With well over 100 years’ experience working in legal education, the Spivey Consulting team has counseled thousands of students on gaining admission to law school and developing legal employment strategies. All the while, we saw a growing amount of misinformation, mistakes and neglect in how prospective students apply to law school, how law students search for jobs, and how law schools have adapted to the rapid change in legal education.
We started in Boulder and now have consultants across the US who work with clients all over the world. The people you'll work with aren't just the best in their field; we have been there as law school admissions committee decision-makers and — most importantly — we care about your success. Indeed, your success is our success, and we have used this simple philosophy to build the strongest reputation in the industry.
Derek Meeker is a nationally respected professional among law school admissions and career services deans. His 18 years of experience include serving as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, as Recruiting Manager for global law firm Paul Hastings, as an admissions reader for the University of Chicago Law School, and as an admissions and career consultant.
As Dean of Admissions at Penn Law, Derek evaluated and made the final decision on every J.D. application–over 6,000 per year. During his tenure, Penn Law received a record number of applications, significantly increased selectivity, and expanded need-based, public service, and merit scholarship programs. As a consultant, he has successfully guided hundreds of law school applicants through seven admission cycles and has advised law schools on their admissions and career services strategies. He also has counseled current law students on the big law hiring process and interviewing skills and etiquette. He has spoken at dozens of colleges across the country and served on committees and panels for various professional organizations, including as a research assistant and Chair of the New Admission Personnel and Faculty Members Workshop for the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
A first-generation college student from Appalachian Ohio and member of the LGBTQ community, Derek is most proud of his legacy of increasing racial, sexual orientation, and socio-economic diversity at Penn Law and in helping to launch diversity scholarships at Paul Hastings. He also has served as a career mentor and writing coach to first-generation college applicants in the Los Angeles area. A former practicing attorney, Derek holds a B.S. in Journalism and takes continuing education courses in the Writers’ Program at UCLA. He is passionate about writing and loves coaching students to be better writers. In his free time, Derek enjoys acting, yoga, meditation (yes, he clearly lives in LA), biking, cooking, camping, and traveling.
Mike Spivey has long been considered a leader at the cutting edge of law school administration and higher education. Since 2000, Mike has helped lead the admissions, employment, external outreach and strategic initiatives of three top law schools while at Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Colorado. Mike has been featured in several CNN interviews on law schools as well as Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, and the Economist, and has been highlighted in The Chronicles of Higher Education for his forward-thinking efforts in admissions. Mike is a former Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) faculty member for new admissions professionals and a former Advisory Board Member for Lexis Nexis. He has also served on the board of both a non-profit and tech start-up. Mike was honored and is an inductee of The Blackburn Society for his demonstrating ethics and leadership in his career. “Dean” Spivey has helped counsel thousands of students through the admissions, scholarship and legal career search processes. He has been a featured speaker and panelist at more than 150 prestigious universities, including Princeton University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College and most recently the University of Florida, and has been sought out as a consultant at numerous law schools.
A former athlete, Mike was twice invited by the Cleveland Indians to participate in professionally scouted tryouts and recruited to play baseball, football and track in college. Mike was a Philosophy Major at Vanderbilt University, MBA graduate from the University of Alabama and Doctoral Student in Higher Education Leadership at Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt University. He now spends his spare time hiking the mountains around Boulder, Colorado with his dog and running 5k and 10k races.
Karen Buttenbaum is a respected law school admissions professional with over 16 years of experience working in legal education. From 2001-2013, she was a voting member of the admissions committee at Harvard Law School, reading and making decisions on over 16,000 applications and interviewing over 1,000 applicants during that time. Karen held almost every position on the senior staff in the HLS admissions office starting as an Assistant Director, moving up to Associate Director and most recently serving as Director. Prior to joining Harvard Law School, Karen assisted efforts in the admissions office at Roger Williams University School of Law helping them to achieve significant admissions milestones. Throughout her career in law school admissions, she has been actively involved with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) serving on the Test Development and Research Committee, Annual Meeting Planning Committee, served as a faculty member for new admission professionals, and has spoken at many LSAC sponsored events and conferences. Karen has been a member of the Northeast Association of Prelaw Advisors for many years, and a member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1997.
A former race junkie, Karen has completed three marathons and dozens of other races and triathlons of all distances, including finishing the Timberman Half-Ironman in New Hampshire. She now spends her spare time running after her preschooler.
