Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tip of the Day

Hi everyone,

I was recently contacted by someone needing admissions advice, and I wanted to share with you a few free tips about applying to law school.

1. Take some time to craft the reason you are applying to law school for your personal statement. Several months into the semester, the law school I attended held a workshop on how to deal with the stresses of law school. They advised us to remember the reasoning we had listed in our personal statements...yes, all of those rosy dreams you had before you started reading loads of cases and wondering why in the world you decided to go to law school in the first place!

2. The LSAT is not a magic 8 ball. If you do well on a practice test, that doesn't necessarily mean you will enjoy being a lawyer. On the other hand, if you perform poorly on your first practice test, don't throw away all of your law school hopes and dreams. A low score just means you have some work to do to improve your standardized test taking skills.

3. The social scene in "professional" school is different than regular undergrad. Here's a hint...there are lockers. You might be reminded of high school days, only you will have student loans instead of notes to pass around in zero period.

Send me a message if you find these tips helpful. I am always looking for good ideas for legal topics you are interested in.

Have a wonderful day,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Testimonial - Happy Clients

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share with you a recent testimonal of someone who benefited from my admissions counseling. If you are thinking of applying to a dream school, or even a "good fit" school, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have served on the Admissions Committee for the UNR Honor's Program, and from my background in Educational Administration, I can offer insider's knowledge into the sometimes elusive academic world. My track record with Admissions Counseling for personal statements, application assistance, and mock interviews is 100%.

Here's what one client had to say:

"I approached Gina to help me prepare for an MBA admissions interview. Despite my short notice, she was able to thoroughly research the school and provide a challenging and thought-provoking interview experience. Above all else, her assistance gave me the confidence and the positive state of mind to walk into that admissions office and ace my interview. Thanks in part to Gina’s help, I am now a MBA student at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business – one of the top ten business education institutions in the US."
--Hongda Jiang - March 14, 2011.

Have a wonderful day,
Gina Akao

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dropout v. Failure

Does dropping out of law school equate to failure?

Sometimes people assume dropping out is the same as flunking out of law school. The terms, however, are not equivalent. A dropout is simply someone who originally intended to finish the degree, but did not continue. A person who failed actually received "F"s due to inadequate academic performance.

I chose to call my book "Tales of a Law School Dropout" because the word "dropout" has zing to it. After all, who would want to read a novel titled "Tales of a Law School Withdrawal"? The term "dropout" carries a negative connotation, but I don't think it's too harsh to call myself a law school dropout. I carry the title with pride! Not many people have the courage and integrity to discontinue an ill-fitting career path. Dropping out of law school was one of the best decisions of my life. I don't call it failure. I don't even call it changing my mind. I call it reclaiming my life.

As a college Registrar, I process paperwork of students who drop out of school. The drop paperwork comes across my desk, and I give students the withdrawal grades indicated on the form. The student receives a "W" for "withdrawal", "WS" for "withdrawal satisfactory", or "WU" for "withdrawal unsatisfactory". Each school has distinct policies for withdrawal students. At the school I work for, "W" grades do not impact the GPA, nor do "WS" grades. "WU" grades count the same as "F"s.

The law school I attended, Boyd, has a more stringent grade scale. Students who drop out at the end of the semester automatically receive "F"s. Although I performed exceptionally well academically during the semester, and received "A"s in everything I completed, because I chose to persevere till the end of my first year, I took a hit to my transcript. My law school transcript shows four "F"s and one "A" (I finished Lawyering Process, but didn't take finals in Torts, Property, Criminal Law, or Civil Procedure).

One of my friends begged me to reconsider my choice to withdraw before attempting my finals. She argued that because I was likely to continue my academic pursuits at another school, the failing grades on my law school transcript might hinder my chances of gaining admission to graduate school. I told her I didn't care. I could explain the reason for my failing grades in an addendum, if necessary. The personal cost to me to continue law school was too great. A wise doctor once told me that no honor nor degree is worth sacrificing your health and happiness. 

My law school transcript did not prevent me from going to grad school and furthering my academic aspirations. Today, I am proud to say I am a grad student at the University of Nevada, Reno. I am pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Educational Administration. Best of all, I am pursing a career path that fits me completely.

I have learned much more from failure in law school than I ever could have from success. I am grateful for my law school experience and the lessons I learned, both personally and professionally. I face my future without regret, and to this day, I never would have played it any other way.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Book Proposal

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! What better way to ring in the New Year than to post to my blog? The following is a draft of my book proposal. Feel free to comment!



