Why a Big Academic Research Project Can Boost Your Law School Application

When you apply to law school, admissions officers receive transcripts from every institution of higher learning that you have attended, compiled through the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service.

They will look at the grades on these transcripts. In addition to your overall grade point average, they will note any inconsistencies or trends of improvement. This is why an addendum can help provide context for an errant bad grade or underperforming semester.

However, grades are not the only way admissions officers assess a candidate’s academic potential. Law school admissions officers also consider the classes you have taken.

One thing they may note is any honors’ thesis, final project, capstone project or other substantial academic work. In fact, some law schools specifically ask on their application if you have completed a major written work.

[Read: Learn to Read, Write Like a Law Student Before Classes Start.]

While such projects are not a prerequisite for law school, college students who plan to apply to law school are wise to pursue them even if they take more work than easier courses. Completing a major academic work has several benefits for your law school application. It will:

— Showcase your research and writing skills.

— Demonstrate project and time management skills.

— Build a close relationship with a professor.

— Give you something to talk about.

Showcase Your Research and Writing Skills

Research and writing are core legal skills, the basis for America’s common law system. Nearly every legal issue is resolved through a process of fact-finding, researching law and precedent, conducting analysis and explaining the results.

Thus, law schools want students with a proven capacity to handle these tasks. Particularly if you are a college student with little workplace experience, the best way you can show off your research and writing skills is with a substantial research project.

This project does not need to concern a legal topic. Laboratory research reports and humanities theses alike can show as much in-depth research and analysis as a paper about constitutional law or criminal justice.

Demonstrate Project and Time Management Skills

Law students must be self-motivated to succeed. Lawyers, as well, must pursue and achieve long-term goals, even under the stress of competing priorities. Imagine a litigator who has to prepare for trial while fielding calls from other clients.

[READ: How to Become a Lawyer: A Step-by-Step Guide.]

Completing a major academic project while juggling a full course load demonstrates similar skills. It takes ambition to accept such a challenge and maturity to see the work through to completion.

Build a Close Relationship With a Professor

Law school applicants should have at least one recommendation letter from a professor. However, it can be hard to get to know a professor, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you stand out in class or regularly visit a professor’s office hours, the professor might not have a whole lot to say about you.

A surefire way to secure a strong, personalized recommendation letter is to write a major work under a professor’s supervision. Not only will the professor feel invested in your work, but he or she will be able to speak knowledgeably about your character, intellect and interests.

Give You Something to Talk About

Many people remember their college thesis or final project for the rest of their lives. Long nights in the lab or at the library, multiple rounds of drafting and revising, and moments of frustration and insight can be formative intellectual experiences. Finishing a lengthy written work can feel incredible.

[READ: How to Talk About Yourself Modestly on a Law School Application.]

That passion can easily translate into a great personal statement or a topic for a law school interview. Many college students feel they lack a good story of accomplishment. Done well, a major academic project can interest admissions officers, even if your friends grow tired of hearing about it.

For all these reasons, forgoing an opportunity to complete a substantial academic work can be shortsighted, even if there are easier ways to achieve good grades. Taking on such a project can be as rewarding as it is daunting, and law schools appreciate applicants who are up for a good challenge.

More from U.S. News

How to Build Legal Research Skills Before Law School

What to Know About Law School Optional Essays

Do’s, Don’ts of Writing a Law School Application Addendum

Why a Big Academic Research Project Can Boost Your Law School Application originally appeared on usnews.com

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