How to get into Yale Law School, the No. 1 program in the US

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If you’re planning to apply to the No. 1 law school in the nation, then you already know you have your work cut out for you.

According to US News & World Report’s 2021 Best Law Schools ranking, that school is Yale Law School, where the 2023 acceptance rate was a slim 7.3% and full-time tuition (plus fees) will set you back $68,000.

It’s worth it, though, judging by where Yale Law’s alumni tend to land. According to the school’s website, over 13,000 Yale Law alumni are leaders in their organizations, and a decade post-graduation, they almost unanimously (99%) express job satisfaction.

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Lawrence J. Liu, class of 2022, said there’s “a lot of intimidation” that comes with looking at the law school’s statistical profile. The median undergraduate GPA for the class of 2023 was 3.94 and median LSAT score was 173. (The school’s statistics page does not include median GRE scores, but admissions does accept GRE test results.) 

“A small number of students are admitted by the admissions office following consultation with one faculty member, but the remaining promising applicants are sent for further review and scoring by three law school professors that use their own admissions criteria,” Liu said.

Besides top academics, here’s what it takes to be a standout candidate and land a spot at the best law school in the country.

Source letters of recommendation from professors who know you, your passions, and your academics well

On its website, Yale Law notes that academic letters of recommendation are strongly preferred, and advised choosing faculty who know you well and can personally evaluate aspects of your academic work to write them. 

To make sure your letters are exactly what admissions is looking for, Ali Nash, director of law school admissions at Stratus Admissions Counseling, which has helped applicants gain admission to Yale Law as well as other top law schools including Harvard and Stanford, suggested those still in school attend office hours and actively participate in class to build a strong rapport with professors. An excellent letter from a teaching assistant who knows you well is better than a letter from a senior professor who only knows you by your grade in their class, she added.

Ali Nash

Liu agreed with this approach. “One (I think) unique aspect of the Yale Law School application process is that YLS faculty are heavily involved in the selection process,” he said. “And my sense is that faculty might especially value strong academic letters.” 

He clarified that you don’t need recommenders who know Yale Law School faculty personally or who hold “fancy” titles. 

“Rather, I think there is value in having recommenders who know you well and who can attest not only to your contributions to a classroom, but also to your ability to think and talk through issues you are passionate about,” Liu said.

He also recommended working as collaboratively as possible with your recommenders as they craft your letters. 

“I mean being in contact with your recommenders early and often, sharing your statements with them, and talking through what specific perspective you hope they will provide in light of the other pieces of your application,” Liu said. 

If you’re further removed from college, Nash said you can submit a letter from an employer — just make sure it clearly addresses skills needed for the study of law, such as critical thinking and writing. 

“Do not submit a non-academic letter in lieu of an academic letter of recommendation if you have the choice,” she added. 

Make sure your personal statement and essay highlight experiences outside your resume and build off one another

Yale Law’s application requires two essays: The first is a personal statement, and the second is what insiders often refer to as the infamous “Yale 250,” which requires candidates to explore an idea or issue from their academic, extracurricular, or professional work that’s of particular interest.

While the school specifies that applicants can submit the same personal statement that they’ve prepared for other law schools, the Yale 250 should be original.

“Use this opportunity to your full advantage to showcase a part of you not already highlighted in your application,” Nash said. 

While highlighting an interesting hobby might be appropriate for the Yale 250, applicants should not be “too cute” or overly creative, she added — for example, by submitting essays in the form of poetry or song lyrics. 

“Take it seriously and remember that it is an opportunity to demonstrate your creative writing and concision,” Nash said.   

Liu overcame having GPA and LSAT numbers that were under the school’s median by channeling ample time into his personal statement and the 250-word essay.

“As someone who is also pursuing a PhD, I was told that an application reader would likely assume I wanted to be an academic and that I could conduct research in a specific area,” Liu said. “So instead of crafting my personal statement like a grant proposal, I focused on an experience I had teaching high school students in China to highlight the motivations underlying my research on Chinese law and politics, as well as my interests in qualitative fieldwork.”

In the Yale 250, Liu drew from conversations he’d had with an incarcerated individual he worked with through the Petey Greene Program, a volunteer tutoring initiative. He hoped that when admissions read the two statements together, they would reflect a wider range of interests, while also communicating “a consistent theme of wanting to get proximate in my research and life experiences,” he said. He recommended having people you trust read through your essays as a whole to ensure that their takeaways align with what you’d intended. 

