Articles published in July 2013

Manhattan Prep Giving Back


imentor fundraiser It’s been a very busy 2013 here at Manhattan Prep! We’ve already worked with over a dozen non-profit organizations this year, supporting their programming and initiatives through in-kind donations, discount programs, and much more. We love to find new ways to team up with these organizations, connecting with pre-MBAs from all over the country who are striving to make a difference.

Below are some highlights from our giving so far this year. We encourage you to check out these organizations to see what awesome things they’ve been up to!

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Friday Links: Résumé Tips, Law School Reforms, & More!


news and glassesHappy Friday! Here is our weekly roundup of law school tips and popular news:

How Can We Fix Law School? Six Experts Opine (Above the Law)

Above the Law shares what six trusted experts have to say about the various law school reform proposals.

Law Schools Consider June Exam Scored for Fall Entrants (JD Journal)

Some law schools are now accepting LSAT scores from the June examinations when their previous exam deadline was in February.

Oh Wait, Is Law School Actually a Good Deal? (Washington Monthly)

New study shows that the law school earnings premium has not deteriorated since the economy collapsed five years ago.

Like Outside Law School: Run the Race (Ms. JD)

For all of those rising 1L’s out there, gearing up to start law school next month, this post is for you.

Are You Setting Yourself Up For a Résumé Red Flag? (The Girl’s Guide To Law School)

A rising 3L at an Ontario law school explains the unexpected pitfalls she encountered after following a side interest that BigLaw firms did not fully appreciate.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

Where the LSAT Can Lead: My Story of Suing UPS in Small Claims


The LSAT can lead to a lucrative career in law, or a Supreme Court clerkship. Some lawyers fight for the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees; others practice space law.

In my case, it led to Brooklyn small claims court. A year after leaving Yale Law School and passing the New York Bar, I found myself in downtown Brooklyn with a pile of tabbed evidence (exhibits A-H) in my lap, seething at the petite woman in pink flats seated across from me, the owner of my local UPS store just north of Prospect Park, as she crossed her arms and yelled, “YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT INSURANCE!”

iStock_000019845951XSmallShe was right. I should have, and I didn’t. But I had just sued her on behalf of myself.

It began, the way too many things do, with an overpriced pair of shoes. They were worse than overpriced; they were exorbitantly expensive, the most expensive pair of … the most expensive anything fashion-related I’d ever purchased by eight hundred percent. (For you fellow math-challenged, that means if the most I’d ever spent on a pair of shoes had been twenty dollars, they’d be $160 … and that’s not it.)

Thing is, I was working at a “big law firm” when I bought them and, in my abject misery, constantly seeking out means of instant gratification and temporary solace: McDonalds french fries for lunch (large, naturally); a fourth cup of coffee; that dress in the window I don’t even like that much but maybe it’ll look almost good with a belt.

During my lunch break, which wasn’t so much a “break” as fifteen minutes I could sneak away as a bottom-level associate, I walked over to Madison Avenue and bought the $hoes to feel better. And I did for about ten minutes.

When I quit my law job two months later to write (and actually began to feel better), I could not only no longer afford such extravagances, I could no longer afford to live with the previous ones, including the $hoes (although I had never actually been able to bring myself to wear them, anyway). I cashed out part of my IRA, moved to Brooklyn and put the the $hoes on eBay, where they sold quickly. I dropped them off at my local UPS store and, a week later, received an email in all caps from Yvonne, the buyer, in San Diego: WHERE R SHOES EVENT IS 2NITE!!!!!

A dozen calls and emails to the UPS branch, and I still didn’t have any answers. I googled the branch and found similar complaints of “lost,” high-value items that were never recovered. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (where the store, for the record, had an F rating). The store responded in a terse letter that it was my fault for not buying additional insurance. It didn’t mention anything about where the shoes might be now.

When I called the national UPS customer service line, the CS representative I spoke to told me she couldn’t help.

“You’ll need to take it up with your local branch,” she said.

I was done: done with working things the soft way, and done with saying “branch.” Full of rage and self-righteousness, and $300 poorer after eBay made me pay back Yvonne, I googled “Brooklyn small claims” and found my way to Turbocourt, the judicial twin of Turbotax, which, as you can infer, files your lawsuits for a fee. Instantly, I got my trial date: September 18th, 2012.

I had to teach a class that night.

I called the court.

