Law School Forums: What to know before you go

Should you go to one of the LSAC law school forums or other big law fairs? What can you get out of these forums/fairs? All your questions are answered below.

What does a Law School Forum look like?
It’s a large trade fair, basically. Imagine a large room, like the Student Union Ballroom or the big Campus Center Auditorium, filled with tables on which you’ll find lots of promotional materials, and behind which you’ll find representatives from almost every law school in the nation (for the forums) or a large swath of those schools (for the smaller fairs). There are also often workshops or panels focusing on the application process, financing, diversity, and legal careers. These workshops are led by both law school admissions officials and pre-law advisors from the local area colleges and universities.

How will it be helpful?
These events are most helpful to prospective applicants who are either still contemplating a broad range of schools, or who are interested in applying to schools outside of the region. The first group has the opportunity to browse the aisles, “shopping” for schools in a face-to-face setting, rather than the online shopping you’ve grown used to. The second group can have the chance to meet and speak with representatives from schools that you can’t visit in person before making your decisions about where to apply. (But note: you should absolutely plan to visit the schools you are contemplating attending. Don’t make your final decision about which school to attend without having visited your top choices.) You may also find the workshops helpful, especially if you haven’t had the chance to attend similar workshops here at UMass.

You are also very likely to be offered application fee waivers from most schools. These forums are designed primarily for the law schools to recruit applicants. Enhance their prospects of recruiting you by asking for and gratefully accepting application fee waivers from as many schools as possible.

Can I meet with admission reps?
If by “meet with” you mean talk to them across a table in a large, crowded and noisy room, yes. And at the large LSAC forums, you are much more likely to be able to speak with actual admission officials (Deans and/or Directors of Admission) rather than with temporary recruiters who have been hired for the early admission season. They also often serve as panelists during the workshops, so you’ll have a chance to meet with some of them at that point as well.

Will it help my admission chances?
It’s very unlikely. These interactions aren’t application interviews, they’re information-gathering exercises. You should feel free to bring copies of your resume or business cards (if you have the latter), just in case they’re asked for, but don’t expect that to happen much, if at all.

What should I be wary of?
Notwithstanding the above answer, you are still speaking with admission officials at schools you’d like to attend. While these discussions are unlikely to help your admission chances, they can easily hurt them if you are unprofessional, impolite, or in any other way make a bad impression. Dress well (business casual) and be your usual polite and respectful self.

Should I go?
There’s no one answer to this question. If from the descriptions above, it sounds interesting and/or helpful, then yes, by all means. If not, then don’t fear that you’re missing out somehow. Non-attendance won’t affect your admission chances either.

Besides my resume, what should I bring?
At a minimum, a list of schools whose reps you want to make sure to speak with. A list of key questions you want to have answered as well. And something to write on and with. You’ll want to take notes of the answers you receive so you don’t get schools mixed up in your mind later. And you’ll need something to put all of those fee waivers in.

How do I register?
You can register here, on the LSAC website for the LSAC forums. Registration for other law fairs is usually on the website of the host school. Registration is free and recommended, but you can also just show up.

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