Law school applications are one of the most important factors in admittance to law school, aside from an applicant’s LSAT score. The law school application is an applicant’s one chance to show the admissions board who they are as a person, beyond the numbers. Law school applications have many different parts. It is important applicants take their time in completing each part thoroughly before submitting the application for review.
- DO figure out what form of application each law school prefers
Applicants can choose to submit a paper application, or an electronic application. Some schools only accept one form of application. However, a wide majority of schools will accept either form of the application. The paper application has some pros and cons. While it allows applicants to fill out each field exactly as they would like, it can look sloppy if handwritten and typically takes significantly longer to complete. The electronic LSAC application is the fastest application, with mistakes being easy to correct. The LSAC electronic application will always differ slightly from school specific applications. However, because the LSAC application is so widely used, it should not put students at a disadvantage. In addition, the LSAC application is free when applicants sign up for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Many schools also offer school specific electronic applications. These are quicker to complete than paper applications, but take longer than the LSAC applications. A different application must be completed for each school, which makes it significantly longer than the standardized LSAC electronic application. Typically, students should opt for the school specific electronic application if it is available. However, all applicants should check the LSAC electronic applications website where each law school has listed their preference of which application form to use.
- DO double check all parts of each law school application
Law school applicants should be sure they have filled out all parts of each law school’s application. Oftentimes there are additional, or supplemental, sections which differ between schools. Students should take special measure to ensure all parts of the application are filled out according to what each law school requires. These sections can be easily missed on electronic applications, specifically the LSAC. In addition, if using the LSAC application, it is important students ensure all information has been input correctly. The LSAC typically copies over biographical information to the various school applications. This means a mistake in the initial input of information will flow over to every law school in which the student applied. To prevent this, applicants should be sure to double and triple check the spelling and content of information input on the LSAC application.
- DON’T skimp on the quality of each law school application
Many law school applicants are falsely under the assumption that the only thing which matters for law school admission are a student’s GPA and LSAT scores. While it is true that these numbers have a large impact on law school acceptance, they are not the only factors in determining which students get into law school, and which students do not. The other parts of law school application are particularly important for students who have strong, but not top of the class numerical statistics. Those students who may have a slightly weak LSAT or GPA need a strong overall application to push them ahead of other applicants in the same place. In addition, students who seem to be an automatic admission strictly based on numbers, can lose their spot to a different candidate with a more compelling overall application. Numbers are important when it comes to law school admission. However, the admissions board is filled with humans who have an emotional component in their decision making. The best chance an applicant can give themselves for getting into law school is having stellar academic numbers along with a stellar overall application.
- DO take time on the personal statement component
The personal statement component of law school applications is the biggest chance an applicant has to show law schools who they are beyond the numbers. It is the applicants chance to “come alive” and show they are not just another collection of strong LSAT scores and GPAs. Law schools use the personal statement as a chance to get to know the applicant better and asses their writing, an integral part of the legal profession. Law, as a profession, requires people of the upmost ethics and character. The personal statement gives applicants the chance to show each law school their own moral compass and character. With so many different people applying to law school, there is not one right or wrong way to write a personal statement. Some general guidelines to follow include: writing something long enough to have substance, but not too long that it comes across as rambling, write about something not mentioned in the resume portion, ensure grammar, spelling, and punctuation are all used correctly, and make sure the personal statement truly reflects the essence of you.
- DON’T wait until the last minute to ask for recommendation letters
Recommendation letters are another important part of the law school application process. Each school requires a different number of recommendation letters. Therefore, applicants should double check they are meeting the minimum requirement for each school. Applicants should keep in mind during their undergraduate education, that they need to form decent bonds with a few of their professors. It would be ideal to let each of these professors know they will be asking for a letter of recommendation in the future, during the law school application process. Applicants should do their best to maintain relationships with these professors, even after they have left the classroom.
When it comes time to apply to law school, applicants should inform the professors writing their letters of recommendation well before the applicant plans to submit the application. Many professors end up inundated with letter of recommendation requests, and thus may not be able to complete them all. The more time a student gives a professor to write the letter of recommendation, the more in depth the professor can be.
- DO create a schedule
The process of applying to law school can be daunting. Making sure no deadline or application section is missed can be a difficult feat to overcome. Applicants should create a “law school application calendar” to help them through the process. This calendar should include everything from law school application deadlines, financial aid/FAFSA deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and so on. With so many different moving parts on the way to law school admission, the only way to keep track is by having everything written down in one place. The worst thing an applicant can do is not gain acceptance to a school or not earn a scholarship or financial aid simply because they missed an application deadline. Get a calendar, write everything down, and see how much easier it is to keep track of the application process.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to submit the application
Many law schools operate on a rolling admission basis. This means they start admitting students as soon as the first application is in, and stop admitting students once the last seat is full. As seats begin to dwindle, admissions boards tend to be even more discerning with who they choose to admit. This means, students should aim to apply as close to the application’s opening as possible. Students who wait to apply last minute may be worthy applicants. However, if there are no seats to give out, they will not be offered admission. In addition, many school scholarships require students to apply early. Even if students do not think they are prime candidates for scholarships, it is always worth trying for one. Especially since school based merit scholarships typically do not require a separate application or application fee.
Waiting until the last minute to submit an application can also be dangerous due to unforeseen situations. Waiting until the last minute can result in server crashes, if too many applicants are trying to submit at the same time, computer problems which may delay submission, or even the possibility of the application getting lost in the mail if submitting hard copy. For a multitude of reasons, the safest time to submit a law school application is as early as possible.
Applying to law school is a complicated process. Between studying for and taking the LSAT, tracking down professors to write letters of recommendation, and keeping track of various due dates, the process of applying to law school feels like a full time job. It is important that applicants are diligent and efficient in the application process. They should be diligent in making sure all parts of the application are thoroughly filled out and completed well before the deadline. Students must also be efficient. The law school application process is time consuming. Spending too much time on one application could cause students to not have the time to apply to a wide range of schools, thus lessening their chance of getting into a law school. Law school applications are a big undertaking. However, with a little bit of organization and pre-planning, applicants should have no problem submitting however many applications they hope to in a timely manner.