Sunday, October 11

Getting Into Law School 10/6/09

Getting into Law School
When: Tues, October 6, 2009, 3-4:30 pm
Where: 106 West Village G
Learn from the experts what admissions officers look for in candidates, options for financing your degree and tips on making your best case for admission. Panelists will be: Director of Admissions from two area law schools, NU pre-law advisor. Anyone in the process of applying to law school or interested in the possibility of doing so in the future should attend this workshop. Refreshments provided.

**A certificate for a FREE Kaplan Test Prep course will be raffled off at this presentation**


Pay attention to each question. Law schools will be asking questions to see that your answers are specific to their specific school. Some may ask for two personal statements (personal statement and diversity statement). In any personal statement, write about things that make you really unique. Don't write about things that make you appear common. Do you have a unique set of experiences that you can bring to the classroom? What makes you unique to the particular school you are applying to? Don't write about what your theory of the law is or what you learned in a criminal justice class... it's seen as regurgitating information. Also, be sure not to send the wrong statement to the wrong school. With students applying to a handful of law schools, it's not uncommon for this to occur.

A diversity statement is another "soft factor" that law school admissions committees consider. If you're conservative and going to a liberal law school, you may consider discussing that in your diversity statement. When an application says "optional," it means it's 75% required and 25% optional. Anything you submit to the law school must be proofread by many people. Be aware that any communication you have with the school is added to your file (emails, logs of telephone calls).


Make time to see them and don't simply ask in an email. Go to their office hours and tell them why you want to go to law school. Sit down and spend time with the person writing a letter of recommendation for you. See if they're enthusiastic about you and someone that knows you. Writers need to be able to remember more details about you and have more data to write to the law schools.

Admissions committees don't simply look at a writer's credentials. The goal is to choose someone who can tell stories about you ("When he/she came to office hours, we talked about... I learned ____ about him/her"). Underclassmen, heed the advice of the pre-law advisors to get to know your professors and visit them in office hours to build relationships now.

A good question to ask a potential writer is: "Will you write me a strong letter of recommendation?"


Practice, practice, practice. You need at least several months to prepare for the exam. You want to do as best as you can the first time, however, many schools will look at the highest score. The goal is to answer as many questions correctly for each timed section. The LSAT tests the skills you need in law school. The most popular test date is September of senior year, although, it's better to take later, even if it's for the next academic year, so you are better prepared.


Grade trends are examined. This is a hard factor to compare your application against other candidates. One student asked if going to graduate school to earn a higher GPA would overshadow a less-than-impressive undergraduate cumulative GPA, but the panelists responded that it would not because a high GPA is often required in graduate schools.


This is a brief explanation of anything you think that may be up for negative interpretation in your application. Make it short, withhold excused, and be to the point. This is where students often disclose disciplinary/criminal issues. Being forthright is important because the American Bar Association will want to know why you didn't disclose this information.


Do some complex readings, whether it's The New Yorker, scholarly journals, or The Atlantic Monthly. Expand the your scope of reading, vocabulary, and keep up on current events. Law school will demand an exhaustive amount of comprehensive reading assignments for those 3 years, so prepare yourself beforehand.

If a "gap year" is good for YOU, don't rush into law school; it's not going anywhere. It's not a bad idea for college graduates to take a year off to pay down your credit card debt since your credit history and credit score play an important role in determining the amount of loans you may receive.

"Work backwards." Figure out what kinds of jobs you want to do, then figure out the best path to get there. Call an attorney or professional in the area and ask for their advice. They were once students too. Narrow down schools based on the degree program. This will help you determine which law school's degree will get you to where you want to be. See what law schools provide for students such as clinical programs, externships, textbooks for "rent," etc.

Friday, October 9

Careers in Insurance Investigation

Careers in Insurance Investigation, hosted by Career Services took place on 10/7/09 at noon.

Mark Robitaille - Liberty Mutual, Bodily Injury Claims Team
Bentley, 2009, Business Management

Robitaille as a bodily claims specialist where he got experience with negotiation/litigation and internal fraud investigation. He enjoys a career in the insurance industry because every day is different, the job is very analytical, and exposes him to negotiation and litigation.

Katie Nowakowski - Progressive Insurance, Claims Generalist Intermediate
Northeastern University, 2006, Psychology and minor in Business

Nowakowski was unsure what she wanted to do after graduating but was impressed with Progressive's college recruiting program. She started in claims where she contacted customers to find out which side may be at fault. Starting with a focus in property damage, she went to body shops to make sure claims weren't embellished. She later moved onto bodily injury claims with a focus on a determining a person's credibility, "witness potential," and what type of settlement would occur if it were to go to court or be settled.

