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Law school applications: five common myths

Caroline Schroeder, a Louisiana State University graduate in history and Spanish, received eight offers to study a law degree. Here, she shares her tips for a successful law school application.

    Caroline Schroeder's avatar

    Caroline Schroeder

    Law student
    May 20 2024
    Graduation, students and education goal success celebration with happy women excited victory hat throw/iStock


    If you’ve ever found yourself reading online forums for law school applicants, such as Law School Data and Reddit’s r/lawschooladmissions, I believe you should be entitled to some financial compensation for emotional damages. 

    While both resources do provide some relevant statistical data and advice from actual admissions officers, they are drowned out by the sites’ most active and vocal forum users. 

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    After months of scrolling through these unreliable sources and comparing them to advice of actual college deans and admissions counsellors, I have compiled the five most common myths about the law school application process. 

    1. Law school admissions officers read hundreds, maybe even thousands, of applications every year, so try to stand out from the crowd. 

    This isn’t like applying to university as an undergraduate, where everyone is in competition to be the most extraordinary person. 

    Law schools are looking for lawyers, not characters for a movie. A good lawyer is calm, controlled, reasonable and level-headed.  

    Would a lawyer write a character and fitness statement in the format of a legal brief? Would a lawyer make an off-colour remark in an interview? Would a lawyer get a letter of recommendation from someone they know hates them? 

    Most likely they wouldn’t. It’s best to avoid doing anything a good lawyer wouldn’t. In other words, don’t try to be edgy and just allow your achievements so far to speak for themselves.  

    2. Don’t get personal  

    People often say this as a rebuttal to that first myth. Sure, there is some truth to this. Don’t get too personal. The admissions committee probably doesn’t need to know about your love life etc. 

    However, you can still share stories of personal struggle if they are applicable. For example, one student shared a story about the trauma of growing up in foster care and their decision to be an advocate for foster children. Although this was deeply personal, it was well received because the applicant kept the message focused on their resiliency, their commitment to advocacy, and the type of law that interests them. 

    3. When choosing between two applicants with similar stats, legal work experience can be the deciding factor in one applicant’s favour. 

    If you’re still unsure whether a legal career is right for you, it might be helpful to work as a paralegal before committing to law school, but don’t do it just for an entry on your resume.  

    While legal work experience might help you personally, it is not a requirement for an admissions counsellor reading your application. Truthfully, applicants with experience in the legal sector are dime a dozen. However, some work experience, in any sector, can help you understand whether a career path is the right fit. 

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    4. The best letters of recommendation come from people high up: CEOs, college deans, and well-known public figures. 

    This is sort of true. Dean Andrew Cornblatt of Georgetown University has mentioned that letters of recommendation from a college dean are rare. When these appear in an application, it grabs the committee’s attention. 

    However, these fancy letterheads can’t do all the heavy lifting. In the rare event that an applicant secures such a recommendation, it’s unlikely to be too different from other recommendation letters. 

    If your company’s CEO doesn’t know you but you have a great relationship with your manager or direct supervisor, ask them instead. The quality of the letter and the depth of information they share is much more important than the signature. 

    5. Lie as much as possible. 

    Although no one says this outright, as far as I know, it’s worth reiterating that honesty is the single most important quality for any potential lawyer to have, and therefore the quality that you should emphasise most in your application. 

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