Applying to Law School
How to Stand Out in the Crowd
You have finally made it through all of undergraduate school. It may have seemed like a holding pattern keeping you from finally getting where you have wanted to be all along. Law school. But now that the time has come to apply, what is it exactly that you should be focusing on? The LSAT is only a portion of your application package, so after the test is over, the real work begins.
The most important piece of information regarding the application process is the one that applies to nearly every area of the process: remember that law schools are looking at your whole person. Admissions officers are seeking to understand who you are as a person, not just as a student. While LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA factor greatly into the decision, schools look beyond statistics to gain a better sense of the person behind the numbers. This is where the personal statement takes center stage. This is the applicant’s opportunity to show off not only writing abilities, but a spark of personality. Humanizing yourself to the admissions officer makes a stack of papers stick out. Are you the first in your family to attend law school? What do you plan to achieve by earning a juris doctor? Be genuine and honest in your answer, giving a complete picture of who you are as a person. This can also be the place to compensate for a lower LSAT score or GPA if a standardized test is not the best representation of who you are as a student.
Including letters of recommendation with your application can only help your chances of gaining acceptance. Ask for letters from people such as employers, professors, or mentors who can sing your praises. Make sure that these writers have known you for a significant period in order to give the letter greater weight. If the recommender can attest to your personal growth and achievement over a considerable time, all the better.
Apply to a school that meshes with your goals. If your dream is to be a litigator, search for a law program that boasts trial teams and moot court competitions. If public speaking sounds like your idea of a nightmare, look for a school that touts clubs which focus on transactional studies. Not all schools are equal for every person. Think beyond the law school ranking tiers and find a program the coincides with your plans for the future. Opportunities abound at every level of law school, so fixating on rank alone will keep you from a full scholastic experience.
An area to an application given little thought, because it exists outside of submitted materials, is social media. With growing regularity, social media accounts are scoured as a potential source to accept, or reject, a potential candidate. Using your own name as your account handle is best practice if you plan to keep your social media public as an avenue to display to admissions officers that you have what they will look for in a potential student. Be sure that all the information you make public is of a nature that should be public. Check the photos you are tagged in and remove all traces of activities that would reflect poorly on your potential for academic success. If having your account set to public seems like too much exposure, ensure that your account is set to private. Your masthead photo will still be viewable, so make certain it is a photo you would be comfortable showing to the world, because the world is watching!
Finally, start early! The longer you wait to begin, the greater the margin for panic. While procrastination is peaceful in the moment, nothing compares to finishing your application in enough time to proofread for errors. All the time and hard work spent on your application would be cast in the shadow of missing commas and misspelled words. Can you imagine hitting send only to review your submission and be faced with a screenful of mistakes? Save yourself the heartache and get to typing. Your dreams deserve a head start.
Alexa Wallace is currently a third-year law student at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law, where she is the Research and Writing Editor of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy and Associate Justice of the Henry Upson Sims Moot Court Board. Wallace holds a master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lee University. None of this would have been accomplished without the existence of croissants.