1. What are some tools that your employer provides to you that make your job easier?

MR: Liberty Mutual provides ongoing training. There are 5-week training sessions that new hires go through to become familiar with the job. Skills such as understanding the specially designed claims system, corporate culture, and how to conduct investigations are the most common.

KN: Progressive also has an extensive new hire training program with different modules (such as how long to give a body shop for a dent, etc.). Progressive provides some employees Ford Escapes which are also known as "an office on wheels."

2. What types of skill do insurance companies look for in insurance investigator applicants?

KN: One with a Type A personality who is friendly and will aggressively attack claims, sees that assignments are done well, and follow through with what they say.

MR: Those with time management skills will do well. Adding onto KN's suggestions, he believes that customers pay a premium and expect a high level of service.

3. What types of leadership experiences, in your experience, are skills that make good supervisors/managers?

KN: Most investigators has police or fire department backgrounds which are often relevant to automobile insurance claims. Be willing to work hard, be good at what you do, and the ability to be promoted is there.

MR: It's very diverse. He has known some from the FBI or police agencies, some from specialized majors, and also talented college graduates like himself are willing to consider different roles in the company.

4. What is the supervisor-employee relationship like? Is there a close relationship or are the two more independent?

Both have relatively flexible schedules depending on case load or personal commitments if you let your supervisor know (sports, family situations)

KN: In her experience, Progressive has a culture that welcomes supportive employee relationships. She shared that more experienced reps have been willing to answer questions and that she's never had a problem asking an available manager for feedback.

MR: Liberty Mutual has an open door policy that employees appreciate and mentoring programs for new hires. Managers are also flexible adapt to the diverse types of employees they work with.

Wednesday, September 30

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: No One Leaves opportunity for students

We are called No One Leaves and we are associated
with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau at Harvard Law School. We are
working to help fight the devastating effects of foreclosure in our
community and to inform people of their legal recourses.

Around 200-300 properties are foreclosed each month in Boston, and
over 40% of the foreclosed properties each month are multi-family
properties. As a matter of policy, banks evict all residents — both
tenants and owners -- from properties following a foreclosure auction.
These banks keep rows of abandoned properties on the market for
months, destroying the communities and endangering the residents of
areas like Dorchester, Roxbury, and East Boston.

In January 2008, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and other legal service
providers have been hosting weekly legal clinics to inform tenants and
former owners of foreclosed properties of their legal rights,
providing these individuals with representation and resources to fight

The problem is this: Of the 200-300 properties foreclosed each month,
almost 90% vacate before reaching the stage of eviction. Brokers,
through offers of small amounts of money known as “Cash for Keys” and
various methods of intimidation, get residents to vacate properties
before going through the eviction process. As a result, we have not
been able to change the banks’ policy on a larger scale. Evicting
every tenant still makes sense when only 1 of 10 actually has to be

To fix this problem, we created a community action group, “No One
Leaves,” focused on informing tenants of their rights and encouraging
them to stay in their homes through the eviction process. We have
broken Boston into 20 zones, mapping foreclosed properties. 10
colleges and law schools around Boston have committed to “Adopting a
Neighborhood” and canvas every foreclosed property in their zone each
week. The goal is to have every resident of a foreclosed property
understand their rights and stay in their homes, with a goal that “No
One Leaves.”

Currently, students are canvassing every week, and we also have a
monthly mass-canvas of residents living in foreclosed properties. Our
goal is now to expand our efforts by reaching out to churches,
non-profit organizations, and CDCs. We are trying to identify forums
where we can get information to individuals who are living in homes
that have already or may soon be foreclosed in order to more
efficiently inform people of their rights.

Danielle Tenner
Harvard Law School
J.D. Candidate 2010

or Jim Parker for more info.

Wednesday, March 18

Careers at Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual Group is ranked #98 in the Fortune 500. Businessweek ranked LM at #41 for "Best Places to Start A Career." The company is the 5th largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. Headquartered in Boston. LMG employs approximately 41,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world.

-LMG provides a range of products for their customers--from personal automobile to worker's compensation and ocean cargo insurance.
-Products are distributed via a direct sales force, independent agents, brokers, exchange agents and online at

You Are...
INVOLVED - We encourage you to volunteer your time and talent to organizations you care about. Our commitment to community service is ingrained in our company culture and in the work we do every day.
SAVVY - Work isn't everything! You have personal goals, too, and having the right support and training is key to attaining them.
MOTIVATED - We are committed to employee development and a promote-from-within philosophy. In 2007, college hires had access to over 2,000 internal job openings across all business units.

