Law School Application Checklist: Avoid Becoming a Horror Story

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For the last several months, law school applicants have strenuously studied for the LSAT. Countless hours have gone into learning the specific tips and tricks that will guarantee them an impressive score.

Many have focused so much effort on the LSAT, that they will forget to scrutinize their law school applications for errors.

The Gradvocates Editing Team has compiled a checklist to assist you in this undertaking and to help you avoid becoming an application “horror story” that we too often read about online.

Have You Meticulously Reviewed Your Personal Statement?

According to the University of Chicago Law School, “Your personal statement is also a writing sample, so make sure that it is flawless and eloquent . . . It goes without saying that typos in personal statements are very bad.”

This is why it is crucial to proofread and edit your personal statement. We find that errors are more noticeable on paper than on the computer screen, and so we recommend printing two or three copies of your personal statement—one for yourself to read and the others for trusted family members or friends to review. Check not only for spelling and grammatical errors but also for coherency and purpose. Every word that you say should bring meaning to the reader and bring him or her one step closer to understanding the point of what you are trying to convey. Stray sentences can distract the reader and even inject doubt about your candidacy.

In addition, you should double check page limits for each law school to which you apply. Most schools require a personal statement that is no longer than two pages and some even limit your personal statement to 500 words. Some schools allow more or require less. Know the requirements for each law school and edit your personal statement accordingly. We recommend organizing this information into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to ensure compliance. Failing to follow the school’s application rules, although not always a cause for rejection, will certainly not impress the admission committee. The benefit of a few extra words is not worth the risk.

You should also be aware that your personal statement should not be a mere regurgitation of your resume. If it is, then we recommend that you dedicate the next few days to narrowing your personal statement by developing an overall theme that is demonstrated by only one or two items on your resume. Also make sure that your personal statement does not explain why your LSAT score or GPA is low—this is much more appropriate in an a separate addendum. Click here for law school addendum tips.

Finally, many students tailor personal statements to each school that they apply. This is a practice that we usually recommend; however, you should always double check that you are sending the right version to the right school. Sending a Columbia Law personal statement to Georgetown Law by accident is not a good thing. At best, such an error may be corrected with a letter to the law school explaining your mistake and asking that they accept a replacement personal statement. At worst, it could result in an automatic rejection. Double check every personal statement that you attach and avoid being put in this situation completely.

If you need inexpensive assistance with your personal statement, visit our Law School Personal Statement Editing service. In addition to correcting grammar and spelling issues, we evaluate the content of your personal statement, providing you with objective analysis on how the members of law school admission committees might react to what you have written.

You may also want to consider the following articles: How to Write a Great Personal Statement and Common Personal Statement Errors

Have You Checked to Make Sure All Requested Letters of Recommendation Have Been Received By LSDAS?

Because letters of recommendation are not a mandatory aspect of the LSDAS, their system will allow you to submit your applications without any letters of recommendation at all. This is why it is important to double check that LSAC received every letter of recommendation that you are expecting.

If all of your letters are not marked as “received” on LSDAS, you should first contact your recommender to make sure he or she has sent your letter of recommendation. If your recommender has, you should contact LSAC directly to see why they have not yet processed it. If LSAC needs you to resubmit your letter of recommendation, ask them if you can have your recommender fax it to them in order to expedite the process.

Have You Reviewed Your LSDAS Academic Summary Report for Accuracy?

Make sure that the registrar of every undergraduate institution that you attended has sent your transcript to LSDAS. Once they do so, it is important to view the digital version of your LSDAS Academic Summary Report to make sure there are no errors.

Have You Purchased LSDAS Reports for Each Law School You Will Apply To?

You must purchase an LSDAS report for each law school that you are applying to, even if your application fee was waived at that school. Your applications will not be transmitted until you do so.

Finally, Do Not Stress About Submitting Your Application in December (if you need to)

Although it is ideal for law students to apply by Thanksgiving because of the concept of “rolling admission,” many students have a misunderstanding of what exactly rolling admission means. These students think that law school admission committee members are waiting around to immediately review applications once they are submitted, giving them the thumbs up or the thumbs down much like Commodus in the movie Gladiator.

In reality, most admission committees review applications in batches as opposed to a one-to-one basis. Although applicants who applied in October or November may already know whether they have been accepted, there are still plenty of spots open that have been reserved for the December batch of applicants. Be confident in your application and do not stress about applying a little late.

Nonetheless, after receiving your LSAT score, you should plan to have all your applications submitted as soon as possible.

We wish you luck with the rest of your applications! Please let us know if we can help you in any way.

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