October 19, 2022
If you’re planning to begin law school in August 2023, this special webinar will provide you with insight into the admission process from the people who know it best: law school deans. A panel of deans discussed what they are looking for in the incoming class, what goes into the admission process, and what you can expect over the next several months.
Collin: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the LawHub Prelaw Success live events series. My name is Collin Takita, and I’m the director of prelaw learning here at LSAC. Now, if you’ve joined us before you know what I’m about to say, but if this is your first time, I’m going to tell you exactly why you’re here.
This live event series is made specifically for you, to help you along your journey to law school and ultimately, the legal profession. It has been designed to answer critical questions for you at critical points in your journey to provide you with key insights along the way, today is absolutely no exception. Today, we are going to provide you with an inside look at law school admission, we’re going to try to answer some of your questions around expectations for the incoming class, the application process and what you can expect over the next few months. So, by the end of this session today, we hope that you’ll be able to describe at a high level the expectations of law school admission professionals. In addition, we hope that you’ll be able to recall the admission, you’ll be able to recall what the admission professionals are seeing so far from their applicants, and where students stand with respect to the process and the work, they still have to do. With all of that in mind, we hope you’ll be able to walk away with some next steps and to be able to use the tool that we’ll discuss during the live event today, which we will share with all live event attendees after the fact. To help us achieve these goals today, I’m joined by three members of the law school community. I’m very, very happy to have these three with us here today. And I’ll let them introduce themselves in just a moment. Before I hand things over to Megan, I want to remind everyone on the live event today that the Q&A function is open. So please use this area to ask questions throughout the session. We will have a formal Q&A at the end, but we’ll do our best to answer your questions throughout. So, with that I’m done talking, I’m going to hand things over to Megan to get started. So, Megan Henson, please turn on your camera and get us going today. Thank you.
Megan: Thanks so much, Collin, I am so happy to be here. A little about myself. I grew up in a small town in coal mine country on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky and was the first in my family to even think about going to law school. But I went to college at Belmont University and studied entertainment and music business because what 18-year-old doesn’t want to be a rock star, but live kind of changed. And I really became interested in legal education. Because when I was in college, we were seeing these huge changes in the entertainment industry from compact discs moving to digital media, lots of labels merging. And so law schools kept creeping up. And so I ultimately came to law school, I became a public defender instead of an entertainment attorney. But I’m really passionate about the law. And I love working with law students who have these dreams and goals to go and be changemakers. And I’m really happy to be here today. Because I think that LawHub is just a phenomenal resource coming from my small town without a lot of help. I had a lot of questions that I didn’t know who to go to for answers. And there was a lot of information that I should have asked questions about, but I didn’t know what to do. And I think that LSAC is a wonderful resource for you all. And so, thanks for joining today. And I look more I look forward to sharing more about the law school admissions process. And so, I will introduce my wonderful colleague at Florida Chris Bailey.
Chris: Thank you, Megan. So, this is Chris Bailey. I’m the Assistant Dean for admissions at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. I have been here at UF Law for almost five years. And prior to coming to UF, I worked for another law school here in Florida for about five years. So, I’m happy to be here and to and to share my almost decade of experience with all of you today. A little bit about my background. I went to law school as a nontraditional student. I graduated from the University of South Florida a long, long time ago, and worked for about a decade in finance and management. And was kind of at a point in my career where I was hitting a plateau and looking for something new. And I worked with a lot of attorneys in some of the different things that I was doing. And I really thought that law school would help take me in a different direction and give me some new skills that I could use to further my career. And so, I went into law school a lot later than a lot of the students that I work with today. it. And it took me in a different direction completely, I ended up in higher education. And I’m really happy to be able to do what I do and be able to give back some information and education to all of the next generation of students who are coming up behind me. And I love working with nontraditional students, because I think it is a unique path to law school. And I love working with traditional students as well, because I’m not that old, I still remember what it’s like to graduate and be looking for that next step in your progression. And so happy to be here today and answer all of your questions. And I will now turn it over to Mathiew, who is going to tell you a little bit about himself.
Mathiew: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be here. My name is Mathiew Le, I’m the assistant dean of admissions and financial aid here at the University of Texas School of Law. And just listening to my colleagues stories and backgrounds I had sounds like my background is a mixture of both in terms of, you know, being first generation in my family to graduate from high school, college, much less law school, and the love that all of us share in terms of helping the next generation of lawyers navigate this application process. Because I always come from the place of you know, I wish I had something like LawHub. I wish I had someone that I could go to ask questions that I think many students feel embarrassed or, you know, just don’t know even what kinds of questions to ask. I too, went to law school a little bit later, in my academic career, in part because my decision to go to law school was decided a little bit later, as an undergrad, I took some time between undergrad and law school before jumping into the law school bandwagon. And part because it was so important for me to understand what lawyers did on a day-to-day basis, which is something that I know that we’ll unpack a little bit in our conversation today, because I think that’s so critical in understanding what it is that you hope to pursue. But I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait for the conversation to be had. With that. On your screen now you can see a poll question that will help us shape today’s session, I hope you’ll take a moment to answer the question. And that will help frame the discussion that Dean Henson and Dean Bailey, and I will certainly navigate our responses. So where are you in your journey more than 24 months before 1L year, 24 months before 1L year, 18 months, 12 months, six months or less than six months? So, we will wait for your responses.
