The law school addendum is one of the most misunderstood parts of the law school application.
In a nutshell, your addendum explains a blemish in your application.
It directly addresses a situation that may give the admissions committee the wrong impression about your academic ability, moral character, or any other situation that could be questioned (e.g. criminal or bad behavior, an abnormally low grade, sudden changes in LSAT scores).
This is your chance to explain to the admissions committee why you should still be admitted to their law school. Use this opportunity wisely.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding this unique part of your law school application.
I’ve debunked five of the most common law school addendum myths that will help you submit an addendum that helps, rather than hurts, your chances of being admitted to your dream law school.
Myth #1: Everyone Needs an Addendum
Truth: You Should Only Write an Addendum if it is Necessary or Helpful to Your Application
Not everyone needs an addendum in their law school application.
Write an addendum if there is something in your application that could make the law school admissions committee doubt your moral character and/or ability to succeed in law school.
Examples of good times to include an addendum are a sudden dip in your GPA, a criminal or disciplinary record, or a withdrawal from your studies for a period of time.
In contrast, if you received a B in a European history class because you spent too many nights out with your friends rather than hitting the books, don’t use an addendum to draw attention to this minor lack of discretion. This will not cause the admissions committee to doubt the academic ability you show elsewhere in your application.
You should also avoid writing an addendum that sounds trivial. The death of a family member the night before your LSAT is worthy of an addendum. The death of a pet isn’t.
Keep in mind - the law school admissions committee is looking for people who will succeed under the pressure of law school and practicing law.
Myth #2: Your Addendum Should Be Long
Truth: Your Addendum Should Be No Longer than One Page
Your law school application addendum should be short. Its purpose is to concisely explain anything that may need further elaboration to help the admissions committee understand your unique situation.
Your addendum can help sway the admissions committee in your favor, but you may hurt your application if you ramble.
You only need half a page to explain that you withdrew for a semester while recovering from a car accident.
However, if you have a misdemeanor for petty theft, you may need more space to explain the facts of the situation and how you have grown as a person since that time.
The admissions committee has a lot of applications to read. Don’t waste their time by rephrasing your personal statement or resume.
They are looking for a succinct explanation of any irregularities on your application to help them make a decision whether to admit, waitlist, or reject you from their incoming class.
A shorter addendum is usually a stronger submission.
Myth #3: It’s Okay to Stretch the Truth to Make Yourself Look Better
Truth: Never Lie or Stretch the Truth
This should be a no-brainer if you’re applying to law school. Don’t stretch the truth in your addendum.
If you don’t disclose something now, you could run into problems later when your moral character is assessed for bar admission.
Play it safe.
Never lie on a law school application (even by omission). Stick to the facts and include how you have grown as a person after a bad situation. Always include the lessons you learned from the situation. Be mature.
For example, if you have a criminal conviction, don’t downplay the events to make yourself look better. Tell the truth as it happened. Explain that the occurrence no longer represents the person you are today.
The admissions committee is looking to admit people who have demonstrated that they are mature, capable adults ready to take on the rigors of law school. Show them this person in your law school application addendum.
Myth #4: You Should Explain Every Potential Blemish on Your Law School Application
Truth: Don’t Draw Attention to Irrelevant and Unimportant Things
Don’t waste the admission committee’s time with an addendum that draws attention to trivial things.
For example, maybe you could have scored a point higher on the LSAT if it hadn’t been so hot in the room. Maybe not. At the end of the day, it’s not worth your time to submit an addendum about it, and it’s definitely not worth the admission committee’s time.
However, it’s best to err on the side of over-inclusion if you are explaining criminal or bad behavior. You don’t want the admissions committee to have concerns about a particular event in your history and wonder why you were not forthcoming.
Law school is hard and the admissions committee is looking for people who display good judgment, even if it is in hindsight.
Myth #5: Your Law School Application Addendum Should Reflect Your Passion and Personality
Truth: Your Law School Application Addendum is an Unemotional Explanation of Facts
Your addendum is not bonus space to continue making your case about how interesting you are and how you’d be a great fit for law school.
It is the place to provide explanations when it is necessary.
Your addendum should still sound like you, but do not include emotions or feelings. This is your chance to practice writing like an attorney.
Remember, your addendum is as much a part of your application as anything else. Explain the circumstances you’re describing in a professional manner.
Don’t use bad language, slang, or poor grammar. If you wouldn’t use that language elsewhere on your application, leave it out of the addendum.
Your law school application addendum is your opportunity to fill in any gaps in your law school application that may make the admissions committee draw improper conclusions about your morality or ability to succeed in law school.
It is not a free space to continue making your case for admission, nor is it a space for trivial explanations.
Stick to the facts, take responsibility, make your point and let the admissions committee get on with reviewing your application. They will appreciate your respect for their time.
If you’ve done your job well, your addendum will give the admissions committee the additional information it needs to admit you as a law student.