In addition to the two required essays, Yale Law School also lets applicants decide whether to submit optional addenda to their application, such as a diversity statement. However, Nash said this addition should truly add value, otherwise it’s worth skipping. “Because Yale requires the 250, they may be skeptical of a separate diversity statement,” she said. 

Get some professional experience under your belt — or prove equivalent outcomes

Only 17% of Yale Law’s admitted students come directly from college. Therefore, Nash pointed out that applicants who lack post-college professional experience may be at a disadvantage. 

“You will need to show that you have gained the maturity and focus that comes with holding a full-time job,” Nash said.

She suggested that applicants right out of college demonstrate these characteristics in their letters of recommendation — tactfully requesting this information from recommenders — or perhaps with other significant involvement in extracurricular activities. 

If you’re in the position to take a gap year or two, consider the type of job you take carefully. 

“Try to find an opportunity that will enrich your law degree, show your passion, and will help you to meaningfully contribute to classroom discussions, projects, faculty research,” she said.  

Since thinking about all that’s required to stand out may seem overwhelming, Liu offered one final piece of advice:

“Don’t be too scared to apply,” Liu said. “At the end of the day, nobody really knows how or why they got into Yale Law School. So if you really want to go to YLS and are able to apply, why not shoot your shot?”

SEE ALSO: How to get into Harvard Law School, according to the chief admissions officer, students, and admissions consultants

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Why Hotch Fans Are Divided On This Criminal Minds Character – Looper

In a thread aptly titled “Hotch and Haley,” fans went back and forth on how they viewed the couple’s problems and specifically, how Haley responded to them. There were several users who understood where Haley was coming from, but felt that her behavior toward Hotch was rude, regardless of the reasoning. And no, we’re not talking about the theory that she was cheating.

User AyyPapzz wrote, “she was rude, inconsiderate, and not exactly a supportive partner.” They also pointed to how well agent JJ Jareau (A. J. Cook) and her husband, Will (Josh Stewart), figured things out: “Look at JJ and her Will. Will has a crazier schedule than Haley but they made it work with two kids. He was always supportive of her career.”

For gmeb3, blaming Hotch’s career for Haley’s behavior doesn’t make sense. They argued, “Haley’s character agreed to marry someone who is openly career driven and passionate about work. The character of Hotch was a working lawyer before joining the FBI. That’s a path that would have required significant dedication from the very start.”

Another user, LadyGagaFanAccount, agreed, and wrote, “My thing is she knew what she was getting into when they got married You shouldn’t marry someone if you don’t think you can handle their career.” But there was some major opposition to that line of thinking. User danielalemus rebutted LadyGagaFanAccount by writing, “In [season 1] we learn that they have been together since high school. She literally supported him through his whole career before he was an FBI agent. So no she didn’t. She married a person she loved.”

And danielalemus was far from the only one to jump to Haley’s defense.

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Trump Enraged by Defense Lawyers' Performance – The New York Times

The former president was particularly angry at Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of his lawyers, for acknowledging the effectiveness of the House Democrats’ presentation.

On the first day of his second impeachment trial, former President Donald J. Trump was mostly hidden from view on Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., moving from the new office that aides set up to his private quarters outside the main building.

Mr. Trump was said to have meetings that were put on his calendar to coincide with his defense team’s presentation and keep him occupied. But he still managed to catch his two lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David I. Schoen, on television — and he did not like what he saw, according to two people briefed on his reaction.

Mr. Castor, the first to speak, delivered a rambling, almost somnambulant defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.

And while he was heartened that his other lawyer, Mr. Schoen, gave a more spirited performance, Mr. Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, the people familiar with his reaction said.

Unlike his first Senate impeachment trial, just over a year ago, Mr. Trump has no Twitter feed to do what he believes he does better than anyone else — defend himself — and to dangle threats of retaliation over the heads of Republican senators who serve on the impeachment jury.

So the former president was forced to rely on a traditional method of defense — lawyers in the well of the Senate chamber, and allies spreading word about their plans to defend him against the charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob of supporters.

In the lead-up to the trial this week, Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers said he seemed to be taking his second impeachment more or less in stride, preoccupied with his golf game and his struggling business, and trying to ignore what was happening in Washington.

But the fact that he struggled to retain a full team of lawyers for the trial was a source of concern to some of his aides. None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump returned for the second round. And most of the team he initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.

Several of the former president’s advisers and associates said they cringed at the performance by Mr. Castor, a former prosecutor from Pennsylvania who spoke first after the House Democratic managers presented their impeachment case using graphic videos of the Jan. 6 attack, delivering a meandering defense.

