Application Dos and Don’ts…

We are reaching that point in the cycle where many applicants are moving into the final stages of preparing their applications. Whether you are looking to apply in a few weeks, or later this application cycle, below are some helpful tips based on actual applicant experiences to assist in your final preparations!


1. Follow all directions closely! When asked for their best advice, we routinely hear law admissions deans say “follow the application directions” as their #1 tip. Follow the application directions as written and provided – full stop!

  • Example: if the personal statement page limit is 2, don’t submit a 2.5 page document and assume they won’t mind – even if it is well written.
  • Each application may have slightly different criteria or directions, it is important to confirm specifics for each school.

2. Triple-check mentioned school names in essays to match the school you’re submitting the individual application to. If you choose/are required to individualize documents for each individual school based on their directions (see above) – be sure to confirm you have submitted the right draft to the right school. This mistake really happens…every year.

3. Choose recommenders wisely. Those with whom you have a strong relationship and will write about specific experiences and qualities will be most effective.

4. Use your resources! There are many resources to help you succeed in this process. Be sure to utilize the PLAS Office! Whether we help you directly or connect you with the necessary resources – we are here to help!

5. Explore a wide variety of schools. You may be surprised at what you find! Be sure to check out the Researching Law Schools blog post for tips on identifying schools!

  • Be sure to attend a law fair and meetings with schools – there is an LSAC Digital Forum occurring on November 19!

6. Get Organized! Create a spreadsheet, google doc, or other means to organize your information and track your application tasks. PLAS has put together an Excel spreadsheet that you can use to get started. To see the example, click here.

  • Don’t forget about your email! Set up folders to organize communications as you receive them!

7. Apply to a range of schools where you feel your LSAT/GPA are very competitive, competitive, and less competitive (some may refer to this as safety, target, and reach schools). This will open up the most opportunities for admission and potential scholarships, it will also help provide as much choice in the admission process as possible.


1. Forget to proofread all your application materials. Be sure to plan time to give every application a comprehensive and thorough review before submitting.

2. Skip directions. Yes – it’s so important we’ve included it on our list twice!

3. Submit applications to law schools that you do not see yourself attending. Every school you apply to will not necessarily satisfy your goals/wish list to equal measure as another. However, don’t waste your energy or time with options that you know you will not pursue. Instead, look for a better-fitting option that meets at least some of your most important goals and that you could see yourself attending.

4. Write optional statements/addendums that 1. don’t apply to your personal situation; or, 2. that you feel compelled to write simply to “add more” to your application. Only include addendums where required, relevant, and that add new, substantive information.  Doing “more” can take away from your application if it doesn’t contribute something relevant, meaningful, or helpful!

5. Apply late without a strategy. Most law schools admit students on a rolling basis with final deadlines in the spring semester. You should balance carefully having a strong application with the submission timing of your application. Sometimes applying a bit later in the cycle can result in submitting a superior application overall, however, if you will be submitting after December you do want to take timing into account and adjust your strategy.

6. Put all your eggs in one, super competitive, basket! In other words, don’t apply only to schools where acceptance rates are low or where you are at the low end of their GPA and LSAT ranges.

7. Lose touch! You should be making connections with schools throughout the application process, both before and after you apply. This will help you gather important information and perspectives to assist you with final decisions and also in creating more opportunities for you to leave a positive impression with schools. Be sure to make time for programs, events, and visits (virtual and in-person) at the schools you are applying to!

  • Stay Tuned! We will have great programming upcoming this winter and spring to help you navigate the post-application process!

Meet with a pre-law advisor…

The Pre-Law Advising Office is designed to help you achieve success in your goal of attending law school (seriously – it’s kind of the reason for our existence…). Whether you are a senior Illini or an alum planning to continue your education in law school, we are anxious to meet with you!

Schedule an appointment online to meet with an advisor or attend an upcoming workshop or event. We hope to see you soon!