September 2008 - Posts
Thali Too, Vegetarian Cuisine of India
65 Broadway; http://www.thalitoo.com
Thali Too is one of New Haven's newest restaurants. Open since this summer, it is located only a block from the Law School. A sister restaurant of Thali (to be found in the Ninth Square area of New Haven, as well as New Canaan and Ridgefield) this vegetarian spot has quickly become a favorite lunch stop for the Law School community. Its tasty food offerings have caught the attention even of those who are not vegetarians.
Since Thali Too opened its doors this summer I have been drawn to dining outdoors in its large, comfortable patio just behind the Yale bookstore and have often stopped here for a quick lunch bowl off the "rice bar" menu. Start with a bowl of noodles or rice, add your choice of toppings such as shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower and spinach, or pineapple, paneer, almonds and raisins and finish off with a sauce like chili garlic or hot black bean. For $7 these offer a filling, affordable and quick Pan-Asian meal. After sampling a few of the options, the rice bowl topped with cauliflower and spinach cooked in a chili garlic sauce quickly became my favorite for a light yet flavorful lunch. I have not found all of the rice bar options to be as flavorful or interesting, so apart from being a great location for lunch near the Law School, I was not sure that Thali Too would draw me back once the chill of late fall set in and the patio lost is charm.
That was until Friday night when I tried the regular menu -- which I must admit I had merely glanced at during my summer lunchtime visits, opting for what I assumed would be the lighter options from the rice bar. It deserved more consideration!
Thankfully, this weekend I was hosting a guest who is a vegetarian, and after some deliberation, Thali Too came to mind. I don't immediately think of Broadway as a place to head for a dinner out, so I was surprised to find the place was packed! After passing by an intriguing assortment of spices in the entryway we found ourselves in the modern interior of the restaurant. The long tables in the main room, where diners sat elbow to elbow with their neighbors, reminded me of some of my favorite spots in New York. We were seated at a surprisingly comfortable long high booth opposite the door.
In addition to some of the vegetarian entrees and basmati rice options I am accustomed to seeing on menus at Indian restaurants, Thali Too also offers a "tiffin menu" with all day snacks or light meals and a "chat and other" assortment, described as Bombay and Delhi vendor style snacks. I love trying new foods, especially casual street style snacks, so picking one option off of the menu proved to be difficult! Why hadn't I taken a closer look at this menu before? Nothing on the menu is over $10 and many of the tiffin and chat options are only $5. This would be a great place to come with a group ready to try an assortment of the snacks and light meals.
Our group of three ordered family style. We began with the Veggie Uthapam, a rice and lentil pancake cooked with peas and cilantro and served with an assortment of chutneys. The texture of the pancake made it perfect for dipping and each sauce offered a wonderfully contrasting taste. There was a chili dipping sauce that added a kick to each of the other flavors. All in all it made a perfect treat for sharing before our meal and with the three of us tasting each new set of sauce combinations, the pancake was gone within minutes.
For our meal we shared the Baigan Bhurtha, a dish of charcoal smoked, smashed eggplant and the Avial, a curry of yam, carrots, eggplant and raw banana. Both dishes were delicious. The Baigan Bhurtha, which is one of my usual favorites, had a nice smoky flavor. The Avial was new to me. The sauce was delicate and flavorful, not overly sweet as I might have thought. The vegetables were a perfect complement to the texture of the eggplant dish. Finally, we added a side of Raita, which brought a lightness to the whole meal.
I suppose it goes without saying that none of us - even the two carnivores - thought twice about the absence of meat options on the menu! I'm looking forward to returning to sample a variety of new flavor combinations. I'll have to come up with another excuse soon!
I'm a senior at a state university (a great school). I made the decision to attend a state school for financial reasons. My parents are middle-class and I learned that I was not going to receive any financial aid from the Ivies. Four years later, I have had a great educational experience and think I made the right choice.
I am now applying for law school and find myself back in the same quandary. My parents are still middle-class, so I think it is unlikely I will receive any need-based financial aid at Yale and the idea of taking out 64K a year in loans really scares me. This brings me to my two questions: Is Yale worth paying for over a state law school and how do students pay for it?
I'm sure many law students, like you, are cringing at the cost of tution for law school, so the questions you ask are good ones. Here are my thoughts:
While Yale is a fabulous law school, there are reasons why it may not be the best fit for everyone. State law schools, in particular, often offer a great value, money-wise, for in-state residents, and many of them are, to boot, ranked along with the "top" private law schools in the country (not that we pay attention to rankings). Depending on the curriculum, you may also have more courses in that state's particular body of law, and for students who are looking to practice within the state or perhaps go into politics, going to a state school can offer a good professional network.
With that said, I think that in a lot of other ways, Yale is definitely worth the extra cost. First, Yale offers several unmatched resources. For example, we have the leading faculty in just about every area of law, from constitutional to corporate to environmental law. Our faculty-student ratio is 7-1, so you'll have a tremendous amount of access to these professors, and it's not uncommon for students here to work closely enough with faculty members to coauthor articles or spearhead projects together. Yale's approach is one that focuses on how to think about the law, rather than memorizing specific rules or statutes that could be obsolete in a few years -- which means that you'll have the tools to pursue careers in policy, public interest, business, journalism, or a number of other non-traditional paths. Finally, our alumni network is national and international, so you can find mentors and connections no matter where you go.
