My Last Piece of Advice


It’s bittersweet closing down my business today. I’m excited for the adventures ahead of me, but sad to leave a profession where I got the chance to help so many good people. Despite all this, it feels right to move on.

I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met and everything that I’ve learned over the past 18 years working in higher education student services. My mind has been blown away by so many of my students’ remarkable stories, diverse experiences, difficult challenges, hopeful dreams, and sincerity for wanting to help people. It’s something I’ve witnessed over and over again, and it’s what kept me going through it all, good days and bad.

Thinking back on all these years, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of the last piece of advice I can give you as a professional adviser. There are so many pieces of advice I want to pass on, but here’s what I’ve chosen for today.




You don’t have to believe in yourself.

It helps, but it’s not necessary. So much of my life has been mired in fear and self-doubt. Still, I managed to create a great life for myself and you can too. I’m not smarter than you. I’m not more brave than you. I’m just a regular person trying to live my best life.

I’ve learned that fear and self-doubt don’t go away once you achieve success. They’re always there. But I’ve also learned they’re not meant to be malignant. They’re there to constantly ask you, is this what you really want?

You don’t have to know what you’re doing.

As Socrates said, “I know one thing: I know nothing.” You don’t have to know anything initially–you just have to know what you really want. Read, research, ask people for help. Try, experiment, fail, try again.

I had no idea how to run a business when I quit my job at the University of Washington in 2010 and hung out my shingle as a private prelaw adviser. But every day I read, researched, experimented, asked others for help, and over the course of six years, I built a successful and nationally known law school admissions consulting business.

I’m not special. I’m not smarter than you. I was just willing to try, try, try, and to learn from my mistakes.

Take it one step at a time.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. People like to believe there is, but there isn’t.

Behind every “overnight success” is a student who studied slowly and thoroughly for 16 years, a guitarist who practiced 40 hours a week for 15 years, an artist who drew every day after school and after work for 20 years, and so many more people like them who were willing to put in the time.

Celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Learn from your mistakes, no matter how small. And most of all, keep moving forward one step at a time toward what you really want.

Find at least one person who will cheer you on.

People always say, “If you want to reach your goals, surround yourself with supportive, positive people.” What world do these people live in? Yes, in an ideal world, that would be wonderful. But that’s not always possible.

Sometimes the people closest to you (parents, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, partner, friends, etc.) are the ones most afraid of you changing and going towards what you really want. It sure is nice to have a ton of people cheering you on, but if you don’t have that, it’s okay.

You just need one person, one other voice besides your own saying, you can do this, keep going.

So, before I sign off, let me repeat myself.




Thank you for reading. Thank you for teaching me so much. It’s been a blast, y’all. Prelaw Guru OUT!!!

ps. Curious about my new adventures? Visit me at

Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make: #8


This post continues our 10-part series of posts on the Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make.

The #8 Top Ten Mistake That Law School Applicants Make every year is…

Diversification can help you with so many things: with picking a more successful investment portfolio, with achieving a higher bowling score by bowling with a diverse set of balls (different weights and styles for picking up different pins)*, and with having more success in law school admissions.

When I say “diverse” for law school applications, I mean diversity in terms of the school’s entering class GPA and LSAT. Here’s the breakdown that I recommend.

  • 10% SAFETY SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at, or a little higher, than the schools’ 75th percentile
  • 50% SOLID SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at, or very near, the schools’ median
  • 40% STRETCH SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at the schools’ 25th percentile

Unless you’re extremely limited by location, I recommend that most people apply to 6-8 schools. So, for example, if you were to apply to eight schools, you’d choose one safety school, four solid schools, and three stretch schools.

What does 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile mean?

The 25th percentile means that 25% of the students that entered that year had a GPA or LSAT that was at that point or lower.

The median is the GPA or LSAT score that’s right smack dab in the middle. It does not mean the mean or average GPA or LSAT score, just what’s in the middle.

The 75th percentile means that 25% of the students that entered that year had a GPA or LSAT that was at that point or higher.

What if I have a high GPA and low LSAT? Or a high LSAT and low GPA?

You’re what we call a “splitter.” Don’t worry. It’s more common than you think. If you’re in this situation, I recommend choosing schools based on your LSAT score. It’s not an exact science and it’s hard to know how each school will assess your numbers (some may value the GPA more than the LSAT and vice versa); thus, I recommend applying to 10-15 schools instead of 6-8. Also, choose two safety schools, rather than just one.

How do I find these stats?

To see a school’s stats for GPA and LSAT, go to each school’s website and/or visit the ABA Standard 509 Reports site. I use this site all the time. Pick the school you want, the year (select the most recent), and then click on “Generate Report.” You can then view or save a handy PDF report that lists the school’s 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile for GPA and LSAT, as well as other helpful data for that entering class.

Law school admissions is partially objective and partially subjective. You don’t know all the people on each admissions committee and you don’t know who is going to react more favorably to your application. Don’t shut yourself out of having more viable choices by only applying to one or two schools or only applying to your very top schools.

Diversify your list and you’ll thank yourself later when you’re admitted to a good mix of schools!

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How to Write a Criminal Record Addendum

Are you afraid you might not get into law school because of your criminal record?