Megan: I remember myself and others. So many of us strive right for that that two years if I was planning for law school two years before how wonderful that would have been. But I have to be honest and say I was in that less than six months, figuring out that I was going to law school and taking the LSAT. So, everyone has their own individual journey. There’s there’s no right or wrong answer here. Even if we are all striving to be an early applicant.
Mathiew: Yeah, that is for sure. All right, let’s take a look at these responses here. So, it looks like the vast majority of students are at least 12 months are out. There are several of you who are eager beaver’s and are doing this a couple of years before or more. That’s fantastic. And then some of you who have made this decision, but still important that you’ve taken that first step to understand the law school admissions process. Dean Bailey, where from your experience, I know you had mentioned that you were you know, a nontraditional student, where were you at in terms of that spectrum?
Chris: I’ve probably started a little more than a year out on the planner and coming into it, I think, from the work, you know, from the working world, and looking at a potential career change. It was a pretty big decision. And so, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to do my research on the front and figure out, you know, what was going to be the backpack, whether law school was the best path. And then once I decided that it was the best path for me, then what institutions might be able to help me, you know, achieve the goals that I was looking to achieve. So, I was probably in that 12 month, maybe 18 month range.
Mathiew: When I started looking. Yeah. Well, listen, I think that’s a great way to kind of frame this conversation. What do you think?
Megan: Yeah, I think that is what most of us are encouraging people active students who do is to do their research on the schools that work for them. And I love this tool that we have kind of put together. And I’m going to share with you all here in just a moment, I talk to prospective students a lot, you know, first step is doing what Dean Bailey said, and researching some law schools to figure out what may be a good fit for you. And then creating kind of a timeline so that you can approach all of these admissions that’s being organized and not missing those deadlines. And so, I’m going to share my screen for just a moment here to show you all this wonderful tool that we have put together for you. And it’s going to kind of line up a little bit with that poll. So, we have this broken down into sections where you can list your school of interest, and then also have some key items that you should be looking at that 24 months before, 18 months before 12 months before and moving closer into those six months before law school. So, for those eager beavers that we had, this is a good time to as you all have already began looking into get involved with LSAC’s LawHub, dive into some of these amazing programs to teach you more about what to expect in law school, and how to make yourself a really strong applicant. But this is also a good time to start thinking about the LSAT. When are you going to take the LSAT? When do you have time to study and prepare? Registering for those? One thing you will want to do law school can be an expensive journey when you are filling out a lot of applications. So, make sure that you are tracking in spreadsheet form, kind of what are the application fees for each school that you’re looking at applying to? Do they offer an application fee waiver? Have you requested one of those? Is there a deadline on that fee waiver? So, this tool which we are going to be sharing with you as well, this is flexible. If you are within six months of applying to law school, it is fine, a lot of these items are not going to take long. This is just something that we put together to give you kind of an idea of how to get yourself started with this application process. But you can certainly make it your own as you work through your journey. So, Mathiew and Chris, what should be happening now with these law students as they are kind of reviewing these tools and looking at applying to law school?
Mathiew: Yeah, for sure. I’m happy to take a you know, an initial step with but I definitely want to echo and underscore what you just said, which is the importance that this is just an initial framework, right? There’s not a one size fits all, this is really from the place of empowering you as a candidate to figure out where you fit along the spectrum, because everyone is going to be different. And so definitely take this think about your own journey, kind of where your ads your circumstances, and then tailor it for your needs. But to answer your question of what should be happening now, you know, again, it kind of depends on where you’re at. Right? So if you’re 24 months out, or even a year out, I think at this point, information gathering is critical, you know, and figuring out what kinds of information that are going to be helpful to you, whether that’s from the perspective of what schools aren’t going to be best suited for my legal education, or what jurisdiction you know, all of those things are part of that conversation. And so that will certainly dictate, you know, what are some of those next steps. But in addition to the LSAT preparation, kind of thinking about that, and where you are in that position, that’s something to also consider as well. So those are the things that I would say that you need to be doing now is sort of information gathering at this stage.