Imagine searching for the perfect career. You’ve tried other jobs in the past. They weren’t right. Now you’re looking for something better: prestigious, intellectually challenging, and most of all, a job that pays well.

Become a lawyer. Problem solved. All you need to do is take the LSAT, pay your application fee, gain admission, sign up for a loan or maybe earn a scholarship, study for three to four years, and pass the bar. Now you’re well on your way to an amazing future. Right? Wrong.

There are countless publications on how to succeed in law school. There are books about how to master the LSAT, transcend the difficulties of the first year, navigate the politics of becoming a partner with a corner office, and many more. None of these books talk about why people withdraw from law school. Tales of a Law School Dropout offers a candid, personal case study about the reality of law school retention. For example, what happens when law school multiplies your greatest weakness tenfold? What happens when the case briefing and group outlining sessions don’t work? What happens when counselors fail to help? What happens when black and white blur to gray?

Several intelligent, ambitious students have attended law school, dropped out, and became amazingly successful. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, attended UCLA Law School for one semester before dropping out. Teddy Roosevelt dropped out of Columbia Law School after only a year because it was too dull. Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, attended University of Alabama’s law school, but never completed her degree. Out of all of these people, nobody has talked about the reason for quitting.

Now more than ever, with the current economic downturn, undergraduate students are turning to law to save them from a dismal job climate. Interest in law school is booming. “Kaplan's director of prelaw programs, Jeff Thomas, told the Collegian that there were 151,000 LSATs administered by the Law School Admission Council in the current admissions cycle [in 2009], a 6.4 percent increase over the previous year”( Tales of a Law School Dropout targets the pre-law student, as well as anyone who has ever pursued a career path that just didn’t fit.

The pre-law demographic, primarily 23-30 years old, will buy Tales of a Law School Dropout to learn what mistakes to avoid. This memoir will appeal to a broader audience as well. Readers of all ages can relate to life lessons about creating balance and coping with stress when challenges arise. When it comes to the end of the day, what really matters to you? Law school dropouts know the answer, and are better off for it. But many of them stay mum about the issue. Maybe it is too embarrassing. Maybe they think telling the truth would hurt their careers and future successes. We learn the hardest lessons in life from failure. Tales of a Law School Dropout delves into those truths.


Gina is a masters student in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Educational Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). She earned a scholarship to attend the Boyd School of Law, Nevada’s sole law school, in the fall of 2006. She endured four months of law school, and became the curve-breaker in her legal writing class, before deciding to apply her talents to her real passion: education.

In 2004, she was awarded the honor of Senior Scholar for the College of Liberal Arts, given to the top graduating senior with the highest GPA in each of the colleges at UNR. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and English-Composition at UNR and works as the Registrar at Morrison University, the oldest private, proprietary business school in Nevada. Her current research focuses on the difference between the accreditation of nonprofit and for-profit colleges.

Gina is a five-year veteran Toastmaster and has earned her Competent Communicator, Advanced Communicator Bronze and Silver, and Competent Leader. She has given over thirty formal speeches and attends meetings, trainings, and leadership events. She won second place in the 2009 Area 24 Humorous Speech Contest and has served as Washoe Zephyrs’ club President, VP of Education, Treasurer, and Secretary.

She is the author of the blog,, and actively hones her writing. Gina is a member of the Unnamed Writers’ Group (over 100-strong in membership) and attends the Monday-Monday critique group, which she has participated in since 2007. She performs freelance writing and editing, and offers consulting services to pre-law students who need help preparing applications and writing personal statements.

She plays classical piano and has instructed both group and private piano lessons for eight years.

The Competition

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

By Scott Turow

Warner Books, Inc.

This perennial best-seller about Turow’s first year at Harvard Law School captures the trials and tribulations of the Socratic Method in the 1970s. Turow is now a practicing attorney and author of several legal thrillers, including The Burden of Proof, Presumed Innocent, Pleading Guilty, and Personal Injuries, which Time Magazine named as the Best Fiction Novel of 1999. Although an excellent resource for pre-law students, One L does not offer commentary on modern second-tier law schools, nor does it touch on retention issues.

New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches

By Hannah Seligson, age 24.

Citadel Press

This book offers the perspective of a law school graduate wanting to succeed in the legal job climate. It does not touch on why students drop out.

Should You Really Be a Lawyer? The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During and After Law School.

By Doborah Schneider, JD and Gary Belsky

Decision Books, published by Niche Press LLC

This book contains helpful exercises, quizzes, and advice for students who are having trouble deciding to go to law school. Although it touches briefly on why students leave law school, it does not offer a personal perspective or go into detail on the subject in a qualitative way.