“I have to work the night of my hearing,” I told the clerk, “so could we move up the date?” She told me that I’d have to send a letter to the judge, who would open it on my court date, in my absence, and decide whether or not to give me an extension. Best case scenario, the new date would be several months later.

No. This was a matter of justice, and as I’d heard too many times in law school, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” I would find a substitute teacher, and on September 18th, I would be there, guns blazing.

Over the next four months, I spent around twenty hours preparing for my hearing, at which I assumed UPS would not show. I hoped to get a winning judgment by default (which can happen when a defendant just doesn’t show up). I rehearsed my arguments, printed and sorted evidence at Kinkos while the clock charged my Visa, and invited a friend along for moral support, who brought her microphone to record (how could we not document such an exciting event?). By the time I arrived at small claims, I had spent or foregone (having gotten a sub for my class) well over the original value of the shoes–not even the resale price. Theoriginal price.

Small claims court is the little league of court. Few people have lawyers. You can only sue for $5,000 or less.

After an hour in a tense and crowded room, my case is finally called–case 87 of the 95 on the calendar that night.

“Mary Adkins!”



“Here,” a voice chimes from the back. I turn to spot a small, angry-looking woman in a hot pink shirt and dark, creased jeans standing in the corner, staring right back at me.

Our case is sent to room 509, several flights up, and we end up in the same elevator. After nearly half a year of cultivating anger at UPS, the abstract merchant who won’t return my calls, it’s strange now to face this woman who (a) actually came, and (b) doesn’t look evil or abstract, at all. She just looks annoyed.

When we arrive on the fifth floor, I introduce myself. Her name is Camille. She’s owned the store with her brother for seven years.

Ultimately, we end up in front of an arbitrator. We each tell our version of the story. Hers is defensive, and I find myself believing it: she wasn’t there the day I shipped the shoes, and she trusts her employees. When the arbitrator raises her eyebrows in a way that signals, to both of us I think, that the store is nonetheless responsible for the shoes, Camille caves. She offers to pay me $316–the sale price, plus what I’d paid for shipping. I accept her offer because it feels like this is where this ends, and because it seems, now that I’ve heard her version, fair or at least fair-ish … never mind that what I’m agreeing to is less than what I have spent or forfeited just working on the case, alone.

As the arbitrator drafts the agreement, Camille and I chat. She is talkative about the challenges of running a small shipping franchise. People are always claiming that expensive items have been lost when she has no way of verifying whether or not what they’re saying is true. She’s sick of it, and this case has been the tipping point.

Because of me, she tells me–not kindly–she’s had to institute a new policy to track packages from the moment they are dropped off through each stage of handling. Her employees, and the employees of the companies she works with, are irritated by the new policy; they have to record and tick off every phase of transfer, and it substantially slows down the process. But she doesn’t care. The policy’s purpose is to spare her from having to spend evenings like this and cutting checks to people like me.

As we shake hands and part ways, I realize something. If Camille had just paid up but walked away without having said anything more, I’m pretty sure I would have wound up with the same empty feeling I’d had after the fleeting pleasure of buying the shoes had passed: the understanding that nothing was different. The delight at having “won” or prevailed eventually would have left me in the same place I was before the whole thing ever took place; instant gratification dissipates rapidly into The Default, As Usual.

But that isn’t what happened. Because something lasting came out of this–a policy change–I left small claims feeling better than I did coming in, and that feeling has endured; it’s with me months later.

Small claims is no space law. But my local UPS is a more reliable institution now. Begrudgingly, and via collective hostility, it operates in what I believe is a superior way. And that feels good.

In my case, the LSAT didn’t lead to a headline-worthy legal career. But it did lead to one headline that makes me a little proud, small as that may be.

The Hard Facts on the LSAT


The LSAT is a test of logic before anything else.  It asks you to dissect arguments, make deductions, and pick apart flaws.  Why then does so many of the questions seem to stump even the most logical thinker?  Mostly, it’s because the LSAT goes out of its way to make sure that all the facts you’ve learned before the test don’t help and may even hurt you.

lsat factsFor a moment, imagine yourself in the place of the test makers.  You would have to come up with a way to evaluate the thinking of each test taker, without favoring people who have expertise in a particular subject matter, all with an 100 question multiple choice test.  Sound tough? You bet.

The only way to take away the subject matter bias is to remove the need for any background information.  In theory, you could know not one single fact about the world around you and still score a 180 on the test if you have the English and logic skills.  However, it’s not possible to write a test that deals in practical situations such as those posed in the logical reasoning section without dealing in specific facts.  The test makers thus find themselves with a problem.  Background knowledge is both necessary and absolutely forbidden.