Chris: I would definitely echo that. I always advise students to research, research, research. And on top of that, I also think it’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements to apply to law school, most law schools are going to require the same pieces, some schools will have some additional things that they want to see. But for the most part, you’re going to have to have letters of recommendations and resumes and things like that. And so, I think early on in the process, it’s important to think about, for example, who’s going to write your letter of recommendation. And do you want to reach out to them early in the process and start to build that relationship with them. So that when you do call when you do go to ask them for that that letter later on down the line If you have a strong relationship with them, they know you very well. They know about your motivation and your passion for wanting to go to law school. And they can write a really strong letter of recommendation for you, rather than waiting until kind of the last minute and not having time to build that relationship. Same thing with your resume, understand you’re going to have to submit a resume. So, are there organizations that you can get involved with? Are there leadership positions that you can go out for to put onto your resume? Are there internships or job shadow opportunities that you can take apart in that you can add to your resume before it comes time to apply? So just understanding what application materials are going to be required. And thinking about? Okay, what can I do now to start strengthening those so that when it comes time to submit them? They’re the best representation of who I am?
Mathiew: Absolutely. And also, you know, students should be considering, you know, whether they are looking to apply to early decision programs versus rolling decision, admissions processes. Dean Henson, do you want to sort of define those for the students?
Megan: Yeah, so I think it’s important as you’re researching your law schools to become familiar with these various deadlines, and some schools will have early decision programs that you may have an earlier deadline and an earlier decision dates, there may be some requirements with these early decision programs where you are committing to say, you know, if I get admitted to your school in early decision, I’m going to withdraw my other applications, and I’m going to attend your program. And because of that, these often will have much earlier deadlines, and those of us that only have traditional rolling admissions programs. So here, it’s also we do not have an early decision program, we are on the traditional rolling admissions. And what that means is, we’re reviewing applications kind of as they come in throughout the cycle. We’re also one of the schools that have three start options. So, we are reviewing from August 1 to July 31. Throughout the cycle, as those applications come in, we don’t have much of a break here. But it’s important that you know, kind of what term are you applying for? And what are those deadlines? If this is a top law school choice for you, and they have an early decision program? Do you qualify for that based on your metrics by means of LSAT and GPA? And what is the process for applying to that program as well? So again, I think just making sure that you are a well informed applicant is really going to help you as you go through this process.
Mathiew: Dean Bailey, do you have early decision program, early binding?
Chris: We have a binding decision program, we kind of scrapped the early part, we found that during the pandemic, a lot of students were having trouble getting transcripts and getting application materials in on the timeframe that we had for early decision. And so, we kind of backed up our deadlines for that. And so, it’s rolling decisions. If students apply by February 15, they can apply through the binding decision program. But it’s not. It’s not an early decision program, because we just wanted to make sure students had enough time to get their materials. And we do have that available.
Mathiew: Got it. Got it. Yeah, and we have an early decision binding program here at Texas law. And as Dean Henson mentioned, you know, it’s for those students who have demonstrated that the law school is their top choice. And so, if a student is admitted under that program, they are making a commitment to join the law school in that fall. And so, they would have to withdraw from other considerations. And so, I would only encourage a student if they know in their heart of hearts that this is where they’re wanting to go, and are willing to forego other options and sort of other considerations in the admissions process, including, you know, scholarship considerations, that has to be part of the conversation.
Megan: I think those early decision programs and even looking at recommended early application deadlines, it’s a reminder of how important it is to go through the application process as early as you can, because some of these aspects are going to take time, right writing the personal statement, it can take a little while because you have to reflect on yourself. You have to look at the various law schools you’re applying. Do they have a specific prompt? Is it more of an open-ended question? And I know Dean Bailey mentioned those letters of recommendation. And when you’re seeking these recommendation letters, you don’t have control as to when they submit those right it may take a couple of weeks for professors or your employers to draft these letters and send them off, it may take LSAC, a couple of weeks to process those. And so that’s why it’s really important to start looking at these different checklist items on the application as early as you can.
Mathiew: No, I think that’s great. Maybe another thing that I think students might want to consider at this stage, of course, is, you know, application fee waivers, both from the institution and from LSAC. Now, I think the easier part might be getting an application fee waiver from the school itself. But LSAC does offer fee waivers for the CAS report, and LSAC. Dean Bailey do you want to kind of take a stab? And it can expand upon that?
