…you gotta apply for law school! (In most cases: California, Virginia, Vermont & Washington sometimes excluded. Read https://priceonomics.com/how-to-be-a-lawyer-without-going-to-law-school/ to learn more). JD applications are a PROCESS. You need an LSAC account, test scores, letters of rec, essays, transcripts, and an arm to pay for it all. If you’re applying for law school, or want to learn about the process, here’s a breakdown of my experience!
STEP 1: Decide to apply
YES I’M SERIOUS – and the earlier, the better. In my case the military dictated when I could apply and attend law school (more on that here: https://rileyv.com/index.php/2019/08/03/funded-legal-education-program/) I started prepping super early, mostly because I had time and hate being stressed by my own procrastination. In November 2017, I registered and started studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) on June 11, 2018…in order to actually start school in September 2019. That’s almost two years before I’d actually attend a class!
Is it necessary to start so early? No. Personally, am I glad I did? HECK. YES. In my opinion, this timeline had three major advantages for the LSAT specifically:
- Time to study casually and really understand the test sections before buckling down.
- No “cramming.” I never had to skip fun things or spend 10 hours studying at a time.
- The option to retake the test multiple times if necessary (in September and December). That made me feel really comfortable on the first attempt, and I didn’t need more!
Plus, studying for the LSAT was kind of fun; I loved the mind games and logical reasoning, as well as challenging my brain to work in different ways. The test prep firmly cemented my decision to apply for law school.
STEP 2: Begin application prep
At the tail end of LSAT prep (May 2018) I began contacting professors and employers for letters of recommendation. This early start was a courtesy for my recommenders, because they were doing me a favor and I wanted to respect their time. Additionally, it took me a minute to track old professors down! Luckily, LORs are universally addressed to “All law schools” so unique letters are not required. And two letters per school is standard!
In June 2018 (post-LSAT and pre-applications opening) I started writing my statement of intent. Each school requires some kind of essay and it’s usually this – an explanation of who you are and why you want to go to a particular law school. I’m glad I spent time perfecting mine because it’s a critical part of the app! A statement of intent should include the following (this from Harvard admissions officers!)
- PERSONALITY. Law schools aren’t looking for law school writing – they want to get to know you. This is your chance to display who you are, so tone and word choice are important!
- LENGTH. If the length is specified, HEED IT! Two pages means two pages, max. Be succinct. Schools reportedly stop reading if you go over…
- WHY ARE YOU UNIQUE? Why are you a potential asset to the school? What do you bring to the table?
- WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE HERE? Display your drive to get through the degree – what are your goals and motivators?
- Do NOT recount your resume. The resume is separate for a reason.
Finally, in July and August 2018, I amassed transcripts, a resume, GRE scores (some schools, like Harvard, require all test scores from the last five years), and fees/waivers. These can all be prepped before a school app opens!
STEP 3: Complete the apps ASAP
By 1 September 2018, I narrowed my “must-apply” list down to six schools. From there, I completed the applications and submitted them in the order they opened. Getting these apps done ASAP ensured the following:
- I spent minimum time stressing!!! After I pushed that ‘submit’ button, it was out of my hands.
- The Admissions Team saw my application before the majority were submitted. I firmly believe I received a few offers simply because my app was read early in the cycle!
- My offers of admission came in FAST. I knew about all six schools by January 2019, which gave me tons of decision time before committing.
I’ll dive more into the LSAT, choosing schools and post-application steps in future posts. For now, I hope you got a feel for the application process as a whole – and if you want to apply for law school, START EARLY!!!