The road to your J.D. or LL.M. can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track, here's a calendar of what law applicants should be doing, and when.
Don't Forget: Most law schools will continue taking fall
applications for just 1 or 2 more months. Schools that use rolling admissions have already been filling
class seats for the past few weeks. Competition for the remaining seats will get
harder and harder as the final deadlines approach.
If you're waitlisted, think about retaking
the LSAT in February. (Any school with an application
deadline of March 1 or later should accept the February LSAT and late registration
for this test closes on January 16.) With hard work
and good luck, you might improve your score enough to persuade the admissions
committee that you're a good fit for their J.D. program – and that you're
serious enough about a law career to make the effort to improve your score.
If you're a 2017 applicant, start thinking about when you want
to take the LSAT. A partial list of 2016 test dates is available at www.lsac.org.
Are you unsure if you need a LSAT prep course? Call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!
If your top priority is to begin law school this fall,
you should be applying to several different schools. Depending on any feedback
you might have already received on your applications, now might be a good time
to consider adding some additional safety schools to your list. You need to be realistic about admissions statistics and leave yourself with some room to maneuver if you aren't accepted at your top-choice schools. Apply only to as many schools as you can submit well-prepared applications for. You'll get better results by applying to 5 stretch schools with
applications that reflect 100 per cent of your best effort than you will by applying to 10 schools with
applications that each reflect 50 per cent of your best effort. And don't apply
to any school that you wouldn't be genuinely happy to attend. You'll be wasting
your time and money if you do. Nothing biases an
admissions committee against a candidate more than a palpable lack of
enthusiasm for their school.
If you're applying to law schools for Fall 2017 admission, begin researching
your school choices now. Define your most important search criteria to narrow down your school choices.
Consider applying under an early admission program.
Visit schools. Try to meet with admissions staff and students, and see if you can sit in on a class. Begin networking with current students, faculty, and alumni from your targeted schools.
If you're applying to law schools next year, start thinking
about how you can prepare a personal statement that articulates you story themes and 'wow' factors. Good ideas and
deep introspections cannot be rushed!
law school admissions committees will be taking a hard, critical look at
your profile. You must do the same thing first. Only by understanding your candidacy from their perspective, can
your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, frame your fit, and employ the 'wow'
factors that differentiate yourself from the
many other highly qualified applicants in your demographic.
Your weaknesses. Sometimes it is best not to bring
attention to a weakness. Other times, it must be mitigated. Weaknesses can be
mitigated in the personal statement, addendum, or letters of reference.
Your strengths. You need to become a self promoter
without coming across as arrogant. You also need to prioritize your strengths as
you will not likely be able to highlight all of them in adequate detail within
Your story themes and 'wow' factors. What are the
most important points you need to make about your background, values, beliefs,
experiences, and reasons for pursuing law school? Have you adequately
prioritized these points? If you attempt to convey too many different points,
you risk coming across as disparate and not covering any points in adequate
detail to successfully set apart your application. What makes you unique in a
way that is going to make any admissions officer just really want to recruit you
to their school?
Your fit. Why are you a match made in heaven for the
specific law school being targeted? Why will you be a better fit and contribute
more to the program and community than the other applicants? Does your
application convincingly argue that, if admitted, you will gladly attend the
If you're applying to law schools next year, you need to
take a critical inventory of your candidacy. Will you clear the academic
qualifications hurdles at the schools you are targeting? Would you benefit from
an alternative transcript? Can you find some additional extracurricular
activities that will not cast a perception of expediency to the admissions
of recommendation, in my experience, do not get enough
attention in the admissions process. While the academic record, LSAT and personal statement typically carry more weight in a competitive process, I can't emphasize enough how much difference strong letters can make."
– Senior Admissions
Consultant Heike Spahn, former Assistant Dean at University of
Chicago Law School.
Stick to your schedule of what schools you want to apply to,
when. Remember that it's generally to your advantage to apply early to law schools
that use rolling admissions policies, since the earlier
you apply the greater number of openings available.
We stress generally since it may be
advantageous to wait until later in the cycle if you
need more time to complete an alternate transcript, retake the
LSAT, firm up your story, etc.
Review your personal statement and ask yourself how well
it serves to promote your candidacy at those schools you still need to submit
your application to.
Oftentimes, you'll want to use different personal statements at different law
schools. After all, the schools are different from one another and seek different traits in their student
bodies. Tailoring your personal statement to your targeted schools is especially
important at this point in the admissions cycle because the competition for the
few remaining seats is so fierce.
Determine if you need to include an addendum to your
personal statement. What additional points, if any, do you need to make? If you
are attempting to mitigate a weakness, be sure you don't come across as
defensive or whiny. Doing so will only draw more attention to the flaw you're
trying to mitigate.
Review where you stand with your
letters of recommendation. Would you benefit from adding an additional, optional recommendation
to your file? Would an additional letter help to substantiate a story theme or 'wow' factor, highlight your strengths, or, possibly, mitigate a weakness?
Don't forget to coach your recommenders on which points they need to make in
their letters to best compliment your story. Writing up the points that you want
them to discuss is a good starting point. Help your recommenders to focus on the
points you need them to make. Remember, a 1- to 2-page, succinct recommendation is almost always better than a 3- or more page, rambling letter
Our Law School Admissions Timeline
page will be updated on March 1.
Do you have questions about any of the items you see here? Please call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and
email us if you do. Our consultants can help you with school selection, application strategies, application preparation, and all other aspects of the law school admissions process.
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