Chris: Yeah, so I think students always want to know, what are your insider tips, and mine is always like save money, because it’s expensive to apply to law school, or it can be right, there are fee waivers for the individual schools, and some of the LSAC fees and just taking the LSAT has fees and things like that. And so, it’s important to start applying for those early on in the process. Some schools are very generous with them. And some schools may have some restrictions or requirements that you need to meet. So, you do need to do your research, again, on the institutions that you’re going to apply to. It’s good to come up with a table and have the schools that you’re thinking about applying to what are the fees that are going to be associated with applying to those fees? What are the requirements to apply for a fee waiver and start that process early. And some schools will offer a fee waiver for the entire cycle. And some will just offer it for a limited amount of time. So, you need to be aware of those things as well. If you’re in that, you know, 12 months to 18 month range or or longer if you’re applying for next cycle or beyond, it’s probably premature to start reaching out and asking for fee waivers. But certainly, when the application opens for the cycle that you’re applying for that is when you want to start reaching out and asking for those for those fee waivers. And normally, if there if there is a request form some schools user request form on their website. Obviously, that is the manner in which you want to ask for that. Outside of that, usually an email to their general admissions office with just a little bit about yourself and why you’re interested in applying and applied ask for a fee waiver. A lot of times will get you a fee waiver.
Mathiew: Yeah. That was exceptionally thorough, Dean Henson, was there anything to add?
Megan: No, I think I think that was a very great discussion on that. You know, the one thing I would note, I don’t know if Florida or Texas have the multiple start options. But when you are looking at one of the schools that have a spring and a summer starts, those deadlines are going to be a little more condensed. So, for instance, our applications for spring are open August 1 and December 1. So, it’s a much shorter timeframe. And that’s just more reason to make sure that when those applications open, you’re reaching out about those fee waivers and those letters of recommendation and moving through that timeline. Just a little more quick.
Mathiew: Yeah, we don’t have a multiple start option. I don’t envy you Dean Hanson. Yeah,
Megan: Yeah. So great for you know, when we have those December graduates, or we have the students that want to take a semester off to study for the LSAT, and they don’t want to wait that full year. So, you know, it serves its place for a certain sub sect of our our candidates.
Mathiew: Absolutely. And I think I think the takeaway there is for the students is there is a law school, that is going to be a good fit for you, whatever that means, right. And so, it goes back to what we were saying earlier, which is this is not a one size fits all process, right from applicant standpoint, as well as from the law school standpoint. And I think this is where even the tool will become quite beneficial for the student to kind of keep, you know, a framework in place for those schools that do have multiple starts. Right. So that’s a great way to sort of utilize the tool.
Megan: Absolutely. Then we have the one aspect of the application that I think prospective students get most excited about, which is the LSAT. What’s that?
Chris: So, I do think that it is the part of the LSAT that are a part of the application process. As that probably creates anxiety a little bit, and students’ kind of we get a lot of questions about hacking and probably the most questions about for a little context for the students who may not know, it wasn’t. But up to a couple of years ago, the the LSAT was only offered four times a year. And so, you really had to kind of plan ahead on when you were going to take it and the traditional route was to take it in the summer, before the before the year you were applying. And that way, you had a score on file that you could use to apply when applications opened in September. Now the LSAT has offered I think this cycle nine or 10 times. And so, it offers a lot more flexibility. But with that, I think it also allows students to kind of delay when they might take the test. They think if I’m not prepared, I’ll just I’ll wait, you know, for the next administration, it’s only a month away. So, when should students be taking the LSAT? You know, in in preparation to apply?
Mathiew: Oh, gosh, that’s such a great question. And I think part of it is what we’ve shared with the students so far, which is preparation, right? The LSAT is something that you should not take lightly. You know, we hear so many students that say, oh, you know, I’m just going to wing it, you know, I’m just going to take the exam just to take it. And that is one of the oh, gosh, I don’t even know how to how to describe it. But that’s a no, no, right? We definitely do not encourage students to just go in, take the LSAT with very little preparation. It’s something that I think all students know, is an important part of the admissions analysis to help us assess whether or not you as a candidate is prepared for the rigors of law school. So, it isn’t something that you should just walk in and take just for the sake of taking it just to see where you’re scoring, take it quite seriously do the preparation. And this is where law hub would definitely come into play. Because there are so many resources available to students who are taking the LSAT now compared to when we took the LSAT decades ago, right. As the Bailey mentioned, it was only offered four times a year. And the way that students prepare were sort of formulaic, either you, you know, did your own self-study, or you took a prep class. Now, there are many other kinds of resources that are available to students that in some ways I wish I was applying now. Right, just to have access to this. But yeah, so I would say definitely take it serious, definitely take it, you know, maybe one to two times, you know, no more than maybe three at most, I don’t know what your thoughts are on with that. And I say that from the perspective of it’s quite expensive, right? To sit for the LSAT, and all of the other fees that come along with applying to law school. And so, unless you’re well resourced, and that is not an issue for you. We definitely urge students to, you know, take no more than two to three times. Would you agree, Dean Henson?