No matter what your major, you'll find a number of opportunities to learn, grow and contribute throughout your career. In fact, about one third of our new hires are recent graduates!

Click here to view the remaining slides. You can download the images by clicking the icon next to the filename in the slideshow

Careers in the Boston Police Department

The Criminal Justice Student Advisory Council ("CJSAC") invited three detectives from the Boston Police Department ("BPD") to share the career opportunities available and some of their experiences in the agency.

Police Academy
This probationary period lasts 6-18 months after passing the exam and is required before becoming an officer. Be prepared to run 5-8 miles at a moments notice. It's commonplace that during the police academy the individual running the program will require this on any day. Training for this may take months or a year for some individuals. Strength training is important too as you will have to climb over walls as well. The academy will be emotionally and physically challenging but something that you should be dedicated to succeed in. You may "know more about the law than many attorneys" through the education and exams that you will encounter.

BPD will conduct a thorough background check of all applicants which will include CORI (background) check, drug test, records checking in all areas you have lived in recently, and calls of service from those residences. The interviews may be extensive too. It will include yourself, past/current neighbors, employers and (perhaps) your mailman. The detectives shared that neighbors are more mindful of your activities than you may think. You will not be hired if you have any prior criminal history including drug offenses or domestic violence incidents.

Versatile Career, But Only for Dedicated Individuals
Individuals who work for the police department are held to higher ethical standards than other employers so there is a high rate of attrition. The detectives shared that of a recent police academy class of 400 individuals, 80% of applicants didn't pass (background check, mental health, physical or attitude issues). There are many options of employment in the police department such as patrol officer, detective, lab technician, and dispatcher -- all typically pay the same rate and have the same rise in salary over the years. There will be a good amount of classroom and practical education that officers will receive.

Important Notes
- Be a people person. If you don't like interacting with people on a daily basis, this isn't the career for you. If you are, it will be less difficult.
- There will be a period of time where you will have to "pay your dues" but the the detectives shared that the benefits will greatly outweigh these initial hurdles.
-You will be sprayed with pepper spray. I'm not certain if you will be tased, but ask the recruiting officer.
- Start preparing for the physical portion of the academy early. They will turn officers away without hesitation if they aren't able to run 5 miles or climb over a wall. Don't let this impede your chances of becoming hired. Get to the gym at least several months beforehand to focus on cardio and strength training.
- Take the civil service test so your name appears on list of possible applicants. This lists you as passing and "available" so if positions aren't available immediately after you pass, one will likely come up in a couple months as the need arises. If you don't take the civil service test to be added to the roster, you may be overlooked. The exams remain active, I believe, for approximately two years.

Questions / Want to Learn More?

Click here to view the flyers. You can download the images by clicking the icon next to the filename in the slideshow. I have a few extras if anyone would like a copy.

Tuesday, February 24

Getting Into Law School: Putting Together Your Application (Session 2)

Suggested Resources
* BC Law school locator / advising program -- plug in LSAT score, GPA, it will generate a list of schools that it thinks you're in the acceptance range of.

Personal statements.

It's the most personal part of your statement. This is your opportunity to talk to the Admissions Committees ("ACs") want to see that you can offer an interesting perspective or get really excited about your statement. directly. It shows them what kind of person you are and what kind of contribution you can make to their law school. Think about conveying a message that is not illustrated in your admissions package. The statement should be personal, concise and convey something about you that they couldn't infer from the rest of your application.

Key Suggestions:
-Be authentic, genuine and the writer. No one should be supplying the substantive text of the statement but yourself.
-Talk the topic through with a few people. Look it over through the eyes of a good writer so you can get good editorial comments.
-Most should be no more than 2 pages double spaced.
-Give yourself plenty of time to think about writing this. Ruminate on this over the next three months... something will click. --Describe how how he or she felt in that moment and translate that into a direction or path that is relevant to law school.
-Don't leave yourself too little time to prepare the personal statement. It will take you at least two months to write two pages.
-Don't have your personal statement be about why you will be great in law school; they will make that determination.

Letters of Recommendations

Choose a recommender that is the best candidate at assessing your abilities and project your successes in law school. It's recommended that if you choose a professor, try to take more than one class with them. Take writing classes with emphasis on strong writing and analytical exercises. The problem with large classes is that a professor may not remember your individual papers or you personally.

-Do not send an email to a professor asking for a letter of recommendation and not extend an invitation to a face-to-face meeting.
-You will benefit by giving them as much information about you as possible. Share your transcript, resume, and a copy of your personal statement with them.
-Consider the timing of requesting them to write a statement about you. Don't ask in September or November. Great times to ask are during the summer when both your schedule and theirs is less busy.
-Write a than you letter, and a followup letter on how the application went. They wonder where the people went. They actually care and want to know what happened.

