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That was then, this is now

You might read this item, recall your own misspent undergraduate days and be glad you applied to law school in the pre-Facebook era.

A whole lot of law school admissions officials have been going online to review their applicants’ digital trail to determine whether to say thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Kaplan Test Prep just conducted a survey of law schools and some 41 percent of admissions officers admitted that they had Googled the names of applicants.

Thirty-seven percent said they had been on Facebook, seeking information.

The survey was conducted by phone this past summer. A total of 200 ABA-accredited law schools were contacted, with responses recorded from 128 of them.

The bad news for a student with something sketchy circulating in the ether is that this stuff matters. Almost a third – 32 percent – of the admissions officers said that information learned online had hurt an applicant’s chances of admission.

What are the admissions people looking for when they Google or Facebook? Many bar licensing groups – including the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners – impose character and fitness tests as part of their vetting process. So, in two words, they are looking for good judgment.

Jeff Thomas, director of Kaplan’s pre-law programs, said in a release, “Clearly, an applicant’s digital trail can be an indicator of whether or not he or she possesses this quality.”

Forewarned is forearmed.

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