Planning Your Application
Adhering to the Application Timetable and carefully planning the completion of tasks such as taking the LSATs, requesting recommendation letters, identifying schools, and writing your personal statement and additional essays for each law school program is essential for your success in the Law School Admissions Process.
Acting like a Professional
Law school culture, atmosphere, work load, and intensity are closely related to professional work. You must approach law school as if it were a job that requires diligence and perseverance on a daily basis just to keep up with the work. When you are completing the application process, you should distinguish yourself from other applicants through your professionalism. This professionalism denotes that you are a serious student who understands the serious decision you have made to attend law school.
Framing Your Persuasive Argument
Consider your application to be your persuasive argument, your sales pitch. You need to work on how to present your strengths and how to develop the theme of your entire application. You need to plan what you want Law School Admissions Offices to think about you when reading your application.
Understanding Your Target Audience: The Admissions Office
To frame your persuasive argument, you need to understand your target audience: the Admissions Office. You need to understand the Admissions Process. Consider the following questions:
- Who will read your application?
- When does the Admissions Office begin admitting students?
- How does the Admissions Office rank the LSAT and GPA?
- What besides your GPA and LSAT scores determines your admittance?
- What are the most common mistakes made in the application process?
- How many schools should you apply to?
- How will the Admissions Office evaluate your transcript?
Working within the Application Timetable
If you can work within a timetable, then you will maximize your chances of being admitted to law schools. Eight months to one year is the optimal amount of time for the application process. Here is an example of a Ten Month Optimal Law School Application Timetable:
- January of Junior Year: Sign up for the LSDAS and for the June LSAT. Devote a scheduled amount of time per day or per week on LSAT questions. Treat the LSAT as another class you are taking. Take a practice test to determine your LSAT range. Understand the importance of the LSAT in law school admissions.
- February & March of Junior Year: Research law schools. Determine who you want to ask to write recommendations. Brainstorm topics for your Personal Statement.
- April of Junior Year: Schedule meetings with potential recommenders. Complete materials to present to recommenders.
- June between Junior & Senior Year: Take the LSATs.
- July between Junior & Senior Year: Revise your Personal Statement.
- August of Senior Year: Send your official transcript to the LSDAS.
- September of Senior Year: Complete your Personal Statement and ensure that your recommenders have completed recommendations before October 1st.
- October of Senior Year: Complete your Applications by the first Rolling Admissions date to take advantage of the statistical benefits of applying early. The later you apply, the more difficult it will be to be accepted.
Understanding the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS)
Law school applicants use the LSDAS, which is managed by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), to apply to most law schools. This enables law school applicants to quickly and efficiently organize their applications and apply to law school, to monitor their application to see if it is complete, and to streamline the application process — they only need to send one transcript to the service. Additionally, recommenders send a letter to the service, and then applicants can decide which schools receive the letter from that professor or employer. You should register for the LSDAS as soon as you have determined that you will be applying to law school. To create your online account, go to www.LSAC.org.
You can contact the LSAC through email at LSACINFO@LSAC.org or at 215-986-1119.
Preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
Consider whether you want to take the LSAT in June or in October. You should register for the LSAT as soon as you have decided when you are going to take the test. If you put off registration, you may not be able to take the exam at your requested testing site. (Villanova is a testing site).
Approaching Your Law School Application from a Career Development Perspective
The career development activities that will help you investigate the legal profession will also helping you investigate careers. By approaching law school from a career development approach, you are not limiting yourself to one potential field; instead, you are able to consider the totality of your interests.
Asking for Tailored Recommendation Letters
Many law school applicants simply ask recommenders to write them a letter and then check that requirement off their long to-do list. However, rather than just securing a recommendation letter, ensure that your talents and accomplishments are highlighted by professionals and professors who know you, who know your interests, and who know your achievements.
Writing Effective Personal Statements
Writing an effective personal statement is a highly individualized process. The personal statement should represent the individual, and should be a unique essay that is based on your personality, experiences, and qualities. The most important element to remember is to be specific and to keep in mind that the reader is hoping for interesting and engaging writing. Schedule an appointment with Professor Karen Graziano to discuss your personal statement.
Writing Optional Application Essays
Many law school applications have optional questions and essays. You should seriously consider completing the optional essays. They are looking for additional insight to you as an applicant. The Admissions Office also wants to know specifically why you want to attend that law school.
Including an Addendum to Explain Discrepancies
An Addendum is useful if you need to explain a discrepancy on your record such as time you took off from college, a poor grade in a course, or disciplinary issues. You should reserve explanations of any of the above discrepancies for the Addendum and should not explain these circumstances in your personal statement.
Completing Your Resume
Many law schools require you to submit your resume. Before you do, you need to analyze it. Are the information, format, and structure of your resume clear and concise? Your resume represents you and can add points to your application. Contact the Career Services Office to schedule a resume review before you complete your law school application. Ask professors, professionals, family members, friends, and especially those with a critical eye to review your resume. The more people that review your resume, the more feedback you will have to make necessary changes.
Celebrating Completing Your Applications and Then…
Celebrate completing your applications and then dive into the following activities:
- Visit the law schools before and after you have been accepted. Attend Open Houses in the fall and Accepted Students’ Nights in the spring.
- Weigh the benefits of each law school program.
- Revise your resume.
- Continue to research the legal profession by talking to attorneys. You need to develop more of a sense of what area of law you are interested in.
- Decide which law school to attend.
- Consider working at a law firm during the summer before law school. At a law firm you will learn more about the legal process and legal writing and research that will help you as a first year law student.
Receiving Workshop Materials
If you can not attend one of the scheduled workshops or if you would like to get started on Career Development Activities, your Personal Statement, or Recommendations before the next scheduled workshop, please email Professor Graziano at firstname.lastname@example.org.