In addition, if you want to follow a particular career path -- like becoming a law professor -- Yale is hands-down the place to go (and I'd be surprised if the law professors in your state school didn't give you the same advice). In fact, it can be extremely difficult to get onto this career path if you don't go to Yale or a handful of other schools. Other types of experiences may be harder to come by at a state school, particularly if it is a large one. For example, Yale offers a variety of clinics (courses where you do hands-on work on real legal cases) and with few exceptions, any student can begin participating in a clinic starting in their first year of law school. At most schools, you cannot participate in a clinic until your second year, and sometimes even then it is difficult to get in. Similarly, roughly half of Yale Law graduates clerk for a judge after graduation, which gives them an amazing experience, an opportunity for mentorship, and a valuable professional credential in their careers. Clerkship opportunities at other schools may be limited to the top 5-15% of graduates or even, depending on the school, to the top one or two people in the class. So whether Yale Law School is "worth it" in terms of your professional career really depends on what types of opportunities you want in law school and beyond. In the legal world, where you go to law school can matter -- it's not that you can't do the same things at or from another school, but it may just be a little harder to accomplish.
The one area where I think no school can compare to Yale -- and to me is worth the cost -- is the actual experience of law school itself. Unlike the competitve grind that most law schools are reputed to be (and are), Yale is... fun. Part of it is the lack of class rank and grades, which of course does a lot to bring the stress level down a notch or two. But most of it is the combination of Yale's small class size and the amazing student body (yes, I'm patting myself on the back here), which is what most students love about going to school here. Coming to law school at Yale is really like joining a family -- I know this sounds corny but once you drink the Kool Aid, you'll agree.
So, how do you pay for it? Well, Yale offers need-based aid, so you have to apply for financial aid. Keep in mind that we use a different formula to calculate need than most undergraduate institutions, so you should apply for financial aid even if you did not qualify for it as an undergraduate. Each year we have students who are surprised by the amount of aid they are eligible to receive for law school. Part of your financial aid will include loans, and I understand the psychological burden of taking on debt. However, the great thing about Yale is that our loan repayment program, COAP, will ensure that you can pursue any career you want by helping to pay your loans if you go into a lower-paying job (more on this in a future post). And, if you choose to work for a white-shoe firm in New York, well, given where salaries are these days, you should be able to pay off your loans fairly quickly provided you don't get trapped in the "golden handcuffs" (i.e. having the lifestyle of a New York corporate lawyer when you have $100K in debt!).
In short, I think that debt is a valid consideration when thinking about where to go to law school generally, but given the resources and experiences you'll have at Yale, combined with the financial assistance you can continue to receive when you graduate, I don't think it should be a deciding factor in choosing whether to come here!
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I can't believe that I'm once again writing a blog entry about the beginning of the school year. It seems like only a few short months ago I welcomed the Class of 2010 and now, here I am, writing about the arrival of the Class of 2011.
The school year began in traditional fashion with several days of orientation activities for incoming students. Included on the schedule were a series of lectures designed to introduce the new class to Yale Law School, the study of law, and to the legal profession. There were also many opportunities for new students to connect with their classmates: a cocktail reception at the Yale Center for British Art, a community picnic, theatre in the park, and a hike with Dean Koh in Sleeping Giant State Park. Of course, many members of the incoming class had already met; well over half of the incoming class attended the Admitted Students Program in April.
Dean Koh delivered his convocation on the first day of orientation. During his welcome he shared some interesting trivia about the incoming class. The Class of 2011:
- is the 197th class to begin its study of law at Yale;
- speaks over 30 languages;
- has lived or worked in 77 countries; and
- counts amongst its members 5 mountain climbers, 4 black belts, 3 radio talk show hosts, 2 competitive sky divers, and a five-time Emmy award winner.
Reminding them of their educational fortunes, Dean Koh encouraged the newly minted law students to explore new areas, broaden their perspectives, ask how they can serve the public interest, and grapple with the question of how to live their lives as lawyers. In addition to challenging the class to think more globally, Dean Koh announced some new sustainability initiatives at the Law School and the University (more on that in a future entry).
The 1Ls aren't the only group making the adjustment back to lives as full-time students. The 2Ls and 3Ls are busy shopping for classes, applying to judicial clerkships, and preparing for the School's Fall Interview Program, during which hundreds of employers from the public and private sectors travel to New Haven to interview Yale Law students. To help students make the best first impression and guide them in the myriad choices available to them, the Career Development Office (CDO) conducts a series of workshops on topics ranging from résumé and cover letter creation to successful networking techniques. CDO also conducts mock interviews to help prepare students for what they will experience in the coming weeks. The assistance the Law School offers to students isn't limited to workshops and individual counseling. New this past spring and held again last week, CDO sponsored a program at a nearby clothing retailer entitled "What Not To Wear!" (alas, without Stacy or Clinton). Students received tips on buying an interview suit and received a discount on their purchases. The School even helps students buy their suits by offering a suit allowance to the student budget for those students who need it.