An adviser to Mr. Trump, speaking on background as the lawyer was making his defense, insisted that Mr. Castor had always planned to try to reduce the temperature in the chamber because the former president and his aides anticipated an emotional presentation by the Democrats.

But Mr. Castor undercut that by declaring at the outset that he and Mr. Schoen had switched their presentation order because the Democrats’ case had been so good.

That one of his own lawyers praised the prosecutors surprised and infuriated Mr. Trump, people familiar with his reaction said. And other Trump allies said privately that some members of the legal team seemed surprised by the raw clips from the riot that the Democrats showed, even though the House managers had signaled for days that was their plan.

Mr. Schoen presented a more forceful argument, with the type of intensity that Mr. Trump prefers. Mr. Schoen, who is based in Atlanta, argued that the trial itself was unconstitutional because the former president is no longer in office, and that the effort sought to undermine Mr. Trump’s First Amendment rights.

But even with his acquittal all but certain, Mr. Trump was far from satisfied with the arguments made on his behalf.

The president’s advisers distributed more pointed “talking points” in the morning and the afternoon, excoriating Democrats later in the day for opening the case “exactly as we all expected them to: by glorifying violence and intentionally misleading on the Constitution.”

“In doing so, the Democrats set a horrible precedent for the rest of the impeachment trial by making clear they will selectively edit — which is a polite way of saying ‘lying’ — everything from video footage to remarks from legal scholars to the Constitution itself,” the talking points said.

In the first impeachment trial, which focused on Mr. Trump’s call to the president of Ukraine seeking investigations into President Biden and his son, Hunter, as Mr. Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, Republicans and Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued the conduct was not impeachable.

But outside of arguing that Mr. Trump’s speech before the rampage was protected by the Constitution, Republicans generally stayed away from defending the events of that day.

The lack of a defense on the central charge of the impeachment case — and Mr. Castor’s difficulty articulating a clear point — did not escape Senate Republicans.

Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, castigated Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers in explaining why he voted “yes” on the question of whether the Senate has jurisdiction in the case even though Mr. Trump is out of office.

Asked why he believed they did poorly, Mr. Cassidy replied to reporters, “Did you listen to it?”

“It was disorganized, random — they talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand,” he said.

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How to land a coveted federal judicial clerkship, according to 6 current and former clerks

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Federal judicial clerkships are often seen as extra gold stars on a lawyer’s track record.

Acting as apprentices to the decision-makers at courts, clerks assist judges with legal research and drafting, reviewing, and editing court decisions and memoranda, receiving substantive feedback from the judges in return. Because they’re embedded into the day-to-day, inner workings of a courthouse, clerks become intimately familiar not only with how a judge thinks and makes decisions, but also with the gamut of civil and criminal cases that lawyers handle.Greg Washington   Paul Hastings

“Knowing how a judge makes decisions pays dividends, no matter what type of law you do,” said Greg Washington, a litigator at Keker, Van Nest & Peters who clerked at both the District Court of Connecticut in 2018 and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 2019.  

Clerkships, which are filled by recent law school grads, can open many doors of opportunities, from jobs at Big Law and boutique firms to in-house counsel roles or further clerkships at higher courts, Peter Bae, a clerk at the District of Nevada, told Insider. Bae himself plans to practice commercial litigation once he wraps up his clerkship.  

The Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR), an online portal through which law students and lawyers can apply to participate in judges’ clerkships, opened up applications for this year Wednesday. Only students and grads who have completed their second year at law school are eligible to apply this cycle. The deadline is June 14, when the applications will be sent to judges for consideration. 

Jonathan Masur   UChicago Law.JPGThe next four months, then, is a key “shopping period,” which aspiring clerks should take advantage of to prepare their strongest application possible, said Jonathan Masur, a former clerk and now professor and co-chair of the clerkship committee at the University of Chicago Law School.

From picking a judge to crafting an airtight cover letter, six current and former clerks share their advice on landing a prestigious federal judicial clerkship.

Consider career goals and geography when picking a judge to apply to

Specialization and geography are two crucial factors when it comes to picking a judge to clerk for.

Certain courts have reputations for certain types of law by virtue of the concentration of cases they handle in that area. For example, someone who wants exposure to high-stakes commercial litigation may consider clerking at the Southern District of New York, while an applicant with an interest in patent law might look at the Eastern District of Texas, said Bae.

