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January 13th, 2013

Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law in Your Personal Statement

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Disclaimer: the contents of this post DO NOT constitute legal advice. If you suspect that you may have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, you should immediately seek legal advice from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

A common misconception about getting into law school is that legal experience is required. It’s not. But many applicants, laboring under this misconception, tend to exaggerate their legal experience. This is a potentially dangerous idea as it could suggest that the applicant was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

What is the Unauthorized Practice of Law?

Although you may have learned quite a bit about the law in undergraduate classes or through work experience, you are not a lawyer until you are admitted to a state’s bar. This means that you should you not provide legal advice or perform legal work for anyone other than yourself.

As noted by a Harvard handbook:

As future practicing lawyers, law students have standards of professional behavior and responsibilities expected of them. Please be advised that every state, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has statutes and rules that prohibit the “unauthorized practice of law.”

The practice of law is broadly defined and can include providing advice, in addition to direct representation. Just as one must get a license to practice medicine, one must be admitted to the bar in a particular state to be able to practice law. Law students are permitted to do legal work for clients as long as the student is working as an individual supervised by an attorney admitted to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction and that attorney takes responsibility for the legal work. Engaging in the unauthorized practice of law may result in criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

To read the American Bar Association’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law, which is adopted by many states, visit: Model Rule 5.5.

What this Means For You

So what does this mean for you and your personal statement? It simply means to be careful about what you write.

For example, it is not uncommon for someone to accompany a family member to court for moral support. Under no circumstances, however, should you write that you gave that person legal advice or appeared on their behalf.

Similarly, if you worked in any legal capacity, including as an intern, paralegal, or secretary for a law firm or state office, do not exaggerate your responsibilities. Do not make it seem as if you, without direct supervision, were representing clients or performing legal work. Do not say that you were “running” the office. You were not the lawyer.

Do not misinterpret this blog post as meaning that you cannot talk about your legal experience. If you have meaningful legal experience, then of course you should write about it. Just be mindful about what you write and how you write it.

December 29th, 2012

The Cost of Applying to Law School

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Applying to law school can be an expensive proposition. This is why it is important to make sure that your law school application and supporting documents are perfect the first time around. If you have any doubts about your personal statement, resume, or any other document, please consider using our law school application editing services so that you do not have to incur additional fees when reapplying to law school.

LSAT: $160

The Law School Admission Test is required by almost every reputable law school. The LSAT consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. These sections include two logical reasoning sections, one logic games section, one reading comprehension section, and one experimental section.

Additional LSAT fees include late registration, changing your testing center, and handscoring. Fees also vary slightly for Canadian test takers.

If you want to simulate test day during every practice LSAT test, you should consider purchasing the SimuGator LSAT Proctor DVD from our sister company.

Credential Assembly Service: $155

LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) is required or recommended by almost every law school.

This is an extremely helpful service that simplifies the application process. It allows you to submit your school transcripts and letters of recommendation directly to LSAC, which processes them into one comprehensive report that you can then submit to each law school. In other words, you submit documents to LSAC once instead of submitting them multiple times to each separate law school.

CAS has electronic versions of every law school application. It populates application fields with your name, address, and other information so you do not have to retype this redundant information. It also allows you to upload application documents for each law school, including your personal statement, resume, addenda, or any other document you need to submit.

Transcript Request: varies per institution

For each academic institution you have attended, you will need to have your transcript sent to LSAC’s CAS. This is usually a nominal fee for processing and mailing, but you should check with each University or institution for more information.

Law School Reports: $21 per school

CAS takes your transcripts, letters of recommendation, and LSAT score and generates a report that is submitted directly to each law school to which you apply. This, unfortunately, costs $21 for each law school. Therefore, if you apply to ten law schools, this will cost you $210.

Individual Law School Application Fees: $0 to $100 per school

In addition to law school reports, each law school may charge an application fee. The amount varies per school. Some applications may be free, and others might cost $70 or even $100.

Sometimes schools will contact you after receiving your LSAT score through LSAC’s Candidate Referral Service to offer you an application fee waiver. This is usually done to recruit competitive candidates. You may also receive a “hidden waiver,” which occurs when an application fee is waived, but you do not discover this until you are ready to submit your application. You can also contact each law school before you submit your application to ask whether they will grant you an application waiver based on your LSDAS GPA and LSAT score.

Getting an Offer of Admission: Priceless

There is no doubt that getting into law school is a difficult process. However, there is no greater feeling than being accepted and knowing that you are about to embark on a new and incredible journey towards the career of your dreams.

December 10th, 2012

Applying to Law School Through LSDAS: Always Read the Instructions

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As you probably know, applying to law school is a competitive numbers game: LSAT score, GPA, class size, and number of applicants to name a few. This explains why most law school applicants cast a wide net by applying to several schools.

When applying to multiple schools, it can be tempting to try to finish the application as quickly as possible. This is especially true if the applicant has other obligations, such as classes or a job.

However, speeding through an application is not advisable. In particular, you should never skip the “Instructions” section of the application because it often contains requirements that are not specified in the remainder of the application.

For example, consider Boston College Law School’s application. The prompt, the part where you upload your personal statement, states the following:

Please provide us with a personal statement that demonstrates your interest and capacity for the study of law. In crafting your essay, you may wish to consider one or more of the following topics, or you may choose a topic of your own: a.) a major life experience that has shaped your world view; b.) significant coursework undertaken in college, and/or any professional experience; c.) unique personal characteristics or traits that you will bring to the BC Law community.

If you only read the prompt, then you would assume that Boston College Law School has no length or formatting requirements for their personal statement. This assumption would be incorrect because the instructions section requires the following:

We are interested particularly in learning about your motivation and preparation for the study of law as well as any circumstances that you believe relevant to the evaluation of your credentials. Your personal statement should be no more than two or three pages, double-spaced, with your name on each page.

As you can see, if you ignored the instructions section, then you would not have been informed that your personal statement needs to be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, and have your name on each page.

We know that completing multiple law school applications can be stressful, but we encourage you to slow down and pay attention to the details of every application. Doing so could be the difference between admission, admission with a scholarship, or rejection.