This blog comes from our consultant Nikki Laubenstein. Nikki 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 admissions and financial aid offices and enrollment for the J.D. and LL.M. programs. Nikki oversaw all admissions and merit 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 also served as an academic and career counselor with a focus on pre-law advising at Syracuse’s College of Arts & Sciences. She is a member of Spivey Consulting’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and has volunteered her time for various pre-law organizations, including serving as a sponsor for the Southwest BLSA Region and as a career volunteer with OnPoint for College.
Nikki earned a B.A. in psychology and a M.S. and C.A.S. in counseling. She began her career working in a high school counseling 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 motivation.
Like the undergraduate process, visiting law schools and interacting with their communities can be an important part of selecting the right fit school for you. Sometimes, a visit can also help law school admissions professionals get a chance to meet you to begin building a relationship and tracking your interest in their school. Still, traveling all over the country to visit schools can be overwhelming and costly, so we’ve developed some suggestions to help you think through “dos and don’ts” as you build a strategy to maximize your visits.
Law School Visit Dos and Don’ts
- Do call ahead to make formal visit arrangements! Planning your visit in advance will allow you to see the full range of what’s available on the day of your visit (ex., a tour of the law school building, sitting in on a class, meeting with an admissions representative or current students). For schools that track prospective student interactions, it will also allow the office to note you were there.
*Some law schools are still only offering virtual visit options due to the pandemic, while others may be continuing to offer virtual visits for those who cannot travel to their area. A virtual tour is not quite the same as an in-person tour, but virtual meeting options can be a great way to meet with an admissions representative while saving travel time and expense and may help you to determine which schools you want to get a more in-depth look at in-person later.
- Do review the school’s admissions staff website. If you have an appointment to meet with an admissions officer, review their bio to get a sense of their background and role in the office. For example, if you learn that they attended law school — perhaps even the law school where they now work — it might help shape your questions. Just be sure not to go too far with your research so that you don’t come across as creepy!
- Do prepare a list of questions for one-on-one meetings. Having an idea of what you’d like to discuss and any specific questions will help direct the conversation and make the most of your time. These sorts of meetings are not evaluative interviews, so you shouldn’t expect the admissions officer to lead the conversation. A great final question before you leave — “What do you recommend that I see (or where should I grab lunch) while on campus?”
- Do dress appropriately. You don’t have to wear professional attire, but you’ll want to look put together and give the impression that this meeting is important to you. Business casual is fine!
- Do carry yourself with confidence.
- Do be respectful of admissions staff members’ time. Meeting with prospective students is a major part of admissions officers’ job (and for many, it’s a favorite part), but it’s just one of many responsibilities, and they will appreciate your acknowledgment of their time.
- Do ask for a business card at the conclusion of your meeting and follow up with a brief thank you email after your visit.
- Do talk to students who aren’t part of your formal visit. Candid conversations with current students (and faculty, if possible) can often give you additional insight into the school’s culture. First-year law students are just you plus one year, so don’t be afraid to approach them! They would generally love to speak to you. Note, though, that students studying in the library or other quiet sections of the law school probably don’t want to be disturbed. However, if you spot someone reading a law school textbook (think: large, heavy-looking, possibly with multi-colored tabs sticking out) in the student lounge, campus coffee shop, or outside on the quad adjacent to the law school building, then they probably won’t mind a polite interruption from a prospective student.
- Do stay after class, if you sit in on one, to introduce yourself to the professor and thank them for their time. Do let current students get their questions answered first though! Sending a thank you email afterward can also sometimes begin a great conversation that helps you learn more about the school or that professor’s area of law.
- Do take notes after your visit! You may think you’ll remember answers to your questions and how you felt about a school, but after multiple school visits, details of what you heard and who you spoke with begin to merge together.
- Do walk around the campus and surrounding area to get a feel for how the law school impacts the greater community.
- Do check campus protocols regarding proof of vaccination and masking. We have found that a quick call to the admissions office front desk is more reliable than a possibly out-of-date website.
- Do enjoy the process!
- Don’t treat the front desk administrator differently than the dean of admissions. Law school admissions offices are small, and everyone talks to each other. Show professionalism and respect to everyone you interact with during your visit!
- Don’t ask perfunctory questions that can easily be found on the school’s website or in admissions brochures, like, “What is your LSAT median?” or “What day do classes begin?” You only have a limited amount of time to make a good impression, so use it wisely.
- Don’t ramble on about yourself. Keep the interaction conversational — as much as admissions representatives are there to answer your questions, they are also assessing your ability to engage on a professional level.
- Don’t forget to make a plan for continued follow-up. A well-thought-out strategy for touching base with admissions and current students can help the school know you are serious about them while helping you to learn more about how the administration operates and how students feel about helping to recruit future classmates.
- Don’t wait too long to plan your visit. Late summer (after the school’s 1L orientation) and early fall can be good times to visit when the school has begun to shift into recruiting the next class! You can check the school’s recruitment calendar on their website and ask during your meeting if an admissions representative will be at a law school fair or LSAC Forum near you so that you can connect again during the recruitment cycle (typically September through November). Many law schools curtail prospective student visits in the weeks leading up to exam period, and the building may close entirely during winter break and other times when classes are not in session.
- Don’t begin visiting schools until you’ve cleaned up your online presence. Check that the person you are online reflects the professional law school student/future attorney you aim to be. Admissions officers do not routinely search for prospective students, but it happens from time to time. You should approach applying to law school as the beginning of your professional career and act accordingly.
- Don’t request admissions professionals on social media. They do not want to be connected with you at this stage, and many prefer to wait until you’re an alumnus of their law school!
- Don’t talk too much about sports rivalries. It is an okay subject to bring up, if that is something that attracts you to the university, but you don’t want sports to be your main subject. Admissions officers tend to think that selecting a law school based on collegiate athletic allegiances is a sign of immaturity.
- Don’t try to stump admissions professionals with difficult questions, and don’t ask anyone from the law school you’re visiting to compare their school to another law school. That’s your job!
- Don’t expect all law schools to offer the same visit opportunities. The volume of visitors, classroom capacities, and schedules of student volunteers and admissions staff can vary significantly from school to school, so just because you were able to sit in on a class and meet with an admissions officer at one school does not mean that that's going to be a possibility at another school.
- Don’t go broke visiting law schools for an ‘edge’ in the admissions process. Though schools will often track interest, they understand that most people don’t have the financial means to fly around the country visiting schools. If you are traveling to an area with a school on your list, definitely make an effort to visit, but if you only have a limited amount of money to spend on visits, you might want to save your money to visit the schools you’ve been admitted to or waitlisted by in the spring.