You’ve made it through the LSAT and now it is time to start applying for law schools! It is a very daunting task, but you can do it! The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is: DON’T WAIT. Start the process early, do not wait until the last second.
Here are some things that I wish I would have known while applying to law schools:
- It can take a few weeks for your transcripts to be uploaded. I recommend requesting them a month or more before you want to start applying. Even with a month before applications were due, I was stressing at the timeframe it would take and worried they would not be received in time to apply.
- Some schools require letters of recommendation. Some don’t. Some have a minimum amount they require, while some have a maximum amount you can send. Look into this right away when you decide what schools you want to apply to. I didn’t look and was not able to apply to some schools due to not having enough letters of recommendation.
- You are going to write several drafts of your personal statement. This is not a “write the night before it is due and get an A” type of paper. You are going to want to write several versions and have several different eyes look at it.
- You need to write a resume! Include all your schooling, awards, volunteer service, relevant work history and special interests. That’s right, you can add special interests on your resume! This is a small part for you to show a little bit of your personality. One of my special interests was “rubbing elbows with professional chefs”. It wasn’t a gimmick, I actually have met quite a few professional chefs and have the pictures to prove it. But have fun with this part!
- Each application can take a long time to fill out. Give yourself time to apply, don’t wait until the last day in case anything goes wrong in the system.
When writing my personal statement, I came up with a really good introductory paragraph to grab their attention. It was nothing to do with law school, why I want to go to law school or some imaginary story about be attending their law school. It was about a life experience that I had that I feel helped shape me into the person I am. I went along writing the rest of my personal statement. Then I read it and realized the only good thing about it was the first paragraph. The rest of the statement was absolute crap. So I let it sit for a couple of days and I thought:
What makes me special?
Re-reading my personal statement, I realized that the bones were there. It just needed a grab, a pull, to keep the admissions office interested in what I had to say. Then I realized what made me special and added that as a recurring theme in my statement. My statement focused on the time that I moved to Arizona and the time I spent living before deciding to go back to school, but based on a metaphor of one of my favorite hobbies- running. When I finished adding these touches to my personal statement, I felt like my statement was a slam dunk. It was the best thing that I have ever written so far. I think if you don’t feel that way about your personal statement, it will show. Take the time to read it, re-write it and love it before submitting it in your application. If you have an okay LSAT score, an amazing personal statement can make all the difference.
The waiting for responses was probably the most stressful part, especially if there is a school you really want to go to. Find an outlet and ways to keep busy so you are not obsessively checking your emails all day long (like me!). I applied to a binding decision and was told I would have a decision in two weeks, so as the end of the two weeks drew closer, the more times I checked my email. In the end, the dean ended up calling me to tell me of my acceptance, then said I would receive further instructions in my email. (So I back to obsessively checking my email.) What I can say is, the email will come when it comes. Don’t waste time sitting around waiting for it. Go out and enjoy yourself! You are finally through the long process of applying for law school and you deserve a break or a celebration or both!