As you prepare to attend law school, be mindful of the common applicant mistakes. The moment you decide that law school is for you is the moment you start preparing. Follow these tips as early as possible, and you’ll have a better chance of setting yourself up for success.
1. Failure to challenge yourself to excel in undergrad. Your undergraduate GPA is one of the most important factors in admission, and you must always do your best. Don’t avoid hard classes—do the work. Admissions committees look at both your results and the level of difficulty.
2. Taking the LSAT without being fully prepared. The LSAT is by far the most important factor in the law school admissions process. You will not score anywhere close to your potential without a serious commitment to studying. Be ready to do your best the first time.
3. Mistakes or typos on your application. Attention to detail and submitting perfect work-product are skills that lawyers are expected to have. Review your application multiple times. Get some help if possible, fresh eyes are always useful. Make sure to view the .pdf-version of your application before you submit it electronically.
4. Applying too late in the admissions cycle. Rolling admissions will put you at a disadvantage if you don’t submit your application before Thanksgiving.
5. Submitting a resume focused on job-hunting instead of academics. Law schools don’t care about your objective or pay rates, etc. The admissions committee is looking to see how your professional and educational experiences have equipped you with the skills that make successful law students and lawyers.
6. A letter of recommendation from someone who doesn’t know you well. Submitting a letter from a Senator doesn’t help you. The school wants to know about your intellectual prowess and work habits, not that you know important people.
7. A bland personal statement. It is difficult to write a compelling and interesting personal statement, but it is worth the effort. Admissions committees will see and reward your commitment to providing an interesting personal statement that highlights the attributes that will make you an awesome law student and lawyer.
8. Exceeding space or word limitations. Admissions committees will give you credit for being one of three types: The applicant who did not notice the directions, the applicant that figured the rules didn’t apply to them, or the applicant who thinks that they are so different that the rules shouldn’t apply to them. None of these labels reflect well on your application.
9. Unprofessional email address or phone message. Make sure that subtle clues to your character and maturity are consistent with the image you project to the law school. An unprofessional email address like [email protected]__, can torpedo your application. Clean up your phone messages and Google yourself to make sure that you are not projecting an unprofessional image on the internet. Twitter and Facebook are checked by some admissions officers.
10. Foregoing an “optional” essay. While these optional essays do take time, completing them signals to the admissions committee that you are serious about their school, and gives you additional space to sell yourself.