The law school application: one of my favorite things!
Over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of law school applications – some good and some, well, need improvement. But that’s where I come in. I help you create your best possible law school application.
In case we haven’t met yet, my name’s Hannah Hammersmith, and I’m the Chief Law School Strategist here at Law School Solutions. My mission is to help people just like you submit their best possible law school application.
It’s certainly a lengthy process to take a potential applicant and turn them into a full-fledged law school student. However, I’ve shown enough people the path to law school that I’m optimistic I can help you get there.
Here at Law School Solutions you’ll find tips and tricks to help you stand out to the admissions committee – in a good way!
Before we dive into what to do for your law school applications, I have to admit something to you. A lot of people have things backwards.
There are many misconceptions about law school applications. Some people make glaring mistakes that ultimately keep them from getting into law schools where they otherwise would have been decent candidates for admission. This is such a shame when small tweaks could have led to a better result.
You don’t want to be like those people.
You don’t want to make mistakes on your law school application.
You want to be wise and put your best foot forward.
Join me in exploring the law school application mistakes you don’t want to make. Then, we’ll determine how to apply to law school in a way that sets you up for success.
9 Law School Application Mistakes
1. Starting the law school application process too late
If you know you want to go to law school, it’s crucial to start the application process early. This includes taking the LSAT before the last possible moment.
Law school applicants who apply too late may be rejected from schools where they would have been accepted earlier in the admissions cycle. The advantage to the rolling admissions model many schools offer is that the sooner you submit your application, the better chance of admission you could have.
At the beginning of the admissions cycle, there are more spots available for incoming students. While law schools may still take applications in the spring or summer, a lot of class rosters are full or nearly full by that point.
If you’re thinking about applying to law school but you don’t think it will be possible to study for the LSAT and get your application materials ready in time, consider taking a gap year. If used appropriately, a gap year could provide you with valuable experience and an edge on your application for next year.
Don’t make the mistake of hastily throwing together your application. Start the law school application process early or wait until the next round of applications for your best chance at admission.
2. Rehashing your resume on your law school personal statement
Your law school personal statement is very different than your resume, but it provides another opportunity for the law school admissions committee to see you as a person, not just a number. A mistake I see over and over again when I work with prospective law school students is a personal statement that reads like a resume.
You’ve already shared your awards and degrees on your resume. If you use my template for a successful law school application resume, you’re headed in the right direction there. However, your personal statement cannot be merely a rehashing of your resume.
The goal of the personal statement is to show the admissions committee who you are as a person. This is your chance to share something insightful about yourself that goes beyond facts about your accomplishments.
Having trouble coming up with personal statement ideas? Well, I know for a fact there are 3 topics you definitely want to avoid.
3. Writing application materials that sound like a play for sympathy
Your life experiences are certainly relevant to your law school application, but it’s important to describe them in a way that’s mature. If you want to be taken seriously, avoid sounding like you’re trying to make a play for sympathy.
Real talk for a second: one of my biggest pet peeves is reading applications that sound like the applicant wants sympathy instead of making a case for why they should be admitted to law school. This shows bad judgment and a lack of maturity.
When writing your law school application essays, think about the perspective of the reader. If you sound even the slightest bit whiny in your essays, consider changing your strategy. You want to portray yourself as someone who is capable of handling the potential roadblocks you’ll face as a law school student.
The admissions committee wants to know that you can handle law school. Prove it to them by showing maturity through the way you write your application materials.
4. Not proofreading (and using poor grammar!)
This feels like something I shouldn’t even have to say, but it happens enough that I better cover it. Those who fail to proofread their law school applications usually fail to get into law school.
If you’re not going to put the time and care into proofreading, are you going to be a conscientious law student? If you don’t enlist the help of others to proofread, are you capable of problem solving when you need help? That’s what the law school is considering when you have glaring mistakes in your application.
Use correct grammar. Proofread your resume, essays, and other parts of the application many times over before you submit. Compared to the actual work of writing, proofreading isn’t all that cumbersome. The few extra minutes are worth it! Believe me.
Another law school application mistake you want to avoid in this same category is not changing the name of the school if you include it in your personal statement. The last thing you want is for the essay you submit to UW-Madison to say “University of Iowa.”
5. Not doing enough research on law schools before choosing where to apply
Research. Research. Research – before you apply to law school.
