Anna Ivey, '97: Advising from Experience

Appeared in Record issue: 
Fall 2010

Anna Ivey, '97, heads a successful, growing business helping aspiring law students gain admission to the schools of their choice. She's the author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions: Straight Advice on Essays, Resumes, Interviews, and More. If you haven't seen her, heard her, or read about her, you might not have been paying attention: she appears frequently on television and radio and articles by her or featuring her have appeared in more than 50 publications. More media attention can be expected when the updated version of her book is released this summer.

She comes by the core of her expertise the old-fashioned way, having earned it as the Law School's former dean of admissions, a position she assumed when she was just 27 years old.

Today, Ivey Consulting, with a staff of 13, aids not just aspiring law students but also college and MBA applicants. It's a full-service, boutique-type firm with a limited clientele, Ivey says: "We do a lot of assessment and coaching with our clients, looking at them as whole people and not just applicants, trying to help them achieve the best fit for their strengths and career goals."

Considerable breadth in Ivey's own background helps her relate to her clients' needs and interests. Raised in Germany (her father is German, her mother American), she came to the United States for high school and attended Columbia (spending her junior year at Cambridge, where she won a prize for exceptional undergraduate history scholarship) before entering the Law School. After law school she worked for two top Los Angeles firms, helping arrange financing for films starring actors that included Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Kevin Spacey, and Renee Zellweger. Naturally bilingual, she has also studied French, Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Mandarin Chinese.

And she has her own law-school admission story to tell. After applying to several top schools, she made a visit to the University of Chicago to check in on her younger sister, a first-year undergraduate. "I loved the place immediately," she recalls. "I got it in my head that this was where I had to go to law school." So she and her sister hunted down an e-mail address for then-dean of admissions Dick Badger, '68-not an easy thing to find in 1994, before today's Internet saturation. She e-mailed Dean Badger telling him of her love for Chicago. He called her the next day, spoke with her briefly, and accepted her.

"As it happens, by entering Law School directly after college I violated the advice I now give my clients. But it worked out for me. I never lost my infatuation with Chicago for one moment, as a student or at any time afterward," she says. "It's such a great law school, and it's where I really learned how to think, from great professors and brilliant fellow students alike."

Watching the Law School from her current professional vantage point, Ivey says she remains impressed: "The combination of venerable scholars like Dick Helmholz, Diane Wood, and Richard Epstein, along with an amazingly strong young faculty, keep Chicago as a top destination, and I can honestly say that no law school anywhere has done a better job than Chicago at using new media such as blogs, podcasts, and Twitter to establish its brand, communicate its uniqueness, and attract and inform potential students. My association with the Law School continues to help me look very good in the eyes of my clients."

The clients, she suspects, will keep coming. "When I got started in this business, it wasn't an industry like it is now," she recalls. "But today, school admissions of one sort or another seem to be on everyone's mind. Back when I was a lawyer, I hesitated about telling people what I did for a living because that was often a good way to stop a conversation in its tracks. Today I hesitate for the opposite reason-once someone knows what I do, we're likely headed for a long, long discussion."