Megan: I do agree. I think that’s excellent advice. And I was thinking back to when I took the LSAT, and I remember asking for an LSAT prep course as a gift for my birthday. And what an awful birthday present. I mean, but we did not have all the options that are out there today. So yes, it is a much better time to be studying and preparing for the LSAT and I second year advice on really planning for when you’re going to take the LSAT, I think now that we are seeing the LSAT offered much more frequently. I am seeing students register for multiple LSAT, it’s back-to-back. And I really want to encourage students to think about when will they have time to prepare? So, if you take the LSAT and maybe you don’t get the score that you were expecting to get from your practice test, and you need to make adjustments, are you able to do that in four weeks? Or do you need a good two to three months to change your strategy to approach a certain section in a different way so that you can make some gains on that LSAT score. So, I think you really need to think about when you can commit the time to studying and preparing for the LSAT. Like my colleague said you do not want to take the LSAT cold. This is going to show the admissions team and faculty or whoever is going to be reviewing your applications. Your readiness for law school in essence because there is correlation with performance in law school this test is going to carry weight with the admissions decision. And so, saying that you need to know your schedule. When can you study for the LSAT? I’ve been doing this about 12 years now. And when I started, I would always give a timeframe love, you should take the LSAT before November of your senior year. But then I realized that prospective students will hold me to that. And they will take it before November of their senior year, whether or not they have time to study and prepare, they may have the busiest summer and the busiest fall semester. And that December or January LSAT would have been the absolute best option for them to designate time to study. And so, I’ve learned now to simply say, the best time to take the LSAT is when you have time to study and prepare, you’re going to know your schedule, evaluate when you have a good at least 8 to 12 weeks, and then people are designating more time than that, to set aside and make this preparation and priority.
Mathiew: Definitely. Well, Dean Bailey, you had mentioned that you are nontraditional students. So, can you reflect back on your preparation for the LSAT? And what advice do you give to students from the prospective jurors, so
Chris: I made sure I set aside a pretty big chunk of time, I was working full time. While studying for the LSAT, like a lot of students who may be full time students, I had to find time and make time really not find time but make time to study for the LSAT, whether that was in the weekends, or he was setting aside chunks of time, on the weekends or in the evenings, I got a ton of practice tests, which you can find online. LSAC, I think offers them and you can find them on various websites, you can buy old exams. And I did a ton of practice test under time conditions. Because I think one of the things that students struggle with, aside from just learning the substance of what they’re going to be tested on for the LSAT is getting the timing down. And so, I I talk with students all the time, who, you know, mentioned that they didn’t get through a section all the way or they struggled with a section because they just couldn’t get the timing down. And so, I think doing lots of practice tests under timed conditions is crucial because it will help set you up for that day of exam experience, and will help to ease some of that anxiety that you will feel when you’re taking the exam under the clock. Um, so that’s definitely my recommendation.
Mathiew: Yeah, definitely. And again, going back to what we said earlier, which is it’s not a one size fits all right, you got to think about your circumstances, your time commitments, how much you’re able to dedicate to the preparation of the LSAT, knowing full well that it’s such an important piece in the admissions process. I’d like to kind of pivot now a little bit and maybe talk about sort of how long it takes LSAC to process transcripts and sort of letters of recommendations. You know, Dean Bailey, you set the stage already in terms of the letters recommendations and having those conversations with either professors or employers or whomever you think is best suited to offer those letters of recommendations. But in terms of timing, how many times have you and I and Dean Henson have heard you know, I’m my application is ready, but I’m still waiting for my recommender to submit their recommendation. So, what advice can you give to a student who is you know, on pins and needles waiting for that recommendation to come in before their file is complete?
Chris: I think you’re one of the themes that I’ve been hearing today so far is organization. And so, you know, using the tool that was presented earlier to kind of plan ahead on when you’re going to ask somebody to write a letter of recommendation. I’m a big believer in gentle deadlines. And so, you know, when you ask somebody to write a letter of recommendation, letting them know, this is the date that I’m going to be submitting my application. This is the date that the school has recommended. I have a complete file on complete application on file by and so you know, having my letter submitted by them would be a big help and letting you know just being upfront with the person that you’re asking to write a letter of recommendation. Being upfront with them about some of those deadlines, I think is going to be important. I think it’s okay. If you’ve asked and it’s been a while to do a follow up with that person, and just you know, as a friendly reminder, you know, I’ve said I have submitted my application. And it looks to be almost complete, just waiting on your letter of recommendation and would really appreciate if you could get that in. But I think being very upfront on the front end, and letting them know, this is when I’m submitting. And this is when I’d like to have it complete by. And so, if you could get that letter in, by then, and keeping in mind that the person you’re writing the person who’s writing your letter, it’s probably a lower priority for them in terms of the things that they have to accomplish. And so, giving them plenty of lead time is also going to be crucial. You never want to walk into especially a faculty member and just say, you know, I’d like you to write this letter. Oh, and by the way, the deadline is next week, so can you get it done, giving them plenty of lead time and some deadlines, I think will will help you get them in on time.