So here’s the solution they came up with.  The facts are directly given.  It’s like being given an open book test, if only you know where the book is hidden.  Consider this completely made up argument:

A dog will always chase a cat it discovers in its territory.  My neighbor’s dog, Spot, saw my cat, Kit, lurking about his doghouse.  Therefore, Spot will try to bite Kit.

For the moment, ignore the argument itself.  Instead, find the “facts” that the LSAT makers have created.  First, they provide the fact that dogs always chase cats discovered in their territory.  Clearly, this isn’t actually true.  My cat is much more of a bully than any dog she meets.  But that doesn’t matter; that knowledge is a fact that I’m bringing in from the outside world, which the LSAT works to make sure isn’t relevant.  Instead, we need to believe that all dogs in this situation will always chase cats.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a four pound wisp of a dog and a seventeen pound alley cat.  That dog WILL chase that cat.
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Friday Links: The Upside of Law School, Law School Enrollments, & More!


iStock_000018697230XSmallHappy Friday! Here’s another weekly roundup of law school news:

The Upside of Law School (Inside Higher Ed)

A new report tells a very different side of the recent tales of law school. It suggests that earning a law degree will, in fact, pay off.

Law School Enrollment Plummets, But Not at Harvard (Bloomberg Businessweek)

The crisis in the law school economy, long predicted, is devastating third-tier and some second-tier institutions, not the super-elite.

Debating, Yet Again, the Worth of Law School (DealBook)

DealBook presents some interesting stats and addresses the recent debate about whether law schools is worth what it cost students.

ABA May Ditch Law School Student-to-Faculty Ratio Rule (The National Law Journal)

The American Bar Associations’ rules governing the size of law school faculties may soon be a thing of the past.

Ten Competencies Law Schools Should Teach—But Don’t (Associates Mind)

Associates Mind reviews ten competencies that are essential for new lawyers to possess, yet are undervalued or just not taught in law school.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

Logical Reasoning Tip: Take Cues from the Verb and Its Lackeys


Across the board on logical reasoning questions, it’s important to know what kind of argument you’re dealing with:

(1) What is it arguing?

(2) How does it go about it?

(3) Is there a problem with it?


When it comes to (1), it’s often not enough simply to identify the conclusion of the argument and note its substantive components. You should get into the habit of characterizing the conclusion in terms of precisely what its arguing, and to do that, you should always look around the verb–that is, to the action of the sentence.

I took a moment to write down the categories that I personally put conclusions into in my head as I read. This isn’t an exhaustive list of conclusion types or one that I’m suggesting you apply as gospel, but it’s an example of how you might characterize conclusions for yourself as you read:

Judgmental conclusions: These are conclusions that, yep, cast some kind of judgment. They usually contain words like “should” (or “should not“), or justifies/is justified (or doesn’t).

Statements of fact: These are conclusions that state facts. Something is/are true, will happen, do/does occur, shall occur. (Notice that I don’t separate between “is” in the present and “will” in the future since both still say what is true.)

Likelihood: Distinct from the previous category, these conclusions don’t argue that something definitely will or does happen but that it might, and they sometimes give a likelihood. They include words like “might,” “may,” “could,” “probably,” and “likely” or “unlikely.”

Comparative: You guessed it–these are conclusions that X is no worse than Y; X is better than Y; X is more likely to happen than Y. On these, they key thing to remember is to note exactly how the two components are being compared; X “is no less bad” than Y is not the same as saying that X is better than Y. (Can you think of why? It’s because if X is no less bad than Y, X and Y could still be equally bad.)

Free LSAT Events This Week: July 15- July 21


free greHere are the free LSAT events we’re holding this week. All times local unless otherwise specified.

7/17/13 – Online- Zen and the Art of LSAT with Patrick Tyrrell– 8:00PM- 10:00PM (EDT)

7/17/13 – Washington, DC – Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

7/18/13 – Dallas, TX – Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page

Friday Links: Law Schools and Tech, The Law Student Superhero, & More!


iStock_000006518705XSmallHappy Friday! Here’s this week’s roundup of great tips and news about law school and the legal profession:

LSAT Sanity: I Didn’t Get the Score…(Part 1) (jdMission)

Still bummed about your June LSAT score? Manhattan Prep instructor, Stacey Koprince, answers what you should do if you did not get the score you wanted.

