Inside Scoop on the new LSAC Digital Forums
What to Expect and Important Information
As with nearly everything these days, student recruitment by law schools will assume an entirely new form this fall to accommodate the limitations mandated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Law school admissions officers would typically spend much of September, October, and early November traversing the country to stand behind tables in gyms and student centers just for the opportunity to talk with you, prospective law students, on your college campuses in hopes of sharing information about their respective programs so that you might consider them as you begin to prepare applications for fall 2021. Sadly, flights, hotels, boxed lunches, and a few bizarre stories (one forum registrant and attendee went to the NYC Forum in a large trench coat full of watches — he was there to sell watches, not attend law school — I almost bought one –Mike) won’t be a part of most of their agendas this year. Instead, most schools will be providing new (to them) formats for interacting with admission officers and other members of their communities.
The highlights of these admission seasons past have been LSAC sponsored “forums” in major cities around the country. Typically, 150 or more individual schools and 800 or more prospective law students would converge on vast hotel ballrooms or convention centers for these mega law fairs offered in the largest legal markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston among others. Given that wandering around a room packed with strangers and standing in lines to talk with law schools seems about as appealing right now as those newsworthy keg parties we’ve all seen on TV lately, LSAC has devised a plan to offer a similar virtual experience to connect prospective law students and schools.
Utilizing vFairs to create a virtual, Sims-like experience, the new virtual forums will provide all of the resources and access to schools prospective law students have enjoyed in previous years in a virtual format.
- Saturday, September 26 (3500 registrants so far!)
- Tuesday, October 13
- Wednesday, November 4
- Saturday, December 12
You MUST pre-register several days in advance to attend any one of these events. Unlike in-person forums, you will not be able to register for the forum event on the day of the event. It appears that once you register for one forum, you’ll be able to access subsequent forum events when they are scheduled and on-demand content even outside of forum hours. On each of the forum dates, the virtual law fair with access to law school representatives will be available 3 pm ET until 7 pm ET. Live panels will commence and other resources will become available at 2 pm ET on each of these dates, an hour before the forum begins.
The virtual experience is meant to provide a similar look and feel as attending an actual LSAC Forum. Prospective Students will “enter” the exhibit space through a large virtual lobby providing a range of resource options and access to the law school “booths” where live interaction with the law schools will be available. The vFair will provide a virtual “Swag Bag” where you can collect assets as you move through the forum. Store your pile of virtual viewbooks and Zoom invitations here so that you can come back to them at the end of the forum and consider your journey.
Law School Fair/Individual School Booths
Currently the September event has over 200 law schools registered to attend from the US, Canada, and Australia. As is common in these forum settings, schools are somewhat randomly positioned throughout the available meeting space. In the virtual forum environment there will be several color-coded rooms containing an assortment of schools. Other than specific rooms for the Canadian and Australian schools, law schools will not be grouped by region or ranking. The idea in a live forum setting is that you should peruse the options along the way as you seek out the schools you’re most interested in talking with. Thus, LSAC has maintained as much of that structure as possible. This is a great opportunity to consider all types of schools with minimal stress about overstating your interest and checking things out in a fairly anonymous but interactive environment. Often candidates will say that they learned about schools they may not have otherwise considered by taking advantage of the forum.
Despite the random placement and color-coded rooms, you will be able to seek out individual schools and, of course, won’t have to engage with any school you don’t choose. Essentially, you’ll be able to bypass all the perusing, if you so choose.
Each individual participating law school will set up their booth with whatever law school-specific resources they prefer. Some law schools may easily allow you to download a virtual viewbook or provide opportunities to be contacted later. Most likely schools will provide follow-up programming for after the forum and information about specific programs. The forum itself is meant to provide candidates an opportunity to interact with law school representatives in real time during the forum hours. Most likely that will take the form of a primary chat room.
In a live forum, schools are limited to three representatives and are required to travel to forum locations. In this format no such limit exists. So, we expect schools will likely enlist the help of a range of community members in this recruitment process, including faculty, current students, admissions professionals, and probably even some deans. As an attendee in this format, LSAC assures us that you’ll be able to participate in the main table chat or message the individual participants directly through the vFair interface. Have a question for the Dean of Career Services? Maybe they’ll be there. Interested in a 2L’s experience so far? Message them while they are here at the forum and get an answer in real time. Of course, some of these tables will be swamped, and timing might be very important if you want to make an impression or catch that specific person’s attention. If a table seems overwhelmed, try another one and come back later.
In addition to the virtual law school fair, the forum will offer various resources which are typical for an LSAC Forum. From the main entry hall, in addition to the color-coded law school fair rooms, you’ll be able to enter a “Resource Room,” where a number of parties will be present live to assist and advise you. In addition to LSAC service representatives, the Resource Room will include virtual booths where you can ask questions about diversity, financial aid, the LSAT, and other prelaw advisor questions.
Also from the main Entrance Hall there will be an Auditorium where forum attendees will be able to access both live and on-demand workshops related to law school, applications, and the forum experience. The live panels will have a Zoom meeting feel to them and be hosted by panels of law school admission professionals. On-demand sessions will be pre-recorded videos. Either way, these workshops contain valuable information for many students. You can find typical forum workshop session topics here.
Finally, the forum will offer a Lounge for forum attendees where you’ll be able to interact with other forum attendees and share information and thoughts via chat and IM. This is no replacement for Reddit, but who knows what might be here? Still, if you are so moved, it is available.
A Quick Note of Advice
People tend to show up for these events at the beginning. By the end of the forum, admission representatives are often left staring at the walls. If the vFair follows that trend, visiting tables in the last hour of the forum might very well garner more individualized attention for those hoping to make an impression.