Feedback from a NU School of Law 1L
-Letters or recommendations can make or break about you. If there's even a chance that a professor can write a marginal recommendation about you, don't ask them.
-Make at as easy as possible for recommenders to do this favor for you. Provide self-addressed envelopes with postage so sending it will be effortless.

When submitting documents or forms online at different schools, make sure you read every single line. Though many schools use the LSAC website which has forms similar to the common app, but each will very slightly.
-Consider writing optional essays.
-Don't get bogged down on the app process. (Blogs, calculators, etc.). These can overwhelming and take things out of perspective. It's a stressful time. Try to get away from it.

-Don't thinking rankings are the Bible of where you should go. There are flaws in the numbers, and there are other intricacies that the numbers overlook or don't discuss that you may find relevant to your choice.
-Think about where you wanna be, the people you want to be around.
-Look for student blogs or Student Ambassadors listed on the admissions websites. Email students. Students are more than happy to answer your emails.
-Look into faculty and their resumes. See what they're researching!
-Research the cities you're in. You'll be getting away from the law school often. The law school is not the population.
-LSAT practice exams are different than the actual test day! You will get nervous and there will be distractions.

"A JD is one of the safest degrees to get in this economy."


Assistant Professor, Hillary B. Farber, is the Chief Pre-law Advisor for Northeastern University. She holds a joint appointment in the College of Criminal Justice and the School of Law. Professor Farber teaches in the areas of criminal law & procedure, juvenile justice, and legal ethics. Ms. Farber earned a B.A. in political science with high honors from the University of Michigan, and received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Prior to joining the faculty, Farber was a criminal defense attorney representing indigent clients on behalf of the New Hampshire Public Defender. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Suffolk Lawyers for Justice and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild. She is a founding member of the New England Innocence Project.

Susan Loffredo, Associate Director at Career Services.


VIew the post from the first event here.

Jim Parker

Thursday, February 19

Getting Into Law School: How to Impress Admissions (Session 1)

How to Impress Admissions

Admissions committees ("ACs") may look at over 1,000 applications each year. Each of the different pieces of the application resembles pieces of a puzzle that help them get a better understanding of the individual. ACs prefer a candidate that is a both good fit for their school and one that is at a point in life where he or she is able to dedicate three years to rigorous law classes. It's advised to have an application reviewed by others so that ACs aren’t left with questions about this individual.

Components of Most Applications:

1. Application. This lets ACs see other schools the student has applied to and what type of law he or she is interested in. It is also easy to tell whether a student applied to law schools in Boston or 50 schools nationally.

2. LSDAS Report. The LSDAS report includes LSAT scores, LSAT writing sample, transcripts, and sometimes letters of recommendations depending on the school. Together, these components give ACs a clearer perspective of the student's academic and professional abilities. Performance in classes that challenged the student’s writing, reading, and critical thinking skills will be examined more carefully than others. The report illustrates trends in GPA by semester and explanations in irregularities usually belong in the Addendum section of the application.

3. LSAT writing sample. This will be disseminated to schools after taking the exam and will be an important sample of your writing ability, articulation and professionalism. ACs like to see you take the questions seriously and you answer what the question asks.

4. Recommendation letters. These may be included in your LSDAS report or submitted separately depending on the school. Select individuals who are able to write strong, positive recommendations about your abilities as an employee or student. When approaching potential writers, ask if they are able/willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation. If not, just move on.

Select individuals based on their relationship with you, not their prestige.
For example, if you’ve had a class with a noteworthy professor but you have worked more closely with the TA, admissions committees would prefer to hear from the TA since they will be better at articulating your writing ability.

Collaborate with the person writing the recommendation.
It’s suggested you show this individual other parts of your application so there aren’t any surprises when your entire application package is reviewed. This also gives you a chance to preview what that person will ultimately say about you before it is submitted. It’s more useful for admissions committees to hear from a writer that can articulate specific examples of your performance rather than a writer who uses pedantic adjectives or buzzwords.

5. Personal Statement. This is a key part of the application that gives ACs a good sense of who you are as an individual and differentiates yourself from other candidates. Make sure this document is proofread carefully. Some personal statement questions are broad; some are more specific. Always read the instructions carefully and answer the question that is being asked.

Margins and font size, like most papers, are important to the reader. Don't spend a lot of time with this. Either you can't fit it in 2 pages, or you're trying to stretch it to two pages. Don't be too creative.

It’s all about you. Don't talk about how great the law school is. They already know about the law school. Tell them something else about you that they can't find in other parts of the application. Keep your writing honest, and in your own voice. Does it sound like you wrote it? They will compare it to other samples of writing they receive.

