Applying to law school is a long process that involves a good deal of preparation even before it’s time to open your application, upload your materials, and click “submit.” For a comprehensive guide, please consult the pre-law advising handbook.
Law school applications generally open between September 1-15 on the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website. Application deadlines are in the spring, in March and April. Admissions are rolling, which means that applicants are invited to submit their applications anytime the application is open. It also means that admissions decisions are rendered throughout this period. Therefore, the earlier you apply, the more potential spots, and scholarship opportunities, there are on offer.
Does this mean that if you apply on September 15 you will have a better chance of getting into your dream school? Not quite.
For the most part, law school admissions teams aren’t reading applications this early–they’re recruiting and meeting with prospective students (check out Handshake to see which law schools are visiting BC this fall). The general rule is that if you’re submitting your application in September or October, you’re too early. If you’re submitting in November or December, you’re on time. And if you’re submitting in January or later, you’re late. If you apply earlier in the cycle, the process is marginally less competitive, and you have a greater chance of landing some scholarship money. One of the best things you can do is call the school directly–admissions representatives will answer all your questions. In terms of timeline, the important thing to remember is to apply early, yet to submit the strongest application. Put another way: you should be applying at the earliest point at which you will have the strongest application. If this is October, great. If it’s December, also great.
What does a strong application entail? Each individual law school application will vary to some degree, so it is important that you have already compiled a list of schools you’re interested in and have noted what each application entails. Generally, in addition to your transcript(s) and LSAT (or GRE) score, you will have to submit a resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, supplemental statements (such as a diversity statement), character and fitness statement, and any addenda.
Before you think that you can submit the same materials for each application, remember: Follow directions! Each application will have different instructions for its applications. If you can’t follow directions on an application, that does not bode well for law school–where you have to follow directions!
A few quick notes about each of the main application materials:
LSAT: The LSAT is generally administered 8-9 times per cycle (the testing year is June 1-May 31) on Microsoft Surface Go tablets. If possible, take a disclosed test first. It’s recommended that you take it at least in the summer before the fall that you’re applying, which potentially gives yourself time to change and retake if you want a better score.
Note: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, LSAC is now offering the LSAT Flex, a digital, at-home version of the LSAT taken on your personal computer. Learn more about LSAT Flex here.
Resume: Law schools will provide instructions about length and format, so read the instructions. The resume is an opportunity to demonstrate and highlight skills, experience, and leadership and concisely convey your story to the reader. They should not be flashy. Drop-in to the Career Center to have your resume reviewed.
Personal Statement: A personal statement should be interesting and informative–it’s your chance to own your narrative. They should also be perfect: they should be proofread and exhibit impeccable grammar. No matter what you write about, your statement should exhibit why you want to attend law school. Generally, personal statements should be 2 pages in length and double spaced. Make sure to read the directions for each school you apply to, as they will inevitably ask for different things!
Letters of Recommendation: You should ask for 2-3 strong, positive letters of recommendation. Seek out letters from instructors whom you’ve worked closely with. A recommendation from a non-academic source, such as a job/internship supervisor, is valuable, but remember that letters that speak to your academic abilities are important.
Diversity Statement: Each law school will approach the diversity statement differently, but generally it is an optional 1-2 page statement that can highlight diversity of thought, geography, race, faith, ethnicity, gender, economic background, interests, and so on. It should be different than the personal statement, and should be genuine.
Character & Fitness: This is your space to disclose any disciplinary issues. Here, you need to be as honest as possible. Take ownership, and provide an explanation, not a justification, for past actions. When in doubt, disclose. If you have questions, contact the law schools directly.
Addenda: Here, in 1-2 paragraphs, you can explain weaknesses in the application such as low grades, multiple LSAT scores, or leave(s) of absence from school. This is not the space to explain why you didn’t get a 180 if you got a 173 on the LSAT.
Finally, whenever possible, meet with law school admissions representatives as much as possible. In light of COVID-19, there are few if any “in-person” opportunities, but there are still many ways to engage law schools of interest: attend virtual info sessions (check out Handshake!); connect with law school admissions offices via phone or email; attend virtual law fairs and LSAC forums. Keep the following in mind: Ask thoughtful questions, the answers to which cannot simply be found on the law schools’ website. Keep a clean and professional social media presence. Do not have your parents reach out on your behalf. These are all parts of the application process, and make a difference. Professionalism starts now!
Any questions or concerns? Need assistance with the application process? Make an appointment with the pre-law advisor today.