Law School Admissions Tips—Stand Apart From Other Candidates

Closeup of Harvard Law School building
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A survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep revealed that the quality of the law school applicant pool is increasing, making law school admissions more competitive than ever even though the number of applicants has declined. Getting into law school is not easy.

Admissions decisions are based largely on two criteria: your undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and your LSAT score. You'll have to find a way to enhance your applicant profile and set yourself apart from other candidates if your application is weak in either of these areas.

Your Personal Statement

Your personal statement or application essay is an important component of your law school admissions profile. Law schools want to see a concise, well-written statement that conveys a compelling story. Your story should demonstrate your potential to succeed in law school and set you apart from other candidates.

Extracurricular Activities

Law schools look favorably upon activities that demonstrate the qualities that are necessary to succeed as a lawyer. These include leadership abilities, motivation, self-discipline, advocacy, and writing ability. Mention your participation in student government, on the debate team, the student newspaper, and other organizations and emphasize any leadership roles you played.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation from college professors, employers, or others who can attest to your academic and personal achievements can also enhance your chances of law school admission. Recommendations should be written by individuals who have had an opportunity to carefully evaluate you over a somewhat extended period of time.

Work Experience

Law-related work experience can demonstrate your commitment to a legal career. Even if your work experience isn't law-related, you might have performed functions relevant to the legal field, or maybe you developed skills and talents that transfer well to the field of law.

Advanced Degrees

Advanced degrees or coursework that attest to your ability to succeed in a competitive post-graduate program can help predict academic success in law school.

Public Service

The value of volunteer experience for law school can't be overlooked. Law school admissions committees look for applicants with a commitment to public responsibility and community service. A history of volunteer work or community service evidences your potential to make a contribution to society and to the legal profession.

Personal Hardship

Overcoming personal hardship, such as physical, cultural, economic, mental, or linguistic obstacles, can also help indicate future success in the legal field. It can explain past academic difficulties. Explain if and how you've persevered in the face of adversity.

Significant Personal Accomplishments

Special talents and achievements help set you apart from other candidates. Professional distinctions such as awards and publications can enhance your law school admissions profile, so be sure to include them.

A Minority Background

Law school admissions committees want a talented and diverse student body, so membership in a disadvantaged racial, ethnic, or economic group is another consideration in determining if you'll be selected for admission.

All law schools actively seek students who are members of minority groups, and they strongly encourage minority applicants to apply, according to the Law School Admissions Council.

Your Skills and Ability

Admissions committees also look for evidence of the types of skills that are necessary to succeed in law school and to successfully practice as a lawyer. These include communication, logical reasoning, analytical discernment, problem-solving, and time-management skills.

Personal Qualities

Tout any personal qualities you possess that predict success in the competitive law school environment and in legal practice. Desirable personal traits include motivation, intellectual curiosity, self-discipline, and industry, as well as characteristics such as integrity, sound character, and judgment.