Regular deadlines for law school applications are not until late winter, but applicants are encouraged to submit early because admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applying by the end of October gives applicants their best chances of admission, even if they do not plan to apply early decision.
Therefore, now is a good time for applicants to finalize their applications and ensure that everything is in order, even if they plan to retake the LSAT. Use the following checklist to make sure your application is on track with these key components:
- Electronic applications
- Recommendation letters
- Written materials
- Application addenda
Electronic applications have streamlined and centralized the law school admissions process. The Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service, or CAS, is an online hub for applicants to submit transcripts, LSAT scores and other materials.
Review online law school applications available on CAS to make sure you know what to expect. Applications vary in the degree of detail requested on qualifications and issues of character and fitness.
After signing up for CAS, ensure that you have reviewed each target school’s application. Confirm that all your recommendation letters and academic transcripts have been uploaded.
Law schools require at least two recommendation letters, at least one of which should be from a professor. Because recommendation letters are out of an applicant’s hands, they cannot be rushed. Applicants should request recommendation letters early to give writers notice of at least a few weeks, ideally a month.
In October, check in with writers of any outstanding recommendations to confirm the deadline and ask if they would like any more guidance. After recommendation letters are submitted, be sure to thank the writers.
The personal statement, resume and optional essays are places for applicants to make their best case that they will succeed in law school and beyond.
Update your resume to reflect any recent changes. Law school resumes can stretch to two pages, but write concisely to keep the spotlight on the most critical information. Tailor your bullet points to be active, specific and demonstrative of high performance.
Be sure to check the personal statement instructions for each law school because they vary slightly. For example, personal statements should always be double-spaced, but not every law school imposes a two-page limit. Some schools are more strict than others about font and margin size. Some even tailor the wording of the personal statement instructions to emphasize different angles.
Also check whether your target schools have any optional or required supplemental essays, such as a prompt about why you are applying to that school. Law schools typically accept a diversity statement, as well.
Some applicants might want to write an addendum to explain a discrepancy in their academic record, a jump of 10 or more points on the LSAT, an academic discontinuity, a disciplinary issue or other circumstance that requires clarification.
Be sure to keep the addendum brief and professional. Admissions officers have only a matter of minutes to review each application, so extra pages can divert time from the personal statement and resume you worked so hard to perfect.
Once all your application materials are complete, proofread them carefully. Law is a detail-oriented profession. Put your name and LSAC number on each written document in case they are misplaced, and convert documents to PDF – portable document format – files for readability.
Upload materials to CAS, making sure to name any school-specific versions of documents to avoid the embarrassment of sending a carefully crafted essay to the wrong school. Once your applications are ready to go, send them in promptly and give yourself a hand – applying to law school is an achievement in itself!