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Understanding the Stanford Law Application

A top-3 law school, a location in sunny California, and a beautiful campus in paradise – it’s no wonder why Stanford Law School (SLS) is many aspiring law students’ dream school! For the 2016 calendar year, 3,821 students applied for full-time spots at Stanford, of which 11% were admitted. Each year, Stanford welcomes 180 students to its matriculating class. Stanford boasts impressive academic credentials, with its 25th/75th percentile GPA range standing at 3.75 – 3.95  and its LSAT range standing at 168-173. What does Stanford’s application process look like, and how can you boost your chances of acceptance?

Timeline

Stanford’s application becomes available in late August and closes in early February. The January LSAT is the very last time you can take the LSAT and have that score be considered during Stanford’s review process.

An overview of Stanford’s admissions requirements

Stanford’s application includes a:

• Completed Application for Admission, submitted electronically through LSAC.
• Nonrefundable $100 application fee, paid by credit card through LSAC. This fee can be waived in cases of extreme personal hardship, given a successfully approved SLS Application Fee Waiver Form.
One-to-two page resume of your academic, extracurricular, and professional accomplishments.
Personal statement of about two pages, sharing information about yourself that is not readily apparent from the other application materials you are submitting.
• At least two recommendation letters, and no more than four. Note that Stanford highly values school-specific letters of recommendation.
• An optional diversity essay in which you can share information about how you would add to the diversity of the incoming class.
• Up to two optional short essays from a list of four topics. Each response should be between 100 and 200 words.
Checked box on the LSAC Letter of Recommendation form indicating whether or not you waive rights to access your letters of recommendation.
Valid LSAT score from an administration no later than December of the year prior to enrollment.
• Completed LSAC Credential Assembly Service Report, including copies of all transcripts sent to LSAC.

What is Stanford looking for?

As with any top law school, Stanford looks first and foremost for academic ability. You will need to prove that you are capable of handling the rigors of law school. Check out our post on law school numbers for more information about how important your LSAT and GPA are in the admissions process for all top law schools.

Stanford specifically wants to see well-rounded candidates. Strong academics alone are not sufficient. If you graduated from college with a stellar record but spent the last five years watching TV in a basement with a bag of chips, the admissions officers will wonder how you’ve been putting your talents to use. Likewise, if you had a rocky start in your college years but were able to move into a successful career as a political organizer, Stanford may be more forgiving of your earlier grades. Stanford is known for being more focused on candidates’ outside-of-the-classroom experiences than other top law schools, so make sure your personal statement reflects your qualities and background beyond your LSAT and GPA. After all, beyond basic academic ability, Stanford looks for excellence – how have you distinguished yourself from others around you? How have you maximized the opportunities given to you? How have you demonstrated your ability to inspire, innovate, and lead, in the words of Stanford Law School’s motto? Tailor your essay to Stanford to show how SLS fits into your educational and career goals.

Stanford, in closing, is attentive to assembling a diverse and well-rounded class. SLS has referred to various application components as pieces of an individual candidate’s “puzzle.” Each admitted candidate, in turn, fills a piece of that class’s overall puzzle. Identify what makes you different from the other 3,800+ applicants interested in Stanford Law and be sure your application reflects those distinctions. For more recommendations on making your law school application the best it can be, check out Law School Applications: The Basics.

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2 Responses to Understanding the Stanford Law Application

  1. scott taylor September 14, 2016 at 2:16 PM #

    Thank you. Can you provide more detail on the comment that Stanford highly values school specific letters of recommendation. For example, how much detail do they desire? Or are they simply seeking a more general comment that an applicant would do “very well at Stanford law school …” Thank you, Scott

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 16, 2016 at 2:16 PM #

      From what I’ve heard, they want to see that the letter writer has some knowledge of what makes Stanford unique, and how the applicant may be uniquely qualified for Stanford. The more specific the better, of course. But it seems likely that Stanford’s admissions reps are realists, and are aware that the writers of recommendation letters may not know all that much specific info about Stanford Law. So if the person writing one of your letters of recommendation doesn’t know much about Stanford, anything more specific than “would do very well at Stanford Law” is a plus.

      Given that more specific is better, talking to your references about what you know about Stanford and why you think you’d be a good fit there is a good move, prior to the letter actually being written.


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