Conversations with law school representativesreveal that it is in your best interest to apply as early as possible to law school. Even though stated application deadlines fall anywhere between January 1 and May 1, it is advisable to get your application completed and submitted by the first week of November. This will insure a careful and thorough reading of it before admissions officers are faced with the thousands of applications that they have had to deal with in recent years. Many law schools have rolling admissions procedures, allowing those applicants who apply early a better opportunity for consideration; October 1 submission is not too early for competitive schools with rolling admissions. Earlier applicants may also have an advantage when being considered for scholarship and grant opportunities.
When students apply to law school they often overlook many small but important details which may create a less than optimal impression. You can avoid this by following these common sense hints:
- Fill in all the blanks on the school’s application. Although the reason for a particular question may not be obvious to you, the school does need that information or else the question would not be asked. An incomplete application may be returned to you, an admissions officer may have to phone you, or your application may be put aside. Either way, the ultimate decision on your admission is delayed. Resist the temptation to “see attached.” Fill in the space provided. If it is inadequate then refer to a supplemental sheet.
- Be meticulously neat. Type your answers on the application or use online applications. Avoid scribbles in the margin. If you have an explanation for an answer, refer to a supplement and attach it to the application. Definitely have someone proofread your application. Always remember that you are applying to a professional school and the Admissions Committee forms its first impression regarding your seriousness from your application. You want the application to be as polished as possible.
- Ask someone not affiliated with your undergraduate school to look at a copy of your transcript and tell you what each course name represents and what grade you received. This can reveal whether any information on the transcript is unclear. If necessary, attach a supplement to your application explaining any course names which are not self-explanatory.
- Use an attachment to your application to explain any irregularities or disparities. Do not include them in your personal statement. If, for example, your two LSAT scores are very different due to your illness during one examination, express this reason in an attachment “Explanation of LSAT Scores,” not in your personal statement. If you need to explain that your freshman grades were low because you started as a premedical student, entitle the attachment “Explanation of Grade Trend.” You should approach problem areas in your background frankly rather than having the Admissions Committee wonder. Be selective about what you explain. Do not explain more than one issue.
- Your personal statement is extremely important. This is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions committee, describe how your experiences make you a compelling applicant, and explain why you’re a good fit for the law school. Be sure to have friends, family, and mentors (and the Writing Center) proofread your personal statement.
- Strictly observe all deadlines and send the correct items to the correct schools. Admissions Committee members recognize that students apply to multiple schools and that many students use the same personal statement, with minor changes, for each school. However, they are always amused to read a personal statement incorrectly mailed to them in which a student makes a passionate plea to attend another school. Unfortunately, this will likely result in your application being tossed without consideration.
- When sending personal checks for your application fee and deposits, make sure your check will not bounce. This can cause delay as well as embarrassment. If applying online and charging any fees, be sure to review and maintain applicable credit card statements.
First impressions do make a difference, and attention to details can help make the best possible first impression. That impression, in a borderline situation, could mean the difference between acceptance or denial of your application to law school.