After a survey of 128 law schools last year revealed that 37 percent of admissions offices look up applicants on Facebook or other social networking sites, most applicants now have a clear understanding of social media's potential risks in the law school admissions process. However, there is not as much conversation around how social media, when used correctly and appropriately, can help you get into the law school of your dreams.
Here are a few ways you can utilize the top social media outlets to reach your law school goals without jeopardizing your chances of admission:
• Facebook: Many law schools have Facebook pages, and some, like Yale Law School, even have a specific Facebook page for law school admissions. On these pages, law schools share news about their professors', students' and alumni's accomplishments, and announcements regarding new programs. You can also find photos and videos of campus life and recent events.
[Find out how following campus news can improve your application essays.]
You can "like" the pages to stay updated about the schools in which you are interested, but first be sure that your Facebook privacy settings are at the highest level, so law school administrators cannot view any part of your profile.
Also, refrain from posting any questions you have about the law school or the admissions process on the Facebook page; it is best to call the school or consult a professional law school admissions counselor, who serves as your advocate in the admissions process, with these questions instead.
• Twitter: As with Facebook, if you decide to follow a law school on Twitter, you should make your Twitter profile private unless you use Twitter purely as a professional tool. You can retweet posts you find interesting, but again, it is best not to Tweet any specific questions directly at the law school.
While the schools' Twitter pages will have much of the same information as their Facebook pages, the real benefit of Twitter is following professors. You can gain insights into the activities, thoughts, and opinions of Harvard Law School professors Jonathan Zittrain and Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School professors Barbara van Schewick and Mark Lemley, and many more.
• LinkedIn: If you have a law school admissions interview or other meeting scheduled with a law school administrator or faculty member, you can use LinkedIn to learn about the career path that this individual has taken. I strongly recommend, however, that you not share with the individual that you reviewed their background on LinkedIn before the meeting as this can be perceived by some law school officials as "cyberstalking."
[Find out more about using LinkedIn.]
Also be aware that, depending on the individual's familiarity with LinkedIn, he or she may be able see that you checked his or her profile, so be judicious in your use of LinkedIn for law school admissions. Only consider using it after being certain that there is not a publicly available biography on the school's own website.
LinkedIn can also help you determine if you have any connections to the individual with whom you are interviewing that may be helpful. In addition to connecting with law school admissions officers and faculty, you can look for people from your workplace or undergraduate university who graduated from or currently attend your top choice law schools and reach out to them for advice. Again, though, do not directly reach out to law school admissions officers or faculty through LinkedIn, as this can be considered inappropriate.
• Blogs: On most law school admissions websites, you will find a link to the school's admissions blog. Sometimes, these blogs are written by the admissions dean, like Stanford Law School's admissions blog, which is authored by Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Faye Deal. Schools may also have blogs written by current students, such as Yale Law School's Student Perspectives blog.
These blogs will often answer common questions about deadlines, essay topics, and more, and you can also use these to learn more about what admissions deans are looking for. The student blogs are most helpful for learning more about student life and academics so you can decide if this school is the right fit for you. Some blogs will allow comments, but again, do not post personal or overly specific questions on a blog.