Nick Everdell is a seasoned admissions professional with more than eight years of experience at some of the country’s most respected law schools. From 2008 to 2014 he served as Associate Director of Admissions at Columbia Law School, where he reviewed and voted on more than 16,000 applications. In 2014 he became Director of Recruitment at Yale Law School, where he was deeply involved in managing Yale’s unique admissions process. Nick started working in admissions in 2004 at Vermont Academy, a small boarding school in southern Vermont.
Nick holds a BA in Russian Studies from Cornell University, and an MA in Education Leadership from Columbia. As the child of two independent school teachers, he developed at an early age a passion for helping people find and achieve the educational path that leads to the greatest personal and professional success.
Nick grew up splitting his time between the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and the coast of Maine, and as such loves spending as much time on the water or in the woods as possible. He currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and two young sons.
Shannon Davis has worked in law school admissions for 17 years, serving most recently as Assistant Dean for Admissions and Communications at Lewis & Clark Law School. In this role, she coordinated faculty and student admissions committees, made thousands of admissions and scholarship decisions, advised countless applicants, and established a successful interview program. She has served on several committees with the Law School Admissions Council, and presented at colleges and universities across the country. Shannon has a wealth of experience in higher education, having also worked in undergraduate admissions, judicial affairs, student activities, alumni affairs, and residence life at universities in the Midwest and on the west coast.
Shannon began her career as a college and financial aid counselor, scholarship coordinator, and career advisor at a college-prep high school in the California bay area. Her professional background also includes years of experience in marketing and communications. Shannon earned a BA from Santa Clara University and an MS in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University. Her graduate school research focused on college rankings, access to education, and campus hate crimes.
Shannon is grateful to live in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Like most of the SCG team, Shannon enjoys traveling and being active. When she has a couple free hours, you can usually find her trail running, road biking, playing tennis, or reading while sipping a hot cup of chai tea.
Emily Allen’s law school admissions career began in 1999 as the Director of Admission for Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, OR. As the admissions office department head, Emily reviewed and made decisions on law school applications and advised faculty committees on scholarship recipients. When Emily started a family, she stayed on as a consultant for the law school and continued to review applications and make admission decisions. With her Masters in Counseling and Human Services, Emily says her true passion is advising. She loves working with potential law students and guiding them through the application process.
Emily lives in Boise, ID where she and her husband are raising their three kids. She enjoys skiing, running, tennis and most things outdoors. She says she volunteers way too much at her kids’ school and loves the outlet that advising law applicants gives her.
Danielle Early has 15 years of admissions experience, most recently serving as Associate Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School. As a voting member of the HLS admissions committee, she evaluated over 10,000 applications and conducted hundreds of admissions interviews. Prior to joining Karen in the HLS admissions office, Danielle worked in undergraduate admissions at Harvard College as well as Clark University.
In addition to the many roles Danielle filled in the HLS admissions office, she also served as a proctor (or dorm parent/resident hall director) while at Harvard, acting as an academic and career advisor for students. Danielle has spent considerable time counseling students throughout their undergraduate careers, job searches and grad school applications.
Danielle earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Clark University as a double major in Communications and Studio Art and then continued on there to earn a Master’s Degree in Professional Communications. These days, you are likely to find her hiking with her dog, taking cooking classes or working on a new drawing.
Jenn Kopolow has over 15 years of experience in legal practice and higher education. As the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Virginia, she read and made decisions on thousands of admission files, counseled hundreds of pre-law students, and frequently traveled to undergraduate institutions giving presentations on getting into law school. Jenn’s professional experience also includes 5 years of teaching legal writing and criminal law courses as a professor of law, grading Virginia bar exam essays for the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners, and serving as a bar adviser for Themis Bar Review. These roles highlight her talents for, and interest in, mentoring students and teaching enhanced writing skills. As a Partner with Spivey Consulting, Jenn’s admissions and academic background allows her to merge her passion for legal education with her love of counseling students.
Jenn brings an enthusiasm for running to the collective athleticism of the Spivey Consulting Group. She has run two marathons, eleven half marathons, and countless shorter races. When she’s not chasing her next half marathon personal record, Jenn is planning her next travel adventure with her husband and searching for the perfect cup of coffee. Favorite travel destinations include Machu Picchu (Peru), Berlin, Vancouver, and the Galapagos (she cites the last destination as great for befriending giant land tortoises and swimming with sharks).
Jenn earned her J.D. from the University of North Carolina and her B.A., summa cum laude, from James Madison University.
