Like many people have probably said, applying to law school is a difficult process. Whether you’re one of those people who like to stay organized, or you’re the residual racing against the deadline type of person, the application procedures associated with getting into law school can be a daunting task for anyone in many regards. Although I can proudly say that I have made it through that stage, I still remember it like it was yesterday.
What the heck is LSAC?
If you’re like me, LSAC seemed just about as familiar as a distant relative. Short for the Law School Admissions Council, LSAC is the resource that every applicant will use to submit their application materials to the schools of their choosing. It provides a relatively easy to use platform, for which each applicant can store their LSAT test scores, statement of interest, and letters of recommendation. In addition, each participating law school hosts their online application within the LSAC platform, making it easy for applicants to submit their information and materials for review. My best piece of advice to all applicants, whether applying through an early action program or general applicant pool, is to create an LSAC account as soon as possible once you decide to apply to law school. By doing this, you can get access to the platform to check out what steps you will need to take in order to submit applications to law schools. One of the easiest, yet often disregarded, things you can do to increase your chances of getting that acceptance letter is to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. Whether it’s missing a deadline, or forgetting to submit a supplemental essay, law schools will recognize and appreciate applicants whose applications are free of any procedural flaws.
Recommendation letters- simple concept…right?
Depending on which schools you apply to, the number of recommendation letters required for a valid application will vary. One of the tools available through LSAC is the retention of recommendation letters received on an applicant’s behalf, to be used when submitting an application to a law school. What you probably don’t know about this tool is that letters may be designated as either “specific” or “general.” For example, an applicant can request a letter from her professor that addresses her qualifications for acceptance to a particular school, school B. In addition, she may also solicit that professor to write a letter that is more general in nature, and can be submitted to any school the applicant chooses to apply to. LSAC allows applicants to store an unlimited number of “specific” letters, but only allows a certain number of “general” letters to be stored in the system. Therefore, when you are thinking about asking a professor or professional source for a letter of recommendation, be sure to tell them whether you would like them to address a specific audience, or give a more general assessment of your qualifications.
In addition to the organization of your letters, applicants should make sure to understand the process for sending letters to LSAC. Particularly for recommenders who are out of state, this process can be difficult to monitor, in order to make sure that all letters are sent to LSAC on time. When I applied to schools, I sent my out of state recommenders a pre-paid addressed envelope for them to use to submit their letter of recommendation. I also included the form that was to accompany their letter. Finally, I provided them with a packet of materials for them to review in order to write the letter. For applicants, this may include writing samples, work completed under their professor/recommender’s supervision, and any other materials that will help your recommender write a glowing recommendation on your behalf. By doing these things, you will make sure that your LSAC account will not notify you of outstanding documents on the deadline for the application.
My application is submitted- what now?
My final piece of advice for anyone beginning the law school application process is to talk to former and current applicants. Everyone experiences this part of the process in a different way, but should remember that we are all part of the same group. There is no better feeling than knowing that your applications have been submitted, and it is only a matter of time before that acceptance arrives in the mail. Finishing the application is an accomplishment, and you should take time to acknowledge this point in the process. When talking to prospective law students, I always try to tell them to slow down and take advantage of the relief that comes with knowing that their applications are complete. With acceptance comes the responsibility of visiting the schools, talking about finances, and making the ultimate choice of where you will be spending the next three years of your life. Perhaps it should be called the calm before the storm, but in any regard, you have done all you can do. Now you can get back to all of the other activities that have taken the back seat to what once seemed like an impossible task. Congrats!
Kaasha Benjamin is a graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2012. While at Northwestern, she majored in Political Science, minored in the Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program, and participated in the Alice Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program. Kaasha is currently a first year law student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and hopes to practice corporate and business law as a transactional attorney.
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