Getting into law school, particularly a top law school, is no easy feat. How can you maximize your chances of success?
1. Take a rigorous courseload.
A demanding courseload shows admissions officers that you’re prepared to handle the rigors of law school. Take courses that challenge you intellectually and help you develop the abilities and skills you’ll need to perform well on the LSAT. Courses heavy in writing, reading, and philosophy can give you a solid foundation for both the LSAT and law school. Don’t just focus on the humanities and social sciences, though – admissions officers want to see you step outside of the box and broaden your intellectual horizons.
2. Be prepared to take the LSAT once.
Of course, sometimes a retake is necessary and beneficial. A retake that boosts your score by even a few points can drastically improve your odds of being accepted to the law school of your choice. That said, in an ideal world, you will be prepared to take the LSAT and get a great score the first time around. Retaking the LSAT costs both time and money, and in a time-sensitive admissions process, you want to make sure you stay ahead of the game. That means getting a great score in round one. Check out our post /”What’s a Good LSAT Score?” to get a better sense of what number you’ll need to hit.
3. Be organized.
Create a timeline so you’re aware of each deadline you need to hit for each school you’re interested in. Not only should you mark final deadlines, but you should also mark personal deadlines along the way – for example, when do you plan to ask for letters of recommendation? When do you plan to complete your resume? When do you plan on sending in transcripts?
4. Optimize your letters of recommendation.
Develop strong professional relationships with your recommenders. Of course, you shouldn’t develop relationships for the sole purpose of getting great letters of recommendation – your network can help and support you far beyond providing letters! However, don’t underestimate how much a letter that speaks to your qualities can help you in the admissions process. To make sure you have the best letters possible, give your recommenders sufficient time to write them. Don’t ask your professors or managers for letters two days before the deadline!
5. Play to your strengths.
Maybe you’ve always been known for your leadership skills or speaking skills. Or maybe you’ve always been a great writer. Make sure your application materials shine a good light on your strengths! If you want to emphasize your leadership abilities, highlight your leadership positions. If you want admissions officers to take note of your gift for writing, explain your senior thesis in detail.
6. Ensure your personal statement isn’t a rehash of your resume.
Don’t give admissions officers the same material to read twice. You have limited space to tell your story. Use that space wisely. Make sure your personal statement sheds new light on your application by offering a different angle to your work, hobbies, and experiences.
7. Find an objective reviewer to edit your application.
If you’re in college, have someone from your career services center edit your resume, and seek out the campus tutoring center to give your personal statement a second look. If you’ve already graduated, tap your network of friends and colleagues to find an editor who can catch typos and grammar issues. It’s best to find one editor who knows you well (so you can validate you’re presenting yourself truthfully and genuinely) – and one editor who doesn’t know you as well (so you can get a completely objective review).
8. Apply early.
Law schools have rolling admissions, meaning spots in a class can fill up quickly. Maximize your chances of admission by taking the LSAT early, getting your resume and personal statement in order, and hitting submit as soon as your materials are prepared. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of admission – particularly if your LSAT and GPA numbers are on a school’s border.
9. Find a school that matches your interests.
Not every school that’s highly ranked will be highly ranked in the particular line of work you’re interested in. Maybe you’re driven by environmental law or sports law or personal injury law – find the school that will best allow you to follow your path of interest.
10. Show targeted interest.
If a school is your number one school, and you’d go despite offers of admission or scholarship money from other schools, make sure that school is aware. Of course, don’t send “targeted interest” communications to ten schools vowing you’ll attend all ten if admitted. Think carefully about which school gives you the best mix of academics, cost, and career opportunities you’re looking for, and go from there.