Are you ready to submit your application? You may think you've double-checked everything, but it's easy for errors to slip through. And law school application mistakes, no matter how minor, reflect poorly on you. Some may even mean the difference between acceptance and denial.
Fortunately, many of these blunders, like applying late, are easy to avoid. Once you’ve read through the school’s requirements and prerequisites and requested an application, it’s time to take the next step. Before submitting your law school forms, learn how to prevent common errors.
According to the American Bar Association's (ABA) 2019 509 disclosure reports, acceptance rates declined by 1%, from 46.1% to 45.1% for the 2019-2020 school year. Furthermore, 35 schools accepted less than 30% of applicants.
This competitive landscape rewards those who take a thorough approach. As cohesive and professional documents demonstrate your ability, readiness, and fit for an advanced program. Avoid making law school application errors by combing through this list of ordinary, yet avoidable mistakes.
School admissions officers share many stories about applicants inserting the wrong college name into their application materials. While it's easier to use the same statement for various schools, that's a bad idea. Each degree program has a clear set of guidelines. This includes the maximum word or page counts, writing prompts, and file format for submitting your law school application. For the best results:
- Take note of the wording for questions related to employment or legal violations.
- Develop custom personal statements for each school you apply for.
- Re-read the instructions several times and ask for clarification as needed.
Disclosing all information is necessary for any materials you submit. Questions about criminal history, character, and fitness may differ per college, so read the questions carefully. For instance, one law program may request legal violations during adulthood, whereas another expects you to report the speeding ticket you got at 16-years-old.
There are no reasons for failing to reveal all the required information. At this point, admissions officers don't forgive excuses. If any aspect of the question or answer is unclear, seek law school application assistance from your college, advisor, or consultant.
While an objective and list of skills help you get a job, you need an academic-focused resume for law school. Typically, it uses a reverse-chronological format with section headers that focus on:
- Educational experience: Include dates, degrees or certificates, grade point average (GPA), research projects, and thesis projects.
- Scholarships, honors, and awards: Add special scholarships, academic distinctions, or Dean's list awards.
- Employment and internship positions: Avoid technical jargon. Instead, include results-driven highlights and job duties.
- Volunteer work: Give the organization name, dates, role, and responsibilities.
Many application resume examples omit an objective statement. If you're unsure, then check with your law school advisor for the suggested resume format.
Although you aren't writing your letters of recommendation, each one is still a critical component of your application. You may be tempted to ask for a favor from an affluent family friend. But, if the letter doesn't prove a long or close relationship, then it's fruitless. You'll get better results by developing genuine relationships.
Don't discount the value of cultivating relationships and thinking about your potential letter writers years in advance. Admissions officers want to hear insights from those who interacted with you on a professional and academic level. Therefore, it's vital to include a note from professors and job-related supervisors. When requesting a letter of recommendation, remember to give the writer your:
- Transcripts and resume
- Important details related to your personal statement
- Top qualities or values that match the theme of your application materials
- A copy of your resume
- Deadline for letter submission
As a law school applicant, you're held to professional standards, not only for ethical conduct but also for character and fitness. Being careless with any part of your application is risky. It shows a lack of attention to detail or carelessness. Often applicants agonize over a personal essay only to make errors in the basic forms.
Each text box on your application should use proper punctuation and capitalization, including your name and address. Moreover, it's vital to double-check your work after saving it to a new format. Open up your PDF file to ensure each box is complete and that the formatting remained the same.
From the personal statement to a law school application addendum, each document is vital. You may feel tempted to rush through one thing or another, but it ends up reflecting poorly on you. Give yourself plenty of leeways to work on each essay or statement. And whatever you estimate for time, add on another 25% as a buffer. Each written deliverable should be upbeat, original, and genuine. For instance:
Personal statement for law school: You're not merely retelling an event or talking about why you've always wanted a law degree. Admissions officers expect an insightful essay that proves you've reflected on this moment. Take your time to brainstorm your law school personal statement before you start writing.
Addendum: Explaining why you received an academic warning or lower LSAT score is a great idea, as it adds context to transcripts. But, if you come across as blaming the problem solely on an event or another person, or don't accept full responsibility, or don't show how you grew, changed, and overcame the challenge, then you're wasting your time. Make your law school application addendum to the point and show proof that it won't happen again.
Last-minute applications reduce your chances of getting accepted and receiving financial aid. Missing deadlines or not following policies is a major red flag for admissions officers. You may feel as though you're a highly productive person that can work through anything. But does that include losing your power during an outage the week before you submit your application? Or not being able to reach your supervisor to get a letter of personal recommendation?
Things happen, and as a law student, you want to demonstrate that you can be on time and overcome any obstacles. Plus, if you're racing against the clock, you're more likely to make errors or omit important information. Submitting a last-minute request could reduce your chance of acceptance. It also may impact your financial aid.
Ensure a mistake-free law school application by taking advantage of time and resources. Of course, this means applying early. However, it also requires you to make a checklist, organize deadlines, and set reminders. Doing so helps you stay on top of the process. Avoid errors using these tips for applying to law school.
Before clicking submit on any documents, go through each completed text box and associated files. This is very important if you save a document in a different file format, such as a PDF. Make sure your data transfers correctly without missing text or incorrect formatting. Some grammar and writing aids may also check online forms, which helps catch mistakes outside of your essay or Word document.
As with all application materials, the more eyes on it, the better. After looking at the same content over and over, your eyes get fatigued. Ask a friend or family member to edit each element of your application packet.
Your application materials should create a colorful picture of who you are and why you'd make a good fit for a particular college. But, admissions officers want honest narratives. Don't embellish on any portion of your application. Your personal account, record, or job history should be the same on all materials and social media sites like LinkedIn.
If there's a disconnect in dates or details, someone will catch it. It reflects poorly on you, even if it's just an oversight. Aim for full disclosure and accuracy with each letter or number you type.
You should know how to problem solve and find readily available answers. But, if you're unsure, then make an appointment with a school counselor. An advisor can answer your law school admissions and application questions. Some schools also offer consultation programs or assistance in writing labs.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) also offers digital events and forums covering various topics of interest to new students. For peace of mind, consider investing in a consultant to perfect your personal statement or resume.
Genuine, accurate, and professional applications are the standard. Anything less, and it puts you in a bad light. After all, you can't explain away a forgotten date or omission of information at this point in the process. Or you can try, but there's no guarantee of success. Instead, deliver well-edited documents that give admissions officers a comprehensive view of who you are.
By paying attention to every detail, you'll avoid common law school application mistakes. And hopefully, your hard work will pay off with acceptance letters from your favorite schools.