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 for what law applicants should be doing, and when.
Don’t Forget: Law schools will continue taking fall applications until early next year. Try to submit your applications well before those final deadlines, however, especially if you’re applying to schools with rolling admissions.
Move fast if you want to take (or re-take) the LSAT. The registration deadline for the January LSAT dates is November 30 and the registration deadline for the February LSAT dates is December 26. To register, go to the LSAC website (www.lsac.org).
If you’re looking to apply next year, start thinking about when you want to take the LSAT. A partial list of applicable 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 happy to help you!
If your top priority is to begin law school next fall, you need to take the law school selection process seriously and be willing to potentially apply 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 are not accepted at your top-choice schools. Don’t waste your time and effort applying to more than the number to which you can submit well-prepared applications. You will always get better results applying to 5 stretch schools with applications that reflect 100 per cent of your best effort than you will by applying to 10 stretch schools with applications that each reflect 50 per cent of your best effort. Additionally, don’t apply to any school that you wouldn’t be genuinely happy to attend. You will 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 its school.
If you’re applying to law schools for next fall, begin researching your school choices now. Define your most important search criteria to narrow down your school choices.
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 this year, you should be hard at work on a personal statement that articulates you story themes and ‘wow’ factors. Good ideas and deep introspections cannot be rushed!
The 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 you best mitigate 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 applications.
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 program?
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 committees?
“Letters 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. Heike was formerly
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 each school to which you are applying. Oftentimes, you will 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. The sooner you start brainstorming for topics, the more time you will have to polish your essays and still submit an early application.
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 are trying to mitigate.
Letters of recommendation. Take a moment to double-check your recommendation strategy. Can your chosen recommenders discuss your candidacy in adequate detail? If not, will you benefit from including an additional, optional recommendation that substantiates your story themes or ‘wow’ factors, highlights your strengths, or, possibly, mitigates your weaknesses? Also, think about how you are submitting your recommendations. Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to submit recommendations directly to the schools and bypass the LSDAS. Whichever route you go, be proactive and advise your recommenders on what points they need to make to give your applications the best shot.
Our Law School Admissions Timeline page will be updated on January 2.