Patrick Connorton works with incoming law students to prepare them to succeed in their academic and professional careers. Patrick has extensive experience teaching, tutoring, and mentoring law students, having taught legal writing as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School and having worked as a faculty-appointed tutor for students struggling to adjust to the rigors of law school. Patrick brings the perspective of both a “Big Law” and “Boutique” practitioner to his teaching. He worked as a litigator for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, and for Cohen & Gresser, an elite litigation boutique. At both firms, he regularly handled complex, multi-million and multi-billion dollar disputes involving issues of contract, securities, intellectual property, and digital media law. Prior to entering private practice, Patrick clerked for federal judges in the Southern District of New York and on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where he honed his legal writing and research skills. Patrick is currently Co-Founder and General Counsel of Reefill, a “Green Tech” startup company based in New York City.
Patrick is a graduate of Fordham Law School (magna cum laude), where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. He received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College. When not teaching or helping his startup cure Americans’ addiction to bottled water, Patrick can be found hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, chuckling over a good P.G. Wodehouse book, or, most likely, watching Game of Thrones with his wife.
Rob Cacace works with budding attorneys to promote their career and professional development. He helps clients prepare for the various challenges of law school. As Executive Director in Georgetown Law’s Office of Career Strategy Rob oversees professional and skills training by helping to design and deliver programs, in addition to serving as a career advisor for hundreds of law students. Rob also taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown. He sharpened his research and writing skills as a federal district court clerk in DC and litigator at a plaintiff-side firm, refining competencies that he developed as a Summer Honors intern at the Department of Justice and a Summer Associate at Paul, Weiss in New York City. Rob’s clients benefit not only from his legal skills and professional development training but from his long-standing commitment to counseling; he caught the counseling bug as a tutor/mentor in college and continued to develop mentoring relationships while working with paralegals, interns, and law students. As a pre-law advisor in law school, he edited essays and applications materials and composed recommendations for students who went on to top law schools. Rob received his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard, and has a Masters in Modern History from Oxford University. As part of Spivey Consulting Pre-L program, he works with recently admitted law students to sharpen the skills that are vital to success as a first-year and beyond: critical reading, digesting cases, briefing, writing, outlining, and career planning.
Rob came to the legal profession by way of the Bronx. Born and raised there, he was the first in family to attend college (his father was a garbage man and his mother was a manicurist). Rob worked odd jobs through high school and college — including busboy, construction laborer, mail boy, short-order cook, travel writer, and file clerk. These days he spends the bulk of his time — and calories — chasing after his three kids in the parks, playgrounds, and museums of DC alongside his wife, who is a partner at a civil rights law firm.
Christina has thirteen years of selective admissions experience at Vanderbilt University - first with Undergraduate Admissions, and then Law School Admissions. At Vanderbilt Undergraduate Admissions she worked her way up from Admissions Counselor to Associate Director, and recruited students from across the country while also serving as Director of the Undergraduate Admissions Tourguide program. She moved across campus to create, implement, and direct the Vanderbilt Law School’s Admission Interview Program and Admitted Student Receptions. While in her role as Associate Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt Law School, Christina coordinated more than 8,000 interviews by Admissions Officers and volunteer alumni, and conducted more than 800 interviews herself. Additionally she reviewed and voted on the admissions decision for more than 6,500 law school applications.
Christina earned a B.S. from Vanderbilt in Mathematics and Secondary Education, and a M.A. from Boston College in Mathematics. She grew up in North Florida, but after living in Nashville for sixteen years, considers Music City home. Together with her husband and two sons she enjoys sampling Nashville’s newest restaurants, and rooting for the Titans and Commodores.
Anne Dutia has been involved on both sides of the admissions process since 2001. After spending four years in admissions at The University of Michigan Law School as an admissions officer and as an admissions committee member, she served as a pre-law advisor at The University of Texas at Dallas until joining Spivey Consulting in October of 2017. As a pre-law advisor, Anne was on the Executive Board of the Southwestern Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SWAPLA) and on the Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC). She has presented at multiple APLA conferences and was a conference chair for the SAPLA/SWAPLA Conference in September 2017 on law school admissions. She continues to teach and coach a nationally-ranked undergraduate Moot Court team and serves on the Executive Board of the American Moot Court Association (AMCA).
