6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting? Do you put much weight on letters from prominent public figures who may not know the applicant well?
The best recommender is someone who can speak both to an applicant's academic talents—analytical abilities and a capacity to write well—and to personal character. Often, such a person is a professor with whom the applicant has worked fairly closely. Professors understand the importance of strong letters and often spend significant time building a case for admission of the applicant. They do this by reference to specifics (papers written for the class, quality of class participation, intellectual growth observed, etc.). It is more important to get a letter that will be positive, relevant and detailed than to get a letter from someone of high status who cannot write anything but a general endorsement of the application. Letters from relatives and family friends are also generally not helpful.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
We have a rolling admissions process, which means that we begin to review applications and make admissions decisions beginning in late fall and continuing throughout the spring. We review each application in its entirety and do not use numbers to form any sort of composite rating. So while we try to provide decisions as soon as we can, the time required for each application varies. Being unspecific in this way can be frustrating for applicants, but it enables us to build the strongest possible class every year and to give every application the attention it deserves.
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
The leading professional services firms in the nation, a multitude of government agencies and prestigious public interest organizations recruit Boston University School of Law students. Approximately 70 percent of our graduates are employed in the private sector upon graduation, the majority of whom are working in large law firms. National law firms such as Ropes & Gray LLP, Skadden Arps LLP, and Weil Gotshal LLP—and all of the Big Four accounting firms—recruit our students as do federal, state, and local government agencies across the country. Our students are also selected for federal government honors programs and the Presidential Management Fellowship program. Many of our graduates join the ranks of U.S. Attorney, District Attorney and Public Defender offices nationwide. Still others serve in the federal and state judiciaries.
BU Law has strong ties with international, national, and regional public interest organizations for summer and academic year internships, pro bono placements, and permanent positions. These groups include legal services organizations, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and international nongovernmental organizations. Finally, a number of graduates also utilize their law degrees in a wide variety of business pursuits as well as in academia as faculty, administrators and researchers.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
In answering this question there is no need to belabor the obvious, such as careless writing of essays or concluding sentences that announce the applicant's fervent desire to attend school X—where school X is some other law school! (Once in a while this actually happens.) Suffice it to say that an application is the first step toward a career in which careful attention to detail is an important element of professional success. The application should be drafted with a corresponding professionalism. It might as well be mentioned, too, that applying late in the season, especially right at the deadline, can hurt an applicant's chances simply because there will be fewer seats available in the class at that point.