As you may know, the legal field is complex but filled with opportunities. In addition to popular fields such as prosecution and defense for criminal matters and litigating civil procedures, lawyers fill important roles in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. In this way, not all lawyers go to court and not all lawyers practice law—for instance, some teach law, while others advise corporations. Career vectors are truly limitless. With that in mind, law school admissions committees attempt to reflect the diversity of the field with the diversity of its admissions offers. Not all accepted applicants will have similar background and educational experiences.
Admissions committees receive thousands of applications each year—and there are too many applications for too few available seats. Under these conditions, law schools value the LSAT score and undergraduate GPA slightly more than they do a well-written personal statement. However, many admissions committees do not set a ceiling or floor LSAT score threshold and therefore are willing to look at a file holistically.
Aside from having a good LSAT score and GPA, you must determine how you will differentiate yourself from your peers with similar scores and GPAs. Keep in mind that some of your competitors are going to read similar advice on how to differentiate themselves and try the same things, so what will truly set you apart is a sense of demonstrable passion. It’s not enough to want to go to law school; you have to prove it. You might be interested in criminal law, but have you witnessed cases being argued in court? Have you volunteered for a case you believed in? Have you championed a cause on student government? Did you learn anything along the way? These are just several of hundreds of possible questions you could ask yourself—so, if you cannot answer these questions, then pose others related to your future goals.
Where you apply is important. Consider not only the likelihood of being accepted to the schools where you apply, but also factors such as out-of-state tuition, if applicable. You may consider going to an out-of-state-school and prepare for that state’s bar exam if you intend to practice law in that state.
How you apply is equally important. You should apply early—and be prepared to do so—when more seats are available, so that already selective schools do not consider your file with increasingly stringent application standards.
The application and admissions process isn’t terribly difficult to navigate—as long as you’re prepared and do not wait until the last moment to apply. It is complex and involves multiple steps, but like organizing your coursework and life priorities, it’s really about managing logistics. If you’ve come this far in your education, you know enough about time management and goal setting to successfully complete the application requirements.