As law school admissions become increasingly competitive, applicants are looking for new forms of information to help them navigate through the process.
One that is gaining popularity is law school forums, in which people can give advice to others about the admissions process.
On these sites, prospective law students report their admission’s decisions and statistics on their GPA and LSAT score, so current applicants can have a better idea of where they will be accepted.
Robert Schwartz, assistant dean of admissions at UCLA Law School, said he looks at Web sites such as top-law-schools.com and lawschoolnumbers.com occasionally to see what people are saying about UCLA.
Top-law-schools.com, which includes more than 20,000 members, is frequented by prospective UCLA law students, founder Ken DeLeon said. The site is now the No. 1 law school forum, DeLeon said. Last month, more than 340,000 people visited the site, he said.
Lawschoolnumbers.com focuses on statistics and profiles of individual applicants, while top-law-schools.com also offer profiles of law schools, interviews with deans and tips on writing personal statements.
Serafima Krikunova, a fourth-year American literature and culture and communications student, who applied to law schools this year, said she uses the sites to see where she stands compared to other applicants. She checks the sites several times a week.
“It’s useful to see where other people are in the process and figure out what schools are the best for you,” she said.
But Rahia Kahn, a fourth-year psychology student, said she does not think the sites are helpful for the average applicant.
“I looked at the sites when I first applied, but they seemed to only have posts by overachievers who complained about getting a 179 instead of a 180 on their LSATs,” she said.
“Average students do not want to post their statistics, so the sites only represent the top applicants,” Kahn added.
DeLeon, a practicing lawyer, founded top-law-schools.com in 2003 because he said he thought there was a shortage of accurate, unbiased information on law school admissions.
DeLeon said he wanted the profiles of schools to reflect each school’s personality and distinct attributes in addition to statistics.
He said he gathered information from students attending the schools, highlights from the schools’ Web sites and interviews with alumni.
“No one can give better insight than current students. The site offers very candid advice about over 100 schools,” he said
A unique aspect of the site is its interviews with law school deans. Though it does not have an interview with the dean of UCLA Law school, it includes interviews with deans from Berkeley, Cornell and Northwestern. The dean from the University of Illinois has written over 500 posts in response to applicants’ questions, DeLeon said.
“I used to approach deans to write for the site, but now I am being approached,” he said.
Schwartz said the sites are useful in providing ways for applicants to network.
“There are definitely benefit to these sites. You can talk to people going to UCLA, meet future classmates; it’s a great way to connect,” he said.
But Schwartz said he also advises applicants to view the sites cautiously.
“Since posts are anonymous, you have no clue who is giving advice,” he said. “I don’t think someone should base where they receive their legal education based on anonymous responses.”
He said that some of the statistics can be outdated. For example, on top-law-schools.com, it states that there UCLA received 6,499 applications last year, but the data is from 2007, not 2008. In 2008, UCLA received more than 8,000 applications.
Parsa Sobhani, a fourth-year economics student who is currently hearing back from law schools, said he used law school forums to see if he was making realistic choices when applying to schools.
But he said he based his decisions on word-of-mouth more than anything else.
“It’s nice that these sites have so much data and you can see actual admissions trends, but I read them with a grain of salt,” Sobhani said.