The Top 15 Things Every Law School Applicant Should Know is a series that will teach you the ins and outs of successful law school applications. Stay tuned for the remaining elements. This week starts with “Law School Admissions Strategy.”
Numbers and stats for law school admission are important – certainly more so even than for undergraduate – but the right components of your application can make all the difference in the world.
Does it seem like you just finished your undergraduate applications for admission, and now here you are applying to law school? Or maybe you did your undergraduate more than a few years ago, and are returning to law school after an academic hiatus. Either way, it’s important to know what admissions committees are looking for BEFORE you starting working on your application. You need a strategy.
The first thing to know is that the numbers that schools list on their web sites are real. Yale really does look for an LSAT score in the mid 170’s, whereas Tulane is happy with a 160. So look at the web sites of the schools in which you are interested, and make your list accordingly. Of course, you should always reach for the stars by including a couple of reach schools, but you also need to be realistic.
When making your list of schools, other things to consider include location, and whether or not you are able and willing to move to attend law school. For someone in their early 20’s, this often is not an issue, whereas if you are returning to law school a little later in life, you might be settled where you are and therefore are not able to relocate. From a financial point of view, the local school may also be more affordable.
At least as important as location and affordability is focusing on what kind of law you want to study, what you want to do with the degree, and which programs will therefore be the best fit. Are you interested in corporate law or do you see yourself working for LegalAid after graduation? Different schools have different specialties. Do your research and make sure that the schools you are including on your list match your interests.
Once you have done your due diligence and figured out where you can reasonably hope to be admitted, which schools have the best program for your interests, and which two or three schools fit into the “reach” category, then it is time to assess the potential strengths and weaknesses of your application. Suppose you have an excellent LSAT score, but your GPA suffered your junior year, thereby bringing your overall GPA down. Instead of seeing this as only a weakness, you need to make sure that you frame this in the best possible way. (Our professional consultants and editors can help you.)
After assessing and summarizing your professional, extracurricular, and community service activities, the single most important part of your application is your personal statement. This is your opportunity to make your story come to life and give the admissions committee an authentic look into who you are. Make sure you dedicate the appropriate time and energy into this essay. We’ll cover the personal statement in a later post, but if you want to get started immediately or simply want individual advice, consider hiring a law school admissions consultant to guide you.
For now, figure out your strategy, make a plan, and get started. You’re ready!