Working with foreign applicants can be a great and rewarding
challenge. Most international law school applicants need to get specific degrees
from US universities in order to get a leg up on their career back home. For
many, getting a LL.M is extremely important, especially from an elite school
like Harvard or Stanford.
I'll call one such student whom I worked with "Jane." She applied to several top
10 schools, but was only accepted by one, Penn. However, she chose to forgo
attending that school and wanted to reapply for her top two choices. That's when
Jane and I came together.
She clearly possessed the necessary academic qualifications to attend a top
school. What she had failed to realize is that most applicants to these top
schools do clear the academic hurdles and it's also necessary to research the
schools thoroughly to demonstrate a strong fit and highlight some powerful "wow"
factors to differentiate your candidacy.
Part of Jane's initial mistake was failing to optimize the content in her
personal statement. She spent more time focusing on her country's issues and how
she could use her degree to try to fix them. Instead, Jane really needed to
understand what the schools' focus were in regards to the LL.M degree, and
tailor her response to address that, rather than her country's ills.
Some schools look at a LL.M degree and see how you can use it to be a proficient
practitioner. And some see a LL.M degree as the next important step to be a
professor. Once we determined how her top choices viewed the LL.M, we were able
to tailor each application to that school's focus and address her package from
their viewpoint. We completely redid her resume and essays to fit each school.
While it was a bit more work to do, in the end it was worth it.
She got accepted to both of her choices (Harvard and Stanford) as a
re-applicant and is now on the career track she truly desired in the LL.M
program she wanted most.
- Contributed by Senior Consultant Heike Spahn, a former Associate Director of
Admissions and Assistant Dean of Financial Aid at the University of Chicago Law
School. She holds her J.D. from the Valparaiso University School of Law, where
she later served as Assistant Dean of Admissions.