With the students back at school the building is once again abuzz with activity. My inbox is filled on a daily basis with advertisements for events and activities and the YLS events calendar is already filling up. This fall promises to be an exciting one, so check back here at 203 for the details.
I noticed that there are two new questions on the application that ask whether I took an LSAT preparation course or had any assistance in preparing my application. Will it hurt my chances of being admitted if I took an LSAT prep course? Is it still okay to have an admissions consultant give me guidance on my application?
I have a feeling that your questions are on a lot of applicants' minds, so I'm glad you asked! Let me address the LSAT and application assistance questions separately.
For the LSAT, it's become the norm to take some type of preparation course (this is a change from one or two decades ago, when a relatively smaller portion of the applicant pool took such courses). Taking a course -- which helps students understand the test, gives guidance and practice on the different kinds of questions, and gives test-takers a psychological confidence boost -- can significantly help one's score. Of course, applicants who have a lot of self-discipline and organizational skills can self-study with the same (and sometimes better) benefits. But my guess is that most people aren't always as organized or disciplined, and generally take a course if they can -- for which they won't be penalized. These courses, however, are pretty pricey, and not all applicants have access to one. So, if I am looking at an application where a student self-studied, to me it's another piece of data in reviewing the application. That's not to say that a student who doesn't take a course and gets a lower score will get a "pass," or will have a lower standard applied to him or her, but it does allow me and other file readers to consider the resources that were or were not available to the applicant in preparing for the LSAT and weigh that along with the strengths and weaknesses of the other parts of the application.
With respect to the assistance received in preparing your application, I want to make sure that all applicants are evaluated on a level playing field. Most students take the time to prepare their application on their own, and will probably reach out to friends and family or the prelaw advisor at their college or university for guidance on essay ideas or proofreading. That's fine, and we hope and expect that you'll use these resources (though you should still disclose it on your application). However, some applicants go much further. For example, some students pay a lot of money for professional consultants -- some of whom are former admissions officials -- to help package their applications, which usually involves significant help on their personal statements. Others may get a similar level of feedback and editing from people they know. Now, a student who receives assistance on his or her application won't be automatically penalized or rejected. But I would like to know if a student received any help and to what extent: after all, I'm interested in evaluating the ideas and writing of the applicant, not those of the people who helped him or her. Most importantly, I want students who don't get a lot of assistance, or choose not to spend $500 or $5,000 dollars on a professional packaging service, to feel confident that their application -- even if it is not as slick and polished as some others -- will still get due, and fair, consideration
If you are considering getting an admissions consultant, think about why you need one. There's no blueprint for a law school application, and the most important thing about a personal statement, in my opinion, is authenticity. The only way to achieve that is to write your personal statement yourself, in your own voice. Honestly, there's not a lot of feedback about your personal statement that a "professional" consultant can give that someone who knows you well -- a friend, family member, or a trusted professor or college advisor -- couldn't give as well. Moreover, your PS is not necessarily the most important part of your application. The other aspects of your application, including your academic record, and your recommendations, tell admissions committees volumes about you, and no consultant can change or package those. Finally, remember that whatever type of assistance you receive, you must certify that your essays are your *original* work, which means that no one should be redrafting or rewording your essays except for you. My advice? Save your money for law school -- you're going to need it.
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Hey everyone. As Asha mentioned in her post, I'm the new Director of Recruitment at the law school. I'm excited to be back here at the Law School in the admissions office for the new school year!
Even though I'm sad to see the summer end, I'm happy that it's the first week of September - what can I say, I was always one of those kids who loved the beginning of school! Maybe it's the crispness in the air, the sight of new faces, or the building coming to life after a quiet summer in New Haven, but it's definitely one of my favorite weeks of the year.
When I was a student at the Law School (back in the early years of this decade) one of the places I loved to visit in New Haven was East Rock Park. It's just a short drive from the Law School or a great walk from the East Rock neighborhood. (http://www.law.yale.edu/admissions/eastrock.asp) It was a beautiful day for a stroll, but since I have a lot of ground to cover in the first few weeks of the academic year, I thought I would take a quick drive up there - not before grabbing a sandwich at Atticus, of course. The park has amazing views of New Haven and the Long Island Sound. Anyone who thinks New Haven isn't pretty, needs to make this trip! On a clear day, you can even see across the sound to Long Island. As my lunch hour ticked away, I enjoyed the view and took in the sights and sounds of a family picnic nearby. I remember my classmates used to escape the rigors of the Law School on sunny days by hiking to the top of the park to barbecue, toss a Frisbee or just to get away. This time it was simply a beautiful place to enjoy a quiet, end-of-summer afternoon.
I finished my tomato panino (I do recommend, by the way) and drove back down the hill to the law school, ready to meet the new faces and share with new students why New Haven and Yale are a great place to be in school.