A complete law school applications includes the following components:
Individual law school applications
Law school applications often include two parts – completing an LSDAS common report and a secondary application sent directly to the law school. Most law school applications are available online. You can either download the application from the individual law school website or request one to be mailed to you. You can also download individual law school applications from the LSDAS directly as all registered users have free access to electronic applications from ABA-approved law schools. Using the LSDAS links will allow you to share common applicant information, a time saving step when applying to multiple law schools.
The Law School Data Assembly Service, or LSDAS, is a service administered by the LSAC. LSDAS standardizes all undergraduate grades and sends them as part of a report to the law schools you specify. Almost every ABA-approved law school utilizes the LSDAS. Your LSDAS record is good for 12 calendar months and students are encouraged to start their record directly before the application cycle.
The LSDAS report contains your LSAT scores, writing sample, your LSDAS compiled GPA, copies of all transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Your LSDAS GPA may be different than your Linfield GPA, especially if you completed coursework at other colleges or universities. The LSDAS GPA converts all grades into a standard form, removing the confusion of different grading systems used in other colleges and universities.
Go to www.lsac.org to sign up for the LSDAS.
All ABA-approved law schools require applicants ro complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This is a 3.5 hour standardized test evaluates reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and writing skills. LSAT score is an integral part of the application, often weighted as heavy (or heavier) than cumulative GPA. Information regarding the LSAT exam, its components, and scoring can be located online at: www.lsac.org
Linfield College students are recommended to take the LSAT exam in June of their third year or September of their fourth year in college. These test dates allow for the least amount of overlap with classes offered on campus and allows a retake in December, if necessary. Students are encouraged to take the LSAT once if possible. Although the ABA recommends that law schools accept the higher of all LSAT exams taken, some schools still average multiple scores and/or only accept the second LSAT score. Preparing for, and doing well on, the exam the first time is preferable.
Go to www.lsac.org to register for the LSAT exam.
Send all undergraduate college transcripts to the LSDAS. Once all transcripts are received they will be forwarded onto the schools you designate. Each transcript sent must be accompanied by a LSDAS transcript request form, which is downloadable through the LSAC. Visit the National Student Clearinghouse to order official transcripts. You can request as many copies as you would like in one session and using any major credit card.
You will need to start your LSDAS account before you receive your senior year fall grades. Once your fall grades are posted, request another transcript to be sent to the LSDAS. This way the law schools you apply to will have your most up to date academic records at the time of decision.
Letters of recommendation
Letters of recommendation are required for almost every law school application and are a very important part of your application materials. LSAT scores and GPA are weighted more heavily in the decision process, but excellent letters of recommendation could be a deciding factor in your application. Letters of recommendation affect the admission process - great letters can strengthen an application while poor letters could cause concern.
With that in mind, you want to choose your references carefully. Preferably, your letter writers know you well, have taught you in an upper division course, and are teaching faculty at Linfield. A letter could also be from someone who supervised you in a meaningful job or internship. Avoid requesting letters of reference from friends, political figures, and/or judges. Including letters like this could be a negative mark on your application.
Getting a good letter of reference is difficult. Consider the following guidelines:
Your personal statement is a critically important part of your application. It is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee something about yourself (beyond LSAT and GPA) and illustrate your ability to write clearly and intelligently. Most law individual law schools have guidelines regarding your topic and length but almost all require you to reflect upon your academic, personal, employment, and extracurricular experiences.
To get started, you want to gather information about yourself, considering your work, school, and community involvement and your unique talents and interests. How do you want to discuss challenges you have faced, and experiences and goals you have accomplished?
When writing your statement, make sure you follow the directions outlined by each school. Discuss why you want to study the law and your particular interest in each law school you apply to. You want to tailor your statement to each school but also balance this information with your experience, interests, and goals.
Excellent personal statements follow the instructions of each law school but also include a unifying principle or idea throughout. They employ perfect grammar and are written in a clear, concise fashion that avoids flowery language and description. The statement is not a list of your accomplishments but an essay that describes your experiences and illustrates your motivation for pursuing a legal career while demonstrating your positive and interesting personality. Unless otherwise indicated, a personal statement should be no more than two pages, double-spaced.
Resumes and Addendums
Do not include a resume if the law school expressly says not to. If there are no instructions regarding a resume, only include one if the resume includes information that is not addressed in your application, personal statement, or letters of reference. If you do decide to include a resume, tailor it to each individual law school, highlighting relevant work and experiences that match the characteristics of each school.
Addendums are utilized by applicants to clarify questions or weaknesses in an application. An addendum allows students to provide additional information to the admissions committee without placing it in the personal statement. Addendums could be used to describe why a cumulative GPA or LSAT score is not indicative of academic ability. If used, an addendum should be kept concise and sincere, outlining how this situation would not be replicated if admitted to law school.