It’s okay to be afraid. But don’t let that stop you from applying!

I’ve worked with many law school applicants who had a criminal record. From minor possession to felonies, I’ve seen a lot of unfortunate situations. Still, these records did not keep my students from being admitted to law school.

When it comes to having a criminal record, you should disclose it in an addendum. When in doubt, disclose.

Watch the video above for details on how to write a criminal record addendum for law school. For more tips, check out The No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum.

NOTE: If you have a serious criminal record, it’s important that you visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners to view the specific policies for taking the bar exam in the state where you want to practice law. Just because you’re admitted to law school doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to take the bar exam in all states.

Top 10 Tips for Succeeding in Law School (Part 3)

machineHere’s part 3, the final installment, of the top 10 law school success tips that I’ve collected over the years.

Tip #7: “My grades do not define me as a person.”

This should be your mantra during law school. I’ve heard this from almost every law student I’ve talked to. Your grades do not reflect what kind of person you are. They also do not reflect how much you know or how smart you are. Stay away from negative people who want to look “better” than you. Hold onto who you are as a person and as a human being. You cannot measure a person’s worth by their grades in school.

Tip #8: Ground yourself in a community outside of school.

So many law students have told me that the thing that helped them mentally and emotionally during law school was having some kind of community outside of school. It could be your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, kids, relatives, mentors, friends who aren’t in law school, an organization you volunteer at regularly, etc. It should be a community that you feel comfortable in and that you interact with on a weekly basis. Your community will be a constant reminder of who you are as a person, not just as a law student.

Tip #9: Get practical legal experience and skills as soon as you can.

Many law students have admitted to me that law classes aren’t their favorite part of law school. What they really love is taking what they learned in class and putting it to use in the real world. The sooner you can get involved in a clinic, internship, or moot court where you can learn and develop real-world legal skills, the better.

Tip #10: Rage against the machine!

One of my clients was 15 years older than most of his classmates when he started law school. He had a wife and child and years of experience working in different jobs. It had been a long, winding road to get to law school and he didn’t take any of it for granted. He gave me this honest piece of advice to pass on to my students.

There is a “machine” in law school and it’s very hard to resist. The machine wants you to get high grades, get a job with a big firm, make lots of money, and make your law school look good. The machine wants you to believe that this is the only way to be successful.

Rage against the machine! Remind yourself of what you really want in life.

Do not let the machine dictate to you what kind of lawyer you should be, who you should work for, or what success means. You, and only you, can decide this.

Last but not least, the META TIP: Safeguard your reputation at all times.

From the first day you step into law school, to every day that you go to work, to the evenings when you’re kicking back with colleagues at a happy hour: act with professionalism at all times. Some law students and graduates forget this and they make careless mistakes that can cost them their reputation for years to come. Avoid this by treating yourself and others with respect all day and every day.

Hope these tips help you in your journey through law school and beyond. Good luck!

If you found these tips helpful, make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

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Top 10 Tips for Succeeding in Law School (Part 2)

study-tentHere’s part 2 of the top 10 law school success tips that I’ve collected over the years.

Tip #5: Experiment with different ways of studying.

A 2L told me that after taking detailed notes throughout her first year she decided to zoom out and focus less on the details. Now, she underlines important concepts in her textbooks and then writes them in her own words in the margins. Writing out the concept in her own words is crucial to her learning and has improved her grades as well.

This same student—who made Law Review by the way—also writes her own long outlines and then edits them by writing the case on a notecard. She writes the case out several times, each time condensing it down. These condensed note cards are what she then memorizes for her exams.

A 1L told me that he got involved with a club at his law school right away. He met some great students and got access to the club’s database of outlines. Some were good and some were not. The good outlines provided him with models to learn from. There is not just one way to outline. Find the way that works for you.

Another 1L told me that some professors push students to be in a study group. She tried this for most of her first semester but found it more productive to study on her own. She did just fine on her first semester finals. Try a few study groups to see if it works for you. If it doesn’t work, it’s okay to study on your own. Find the technique that works for you.

Another method a 2L shared with me was writing your own practice exams by looking at old exams. The first time she takes it, she does it open note. The second time, it’s closed note. Then, she takes her exam to her professors’ office hours and asks for advice. Many professors gave her tips on how to improve her answers and she was much better prepared to take her finals. Which leads us right into the next tip…

TIP #6: “The more you ask for help, the more helpful people are.”

This is a direct quote from a law student. Don’t wait until you’re in trouble to ask for help.

Ask early. Ask often.

For some classes, being engaged and asking questions in class and in office hours can bump up your grade just a little bit. Every bit counts. During your first year, take time to visit your professors, student services staff, and career services staff. People like to help people who take the time to get to know them.

A 1L told me about how he messed up his first semester of law school because he didn’t ask for help. He felt lonely and depressed being thousands of miles from home. He isolated himself. The end result? Poor grades for his first semester.

Feeling down, he met with his adviser and explained what was going on. He got matched with a professor for weekly tutoring sessions. He started meeting with professors during office hours. He reached out to his classmates and made some friends. He got involved with a club. His grades, attitude, and outlook changed for the better. He said his second semester was a “complete 180” from his first semester. All because he asked for help.

If you missed Part 1, go here.

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