Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing

December 16, 2011
Law School Admissions Reps share the School of Law's story
What was the single biggest factor that influenced Chris Jones’ decision to attend the University of Richmond School of Law? It was the two-hour tour of the law school he took on a Saturday afternoon prior to making his decision. And Jones is not alone. Associate Dean for Admissions Michelle Rahman says one of the best predictors of whether an accepted student chooses to attend Richmond Law is whether or not they have taken a tour.

“My charge to [the student tour guides] is to tell folks what this law school is really like,” she says. “I want them to be straight up about what they do and don’t like, because prospective students can smell deception. It is really important to me that what we promise at the front end is delivered at the back end.”

Jones, L’12, was so impressed with his tour that he became a Law School Admissions Representative (LSAR) himself during his first year of law school. Today, he is a co-chair of the group of 56 students who volunteer their time to provide tours of the law school. “I realized how important my LSAR was in helping me make my decision to come here,” he says “I want to give [prospective students] the information they need to make their decision. We are very honest.”

Rahman’s son, Josh, L’98, started the LSAR program in 1996 when he was a first-year student at Richmond Law. His roommate attended the Medical College of Virginia where they offered tours to prospective students, and Josh asked his mother why the law school did not give organized tours. “At that point, when people would come to visit, we would tell them to go look around on their own,” Rahman recalls.

Josh met with the University of Richmond undergraduate admissions office and patterned the law school’s tours on their program. He recruited five friends to help him and in that first year gave about 10 tours, Rahman recalls. The program has grown considerably since then—in 2011, LSARS gave 292 tours to prospective students.

Geneva Gnam, L’13, the other LSAR co-chair, says she took a tour at nearly every law school she applied to. “The way I was treated during the admissions process is what brought me here,” she says. “I wanted to do anything I could to give back to [Rahman] and the admissions office as a whole. They do such a good job of treating you like you are more than just a number.”

In her first year of law school, Gnam says giving tours was “practically my hobby.” She loves talking with prospective students and especially enjoys reconnecting with them when they enroll at Richmond Law. “So many of the people I gave tours to came to the school and ended up being my close friends this year,” Gnam says. “I feel like we get to play a part in shaping next year’s class.”

Both Jones and Gnam say they enjoy showing prospective students the law school’s newly renovated classrooms, the student organization space, the student lounge—“The Down Under”—and the moot courtroom.

Jones says he always stops by a professor’s office to chat, and that that he shares his own experience in applying to Richmond Law. “We are a family here at Richmond Law,” he says. “I can honestly say that and I’m proud to say that. The family atmosphere is the No. 1 reason I came to Richmond. When I met Dean Rahman during my visit here, she gave me a hug instead of a handshake. She made me feel like it would be the school’s honor to have me here and not the other way around. That doesn’t stop once you are admitted—that carries through.”

Rahman is thankful for the LSAR program, and recognizes what an asset it is to the school. “To think that students are willing to donate their time to do this blows me away,” she says. “This is not a resume builder. It is something they do because they love the school.”