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October 22 2013

What the Admission Department Sees

posted by Allie

I had the opportunity to talk with the Director of Admissions at my law school in order to write this very article. I can ramble on about the application process, GPAs, and the agony that is the LSAT, but I thought, why not go straight to the source- the person who decides who’s in and who’s out. Here’s what I learned:

  • One person doesn’t make the admission decision. Most schools use a committee. This committee is comprised differently depending on the school. Some committees are comprised solely of faculty members, while other schools fill their committees with alumni and faculty. Your application will probably seen by several sets of eyes. 
  • The personal statement is really important. Don’t use a form document or use someone else’s. The Director I spoke with told me that this essay is the one thing you have complete control over. Your grades are decided, your LSAT is grade, and your reference letters are in.   With you personal statement you have the opportunity to tell your story. You should avoid clichés. You should be honest and candid. The person who reads your letter should understand why you want to go to law school and what makes you a good fit for that law school. Also, this hopefully goes without saying, but your essay should be extremely well written- correct spelling, grammar, and all the good stuff. This essay should be your best work. 
  • Your recommendation letters don’t all have to be “academic.” If you had a job throughout undergrad, have your boss write one. If you played a varsity sport, have your head coach write one. If you’ve been out of school for 10 years have your employer write one. These letters should be written by people who know you well and can attest why you’ll be successful in law school.
  • In your list of extra curriculars, (sports, clubs, volunteer activities, etc.) include the time commitment and position involved. Be specific, if you only volunteered at a soup kitchen once in the last 4 years, it probably shouldn’t be on your application. However, if you were the secretary of a club at your school, be sure your application reflects the time involved as well as the responsibilities you had. 
  • Apply as early as possible. If you are compared to a similar candidate and the there a only a few positions left, the spot may go to the person who got their application in first. 
  • If you have questions about the admissions process, call the law school’s admission department. This department is here to help students with the application process. The admissions process can be intimidating so utilize the people whose very purpose is helping you navigate the system. 
  • If you are waitlisted, that doesn’t mean sit back and wait to hear from the law school. Stay in touch with the law school. Let them know that you are extremely interested in the school, you are willing to move, can begin school immediately if someone should drop, etc. A person who stays in touch with the admissions department is more likely to get a spot than someone else on the list that hasn’t spoken to the school since they submitted their application. 
  • If you are not accepted to law school, don’t despair; you’ll have more opportunities. I know you don’t want to read this, or even think about it, but you may not get in to law school on your first try. If that is the case- REAPPLY! Criteria for admittance are constantly changing because it always depends on who is applying, how many positions are available, and other factors. One year you may be rejected, but the next year you could easily make the cut. One piece of advice I was told was that if you resubmit your application materials- change them up a bit. Don’t turn in the identical essay, etc. The school will want to see some change and growth. Also, don’t hesitate to call the school and discuss ways you could strengthen your application. They may not be able to give you the definitive reason you weren’t accepted, but they will have some advice that could make you a stronger candidate for the next year. 

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Allie

About the Author: Allie
allie@thelawstreetjournal.com

Allie is a third year law student. She graduated from a small liberal arts college in 2008, married that same summer, and started law school in the fall. Talk about transitions! When she’s not studying, she loves to be with her hubby, Dustin. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, cooking, crocheting, gardening, and decorating her home. Her favorite shows are Friends, Fringe, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Project Runway, and Top Chef. She has no idea what area of law she wants to practice in but is most drawn to areas involving torts- she is fluent in Spanish and hopes to incorporate that into her legal career.

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