10 steps to draft a winning law school application
The first step to get into any course is to fill out the college application form. But in law schools, the application process can be a bit confusing.
Students are often caught between their LSAT exams and getting recommendation letters from their professors to actually focus on their application. The law school application form has several components. I will be covering each of these sections in detail today and walk you through the entire process in these 10 easy steps.
Register with the Law School Admission Council
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is where you can find all the details about the admission procedure. Aspiring candidates must first register and create an account with LSAC to take their LSAT exams. Use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to submit your application and writing samples.
CAS acts as the intermediary between law schools and the applicants. This saves you a lot of time and trouble of having to apply for different schools individually. All you have to do is specify the law schools you wish to apply for and upload the necessary documentation to back it up.
Registration at LSAC is free, you have to pay the application fee when sending your application via CAS platform.
Sending the application
Law schools are pretty strict when it comes to reviewing student applications. A simple mistake can cost you an entire academic year or more. Now, most law school applications have the same components and sections. I have listed them below in brief:
Law school like medical school or any other institution has a specific application process.
Step 1: Get the application forms
The application form is a hefty document that has multiple sections and pages. This might look a bit daunting to you at first glance. Don’t worry though, everything is clearly stated, and thing become a lot clearer once you read through the instructions carefully.
The first page usually asks for personal details like the applicant’s name, date of birth, gender etc. The questions get more detailed as you move down the form though. There are questions about your criminal record, academic background, and work experience.
Almost every law school has an online application process. All you have to do is visit their website (or log in to your LSAC account as discussed above) and apply.
Step 2: Add the Character and fitness addendum
This is a mandatory section in every law school application that you must complete. The character and fitness addendum include two basic sections – academic and criminal. Here, you need to elaborate all the criminal and academic lapses in your career.
The criminal records include any reported incidents, police statements, unpaid loans and bills and other charges of misconduct.
The section has a series of questions asking about criminal misconduct, academic lapses etc. In case you answer any of the questions “yes” you need to substantiate it with a proper addendum. The addendum explains the context of the case and the reasons explaining the circumstances of the incident.
Step 3: Update your LSAT scores
The next thing you need to do is add your LSAT scores. LSAT or the Law School Admission Test is a mandatory entrance exam that all aspiring lawyers must clear before applying for a degree course. Note that some colleges in the US also accept GRE scores. However, it is safe to say that LSAT score are universally accepted.
Candidates can register for and give their LSAT exams on the LSAC website. The test is conducted online, and the scores are automatically updated on your profile. Students can specify law schools that they want to apply to. LSAC also sends the LSAT score band and percentile ranking for the tests.
Law schools can see your scores over 5-years, even if they consider only your highest LSAT records. Also, if you have cancelled an exam or were absent from one- the law school authorities can see that too.
Step 4: Add the Transcripts
Transcripts are basically official copies from your previous schools, colleges, and institutions, vouching for your academic credibility. This includes your high school, college, universities, summer schools, student exchange programs, internships, workshops etc. Even simple courses at the community college, diploma degrees etc must be includes as transcripts.
Students also include transcripts for credit courses, graduate programs, research projects and more. Candidates who have long graduated get some extra time to collect and track their transcripts from colleges.
In some cases, some colleges might not even have electronic records of your academic documents. Depending on when you’ve graduated or completed the said course, you can submit the transcripts as and when they’re available.
Step 5: Include a Personal statement
The personal statement is one of the few sections that allow you to write a bit about yourself. This is the space wherein you can put up a good case on why you’re a good fit for the said law school. Use this space optimally and make the best of this opportunity.
Here, you can introduce yourself, talk about your educational background and work experience. other than that, you can also touch upon other aspects of your personality. Talk about the struggles you’ve faced along your journey, what inspires you to become a lawyer and what you contribute to the college.
The personal statement is usually written in the form of an essay. It allows you the freedom to get a little creative and highlight your passion for pursuing law.
Step 6: Brush up your Resume
Next comes the part where you attach your resume. Note that the resume for law schools is not the same as your standard CV. You need to update your resume and make it more suitable for the industry.
Note that not all law schools require you to have a resume necessarily. But almost every law course would gladly accept the resume submission. It adds on to your application and helps you make a stronger case.
The structure of the law application form leaves little space for the candidate to actually talk about themselves. Most of the sections are generic and require a lot of documentation. Other than the personal statement and the resume, you don’t have any other space to highlight your achievements and accomplishments.
Ensure that the personal statement and your resume are two different things. Don’t try to rehash or copy your resume in the personal statement. The personal statement is a more elaborate essay-type section wherein you can explain in detail your interest in law. In comparison the resume is a more concise document.
Step 7: Get Recommendation letters
Letter of recommendation is a document that enhances your application’s credibility. If you have any work experience in a law firm or even an internship with an agency, ask them to give you a recommendation letter. A typical recommendation letter usually endorses the candidates’ expertise in the field and their work ethic.
Contact your former professors and employers for character certificates and recommendation letters. You can submit multiple recommendation letters from different sources, provided they are registered and credible institutions.
Step 8: Add Additional essays
Some law schools ask for students to send in a couple of additional essays to elaborate on their work experience, academic record etc. In such cases, you have a better chance to talk about yourself and enhance your chances of getting into your dream course.
Always opt for the sending in a couple of extra essays when you get the opportunity to do so. This section, though not mandatory, can influence your application big time.
Step 9: Include an LSAT writing sample
The LSAT writing sample is perhaps one of the hardest parts of the law school application process. Note that all the writing samples written after your LSAT exams will also be considered for the application. The review committee will check in your basic writing and research skills.
A writing sample usually deals with a case study, wherein you need to elaborate on the case and present your hypothesis for or against the judgement. It highlights your understanding of the law and the legal jargon used in these cases.
It might be daunting to applicants to draft writing samples just after giving your LSATs. But I strongly recommend that you don’t skip this section and ensure that you present your best work.
CAS acts as the intermediary between law schools and the applicants.
Step 10: Update the CAS report
CAS or Credential Assembly Service is an all-in-one platform that allows law students to send out applications to multiple law schools at once. In a CAS report, all your transcripts, application forms, writing samples and other documents are bundled together.
The CAS report can be customised to suit the law school requirements. This report is automatically compiled and submitted along with your application, so you don’t have to worry about drafting it. Just review it before you send your application to ensure that all the details are updated properly.
The Bottom Line
Law school like medical school or any other institution has a specific application process. The questions are niche and relevant to your field of study. If you are a high-school student or someone fresh out of college looking for a law degree to pursue, then this article covers everything you need to know. Good luck with your application! I hope the process becomes a little simpler for you after following these steps.