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How To Gain Acceptance In Law School Of Your Choice

published March 01, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 22 votes, average: 3.9 out of 5)
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Once you've selected the "right" law school, you must take the necessary steps to gain admission. Applying to law school can be a very time-consuming and expensive process. However, if you gain admission into the law school of your choice, it will be time and money well spent.
 
How To Gain Acceptance In Law School Of Your Choice

The key to admission into and success through law school as well as in the legal profession is preparation. When you attend law school, you must be adequately prepared for each of your classes. When you, as a lawyer, advocate on behalf of your client(s) you must also be prepared. Why, then, should application to law school be any different? Preparation in the application process means pleading and winning your case before an unseen admissions committee through such documentation as the application, your personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Whether or not you win your case will depend on how well you present your written evidence.


To provide prospective students insight into the admissions process, these are some of some of the policy factors law schools consider in their selection of qualified applicants including:
 
  • The Undergraduate G.P.A. and the LSAT Score
  • Difficulty of Undergraduate Major
  • Reputation of the University Attended
  • Trends in Grades
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Commitment and Motivation to Study Law
  • Diversity of Student Body
  • Minority Status
  • Military Service
  • Employment History (Including Part-Time Work During College)
  • Life Experiences
  • Community Service
  • Graduate School
  • Ability to Overcome Adverse Circumstances
  • Professional Accomplishments
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation

Undergraduate G.P.A. and LSAT Score:

Law schools receive thousands of applications every year; therefore, they tend to rely rather heavily on numeric factors such as the undergraduate G.P.A. and the LSAT score to determine qualified applicants. Possessing both an excellent G.P.A. and LSAT score should greatly enhance your chances of admission into the law school of your choice. However, what if you have an excellent G.P.A. but an average or low LSAT score or vice versa? Law schools tend to place more emphasis on a good G.P.A. than they do on a good LSAT score. Therefore, if you have an excellent G.P.A. but an average or low LSAT score, let your academic credentials speak for your ability and motivation to do well in law school. However, if you have an excellent LSAT score but a low G.P.A., you will need to explain away any weaknesses.

Difficulty of Undergraduate Major:

Although your G.P.A. and LSAT score are the two most important criteria that admissions committees consider, they are not the only criteria. Law schools also consider the difficulty of your undergraduate major. An engineering major, for example, is much more intensive and onerous than certain other majors. As a result, your G.P.A. may not be quite as high as that of someone majoring in such fields as the humanities or General Business. This should not dissuade you, however, from applying to those schools that interest you because law schools will weigh such factors in ranking you with students who have pursued less intensive fields of study.

Learn the 10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School

Reputation of the College or University Attended:

Some colleges and universities have a reputation for being tougher than others. If you attend one of these colleges or universities, you may end up with a slightly lower undergraduate G.P.A. than a prospective student who has attended a college with a reputation for grade inflation. Law schools also take this factor into consideration when selecting students for admission. Additionally, they will judge your performance relative to that of other past and present law students who have graduated from your college to determine the probability that a student from your institution will possess the academic ability and motivation to complete a legal course of study.

Trends in Grades:

If your grades are poor during your early years in college-that is, your freshman and sophomore years-but significantly improve your last two years, you will be considered a better academic risk by law schools than if you start off with excellent grades only to have your grades drop significantly your junior and senior years. While your goal should be to maintain excellent grades throughout the course of your undergraduate study, it is doubtful that one bad semester will adversely affect your admission chances.

Extracurricular Activities:

Law schools tend to view favorably any display of leadership qualities while in high school or extracurricular activities undertaken in college such as fraternities, sororities, or honor organizations as well as active participation on debate or sports teams. Therefore, briefly list and discuss the extent and nature of such activities.

Commitment and Motivation to Study Law:

Law school admissions officers want to make certain that students selected for admission into their law schools are committed and motivated not only to the successful completion of law school, but to the practice of law as well; thus, they consider past performance to be indicative of future potential and will judge prospective students on that basis. Commitment to the study of law may be judged on the basis of your past academic record, previous accomplishments, work experience, life experiences, and your letters of recommendation, as well as your ability to overcome adverse circumstances. Motivation to study law may be evidenced by listing and providing supporting documentation as to your reasons for wanting to attend law school in general and that law school in particular.

Diversity of Student Body:

To enhance the legal experience, law schools try to select people from various backgrounds with widely divergent life experiences, interests, and perspectives. Their ability to bring different outlooks and some practical experience to class makes the class much more interesting to those undergraduates who enjoyed hearing a wide assortment of viewpoints. Geographic diversity is also very important since many attitudes and beliefs tend to be location-specific. As a student, you may wish to attend a school where there are other students enrolled from other states within the United States and from other countries as well. This is most commonly found at private law schools; however, as state law schools are required by law to allocate most of their positions in the entering class to students who are state residents.

Minority Status:

Law school enrollments have increased significantly over the past two decades. Much of that increase can be attributed in large part to the increased entrance of women into the legal profession. In the past, due to the small number of women in attendance, law schools actively recruited women. However, schools are now apt to compare women with men more readily on the basis of their accomplishments and leadership positions. Therefore, many schools no longer admit women solely for affirmative action purposes. If you are a woman, do not expect preferential treatment in the law school admissions process. Stress your accomplishments and experiences, not your gender.

