Updated with full disclosure for future splitters & non-trads.
4 years at another state university as a theater major, left without graduating and with a sub-2.0 GPA.
6 years of various work experience before returning to school.
Decided to start over from scratch and enrolled in a local community college for a year and a half, then transfered to the main state university. I maintained a 4.0 GPA during these 4 years.
Graduated in 2007 with the following honors and activities:
Phi Beta Kappa
Highest university honors
Special honors in my major
Dean's list in each semester
Wrote a senior thesis
Undergraduate research fellowship
Ran a foreign language club for two years
Worked at least 20 hrs./wk during school
I applied to the law schools at Texas and Virginia in the Spring of 2007. Virginia rejected me outright, and Texas kept me on the waitlist until the week before classes began.
For 07-08, I did 3 things that made a major difference in my cycle:
1. Applied much earlier, and to a much larger pool of schools. (I spent a good amount of time researching schools and was careful to only apply to those schools that I would have actually attended if admitted).
2. Re-wrote my personal statement and included a GPA addendum in each application. I had made no effort to explain the difference in my first and second college experiences when I applied in 06-07, and I know for a fact that this was a key factor in at least one schools decision. My second cycle utilized the same 2 letters of recommendation as the first.
3. I decided to re-take the LSAT on somewhat short notice when the new reporting rules were announced. I was always bothered by the fact that I had fallen just short of the 170s, and knew that I could get a few more points if I tried. Even though it was only a 3 point bump, I think that being in that particular range (99th %ile / 170s) was beneficial, especially given my LSDAS GPA.
It was nice to have a couple of early decisions so that I didn't go through the entire Spring worrying that I wasn't going to law school, but the number of holds and waitlists was certainly frustrating. I visited three schools - 2 for interviews and 1 ASW - and found that process to be one of the most beneficial when it came time to evaluate my choices. In the end, I am attending my top choice and am very happy and relieved to be done with this entire process.
Good luck to you all!