Author: jmb2394

J.Y. Ping is the co-founder of 7Sage LSAT Prep, which is dedicated to making law school accessible to everyone through high quality and affordable online LSAT prep. He is also the co-founder of PreProBono, a non-profit that helps economically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority pre-law students acquire and utilize law degrees for careers in public interest law. He graduated from Columbia University in 2007 and earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2011. We sat down with him to talk about his law school experience and how he is using that to help other students prepare.

What made you want to go to law school?

Maybe this is still true, but back when I was there, Columbia’s career services pushed investment banking and strategy consulting pretty hard. I didn’t want to work those kinds of jobs because it wasn’t clear to me whether they added value to society. The summers came and went, and I found myself about to graduate with no work experience and a lot of anxiety. Law school seemed like a convenient way to defer my career choice.

Did you always want to go to law school throughout all of your undergraduate years?

Definitely not. The first week of school, I flirted with pre-med until I attended the orientation and saw how heavy the course work was going to be. Then I grew interested in philosophy via Contemporary Civilization and thought I might want to pursue graduate studies in philosophy. I took an intro-level graduate class, Modal Logic with Achille Varzi, and found the subject matter abstruse (even though Professor Varzi was a phenomenal teacher). I ended up majoring in economics-political science with a concentration in philosophy, which prepared me well for law school.
Were there any professors that inspired you to go?
Many professors at Columbia did inspire me, however briefly, to follow in their academic footsteps, but no one professor inspired me to go to law school.

What about pro bono work captivated your interest for 8 years?
I immigrated to America with my mom when I was 7 and grew up poor. My mom worked very hard to make sure I got an excellent education. I really cannot imagine what my life would’ve been like without the opportunities I found in America. Education is not an abstract concept to me. I know from personal experience its power to improve people’s lives. That’s why I founded PreProBono with Jerone Hsu (also CC ’07) during our senior year. We wanted to help poor, minority, and immigrant kids the best way we knew how. For me, that meant teaching the LSAT, because that was what I could do very well. We targeted students in the CUNY system and gave law school aspirants not just free but the best LSAT prep. It was an incredibly rewarding experience.

[Note to Joshua: I worked with PreProBono through 2013, which would make it about 5 years. I’m happy to report that the organization is doing terrific without me.]

How did that influence your founding of 7Sage?
PreProBono is a non-profit that provides LSAT instruction, along with a few other services. I was the main instructor. I only have 24 hours in a day, and eventually I’d get tired or make mistakes—or I’d begin to get impatient when I had to explain a concept for the 7th time. There were physical constraints on how much service I could provide. Scaling up would have required a lot of fundraising, and even then we could have only scaled geometrically, not exponentially, because every instructor would have been subject to the same physical constraints. 7Sage, on the other hand, benefits from being online. By digitizing my instruction at its best, I was able to transcend the constraints on my time and scale my service exponentially. Now I can help anyone who needs it with free logic game explanations and comprehensive LSAT courses at a great value.

Can you explain what areas of law 7Sage covers?
We currently have LSAT courses and a course on how to get into law school. We’re working on a bar prep course due to be released in late 2017.

Why did you pick Japan as the location for 7Sage?

7Sage’s team is entirely remote. Alan, my co-founder and CTO, is based in Vancouver, where he is from. Our student services manager, Dillon, is in Cornwall (also Canada). Nicole, our community director, is in Texas. David, our editor and admissions consultant is based in Chicago. I’m nomadic. Currently, I’m in Kyoto. I’ll be here until August, and I haven’t decided where I’ll go after.

What advice would you give to someone considering law school?
Work hard to earn a high GPA. Take as many classes as you think you can handle. Admissions committees look hard at transcripts and are very discerning. Work with professors you admire. See if you can be a research assistant, or maybe even co-author a paper with one of them. Maybe you’ll decide to be an academic after all. If not, you’ll likely get a good recommendation letter at the very least. Study long and hard for the LSAT. It’s the most important factor in law school admissions.

