Applying to Law School
The process of actually applying to law school can be intimidating. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can know you’ve done everything you need to do. This includes information about the LSAT, CAS, letters of recommendation, resumes, personal statements, and addendums. Unsure about any of the items on that list? Click on the categories below to find out more.
For more Pre-Law handouts click here
For all other questions including info about our office click here
When applying there are seven things to keep in mind:
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT): The LSAT is offered six times a year. To sign up to take this test visit www.lsac.org.
- Credential Assembly Service (CAS): You must sign up for CAS on the lsac website in order for law schools to receive your undergraduate transcripts. After registering, use an official CAS Transcript request form and contact all collegiate level schools you have attended (even if it was a 1-credit institute class) to have an official transcript sent to CAS.
- Letters of Recommendation/Evaluations: You may send as many letters or evaluations to LSAC as you like, but letters and evaluations will be sent to law schools based on each school’s requirements or preferences.
- Resume: Many schools request that you submit a resume when applying. We strongly recommend that you have the Pre-Law editor review your resume.
- Personal Statement: Many schools request that you submit a personal statement when applying. Personal statements are an opportunity to allow the admissions committee to get to know you. We strongly recommend that you have the Pre-Law editor review your personal statement.
- Individual School Applications: Each law school has a separate application form that is accessible from your LSAC account.
- Optional Addendums: Addendums should only be used when there is some type of discrepancy that will leave the admissions committee wondering if you do not explain it. Addendums are the exception, not the rule, and should be considered explanations – not excuses.
For more information regarding the application checklist click here
The LSAT and GPA are gatekeepers but it is the personal statement that gets you accepted. Law schools want to know if you are going to add something to the class, if you are going to bring a unique perspective, and if you are going to stick with it.
Don’t worry about what you think law schools will be looking for. Instead, write about you. You can focus on your background, interesting hobbies, unusual experiences – whatever brings you to life and makes you more than just a number. The key, however, is not to just write about the experiences; instead, tell (and show) why the experience makes you unique and interesting.
Expect to go through many drafts before coming to a final version – it’s all about polishing! The Pre-Professional Editor is available to read as many drafts as you can write and help every step of the way. You can set up an appointment with her either by e-mail or stopping by our office.
A couple of things to remember: don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. This is your personal statement! Also watch for grammar mistakes and typos. These will really hurt your credibility. For hints and tips, including a list of dont's and how to talk about a mission, see the links below.
To read more about personal statements click here (Personal Statements)
Getting Started on your Personal Statement
You may only be in your twenties, but you’ve lived a full and exciting life. How do you condense that into one little paper? Where do you start? We can offer a couple of suggestions.
Try sitting down and writing a timeline of your life, starting after high school. This can offer a good starting point and remind you of the things that were most meaningful to you. If you are still at the beginning of your college career, try to keep a timeline as you go along.
Next, talk to friends and family. They’ll probably enjoy a walk down memory lane anyway, but talking with them can be especially helpful because it is often difficult to pinpoint your own best qualities. To avoid cliché answers don’t specify that you are asking for law school; instead ask, “What are my best qualities?” You might be surprised at the answers you get, and the ideas they might spark.
After identifying your best qualities, brainstorm. Ask yourself how you developed these qualities, why others know you have them, and what experiences you have had that have demonstrated these qualities. Then simply free-write. Jot some ideas down on paper and see what stands out to you. Don’t be afraid to take your time. This is not two-hour project and not something you should procrastinate. Once you find some stories that seem to work well, find a theme that might be able to tie your statement into a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing work.
Finally: polish, polish, polish! The same basic rules of writing you learned in your core junior writing course apply to your personal statement. This is law school. Do your best work!
To read more about how to get started on your personal statement click here (Getting Started on your Personal Statement)
Many law schools request that you submit a resume along with your application. Your resume is a timeline showing what you have done besides attend school. For most applicants, a one-page resume is sufficient. If you have had significant work experience, consider using two pages.
Your resume should include the following information:
- Personal Information/Header: Include name, address, phone number, and e-mail.
- Education: Include each collegiate-level school attended, with majors, minors, GPA (if it’s above a 3.5), and dates of attendance.
- Work Experience: We encourage you not to provide your job description but instead communicate to the law school how you have made a difference while working in that particular position.
- Service: This is similar to the work experience section. Instead of providing a description of the service, explain how you made a difference. This section is where you would include a mission.
- Other Awards/Activities/Accomplishments/Skills: Choose a heading that encompasses all you have listed. Consider adding another section if you have spent significant time in another area (e.g. publications or the military). Make sure you explain activities that aren’t clear from the title.
