Thursday, December 28, 2006


HarvardThis forum and one of its affiliates, First Movers, receive a very large number of visitors seeking tips on how to get into law school. We evidently draw search engine hits through our constant chatter about the LSAT, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and so forth. Most of the visitors to this site, at any rate, surely find themselves disappointed. MoneyLaw typically gives no advice on how to get into law school.

Harvard Law SchoolOn this occasion, we'll make an exception. Prettier Than Napoleon offers step-by-step instructions for students interested in "fool[ing] Harvard into letting [them] in":
[F]or those of us . . . who screwed around in high school such that we were only able to gain admission to a former men's college with bunker-like facilities and an institutional inferiority complex, the only way to fool Harvard into letting you in is by applying to a graduate program. I applied to the law school. The law school is where Harvard undergrads who aren't smart enough to hack it in the elite PhD programs go (ask any Harvard grad, even—especially—the ones at HLS), so already the competition slackens! Just follow these easy steps, and you too can have the privilege of attending one of America's most prestigious lawyer factories!

Step 1: Assemble a suitable transcript. Many people with more intellectual firepower than me allowed their college careers to be derailed by booze, women, or MMORPGs. But with judicious course selection and a little focus, you too can get the necessary A/A- average!

Step 2: Ace the LSAT. This is not that hard.

Step 3: Write a killer essay. This is especially important if you're a generic white male with a burgeoning beer gut from a populous state. Ideally, you should have some extracurricular activities you can write about, like how you went to the Middle East for a year to work for a charity that helps Israeli and Palestinian teens become friends, or how you spent the last decade in internal medicine. I wrote about how growing up surrounded by religious fundamentalists who passed out nails to small children to remind them of the crucifixion and violated the constitution left and right made me care about religious freedom. Admissions committees apparently like this stuff.

Step 4: Be a self-obsessed loser. If you were a self-obsessed winner, you'd be applying to Harvard Business School.
I know from personal experience that this formula worked twenty years ago. It's good to see that some things remain the same around ZIP code 02138.

DisclaimerHarvard bannersLike Amber, a.k.a. Prettier Than Napoleon, I must explain that her post and my decision to reproduce most of it here are offered in a facetious spirit. Two decades ago, I put enormous -- and grotesquely undue -- weight on getting into Harvard. As they say, be careful what you wish for; you'll surely get it. I now look back at Harvard and the other six years I spent in one form or another of organized higher education as one big, life-altering mistake. Since time travel and setting things right that once went wrong happen only in science fiction and legal scholarship, I've chosen to make the best of it. Sunk costs are just that, sunk, and regrets are for losers. So if you came here looking for advice, here it is: Go to Harvard, or any other law school, if the law calls to you as a career and as a way of life. Just make sure you are going for the right reasons, and not because of the way you think that a law school credential from Harvard or any other place might affect the way other people think of you. And that is Veritas.


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