A self-professed nerd, Anne loves a well-told story. She therefore appreciates how an application must offer a coherent, compelling narrative that conveys the applicant’s motivations, experiences, and trajectory. During her time as a pre-law advisor, Anne’s incredibly diverse students, including first-generation college students, community college transfers, and non-traditional students, were accepted at law schools all over the country, including the most prestigious schools in the nation, often with significant scholarships.
Born in Bombay, India, Anne has lived all over the United States. Despite living in Texas for more than a decade, she still claims Alabama as her home. Anne has a BA in Psychology from Birmingham-Southern College and a JD from the University of Alabama Law School. She’s passionate about Alabama football, and when she’s not being a soccer or band mom in the fall, she can be found cheering on the Crimson Tide.
Anna Hicks began as an intern with Spivey Consulting in 2013 before transitioning to the role of Research and Analytics Consultant and eventually becoming Chief of Staff in February 2017. Anna has a BS from the University of Miami, where she majored in journalism and graduated magna cum laude, before returning to her home state for law school to attend the University of Virginia as a Dillard Scholar. In her spare time, Anna enjoys musical theater, reading fiction, and spending time with her husband and her lovable mutt Noodle.
Jayme has 10 years of experience in legal practice and education, most recently serving as the Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School. In her five years at Chicago, she administered the application review process from start to finish, read thousands of law school applications, and was responsible for designing and implementing Chicago’s admissions interviewing program. Before joining the admissions world, she practiced employment and labor law at Sidley Austin in Chicago. Jayme has a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and a B.A. in Psychology from Ohio University. Although Jayme now focuses her time in the nonprofit sector concentrating on animal advocacy, she is excited for the opportunity to reconnect with law school applicants (and to work with a few of her favorite admissions colleagues again). Jayme is a detail person. She loves seeing the different pieces of the application come together and learning about an individual’s personal story.
Jayme grew up in a small town in central Ohio but after 10 years she considers herself a Chicagoan. She lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter, and two senior West Highland White Terriers. She loves dogs (with a soft spot for terriers and older rescue dogs), Ohio State football, California wine county, and classical music. If she had more free time, she’d probably take up running or tennis again. Most weekends, she and her family enjoy exploring the city, and she is always in search of a new local coffee shop, great vegetarian food, and anything sweet (if you need a recommendation for gourmet doughnuts, she’s your person).
Nikki Laubenstein has worked in law school admissions for nearly 18 years, most recently as Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management at Syracuse University College of Law. In this role, she managed the entire admissions and financial aid offices and enrollment for the J.D. and LL.M. programs. Nikki made admissions and scholarship decisions and supervised the faculty admissions committee process. She directed marketing and data analytics, negotiated financial aid awards, conducted interviews, and met with prospective students to discuss law and joint degree program opportunities. She has participated on numerous panels and at workshops providing strategies for students to strengthen their applications.
Nikki earned a B.A. in psychology from Bowling Green State University and a M.S. and C.A.S. in Counseling from Syracuse University. She began her career working in a high school guidance office where she developed a passion for advising students on college admissions and career development. A former college student-athlete, Nikki’s studies included a focus in sports psychology. She enjoys using this background to help her students with time management, goal setting, and stress reduction techniques.
Central New York has a lot to offer, and Nikki likes hiking, skiing, and any outdoor activity (as long as it’s not too cold)! She now spends most of her spare time attending sporting events for her two children.
Erika Guckenberger graduated from Harvard College in 2000, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, cum laude. In 2004, she completed her Master’s of Education through Salem State College. She served as a member of the Harvard Law School admissions team for two years. In addition to her work for Spivey Consulting, she is employed as a middle school social studies teacher and as a registered yoga instructor. When time permits, she indulges her curiosity by traveling the world, including two Fulbright Group Study Abroad trips to East Africa and Japan. She is eagerly anticipating her next adventure: taking part in a person-to-person exchange in Cuba in mid-February.
Marianna Moss litigated at top firms in Denver, Milwaukee, and New York. She was a law clerk to a federal judge, after graduating Fordham Law School with multiple honors: top 5%, Order of the Coif, magna cum laude, and Fordham Law Review.
In addition to running her own law practice, Marianna enjoys mentoring law students and new law school graduates. As an attorney, she has advised and coached moot court teams, judged mock oral arguments, and mentored law students formally and informally. As a law student, Marianna tutored struggling students. In her law practice, Marianna has employed law students and young attorneys, training them in research and writing.
Marianna works and lives in Denver with her husband and two children.