6. Resume. It is not always required, but check with the law school. Your resume should highlight extracurricular activity (have you held a leadership position, what types of things interest you), community service involvement, Pre-Law Society, and other things you have tried outside the classroom. ACs like to see that the student has tried out the law in some way, shape, or form.

7. Addendums. This part of the application is for explaining irregularities in the application, disciplinary action, and another place to demonstrate your writing ability. Students frequently discuss dips in GPA, a significant jump in an LSAT score or other egregious circumstances.

Be sure to keep it short and to a paragraph. Law schools require students to declare disciplinary action in this section. Writing should not be conceited or arrogant. For example, if a student was caught with alcohol in the dorm, they apologize and move on. Alcohol violations are taken more lightly than other situations. If you have been caught cheating, it is a difficult situation to overlook. A student's character and integrity will be questioned in the application and in their career.

It's detrimental to ones application, degree, or career to submit false or misleading information in an application. Disclose any discrepancies that may adversely affect your application, as these will be verified. Your record might be clean, however, your history may not be. Check your transcripts, check with OSCCR even if you're sure there isn't any information on you. It's better to be safe than sorry.

About 30 students attended this afternoon. From a show of hands, about 8 have decided to go to law school and about 6 taking will be taking some time off.


1. How do ACs view taking time off between undergraduate and law school?
It's good to get experience. Get involved in the community with something that touches on a legal issue or volunteer at a law firm. In general, taking time off is a good thing. They look to see that you are mature adult and spending your time wisely. Some schools may prefer to see students volunteer for 40 hours rather than work for 4 months.

2. When is good to get people to write recommendations?
When it's fresh in their mind. Ask them before you graduate. Keep them updated on what you've been up to so they aren’t surprised to hear from you when you contact them.

3. What is important to emphasize in a resume for law schools?
Talk to a prelaw advisor and career services to help with your resume or personal statement. Law schools like seeing awards in college, not so much in high school since the recognition isn’t recent. ACs like hearing about remarkable hobbies. Are you a champion ice skater? How do you spend your personal time? “Poker” is not something to mention in a law school application. It raises serious questions over a student’s ethics. Since lawyers are in a self-regulated profession, they may wonder if a student would wager money from a client or firm. Do not put “poker” in your law school application. Similarly, don’t put “travel” or “music” on the resume. Both are extremely ambiguous. You occasionally leave town? You have an iPod? Make sure to highlight accomplishments, not general activities.

4. What do students overlook on campus tours? What questions would you recommend they ask or places/people to speak with while visiting?
Look at the careers services office. How helpful are they at answering your questions? How many contacts do they have? How many staff members do they have? What type of firms do they have relationships with? Look at the median starting salary of graduates. Don’t be shy. Most law schools are proud of employers their graduates get jobs with and should have a list.
What is the school’s proximity to the city and main business district as a remote location may inhibit employment opportunities (travel, costs). Also, visit a school more than once.
Talk to the student ambassadors. Most admissions offices don’t screen emails sent to these students and have their contact information listed on the admissions website. They are asked to answer prospective students questions candidly.

5. Minorities
Find out what are the different minorities at the school (LGBT, race). If you are in a minority group, it’s important to ask how that group is represented or welcomed in the school and community.

6. Daytime vs. Nighttime program?
The major advantage of full time program is you have more time to study and get good grades.

7. How do law schools view taking the LSAT multiple times?
The LSDAS shows all scores and the average of all tests. The trend is that more schools take the highest, though some still take the average of the scores. This can vary by law school by year. .

8. Is it bad to apply to many law schools?
Schools notice it but it won't break your application. In this economy, it's not unheard of to apply to many.

9. Prep classes
If you're able to enroll and take one, do so. The LSAT is the most important component in your application. Make sure you commit time to it and that other things in your life don’t detract from your preparation. Difference in scores can mean differences in availability to scholarships or millions of dollars in salary earned in a lifetime.


Carrie Taubman JD, Associate Director of Admissions at Northeastern University School of Law.
(617) 373-2395
101 Knowles Center

Attorney V-Tsien Fan, Pre-Law Advisor. Attorney Fan received his J.D. from Indiana University-Bloomington, where he also served as a pre-law advisor. Attorney Fan served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia between 2004-2007. He received his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Maryland, College Park and has worked in the biotechnology field. Currently he is a doctoral student in the College of Criminal Justice PhD. Program.
(617) 373-3327
409 Churchill Hall

Susan Loffredo, Associate Director at Career Services.

View the post from the second event here.

Jim Parker