Planning & Preparing your Law School Application

Tips and suggestions to help you through the 2020-2021 application cycle… 


THE LAW SCHOOL’S PERSPECTIVE
    • Schools will set institutional goals each year for their entering class. These goals may include maintaining or advancing median LSAT/GPAs, class diversity, class size, balancing out last year’s incoming class, or achieving representation from a large variety of undergraduate institutions and degrees. These objectives are meant to support the institution’s overall goals and to also create a dynamic and diverse class that will enhance the learning experience for all students.
    • Every application cycle is different based on the school’s goals,  expectations, and the applicant pool.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?  What Should I know?
    • Ultimately a school’s individual goals are unknown outside of the institution. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to enhance your application by being well informed and following some of the best practices we have outlined below!
    • Rolling Admissions:  Law schools have rolling admissions – meaning they begin making decisions from the start of the admissions cycle. The later you apply the fewer seats remain – apply early and maximize your potential to be extended an offer!

The Application:

    • Your law school application is comprised of many components. It can be a long, arduous process and can be difficult to balance with a full course load or full-time job. Therefore, it is important to strategize and plan your application by setting a timeline, sticking to it, and putting in the necessary effort to get it done and submitted!  Being organized and efficient is one of the best things to do to support your application success!
    • Generally, each of your applications will include seven (7) primary components: resume, personal statement, LSAT, GPA, letters of recommendation, transcript(s), and optional addendums.  Registration with the LSAC Credential Assembly Service is required to apply to law school.  CAS serves as a central administration to assist you for each individual application. Please note that each law school will have their own individual application you will need to complete – good news, these are available through CAS!
    • TIP! Remember each law school may have unique requirements, review websites in advance!


RESUME


    • A one-page, well-formatted document summarizing your education history, accomplishments, work experiences, leadership activities, and special skills and interests. TIP! Be sure to list in reverse chronological order…
    • Your resume should be formatted into distinct sections. This could include: Header, Education, Experience, Leadership & Volunteer Activities, and Skills and Interest.  Sections should be unique to your resume and support your individual experiences and credentials.
    • A well-crafted, well-organized resume leads to effectiveness and readability.
    • TIP! Look at the law school’s websites for resume requirements, but also to get a feel for what they are looking for (buzz words, traits, etc. you can incorporate into your resume).

Personal Statement


    • An opportunity for you to highlight your candidacy to the admissions committee and to tell them something they cannot find in other sections of your application.
    • What do you want the admissions committee to remember about you? Show the admissions committee why you want to go to law school, why the law, and how your life experiences have led you to pursuing a career in the law.
    • TIP! Plan sufficient time to write your personal statement because it will take multiple drafts and many revisions before perfecting your final draft!

Letters of Recommendation


    • 2-4 letters from professors or supervisors, that support your law school application.
    • Reach out now! You want to determine who will be writing your letters as soon as possible and reach out as soon as you can. Professors will need ample amount of time to write a good letter.
    • Law schools want to see letters of recommendation that speak to you, personally, as a candidate, highlighting your academic capabilities and aptitude.
    • Consider setting a deadline of at least one (1) week before you need them. Recommenders must submit the letters to LSAC -CAS
    • TIP! Some schools will have specific criteria or caps on the total number of letters they will review.  Be sure to check in advance.

Addendums/Supplemental Essays


    • Law school specific, brief essays or statements that provide an opportunity for you to clarify and expound upon aspects of your application. Some common types of application addendums are:
        • Diversity Statement –  An opportunity to highlight your diversity as a candidate.
        • GPA/LSAT/Academic Explanation – An opportunity for you to provide additional information regarding “low” scores or grades.  For example, extenuating circumstances or disruptions in your schooling that create credentials that you feel do not fully reflect your ablities. Think objectively.
        • Character & Fitness – An opportunity to provide additional information regarding citations, arrests, convictions, etc. Note! Read the language carefully – if you have questions clarify with the admissions office prior to applying.
    • TIP! Be sure to check the law school website to clarify their guidelines on addendums.  Some addendums may be optional, others may be required!

GPA – Transcripts


    • You will need to provide transcripts for all programs attended – plan ahead!
    • Keep medians in mind. Medians aren’t everything, but they are an excellent guide that will certainly help give you an idea of what the law school is looking for in a candidate.
    • The “Law School” GPA. In order to provide schools with a uniform basis to compare candidate credentials,  LSAC will configure a “new” GPA for each candidate.  This conversion will take into account a number of factors, including norming all GPAs to a 4.0 scale.  Be sure to review the LSAC Transcript Summarization page for details.   Schools will see both your LSAC GPA and GPA provided on your transcripts – in some instances they will be the same.
    • Gap Year? Would your academic abilities and skills benefit from an additional year to develop prior to law school and application to law school?  Taking a gap year can enhance your application and help prepare you for law school – don’t be afraid to consider this option

The LSAT


    • Similar to median GPAs, a school’s median LSAT score is an excellent guide that will provide helpful insight into what the law school is looking for in a candidate and their goals for your admission cycle.
    • The LSAT is offered multiple times per year.  You will need an LSAT score prior to applying to law school.
    • The LSAT Writing portion is completed independently but is required to receive a score.  You do  not need to complete a new Writing portion for every exam and there is no additional fee.
    • Upcoming Dates and Deadlines:

    • GRE:  Some law schools will accept the GRE as an alternative to an LSAT score, however, the LSAT remains the primary admissions test.  There are also limitations on how many GRE applicants may be accepted each year.  TIP: If you are applying without an LSAT score, be sure to follow-up with your law school to confirm there are not unique steps given you are a GRE candidate and that they received your GRE and CAS Report from LSAC!  You will still need to register with CAS.

Credential Assembly Service (CAS)


    • Transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other documents required for each of your law school applications only need to be sent one time, to LSAC – CAS.
    • All ABA-approved law school applications are available electronically through your CAS, saving you time and effort!
    • All applicants must sign up for CAS separate an apart from LSAC and the LSAT.
    • The CAS fee is $195. Additionally, there is a $45 processing fee per law school application.  You let CAS know which law schools you want to apply to.
    • TIP! It takes approximately 2 weeks to process a transcript in CAS – plan ahead!

Upcoming Programs!

Application Excellence: A Guide to Perfecting Your Law School Application

This workshop will provide specific guidance on how to optimize elements of the application, including resumes, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and addendums. This program will look at best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and suggestions for achieving an excellent quality submission.

This program is highly recommended for students and alumni applying during the 2020-2021 academic year!

This program will be offered on the following dates:

The registration deadline is by Noon (CST) the day prior to the program. 

Question?

To make an appointment with Pre-Law Advising, please sign up at: https://go.oncehub.com/PreLawAdvisingatIllinois

For general questions and resources, connect with Pre-Law Advising:

 


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