How did you go about studying for the LSAT? Any tips?

I set aside a very long time: over a year. I think my background in economics and philosophy helped immensely. A lot of the successful strategies I came up with I’ve implemented in the 7Sage curriculum. My biggest tip is to sign up for a free account with 7Sage. You can access our logic game explanations, our tool to find real study buddies nearby (like at Columbia), our test proctor app, and more.


What would you say was the hardest part of law school?
The huge mismatch between what you do for homework and in classes and what’s required of you on the exam. It felt like a bait and switch to me. You spend all semester discussing cases, reading a lot of them in detail, and then your entire grade depends on an issue-spotting exam.

Want to find out who your Core Professor will be before their name becomes publicly visible on SSOL/Courseworks?

Starting a few weeks before classes, you can easily find your Core Professors using Columbia University Libraries’s Course Reserves system. Here’s how to do it:

1) Visit http://library.columbia.edu/find/reserves.html
2) Under “For Students” click “Reserves List”
3) Log In (using your UNI and Password)
4) View Your Professor’s Name

This trick has been successful for the last few semesters and likely will not change anytime soon. Good luck with the start of the semester!

Two Columbia University students, Shreyas Vissapragada (CC) and Ankeeta Shah (BC), were named as winners of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Three other Columbia students were named as honorable mentions. They were Irene Zhang (CC), Kristy Choi (CC), and Sarah Yang (SEAS). The full listings for each student are listed below. You can check out the rest of the winners and honorable mentions on the Goldwater Scholars website.

Winners:

Ankeeta B Shah
Institution: Barnard College
Major(s): Biology, Computer Science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Systems Biology. Conduct biomedical research and teach at the university level.

Shreyas Vissapragada
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Astrophysics, Computer science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in astronomy with a specialization in astrochemistry. Conduct interdisciplinary research on the chemistry of exoplanet formation and teach at the university level.

Honorable Mentions:

Irene P Zhang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Physics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics. Conduct research in materials science and teach at the university level.

Kristy Choi
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Computer Science-Statistics
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Computational Biology. Develop new statistical tools to conduct data-driven research in biology and teach at the university level.

Sarah J Yang
Institution: Columbia University
Major(s): Chemical Engineering
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Bioengineering or Chemical Engineering. Conduct research in protein or metabolic engineering and teach at the university level.

 

As Columbia students debate whether the University is obligated to divest from companies harming the environment, the Columbia Political Union will be hosting a discussion on the resolution:  To fight Climate Change, Columbia must divest from fossil fuels.

From their website,

The Columbia Political Union, organized for and by the students of Columbia University, seeks to enhance involvement in the political process, domestic and international, and draw every member of the campus community into an ongoing discussion of political ideas. As a non-partisan group, we strive to incorporate all points of view, and voices from a variety of political backgrounds.

We were first founded several years ago by a group of enterprising students who wished to bring the student political organizations together, while bringing elevated and informed multipartisan debate and discussion to campus. Our roots however stretch back far before them, deep into Columbia’s history of political discourse and activism. While our specific goals have changed over the years, our broader goals have remained the same. We continue to strive for an engaged and informed campus discourse surrounding the issues that matter to us on campus, in our country, and throughout the world.

Every week, we host a range of events from debates to policy competitions to debate watch parties. They are always open to the Columbia community and will often have free pizza and other refreshments.

 

For more details, check out the event here.

Meet Kimberly Marten. Originally from Minnesota, Professor Marten is currently an Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College whose research is currently focused on Russia. Besides being a Professor, Professor Marten is also the Director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at the Harriman Institute at Columbia. In this position, she has the opportunity to “create and plan a new set of activities and opportunities that build on the Harriman Institute’s long tradition of being a premier locale for the study of Russia.” Interested to learn more about her, I sat down with her to learn a little bit about her background and ask for her perspective on current Russian affairs.

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