Remember the importance of editing! Your resume should be free from all typos and grammatical errors. Edit it multiple times, and have others look at it too. You can also bring your resume in to the Pre-Professional Editor. Call or come by to set up an appointment. We also stress the importance of using action verbs to stress the difference you have made, rather than passive attendance at a job or volunteer organization. Use “S.M.A.R.T” verbs: Smart, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-based. The handout linked below contains a more detailed list.
To read more about resumes and helpful tips click here (Resumes)
For a Resume Checklist click here (Resume Checklist)
LSAT stands for the Law School Admission Test, an entrance exam designed to help law schools judge you. Don’t be too scared. As a lawyer, you will be judged all the time. (If this bothers you, please see “Is Law School Right for Me?”
The LSAT is comprised of four multiple choice sections: Logical Reasoning (repeated twice), Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning (“the games” section). Each of these sections is timed 35 minutes, and one of the challenges of the LSAT is the tough time limit.
The LSAT is offered four times each year: June, October, December, and February. To sign up, visit the LSAC website. Law school deadlines start February 1, so it is best to take the June, October, or December LSAT. If you wish to cancel a score, law schools generally won’t penalize you for one. However, multiple cancellations may require an explanation from the student.
There are a few different ways to study for the LSAT. Most students plan on studying for 4-6 months, 10-15 hours per week. Many take an LSAT preparation class. You can also take old LSAT tests, which can be purchased at www.lsac.org or elsewhere online. We also offer one free practice test to students in our office.
To order LSAT practice tests directly from LSAC click here (LSAT Practice Books) (Click the link at the very bottom-left corner that says "LSAT Prep")For detailed information about The LSAT click here (The LSAT)
Letters of Recommendation (LORs) and Evaluations
Admissions committees want to see that someone (besides you) thinks you are a qualified candidate for law school. What matters most about these letters is not WHO writes them, but WHAT they write. A heartfelt and sincere letter by a janitorial supervisor praising your work ethic and character is much more valuable than a form letter (one where they just put your name in the blank) by a senator.
Schools vary in how many letters they want. In order to be prepared to apply to any school, we recommend that you get three letters – usually two academic and one non-academic. Most law schools require that you use CAS for your LORs. See the handout linked below for more detailed information on this process.
You should give each letter writer two weeks to one month (at least) to draft the letter. Remember to consider this when timing – you should aim for early November as your application deadline, so try to give all the materials to your writers by October 1, at the latest.
We have a prepared letter in our office that you can give to letter writers if they are unsure what to write about. Remember to follow up with your writers, as people get busy and writing your letter might not be at the top of their priority list.
For detailed information about Letters of Recommendation click here (Letters of Recommendation)
To download a copy of the Letter to Give to the Letter Writer click here (Letter to Give to Letter Writer)
For detailed instructions on printing out a Letter of Recommendation Request Form click here (LoR Request Form Instructions)
This handout is from a Political Science Professor at BYU. (Getting of Recommendation from a Political Science Professor)
If a school allows you to submit a diversity statement, do it! Take advantage of any opportunity a law school give you to tell them more about yourself and help them like you. This statement focuses on your background and your place within your family and culture, while a personal statement focuses solely on you and who you are.
Remember diversity is not just about race. It is not even about economical circumstances like poverty. If your background differs in any way from the mainstream at the law school you are applying to, you may be able to discuss this in a diversity statement. While your life may seem boring to you, the application committee has no idea what it is like to be you. Don’t assume anything.
Play against type – most of us have been stereotyped before—computer geek, athlete, daddy’s girl. So how do you stick out? What sets you apart from a stereotype? These might be the things that surprise an admissions committee and make them consider you more seriously. Avoid generalizing your experience. Be specific about you and your circumstances.
Also, remember not to apologize. Too often applicants apologize for being white, middle-class, or male. Even worse is when applicants joke that due to affirmative action they are now a minority. This is not about being a minority. And it isn’t about what you aren’t. It’s about what you ARE. You can always find something that sets you apart from other applicants.
For detailed information about diversity statements click here (Diversity Statement)
An addendum is a brief note to the admissions committee explaining why there is some type of discrepancy in your application. The application itself does not usually have a place for an addendum. Instead, you will send it directly to each school you are applying to and it will be added to your file.
A formula to follow in writing an addendum is: Problem + why + what you learned + currently + conclusion
Many schools also ask if there has been an interruption in your schooling. Interrupting your schooling for a mission requires a simple addendum. For example, “From ____ to ____ I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in ____. Upon my return I enrolled in full-time schooling.”
For detailed information about Addendums click here (Writing an Addendum)