Act like you’re being watched — because you are

Every time I speak with a group of law school admissions folks, I’m reminded just how much information they are gathering about you. You’re no doubt planning to make your application package as convincing and respectable as possible. You may think you’ve been super-careful with your social media privacy settings, so you have nothing to worry about. But the admissions officials go well beyond this low-hanging fruit. You should assume that every encounter you have with anyone affiliated with the law school, every online uttering you publish, every step you take, every move you make… well, you get the idea. They’re watching you.

So what does that mean for how you conduct yourself over the next year of application madness (and beyond)? I’ve got a few tips.

Be professional. Getting the runaround from some bored low-level staffer in a law school admissions office? Remain calm and polite. Any venting you might engage in will no doubt be noted in your file. This is good practice for being a lawyer—it’s a remarkably small law world out there, and lawyers have long memories. (And low-level staffers—in courts, law firms and elsewhere—wield a tremendous amount of power. Much more than law students and new attorneys.) This is really easier than you can imagine: just be a good person.

Google yourself. How’s that internet profile looking? Drunk party TikToks and curse-filled rants? They can’t all be attributed to that girl in Iowa who has your exact same name. Law school admissions officers only need a few more details about you to narrow the search anyway (and, thanks to your application, they possess a LOT more details about you). Clean up your online persona. (After you google yourself, try googling “clean up online profile” for endless links to helpful tips.)

Don’t assume you’re anonymous. Law school admissions officials are on reddit and the other popular forums — not so much to find you but to see what applicants are saying about their institutions. So when they see claims of bad admissions behavior or boasts about phenomenal admissions or scholarship offers, they take notice. As discussed above, it’s trivially easy to connect those “anonymous” online profiles to the real applicant profiles they have in their possessions. They can and do take adverse actions against applicants who are unprofessional and/or less than honest in such forums. As a general rule, don’t post “anonymously” in these forums anything you wouldn’t post under your real name.

Remember that you never know who you might run into. In real life, I mean. Offline. As in the virtual world, be professional, don’t assume you’re anonymous, and don’t assume that person you’re talking to isn’t affiliated with a law school you hope to attend. It really is a small legal world.

By Diane Curtis
Diane Curtis Pre-Law Advisor & Senior Lecturer