Mathiew: That’s great. Dean Henson.
Megan: I agree. That is great advice. And I, I also will tell people, it’s important to know your recommender’s comfort with technology, because the process can be setting up an account with LSAC. And uploading their recommendation letter, if you have a professor who you have never seen on a computer, and they are carrying around their legal notepads and their case books, they may need to Mel a letter to be another process. And so, make sure that you’re not asking someone to do something that they’re not comfortable with. And if that means you need to take actions for advising them how to mail a letter and the steps that they need to take, make that as easy as possible, have an envelope, have an address, have it stamped. And if you are going to follow up with these do a very professional follow up and give them time, I would not follow up in 48 hours. But if it’s been a couple of weeks, I think it is appropriate to reach out professionally and thank them again for their willingness to provide you a recommendation letter. And again, give them kind of that soft deadline, which I think is a phenomenal idea. And I think what’s really important also with those letters, as you’re thinking about who should write them, my best piece of advice is also ask them if they’re comfortable writing you a positive letter of recommendation, right? Because those who are enthusiastic about recommending you to law school are going to make that more of a priority. If this is a professor that you’ve only had one class with, or an attorney that you know through somebody else, but they don’t, they’re not invested in you and your law school journey. It may not happen as quickly as reaching out to someone who’s really invested in you and your success in getting into law school. So, think about who would be the best person to write those letters, and approach them in the most professional way.
Mathiew: Yeah. And what you’re really talking about is strategy. Right? The entire application process is a strategy in terms of, you know, what is the narrative that you’re trying to convey to the admissions committee. So, if you’re coming to the table and telling us that you have a deep commitment to public interest, this is an opportunity perhaps, to have those conversations with the recommenders to underscore your commitment to public interest, because, you know, we’re looking at the entire application from the lens of how all of the pieces kind of fit together, right. And so, while each component is sort of up, loaded separately, we’re really reviewing them holistically and all the application parts as one unit in some ways. And so, what you just shared there, in terms of the advice is such an important piece. So that’s very, thank you for that. What about transcripts? You know, any thoughts on transcripts and and submitting them to LSAC for processing in terms of that timeline? Dean Bailey?
Chris: Yeah, so I think it relates to both transcripts and letters of rec, recognizing that there is a processing component that has to happen in in in the age of instantaneous communication. application processing does not happen instantaneously. And so whether it’s sending in a letter of recommendation, or a transcript, or any other required piece of your application, there is going to be a processing time that has to happen on LSAC side, and then a time for them to transmit that to the law schools that you’ve applied to and so, again, being organized, understanding when deadlines are coming up You don’t want to send transcripts in the day before a deadline, thinking that they’re going to just be processed and sent over and 24 hours, recognize that it can take up to two weeks, in some cases to to process those things. And also, your these timelines tend to happen in waves. As you can imagine, whenever there’s a new LSAT score that comes out, everybody that took that administration of the LSAT is probably submitting all of their materials at the same time. And so, you get a big a bunch of application materials that come to LSAC, and then get sent out and filtered through all the schools all at one time. And then it slows down a little until the next LSAT administration that score comes out. And then you get a bunch of more. And so, recognize that when you’re submitting your materials can also impact you know, the processing time, and if you are waiting to the last minute, you know, there’s always a big group of students who might procrastinate, procrastinate a little, that can also delay when you when you submit your materials, and there’s large bunches of other students submitting them at the same time. So, plan ahead, I think is is the point and make sure that you’re getting your materials in. And also, last thing on that, I’m going back to just kind of on the priority list. When you go to your school, your home institution for undergrad and you ask them to send out a transcript to LSAC, they also have a processing time, right. It’s not just LSAC’s processing time, but your undergrad is also processing transcripts, especially if it’s around graduation, for a bunch of students who are applying to graduate degree programs and professional degree programs. And so, there’s a processing time there a processing time with the LSAC, and then a transmittal time to get it to the school. So, plan far enough in advance when you start to request those things to make sure that they get in on time.
Mathiew: That sounds like experience from a large public institution like Florida, right. And UT, you know, students just assume that they’ll submit the request, and all of a sudden UT is going to send the transcript to in 10 minutes. That’s not going to happen.
