If you find yourself scrambling to put finishing touches on your law school applications, you’re not alone. The rolling admissions process favors applicants who submit their application early, but fall can be a busy time and many applicants use downtime during the holiday season to complete their submissions.
To relieve last-minute stress, here are some brief answers to questions that often arise as applications near completion.
1. An application asks me to list information that is already on my resume. How should I respond?
Applicants who painstakingly labor over their resume and essays may think a request to list biographical information separately can be safely ignored or treated as an optional essay prompt.
This is a risky presumption. Law school admissions officers value attention to detail, so it’s usually best to follow their instructions to the letter, even if it feels like a waste of time.
Why would admissions officers want a separate list of your jobs, volunteer activities, awards or other information that is already included in your resume? Resumes vary in detail and format. Standardized information makes comparisons between applicants fairer and easier.
So don’t worry about overlapping information. And if you had to cut any entries from your resume due to space constraints, take this opportunity to share all details requested.
2. What should I do if an application asks me to list the schools where I’ve applied?
This question may come across as intrusive, but the answer won’t affect your application. Law schools know that the average applicant applies to about six law schools. Applying to at least a dozen schools can help keep your options open.
However, a target school list may be unintentionally revealing. For example, if you are applying only to law schools in coastal cities, except for Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, will it look like you are unlikely to move to Tennessee?
Good lawyers know the difference between answering truthfully and showing all your cards. Unless an application specifically asks for every school to which you are applying, consider including only nearby or similarly ranked law schools.
3. My personal statement is too long. Can I adjust the margins, font size or spacing?
Here’s where attention to detail really counts. Law school admissions officers review thousands of personal statements each season. They will notice when applicants disregard the instructions.
Most law schools limit personal statements to two pages, although some allow three or more. Stick to one-inch margins, double spacing and standard fonts.
Many law schools accept 11-point fonts, but don’t try to condense the spacing between letters or use other gimmicks to cram in extra words.
Good legal writing is clear and succinct. If your personal statement is too long, consider cutting redundant or showy sentences. Edit out extraneous modifiers like adjectives and adverbs.
In some cases, material from your personal statement might fit better elsewhere in your application, like a diversity statement.
4. What if an application has no place to upload additional information like an addendum or diversity statement?
Law schools typically allow diversity statements and addenda to be uploaded through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service, but there are exceptions.
If you cannot find a place to attach a supplemental essay or addendum, look for a catchall section where you can share any additional information. Character and fitness questions also typically provide space to provide extra context. Alternatively, try to include the information in your personal statement, resume or other materials.
5. If I made a mistake in the application I submitted, should I contact the admissions committee?
Generally, the only reasons to contact a law school after you have applied are to provide an update about a significant change in your candidacy or to correct an egregious mistake, like failing to disclose a past disciplinary issue.
If you made a typo or other minor error, you may just have to live with it. However, if the mistake is truly embarrassing, like mixing up essays meant for different law schools, then it could be worth emailing the admissions office to own up to your error.
Of course, the best approach is to catch oversights before it is too late. Proofread all your materials carefully before submission. Consider reading essays aloud or asking a friend or relative to help proofread. Sometimes a fresh perspective can reveal sneaky typos.
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