On the other hand, most law schools are still actively recruiting minority students, especially those with different racial and ethnic backgrounds such as American Indian, African-American, or Asian-American for affirmative action purposes and to add diversity to the student body. While many minority students are not automatically admitted, they are considered in terms of all aspects of their commitment, ability, and motivation to complete law school and to practice law.

Military Service:

If you spent time in service for your country or in governmental training and service, list this on your application. Show how your military record exemplifies your motivation and perseverance and how, through accomplishments and skills obtained in the military, you manifest the ability to succeed in the study and practice of law as well.

Employment History:

Be sure to list any extensive work experience, especially any employment that was extremely challenging, meaningful, or educational. Let the admissions committee know what you have done. It is more precise to describe job responsibilities rather than just listing your title, since some titles are not self-explanatory. If you had to work part-time or full-time to pay your way through college, bring this to the attention of the admissions committee also. This is especially true if your grades suffered as a result of the increased demands on your time and energy. If you were able to successfully handle both work and studies, this provides additional evidence of your ability to overcome adverse circumstances. If possible, always try to relate your work experience to the study of law.

Life Experiences:

Life experiences can include such endeavors as teaching, volunteer work with the Peace Corps, hospital, school system, raising your children as a single parent, travel throughout the country and the world, being the child of a military officer and being sent from post to post, participating in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, or any other hobbies or interests you might have. Life experiences can entail anything that makes you a well-rounded, interesting individual.

Community Service:

Examples include serving on hospital, city, school, or university committees, participating in religious activities at your church or place of worship, and providing services to the economically disadvantaged. Describe in detail any offices you held or any unique contributions you made including ideas implemented and problems solved.

Graduate School:

If you return to college and obtain your graduate degree after several years away from school, your graduate school grades, especially if they are significantly higher than your undergraduate grades, will be viewed by law schools as a better indicator of your maturity and academic ability than your earlier undergraduate efforts. Also, the fact that you invested the necessary time and money to obtain a graduate degree provides additional evidence of motivation and commitment to the study of law.

Ability to Overcome Adverse Circumstances:

If you have some type of physical disability, inform the law schools early in the application process. Apply to schools whose administrators and faculty are favorably disposed toward and willing to work with students who have disabilities. Obtain names and phone numbers of other disabled students who are currently attending. Also, find out if they have an organization for disabled students; this would be an excellent source of additional information.

Since law schools do not recruit students for affirmative action purposes on the basis of handicap alone, for application purposes, stress the accomplishments that you've made despite your handicap. If your disability hinders you from meeting standard law school admissions requirements such as taking the regular LSAT test, touch base with the schools in which you're interested and make them aware of this fact.

Professional Accomplishments:

Professional accomplishments may include various types of certifications such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, a real estate license, a nursing designation such as Registered Nurse (RN) or the Professional Engineer (PE) certification. Professional accomplishments may also include having your own business, which could include consulting, lawn care, or property management, just to name a few, or any honors received in high school or college-even civic honors for service to your community. If you are particularly proud of certain accomplishments, let the admissions committee know; in all probability, they will share your pride. This is especially true if you are accepted as a student into their law school.

Application File:

Law schools will not reach a decision as to whether or not to accept you for enrollment purposes until your application file is complete. To be considered complete, an application file will most commonly contain the following: a completed application form, appropriate application fee, personal statement and letters of recommendation, LSAT score, LSDAS report, and a Dean's evaluation, if required by the law school to which you're applying.

Application Form:

Application forms for various law schools follow a fairly standard format. They all require such general background information as your name, permanent address, phone number, birthdate, place of birth, citizenship, all colleges and universities attended as well as dates of attendance, degrees earned (if any), and related graduation date(s), extracurricular activities, and other information.

Personal Statement:

Since writing skills are of extreme importance both in the study and practice of law, most law schools require applicants to submit some type of personal statement, in essay form, along with the other specified materials as part of the application process. Next to the G.P.A. and LSAT score, law school admissions officers consider the personal statement to be the most important piece of documentation. In fact, many schools use the personal statement as a deciding factor in helping them to reach a final decision about an applicant. It is your best opportunity to distinguish yourself from the other applicants with similar academic credentials and to present yourself as a person rather than a set of numbers. Therefore, you should plan to devote considerable time and effort to its preparation and revision.

Letters of Recommendation:

Letters of recommendation are used to obtain an accurate assessment of an applicant by others whose opinions the law school admissions office respects. Admissions committees find that recommendation letters are especially useful in helping distinguish between applicants with similar G.P.A.s and LSAT scores. Therefore, a good letter of recommendation may actually enhance your chances for admission into a particular law school by distinguishing you as an individual who has something to contribute to the law school experience.

However, bear in mind that law schools view letters of recommendation differently. Some place great emphasis on them and make phone calls to those providing the recommendation, while others give them a cursory glance or do not use them at all.

Misrepresentation:

One word of caution, never falsify or fail to disclose required information on your application. You will almost certainly be caught and if you are, you'll eliminate all possible chances for admission into law school. If a law school suspects evidence of cheating such as forged letters of recommendation, forged transcripts, or fraudulent information, it will refer your case to Law Services for investigation.

Conclusion:

In the law school admissions process, you will be evaluated based on your entire admissions profile, not just one or two factors. Therefore, emphasize your strengths and to the extent possible, minimize your weaknesses. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, you should be well on your way toward getting accepted into the law school of your choice.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

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