Law School Admissions: Who is responsible for what?

    Here is the conclusion to the nine-part admissions counseling web series I recently recorded with PowerScore founder and author of the PowerScore LSAT Bible Series, Dave Killoran. You can also find it on the PowerScore YouTube channel.



    DAVE: Alright. Let's get an overview of the entire process we've just talked about and make sure we all know who's supposed to do what. Anne?

    ANNE: It's very important to understand who is responsible for what in the application process, because a lot of things that are actually essential components of your application are ot up to you at all, or are on somebody else's timeline entirely. [...]

    [For example,] Think about this: If you submit a request for a transcript to your undergraduate school today, some schools have a month-long waiting list, and if you don't take care to take care of these things immediately [...] you may be submitting your application late, or not get it considered until very late in the game because of a simple time/scheduling oversight.

    Transcripts [See video 3 of 4] are dependent upon your undergraduate or graduate organizations and schools. The letters of recommendation [See video 4 of 9] are completely on somebody else's timeline--even though you may have some control over their content, they are on somebody else's timeline entirely. Dean's Certificates (if you know what those are--some schools require them) actually need to go through the Registrar's Office, in some cases the Office of the Dean, and they get hundreds of requests for these every year and may take [up to] a month-and-a-half to even get it out the door. The LSDAS Report [See video 5 of 9] is very much up to someone else, in this case LSAC. At the very minimum, they take two weeks to process everything. That's why we recommend, if you're going to submit anything to LSDAS, that you do it four to six weeks from when you know [the documents] need to be in and, ideally, try to do it three months in advance, because then you give yourself time to fix things that might go wrong or to fix things that you might not initially see as problems but do turn [out] to be problems.

    Now, as far as the personal statement, supplemental essays, addenda, and résumé go, I can't stress enough the importance of beginning to work on these things early. You need to give yourself time. You don't want to be working on your personal statement three days before the application is due. You're not doing yourself a favor at all, you're actually doing yourself a disservice by doing this; you want to let things marinate. One of the most powerful pieces of advice I can give you is: When you're writing your personal statement, write your draft, and walk away for a week. Then come back to it. Once you've done revisions, walk away again. It's only when you separate yourself from what you're writing that you can really see the effect it has; you can see it with fresh eyes. The same thing happens with supplemental essays, addenda, and with résumés.

    Look at the line that's bolded in the middle of the screen. It says, "Your application won't be considered until it is complete." And "complete" is everything on that screen: personal statement, supplemental essays, addenda, résumé, transcripts, letters of recommendation, everything. This isn't like college [applications]. In college, sometimes an application will be considered piecemeal, as it comes in: They'll wait for your SAT scores, they'll wait for your grades, there's a mid-year school report. That's because colleges--most colleges--don't work on rolling admissions. Law schools do work on rolling admissions, which means that people that are complete first, get first dibs. People that are complete first get assigned first, get their letters first, get their notifications first. And if your application is not complete, it doesn't matter that everything but one thing is sitting [in your file]--it's going to sit there, gathering dust, until everything is in there.

    Don't leave things til the last minute, and always, always, always follow up. Don't assume that just because you've handed something off to someone, that they're going to do it. It is your responsibility to follow up on every single aspect of your application. After all, this application only affects you, not them. If they don't follow up, it doesn't really do anything to them, or for them.

    DAVE: If you think about what's happening with these applications, there's more or less a big long checklist and, as each item comes in, [LSDAS] just checks it off. But they don't send it on until every single thing is checked off and so you don't have the luxury of saying, "Oh, yeah, they're reading my essay right now." No, because maybe you send in a few things and then you decide in the middle of the process, "I don't want to go to law school, I want to go to business school instead." [Law schools] don't want to waste their time, so they don't look at you until everything is in.

    Sometimes people think, "Well, I'm just waiting for one more thing, I'm sure they're looking at it." No, they're not. They won't be looking at it until that last thing is in. That really underscores the idea that Anne was talking about: Start early. You don't want to be furiously working on your personal statement (which is going to have to have a huge impact on what law school you get into) the night before it is actually due. You need to have this come off as a very well-written, well-reasoned, well-thought-out piece of writing, and the same goes for everything else in your [application].

    One of the things that we really try to do [in this series] is give you an overview of the different elements that are actually present in your application folder. We've talked a little bit about our admissions counseling, which is something that we do year-round, but obviously [heats up] in the fall and early winter. One of the offers we make to our students is that if you do have questions about things that we've talked about or things that are troubling you, send us an email. Send an email to; you'll probably hear back from Anne or one of her assistants. And if you want to take a look at the programs that we offer, you can go to our website here: [...]

    So, as we talked about all these ideas, we talked about when you should do them, and we said, "Do them early." In the next module, we're actually going to give you a timeline that shows you when you should start working on each of these elements and hopefully, now that you know what each of these elements are, you'll feel more comfortable knowing when you should start working on each one of those. [Editor's note: Next module coming soon.]

    On Anne's behalf, I would to say thanks so much for listening. We hope that you enjoyed it, and you found it useful. Thanks so much.