Megan: No, and I think, you know, we really experienced a lot with the transcripts during the pandemic. And I know a lot of institutions, they only had said days they were coming in, we’re still experiencing that with international transcripts. To some extent, I think it’s certainly gotten better. But there has been a little bit more of a delay with with getting those sent as well. So, again, just if if we have not made this point today, clear enough, plan and prepare and make sure that you have a timeframe for as you’re working through all of these requirements. For sure. Yeah. Well, I think we have covered a lot of great information. I know, I have seen a lot of kind of questions popping up. How are you? Welcome back? Good. Thank you.
Collin: Right, I appreciate all of the work that you three did covering all of that ground made my life a whole lot easier. So, I think because you answered a lot of the questions that came up in the Q&A, so I’m here just to pass them along to you. I’m gonna pretend to be that student in the audience with the microphone. So, I’m going to go through these questions rapid fire, because I think that’s the best way for us to cover all the ground here that we need to cover. So, the first question, actually, I see that Dean Bailey, you’re actually answering that one specifically for you. So, I’m gonna let you finish typing that. So I’ll pass questions to Dean Henson. And we first. So, the first question is, I’ll read it, as it stated, and I think a lot some interpretation is the ratio between LSAT score and GPA equivalent while being judged by law school. So, I think the question is, are they each given equal weight?
Megan: Yeah. And I would say generally, yes, I think that’s an that’s an important question to call and talk to admissions counselors at the various law schools that you are applying. And, you know, I think that we get a lot of really strong GPAs applying to law school. And so in certain application cycles, the LSAT will be that differentiating factor between candidates when we have a lot with strong GPAs, they each application cycle is going to be different some cycles, we have stronger GPAs than others, when the LSAT may carry a little bit more weight others, it made me the GPA depending on the time of the cycle, but I think in general, when we are reviewing these applications, both the LSAT and the GPA are going to be predictors of academic success and be weighed pretty closely.
Collin: Right. I think that covers it pretty well. I’ll jump on to the next question. I’ll start with you. Maybe Mathiew on this next one. This student is taking the LSAT in January. When can I apply I have for Fall 2023 or Fall 2024. Is January too late to apply?
Mathiew: So, I guess it depends, right? It’s gonna depend on the school in their application volume. And so I would encourage that candidate to ask the question to each school that they’re interested in, I would say if they’re applying to Texas law, even though our application deadline is not until March 1, if they’re taking it in January, they should still be timely, right? So, by the time that they get their score, it will be early February, and that should give them plenty of time to sort of submit their application. That being said, there’s, I would say, a pragmatic point, which is, while the fall most of us are out recruiting and talking with students and trying to build our application pool, we’ve already started to make admissions decisions. And so, all of us have a finite number that we’re really trying to admit for that current year. Right. And so, on average, we’ll admit, you know, 900, or 1000 students, even though March 1 is not our not is, March 1 is our deadline, we may have made the number of admissions decisions that has sort of what we’re aiming for closer to the beginning of March. That being said, if you’re a strong candidate, you’re going to be a strong candidate, regardless, right? So, it just kind of depends on how you believe you will fare for that particular school. Does that make sense? Okay. But I would say, you know, early is always better. So if you feel like, you know, applying in Fall 2024, will position you well, both from the admission standpoint, but also something that we haven’t said so far, which is the scholarship standpoint as well, financial aid, that’s where it’s imperative for the student to submit an application as early as possible, because as much as we’d like to have unlimited amount of scholarship dollars to give, the reality is that we have a limited pool, and once it runs out, it runs out, right. So, unless someone withdraws or additional money is infused, you know, we just don’t have additional funding to offer students. So, this is where applying earlier will be better. So, depending on your situation. That’s that’s what I would say.
Collin: That makes sense to me. And I think if it makes sense to me, it should make sense everyone else because I don’t know anything about this. I’m kidding. Anyway. So next question here, And that is does applying early decision make you more favorable as an applicant?
Chris: I’ll jump in there. Generally, yes. You’re communicating through an early decision application that the institution you’re applying to is your number one choice. Schools like to enroll students who are like to admit students who want to be at their institution, you’re also committing to that institution, because it’s generally a binding offer, or a binding process that you’re committing to that institution if you’re admitted, and schools also like stability in their class. And so all other things being equal, you do get a boost in the review process when you apply to an early binding decision versus regular decision.
Collin: So, this next question is can you please specify the admission process for international students?
Megan: That’s a great question. There will sometimes be additional requirements for international students that will vary based on the law school you are applying. Some may require an English proficiency test score, IELTS or the TOEFL. And then for those candidates that are admitted, there are often steps for showing that there are financial resources to cover the costs for that. Each law school will have those requirements usually posted on their website for the specifics for international students.
