of your expensive law education. There are some great scholarships like the Fulbright.

Many different organizations offer LSAT tutoring Kaplan, Sylvan, TutorNation and more. Do your homework online. Most importantly, start testing the waters early if you want to study abroad so that you have a few years to create an excellent resume to get into the law school of your dreams. Can you really go to a great law school in the United States? Yes, but you also have to do the work to make the dream come true — the dream itself isn't enough. The dream must be what propels you to get good grades and prepare for the LSAT.

Geetanjali Bhushan Earned a LL.M, in corporate transactions and negations, from Georgetown University Law Center, in Washington DC.

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