When it comes to deciding where to apply to law school, it’s important to evaluate a school in more ways than merely looking at the U.S. News and World Report ranking. While rankings can give you an idea of the prestige of the law school, they don’t provide a whole picture.
A common mistake law school applicants make is failing to evaluate schools on more than rankings. Be sure to consider other individual factors like fit, cost, location, etc. Think big picture when you look at these factors.
While it might seem like a great idea to go to a law school across the country that’s higher ranked than the state school an hour away, the cost might not be worth the benefit of going to a school with a slightly higher ranking. Consider more than tuition when you think about cost. Be sure to factor in scholarship potential, student loan interest, travel expenses, and more.
Do your homework to make sure the law schools you apply to truly fit your needs. It’s worth it to take some time to evaluate your choices before you spend time and money on applications.
6. Thinking more is better in a personal statement, diversity statement, or addendum
More is not better in your personal statement, diversity statement, or addendum. In fact, for some parts of the application, being as short and succinct as possible is best (addendum, anyone?). Trying to write too much leads to “flabby” writing. You don’t want that.
I encourage applicants to succinctly state their message with clear themes and examples. Exceeding space or word limits shows a lack of care.
Good writing is essential for success in law school. Show the admissions committee that you measure up by providing clear, concise writing samples.
7. Not handling optional essays appropriately
Optional essays are just that: optional. But even though they’re optional, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter whether you submit an optional essay or not.
The choice you make in submitting or not submitting an optional essay shows the law school admissions committee something about your personality.
Be careful not to submit an optional essay that doesn’t apply to you. While it may seem advantageous to give the admissions committee an abundance of information by submitting every possible essay, this strategy could backfire.
If you’re going to submit a diversity statement, for example, be sure the content in the essay explains how you bring a diverse perspective to the incoming law school class. Your diversity statement should show your unique perspective, not just a perspective you think the admissions committee wants to hear.
If there’s an “optional” essay that can be relevant to everyone, be sure to submit a response for it. Not doing so could make you appear lazy.
8. Not being true to yourself
Your law school application materials should reflect who you are as a person – not who you want to be or who you want others to think you are.
The materials should reflect you. You’re the only person who can show up to law school, so let the admissions committee know who they’ll get if they admit you.
With so much advice online about how to apply to law school, it can be easy to think you have to show them someone you’re not. Don’t do this! Be real about why you want to go to law school. Tell them about your interests in an authentic way.
Don’t formulate your essays around topics you think they want if you hate the topic you’re writing. People can see through false personas.
Don’t be the person who tries to be someone they’re not. It won’t help your case; in fact, it’ll likely hurt it.
9. Obtaining a letter of recommendation from someone who doesn’t know you well
Letters of recommendation are incredibly important pieces to the law school acceptance puzzle. They’re the place admissions committees look to see if the facts you’ve shared in your application add up.
Letters of recommendation can either validate or falsify your application materials. They’re a form of social proof.
When determining who should write your letters of recommendation, think about people who can provide strong recommendations. These individuals will need to know you well in order to provide quality law school letters of recommendation.
While it might seem beneficial to obtain a letter of recommendation from someone influential (or even famous), think twice about this. Just because a family friend is in a position of influence doesn’t mean he or she is the best person to write a letter to validate your potential as a law school student.
Think about the professors who know you well and can vouch for your academic performance. Those are the best possible references.
Law school letters of recommendation are an important part of your application. A strong letter of recommendation that explains your effectiveness as a student could be what pushes your application into the accept pile if it comes down between you and another candidate with the same GPA and LSAT score.
Check out my post, How to Get a Strong Law School Letter of Recommendation – Even if You Lost Contact, for more tips on letters of recommendation.
Considering these law school application mistakes:
Overall, many of these mistakes go back to a lack of care and concern for the serious nature of the law school application. Take it seriously, but not so seriously that your personality gets lost in the application. Be the person who plans ahead and is authentic in the law school application process.
Conclusion – You now know the law school application mistakes to avoid!
Now that you know which mistakes to avoid on your law school application, it’s time to get to work. As a law school admissions consultant, my best piece of advice is to take your application seriously. Gather necessary resources. Allocate time to work. Put your best foot forward in a clear, concise way. You’ve got this!
Want more tips for your law school application? Stay in touch! Grab one of our freebies to help you with your resume or personal statement, and I’ll also send you lots of helpful resources for your journey to law school!