The Amicus Interviews are meant for broader discussions on legal education, and the legal profession at the global level. One of the goals of this series of interviews is to get the views of Indian academics on legal education, both in India and abroad. Another goal would be to track the educational aspirations of the Indian Law Graduate (ILG), especially when it comes to studying outside the country.
I first heard of 7Sage when Conrad Noronha (JD, Columbia Law School) mentioned it in his FPA interview. He had used their services while prepping for the LSATs. After a bit of research, I thought it would be a good idea to speak with David Busis, head of admissions at 7Sage who, incidentally, turned down both Harvard Law School and Yale Law School.
This is what he had to say.
David, let’s get this done with right at the start before the suspense kills me, you chose not to attend Harvard Law School as well as Yale Law. This beautiful essay provides a few reasons why. But do you ever regret the decision?
Ha! Honestly, I don’t. Although I love helping other people get into law school, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. I was supposed to be a teacher, coach, and writer.
And keeping with that theme, do you ever find yourself telling LSAT takers that law school may or may not be everything it is made out to be?
I haven’t gone to law school, so I can’t speak from experience, but if I get the sense that someone is applying to law school out of desperation or a failure of imagination, then I poke around and ask if they know what they’re getting into.
The application process is a small crucible that can help a student discover his motivation—or help him discover that he doesn’t have one. It’s important to go through that before you begin your 1L year, which is a much bigger and hotter crucible!
“The application process is a small crucible that can help a student discover his motivation—or help him discover that he doesn’t have one. “
Now that that is done, let’s get down to business: do you think the JD programme continues to be an attractive option for today’s student? Or do you see the rush for law school applications decreasing in the US?
Applications are slightly down compared to last year, but the volume of law school applicants has climbed for three years in a row. Anecdotally, a lot of the applicants I talk to continue to be motivated by our fractious political situation. (People talked about the “Trump bump” last year.)
We also see a lot of applicants who came of age during the 2008 financial recession and are motivated by what they saw.
There are a number of Indian law graduates who are considering the JD at US law schools. How early should they start LSAT prep, and any other advice you would have for them when it comes to writing the LSATs?
In my experience, most people need to study for at least six months to maximize their potential. I would start by learning the foundational principles of logic games and logical reasoning, then titrate in some full, timed practice sections and weekly prep tests. We have a free study schedule tool here.
When I was studying, I kept an LSAT journal in which I wrote down my mistakes and the inferences that I missed. I reviewed that journal before I took a practice test.
One of the more common pain points when it comes to law school applications is the personal statement. Any advice on how the prospective applicant ought to structure her personal statement?
Locate the inflection point of your story. It may be that one event changed your life; it may be that a circumstance or encounter caused you to grow. In either case, you can follow the classic “before, turning point, after” structure.
Before: I was/believed X.
Turning point: Y happened.
After: I am/believe Z.
But this structure has a corollary: don’t invest an event with more importance than it deserves. This is one of the most common mistakes that I see. People try to spin a minor incident into a triumphal narrative, presumably because they’ve read a truly dramatic essay—about resisting a hijacker on a plane, escaping an oppressive country, surviving cancer—and believe that they must reach a similar pitch of emotion. The mistake doesn’t lie in writing about a minor incident. The mistake lies in aggrandising that incident.
“The mistake doesn’t lie in writing about a minor incident. The mistake lies in aggrandising that incident.”
You don’t have to make your admissions reader bang the desk and cry out, “By gad, admit him!” All you have to do is transmit something genuine and illuminate your motivation.
“You don’t have to make your admissions reader bang the desk and cry out, “By gad, admit him!” All you have to do is transmit something genuine and illuminate your motivation.”
Our admissions course has a lot more free advice about the essays in general and structure in particular.
Final question, one of the more interesting aspects of 7Sage is the avowed mission to “level the playing field” when it comes to law school applications. Do you think that US law schools are also addressing this need for diversity and inclusivity?
I really do! Admissions officers are making a huge and sustained effort not just to consider diverse applicants fairly, but to recruit more of them in the first place.
This goal affects every aspect of the admissions process, including the trend of accepting applicants on the basis of a GRE score alone.