Top 5 Tips for a Successful Law School Application
This time last year, I was stressing over the final details of my law school application and preparing to submit it. Since some of you may be thinking of applying to law school, I figured I would give some tips on putting together a successful application.
1. Accumulate volunteer experience and extracurriculars. Start early.
While the two biggest factors for getting into law school are your GPA and LSAT, extracurriculars can also play a significant role. If you are right on the cusp of being admitted, and you have impressive work/extracurricular experience, that might be the thing that gets you in.
My GPA and LSAT score were pretty good, but probably not spectacular enough to get me into UVic Law on their own.
Luckily, I had started accumulating volunteer experience early. I began volunteering with Student Recruitment in the first year of my undergrad, I got involved with my course union, and I had a part-time job throughout my entire degree.
2. Give yourself time to prepare for the LSAT, and find a study method that works for you
This is a rule that I didn’t follow, and I definitely should have. I didn’t start preparing for my LSAT until two weeks before the test… whoops. That meant that LSAT studying basically took over my life for those two weeks, and stress levels were high. If you start early, you will be more relaxed and probably better prepared for the exam. I’ve heard that a good time frame is two months to prepare.
For my LSAT studying, I used Powerscore’s “Logic Games Bible” and “Logical Reasoning Bible”. These books were helpful because there were lessons at the beginning of the chapter, then lots of worksheets (with answer keys) to practice the skills and principles you just learned. I didn’t take an LSAT prep course, but depending on your learning style that might be a good option.
3. Set yourself apart in your personal statement
The personal statement portion of your law school application is your time to shine. Show the admissions team what makes you special!
In the admissions process, the admissions committee reads hundreds of personal statements, and these essays probably start to seem pretty repetitive. Try to avoid writing about cliché topics, such as wanting to change the world for the better or save the environment UNLESS you can show past actions that demonstrate your passion, like volunteer or work experience. Otherwise it may seem insincere, even if your intentions are good.
For my personal statement, I used an anecdote to introduce a theme that formed the foundation of my essay. The theme of my personal statement was the concept of identity, and I introduced the topic by writing about my time visiting ancient archaeological sites in Greece last summer.
In my essay, I discussed certain elements of my identity, such as my Métis background, leadership qualities, and being a woman. Try to emphasize what makes you exceptional, and why you would be a good fit for the law school. If you have had any sort of unique experiences, such as a semester abroad or a volunteer opportunity, or there are any traits that set you apart, use those in your statement.
UVic Law has specific requirements for personal statements, which can be found on the Law Admissions webpage.
Here are some examples of personal statements.
4. Apply early.
For UVic Law, application opens September 1st. I’ve heard from past students that the earlier you apply, the easier it is to get in.
If you apply early and meet the entrance requirements, you might get accepted fairly quickly. If you apply closer to the deadline, however, there are fewer spots to give out, and you will probably be competing with more people. Also, it may take longer to hear whether you’ve been accepted. I applied at the end of November last year, and didn’t get my acceptance until February.
5. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get in on your first try.
Getting into law school can be fairly competitive, so try not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t get in the first time. I have a good friend in my class who applied to UVic 3 times before she got accepted into the program.
If you don’t get in at first, try getting some more volunteer or work experience, or take the LSAT again if you weren’t happy with your initial score. I had an entire game plan for if I didn’t get in, which included applying for internships and studying more for the LSAT. If law school is something you really want, it’s worth not giving up on!
Although I’m no expert in law school admissions, I learned a few things in my application process, both in trial by error (should have given myself more time for that LSAT studying…) and tips from current/past law students.
Hopefully some of you found this useful, and good luck if you’re applying to law school in the near future! FYI UVic Law’s deadline is January 15th.
May the odds be ever in your favour.