What We Look For
In building an entering class each year, Brooklyn Law School is faced with the task of choosing from among thousands of applicants, most of whom present an enviable array of talents, skills and accomplishments and, at times, compelling narratives. In making its selections, the Committee on Admissions remains mindful of two broad realities:
First, we are an academic institution, and law school education is a demanding endeavor. This means that we must select candidates who will be good students, i.e., those who have already been successful in college, give every indication that they are serious about their education, and who appear eager to devote the time required to excel in the classroom and beyond.
Second, we are a professional school charged with training and guiding individuals toward a career whose practitioners have become integral to our society and culture at all levels. As such, we strive to select candidates who, by the nature of their character and motivation, and not only by their intelligence or desire, appear most likely to become competent, respected members of the legal profession. Thus, in deciding who gets admitted, we look for applicants who appear to be of sound moral character and are ethically responsible (or who at least display nothing to the contrary).
Of course, we always look for accomplished, driven people who seek yet another opportunity in which to prove themselves. But not everyone can be a leader, nor are they expected to be, so we also look for those who can demonstrate that they are open-minded and can work well with others, putting their own talents to use collaboratively working to advance group goals. Such individuals exhibit sound judgment and admit to their mistakes without resorting to excuses or shifting the blame to others. In the face of adversity, they learn from the experience and move on.
Academically, law school is not easy. Three fundamental skills we seek in a successful candidate are a demonstrated ability to think analytically, to read critically, and to write cogently. These skills are often achieved through a broad liberal arts education, but for those whose interests are in narrower, rigorous fields such as the sciences, the importance of enrolling in intensive writing courses cannot be overemphasized. Not every lawyer argues in a courtroom, but every attorney needs the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and convincingly. Thus, the strongest admission applicants exhibit an understanding of the fundamentals of good writing.
Candidates must also demonstrate that they have the intellectual "horsepower" to keep up in the classroom, and to go the distance. To do so, we look for evidence that a candidate has been diligent in successfully juggling workloads. Unafraid of dense reading or heavy doses of quantitative information, the best applicants remain comfortable with detail as they advance steadily but with speed and accuracy. Thoughtful and meticulous at all times, they are nevertheless able to think quickly on their feet.
While some of this nuanced assessment is conveyed to us in letters of recommendation, other impressions are formed in reading the applicant's personal statement. The personal statement should be seen as an opportunity for applicants to convey, in their own voice, their seriousness of purpose and dedication to continuing as a successful student. The statement should be written in a sincere, confident tone, but should avoid arrogance. Some imagination or creativity is appreciated as is, where appropriate, a modicum of self-deprecating humor. But it's not enough just to say these things about oneself. Applicants must present evidence from their background (courses, activities, internships, experiences) to prove that they are genuinely committed to pursuing a legal education, that they enjoy the challenges of dealing with complicated issues and abstract ideas, that they enjoy solving problems, that they are socially aware, with a sense of what is going on in the world culturally as well as in the politico-economic spheres, and with some idea as to how these qualities are integrated.
Of course, our Committee on Admissions does not expect that every candidate will exhibit all of these characteristics, along with competitive grades and LSAT scores. But in getting past "the numbers," these are at least some of the more important non-quantifiable qualities that factor into our analyses in our efforts to put together the best possible entering class.
A Partial List of Non-Quantifiable Factors Considered