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“Focus on the area of law you’re interested in, or what class or clinic you really enjoyed at school. As a clerk, you’ll be getting practical exposure and meeting the attorneys that practice in that area. Where are you going to learn? What you want to practice?” said Andrea Saavedra, assistant dean and dean of judicial clerkships at the Columbia Law School. Like Masur, she is also a former clerk.

UChicago’s Masur pointed to resources, like the almanac of the federal judiciary, as helpful tools when sifting through the hundreds of judges to determine which might be the best fit for your career goals. 

Talking to law school professors, young alumni, and bar associations is another invaluable way of researching different judges.

Get a little personal, but not wordy, with cover letters

The cover letter is often the applicant’s first introduction to a judge, so making a good impression is crucial.

“It’s much easier to lose the job with a cover letter than it is to gain one,” said Masur, who recommends keeping the letter plain and to-the-point.

While some suggest writing a straightforward, brief cover letter — for example, “Please find my application materials enclosed herein” — others suggest providing more information to make it more personal.

“Don’t waste space on why you want to clerk more generally, which is pretty obvious and generic. But if you have a specific connection to a judge or an area that’s not evident elsewhere in your application, then flag that,” said Deeva Shah, an attorney at Keker, Van Nest & Peters who previously clerked at the Central District of California in 2017 and at the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2018.  

Washington, the litigator at Keker, added that applying research to your cover letter can be helpful. “Customize your message by mentioning a judge’s prior professional experience and how that overlaps with your career aspirations, or an interesting thing you found in their decision,” he said.

Danielle Barondess

 

That said, it’s best to stick to a page — and don’t regurgitate your resume, advised Danielle Barondess, who’s currently clerking at the District of Hawaii.

Memos and briefs are generally better as writing samples

While the requirements of the clerkship application — cover letter, resume, writing sample, cover letter, letters of recommendation — are generally standard, what judges look for in each of these components may vary. Some judges will indicate what they’re looking for in their application posting.

When it comes to the writing sample, for instance, some may prefer a brief or memorandum, while others may prefer a law review article or academic piece.

If a judge doesn’t specify this, Keker attorney Shah recommends the former than the latter, since that more closely resembles the type of writing a clerk does.

Shah added that whatever writing sample you submit, you should make sure you care about the subject matter and can talk about it at length during the interview. That includes being familiar with any case law cited.

Peter Bae

The sample should also be mostly original work — not three to four pages of block citations of cases or other source material, said Bae, the clerk at the District of Nevada. 

 

Professors and partners who write your recommendation letters can be crucial advocates

Letters of recommendation can play a pivotal part in a clerkship application.

Before asking his recommenders, Washington said he set up at least two meetings to chat about the clerkship process and their own experiences, as well as his personal clerkship strategy and career goals. Only after he did the legwork did he ask for the recommendation. That way, they can be better advocates on your behalf, Washington explained.

Shah added that if there’s something that isn’t evident in your resume or something you can’t highlight in your cover letter — for instance, that you’re a first-generation student, or your experience working at your parents’ convenience store — recommendation letters or a separate diversity statement can be great vehicles for that.Deeva Shah

Phone calls from professors or recommenders can also help to get your application picked out of the pile or lend a further boost post-interview, said Shah. However, some judges dislike that, while others actively seek out that extra perspective, so vetting professors, former clerks, and your law schools’ clerkship committee can give insight into whether or not to take this approach.

Most interviews are virtual now, but preparation is still key

The clerkship interview process is the one area that was the most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The fact that most judges are conducting interviews virtually, rather than requiring applicants to book a flight to make an in-person interview, has sped up the timing — sometimes shortening the wait from a month to a day, according to Washington.

The shift to virtual interviews also democratizes the clerkship application process, reducing the financial burden on applicants who may not have the means to pay for last-minute flights, he added.

The substance of the interview itself can also vary from judge to judge. Some might be more about getting to know a candidate, while others are more substantive and geared toward quizzing them over tough legal questions.

Some common questions judges may ask include: Can you tell me more about this experience on your resume? Why would you be an effective clerk? Is there something I’ve written about that you disagree or agree with, or something you would change?

Studying the judge’s opinions, background, as well as your own application materials, then, are crucial to acing interviews.

Bae added that he had colleagues, acquaintances that were current or former clerks, and mentors to conduct mock interviews with him, asking them to grill him with difficult questions.

In the end, though, the interview is also about finding a good personal fit to determine if the judge can work with a candidate for one or two years, so being an amiable person goes a long way. 

“Judges are interested in hiring the whole person, not just a legal automaton,” said Masur of UChicago’s clerkship committee.

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