14 Reasons Law Schools Must Teach Tech (Information Week)

As technology reshapes both the way law firms run and the law itself, Information Week shares why law schools must also morph.

Law School Grads See Increases in Salaries and Jobs (Birmingham Business Journal)

The law school Class of 2012 found more jobs and had higher starting salaries, but the large class size hurt the overall employment rate for those new graduates

Perfectionism and the Myth of the Law Student Superhero (Survive Law)

Are you a perfectionist? Here is some great insight from a law school grad who debunks the myth of the law school superhero.

How I’m Going to Law School for Free (The Billfold)

One current law student talks about how he is earning his JD on a 100% scholarship.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

How to Be Your Own Worst Enemy in LSAT Reading Comp: 3 Things To Avoid


mba tour1. Thinking that if you underline it, you’ll remember it. Annotating passages works very well for many people, and I usually encourage it, or at least that people try it. But I like to suggest alternative annotation methods to underlining for two reasons: (1) underlines (particularly in pencil) are harder than circles and squares and scribbles to spot later on, when you need to return to the passage to re-read a portion of it, and (2) underliners have the liberty of being less choosy about what they underline. If you are a circler, you have to choose which words to circle. If you are an underliner, you could–and many people do–underline a whole paragraph if you wanted. Since the purposes of annotating are (1) to help you understand the passage better as you read it, and (2) to make yourself a “map” to use later when you have to return to it, don’t fall for the trap of believing that if you underline, you’re safe. You probably aren’t optimizing your annotation practice.

2. Believing that if you don’t look at the time, it’s not passing. How many times have you thought, “If I just had thirteen minutes on this passage, I could get them all right!” Sometimes, we can become so determined to “get them all right” that we turn off our sense of time passing. It’s a form of stubbornness: I’m not moving on until I get this one, because I know I can! This attitude is an asset to a certain extent; it keeps you motivated to push forward on the hard ones, and it indicates a healthy confidence. But there’s a time to cut bait, and you won’t know it if you’re determined not to look at the clock. If it’s been two minutes and you’re not making progress (or maybe not even that long, depending on how the section is going for you), bid the doozie adieu and take a guess, wild or educated (or infuriated). There are more, faster points to be had.

3. Mistakenly focus on what you don’t know on hard passages. You’ve reached the third paragraph of “the hard” passage, and all you can think about is how little of it you’ve understood so far. You’re so focused on what you haven’t understood, you’re not at all thinking about what you have understood. In my experience, this is where many students become their own worst enemies in reading comp; they don’t realize that they actually understand more than they think, and that if they focus on what they do get, they’ll not only be more likely to answer some questions correctly, they’ll be less anxious, which will make their overall mental state stronger for the rest of the passage, the section, and the test overall. Sure, hard passages stink, and knowing all that you don’t know is terrifying. But there is some that you can get: what is the general subject matter, and what does the author think about it–is she pro, con, or neutral? Who disagrees? What are a few key terms, and are they defined? Ask yourself these questions, arm yourself with the basic answers, and move forward.

The Most Tempting, and Least Useful, LSAT Strategies


lsat strategiesThe LSAT is an exam uniquely suited to make studying difficult.  Despite the fact that you’ve successfully made it (or almost made it) through college exams, many people find that they study and study but don’t improve their LSAT score.  The simple reason behind that is the LSAT is designed to test how you think, not what you know or even how you apply what you know.  Beware of failing into these very common, and very useless, studying strategies.

1.       Taking every test you can find

I have to admit, when I first started studying for the LSAT, I started by buying a book with 10 LSATs in it and plowing through them all, one every other day or so.  My score on the last test was virtually identical to my score on the first test.  The reason this strategy fails so completely is that the LSAT is designed to monitor whether and to what extent you can think logically.  Repeatedly measuring this is just like stepping on the scale every day and not understand why you’re not losing weight.

2.       Cramming the night (or month) before

Logical thinking is not something that can be learned quickly.  It requires significant analytical skills, both about the argument and about your own thought processes.  Because it is a difficult and complex skill set, it’s not something that can be learned quickly.  You can certainly pick up a few tricks and improve your score somewhat in a short time span, but to really excel, you need to invest a large chunk of time.  Think of this process as similar to learning a physical skill.  You can’t become a pro basketball star by practicing non-stop for the month before a game.  The skills build gradually and with concentrated effort over time.

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