Law School - Applications

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What makes up a complete law school application?

Should I include a resume? Is it different from my career resume?

Read the application instructions carefully. Include a resume if it is requested; likewise, do not include a resume if the application expressly says not to. On the other hand, if no instructions are provided regarding resumes, consider including one if it contains relevant information about you that is not addressed elsewhere in the application.

Writing a resume for law school applications follows the same principles of writing a resume for a job. Tailor your resume for law school by highlighting relevant experiences, including jobs, internships, community service, activities, and research projects, as well as skills, such as writing, public speaking, and analytical thinking.

How do I explain weaknesses in my application? What's an addendum?

You may have a weakness on your application that needs clarification. You can use an addendum or a small portion of your personal statement to address weaknesses. By using an addendum, a brief explanation on an extra sheet of paper included in your application, you can provide some additional information and leave the focus of your personal statement on other topics.

It may be helpful to use an addendum in the following situations:

  • If you feel your grades do not reflect your true abilities
  • If you feel your LSAT score does not accurately reflect your potential for success in law school

When offering explanations for weaknesses, be brief and sincere while offering a sympathetic explanation, and assure the admissions committee that a similar weakness is unlikely to occur again.

How many schools should I apply to?

The number of law schools you apply to is up to you and ideally will be determined by selecting a range of schools that fit your personal criteria. Most Cal students apply to 8-10 law schools.

How do I get applications?

All law schools' applications are accessible online via the Law School Admission Council's CAS Electronic Application System. Once you have created an LSAC user account, you will have free access to electronic applications for all ABA-approved law schools.

CAS Electronic Applications are a time-saving way to apply to multiple law schools. The service's Common Information Form can save you time by allowing you to answer basic questions only once -- the program will place your answers in the appropriate spot in every application you select (note: each law school charges an individual fee for submitting an application). The service allows you to attach your personal statements, resumes, and other written information electronically.

What should I do if I get waitlisted?

It's not called a "wait" list for nothing - often you will just need to wait. However, if you really want to go to the school, you should respond to the waitlist letter. The aim of your response should be two-fold: to confirm your interest to attend the school and to gather information.

You can say something like, "Thank you for letting me know that I am on your waitlist. I'm excited to know that I am still under consideration at your law school and look forward to hearing more from you soon. Since I sent in my application, I have been involved in some activities/won an award/improved my GPA, etc. ...."

For your own peace of mind and to gauge where you are on the waitlist, feel free to ask the following questions (that is, only if you cannot easily find their answers on the law school's website).

  • How many people are on the waitlist?
  • Do you have more than one waitlist?
  • Is the waitlist ranked?
  • When is the waitlist cut-off date?
  • How many were called from the waitlist last year?
  • If I am eventually admitted, can I get a deferral?

For more information see Law School - Waitlist.

What are the pros and cons of applying as an Early Decision candidate?

Applying as an Early Decision candidate can give you an advantage. Law school admissions officials want to admit people they know will come to their schools--it makes their job of putting together an incoming class easier. In fact, if they know a candidate will accept their offer, sometimes they will accept candidates whose GPAs and LSAT scores may fall outside of the range they generally accept. So, if you know you would like to go to certain law school, get on the ball and apply for Early Decision.

However, there is a "catch." If you apply for an Early Decision, you are ethically obligated to apply to only one school as an Early Decision candidate. Likewise, if you are accepted at your Early Decision school, you are ethically obligated to accept the school's offer and to withdraw applications from other schools. So, only apply as an Early Decision candidate for your first choice law school.