- Kaitlyn Richards
My Top Five Tips for Law School Admissions
Law school admissions is a notoriously daunting process; with application forms, personal statements, the LSAT, and each school’s respective deadlines to keep track of, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. I too went through the struggle that is law school admissions – at the end of 2020, I applied for admission to law school starting in fall 2021. I was fortunate to receive an offer of admission to the University of Victoria’s law school, where I will be starting this September. While I was lucky enough to be successful in such a competitive cycle, the process was still very stressful and confusing at times. Thus, I wanted to share my five main tips that will help you with your law school admissions journey. As each person’s experience with the law school admissions process is different, my advice might not be the best advice for you, personally, and that’s okay! Everyone has different strategies and tools that work for them and I am just sharing what has worked for me.
Tip #1: Map out the admissions deadlines way ahead of time
The first thing I did when starting to prepare for law school admissions (besides studying for the LSAT of course), was creating a spreadsheet to keep track of all the important information and materials I would need for my applications. I included the application deadline, required supporting documents and their deadline(s), average LSAT and GPA, and WHY I was interested in that program for each school I was considering applying to. I started this around 7-8 months before the application deadlines – so if you’re applying for the fall 2022 admission cycle, I would start this now, as most application deadlines fall between October and January. I referred back to this spreadsheet quite often and it saved me lots of time. I could easily check this document rather than each school’s website to find the average GPA from last year’s admission cycle for the fifth time.
Tip #2: Start thinking about reference letters ASAP
This is where Tip #1 comes in handy – if you know well ahead of time which schools (if any), require reference letters, you’ll be able to form connections with your instructors and ask with ample time to write you a letter. For example, for the fall 2021 admissions cycle, neither UBC nor UVic required reference letters if applying in the “General” category. However, other schools I was looking at did require reference letters; it’s a good idea to know ahead of time which schools require reference letters so you know how many people to ask for one from. Depending on how the school wants the reference letter submitted, whether directly to them, or uploaded by the student, you may not be able to reuse a reference letter for multiple schools. Thus, you may have to request for more than one or two people to write a reference letter for you. Of course, don’t forget that professors and course instructors are very busy people – asking early gives them lots of time to write you a thoughtful letter.
Tip #3: Create an outline for your personal statement
In my experience, 99% of law schools require a personal statement as part of your application package. My biggest tip for writing a personal statement is to outline exactly what you want to include. Often, the word or page limit for personal statements is pretty short, meaning if you don’t have an outline, it can be easy to run out of room for everything you wanted to write about, or forget to include something altogether. Something that worked well for me is to make this outline in order of most important to least important topic of discussion. This way, you can be sure that you’re touching on your strongest attributes without risking discussing weaker points at the expense of including those more memorable or admirable experiences.
Tip #4: Write one draft personal statement and then tailor it to each school you are applying to
As the law school admissions process is quite time consuming, making the process more efficient in any way possible is key. Writing one draft personal statement and then tailoring it to each school not only saves time, but it ensures you are including all the important info within the personal statement, as discussed in Tip #3. Most law schools want to hear about similar experiences and attributes anyways, so I found it fairly easy to adapt my single personal statement to each school. One section that I included in each personal statement that I completely rewrote for each school, is a couple of sentences about why I really wanted to go to that school specifically and then relating my previous experiences and interests to programs that school offered.
Tip #5: Sign up for as many mailing lists as possible
Especially with everything going virtual over the past year and a half, there are so many resources for prospective law students available online. From events to panels, there are seemingly endless amounts of information about law school available digitally provided by the law schools themselves. The best way to find all this information and make sure you’re not missing anything is to sign up for email lists. I signed up for some through LSAC, the Law School Admissions Council, which is the organization that also runs the LSAT, as well as other random mailing lists I found online. There was even one that pairs you up with a current law student via email so that you can ask them questions and gain a mentor! Not to mention that many law schools hold Q&A sessions and panels with the admissions team for incoming students on various topics such as the admissions process, writing personal statements, and getting to know the schools themselves. There are so many amazing opportunities out there, and in my experience, the best way to hear about them was to sign up for the email lists. Worst case scenario, you sign up for a mailing list that you hate and have to unsubscribe – it’s better to have tried than to have missed out on a potential learning opportunity.
After the application process is all done, the most challenging part is waiting. I waited months to receive an acceptance, which in my opinion was more stressful than completing the applications themselves. Remember that the worst thing that can happen is you reapply in the next admissions cycle – some years it’s more challenging to get an acceptance than others. My biggest piece of advice is to believe in yourself and trust your gut instinct when it comes to deciding which schools are right for you. Good luck!