Use News to Customize Law School Essays

Paying attention to new law school developments can give you a leg up.

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You likely know that you need to reflect on your life and experiences to craft a cohesive and compelling personal and professional story for your law school applications. But did you know that it's also essential to customize your essays for each school?

Doing so shows a school that you have done the requisite research about its programs, faculty, and campus life, and that you would uniquely benefit from its offerings as you pursue your legal education.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings.]

In order to best customize your essays, start keeping up with news from your top choice law schools. You can follow the schools on Twitter, like them on Facebook, read their blogs, and visit the news pages on their websites.

To get you started, here is some recent news from a few top law schools that I found particularly intriguing:

Columbia Law School established a new Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration Law under the leadership of George A. Bermann, LL.M., the Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law, the Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law, and the school's director of European Legal Studies.

The center builds on Columbia Law's already-established expertise in international arbitration and will include a distinguished speaker series, a workshop series leveraging the school's scholars and practitioners in residence, and an annual lecture on international arbitration.

[See the U.S. News international law rankings.]

Yale Law School officially launched its collaboration with a number of French universities with a lecture by Robert C. Post, dean of Yale Law School and the Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, at Université de Paris-Panthéon-Assas. This partnership increases Yale's engagement in Europe and will foster long-term joint research and programming activities between Yale, Panthéon–Assas, and the École Normale Supérieure.

Northwestern School of Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions, part of the school's Bluhm Legal Clinic, along with the Better Government Association, won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for outstanding achievement in electronic journalism for a 2011 investigation that revealed that alleged abuses of power by the government and police led to 85 people being incarcerated for a total of 926 years for violent crimes they did not commit. 

Cornell Law School broke ground on the school's first major renovation project in 25 years. The addition, which will include a new wing housing a lobby and study space, as well as three state-of-the-art classrooms, is necessary given the school's significant growth in recent years.

"We must emphasize the accessibility of the law, and the relation between law and culture in an increasingly diverse world," Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tesslar Dean and Professor of Law, said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Our physical space must reflect these ideals. Indeed, our physical space can foster these ideals."

• The Washington University in St. Louis School of Law partnered with the University of Cambridge to organize the first International Privacy Law Conference, which will be held in Cambridge, England on June 26 and 27.

"Every modern society is confronting novel issues of privacy, and our conference brings together some of the smartest thinkers about privacy in the world to compare notes and come up with new solutions," said Neil M. Richards, JD, conference co-chair and professor of law at Washington University.

The conference will cover topics such as intellectual privacy, the conflict between privacy and free speech, the psychology of privacy, public access to court records and privacy reform in Australia.

[See the U.S. News intellectual property law rankings.]

Paying special attention to news stories about investments that a school is making in new programs and faculty can help you discern the areas in which the school is looking to expand and place greater emphasis going forward. This can then help you determine if the school would be a good fit for you and if you might be a good fit for the school.

What law school stories have caught your eye recently? Let me know in the comments, E-mail me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep.


Corrected 6/26/12: An earlier version misspelled George A. Bermann’s name.