Collin: Excellent. This next question is asked quite a few times throughout. So hopefully this covers a number of questions that have come through. And that is letters of recommendation for nontraditional students, specifically students who come 10-20 years after graduating undergrad, any recommendations for those students looking for letters of recommendation or even just entering that process as a whole?
Megan: Yeah, I had responded to one but I saw this has been a very popular question. We know that there are going to be nontraditional students who are not coming straight from an academic program and so getting an academic Letter reference is going to be difficult. And even if you could get one, the quality of that letter may not be as strong because this professors taught a lot of students and then probably looking to say, oh, it looks like they had an A or B in my class, but they can’t give us specifics. When you are thinking about who should write that letter of recommendation, think about who can give us the most detail about you as a candidate. And when you’re a nontraditional student, and even traditional students coming straight through, really think about who can tell us about your communication ability, your research and writing your character, your professionalism, your time management and organizational skills? How do you approach handling a lot of tasks. So, these are all traits that are going to shed light on how successful you could be in legal education, but also in the legal field as an attorney. So, I think what’s most important is to think about who could give us that information. Sometimes it’s colleagues, sometimes it’s employers, sometimes it’s people who, who you have worked with within the community or nonprofits. So, it does not have to be academic. Just think about who could provide us with that. The best insight about you as a candidate.
Collin: Chris, was there anything that you want to add on that?
Chris: I completely agree.
Collin: Sounds good. I just thought you were one of the persons who kicked off that conversation given your background. So, I wanted to give you the floor on that. But that’s, that’s all good here. So, the next question.
Chris: One thing, I’ll throw one thing out as it relates to letters, because students are always kind of we do get a lot of questions about letters, you know, quality over quantity, when it comes to letters of recommendation. So, focus on I’d rather see one kind of glowing, really positive, strong letter of recommendation, some from somebody who knows you really, really well, then three, or four, kind of generically positive letters from people who kind of just know you in passing, or, you know, faculty who maybe you only took one class with, and they only know you from that one class interaction. So, focus on quality over quantity. And, you know, I think I mentioned this earlier, but sit down with the people who you’re asking, and talk about why you’re applying to law school, bring your resume to them, bring your transcripts to them, bring your personal statement to them. So, they can write a significantly more impactful letter than if they’re just doing it without having an in-depth conversation with you first. Excellent.
Collin: I’m glad I asked. That was good. That was a good extra thing to add. Here’s another question about from a student who has maybe a slightly different experience than maybe some others. So, this student says I’m in a one-year master’s program and would like to know how to submit a transcript if you don’t have one until December.
Megan: So usually, what you can do is if you have grades so far, submit what you have, and it will show in progress coursework. What we really look heavily at in law school admissions is going to be your undergraduate cumulative GPA, that is the GPA that we have to have on file for our certification with the American Bar Association. So, we absolutely need to have that transcripts with Masters there will be a little bit more flexibility. On that time, it’s important that we view all of your academic coursework. So that’s why if you have grades from a semester, submit that and then once you do have grades posted, you would be able to submit an updated transcripts, but it’s likely that a lot of schools would be able to proceed with reviewing your application with your undergraduate transcript, and then any work that you have so far on that Master’s.
Collin: Along the lines of applications, which may be incomplete or missing elements. Aaron asks if you’re taking a later LSAT exam, for example, in January, but your application is ready before then, do you recommend submitting the application and then sending the LSAT score even if the school puts your application on hold?
Chris: I think it’s always good to send in your materials ahead of time. Again, we talked about those kind of waves. And so, if number one you want to send your materials in first because if you’re missing something, it gives the admissions office time to communicate with you and let you know what you’re missing or what they may need more documentation on so that you have time to get that stuff in before your score comes out. Number two If you have everything, and the admissions office has checked it over and it’s complete, but for your LSAT score, the day that score comes out, the students get it first, and then there’s a short delay, and then it starts to come out to the to the law schools. And so, if, if the LSAT score is the last piece of puzzle of the puzzle that we’re waiting on, and we can complete that puzzle on that day, then we can complete your file and send it to review, you know, within the institution’s timeline. If you wait to apply after your score gets posted, then you run into, you know, that initial thing that I talked about if there’s something missing, and we’re still reaching out and asking for more stuff. And you also fall kind of behind all those other applicants that applied with a score from that administration of the LSAT, who have complete applications on file.
Collin: Megan, was there anything that you wanted to contribute to that? Or are we good with Chris’s answer?
Megan: No, I think he did good. We can squeeze in another one.
Collin: Excellent. We will squeeze in one more. And then I want to give you both the opportunity to say farewell. And that is, what would you recommend someone talk about an application to make them unique and stand out to an admission professional?
Megan: That is a great question that we get often like, how can I stand out? You know, and, you know, the, the truth of the matter is academic credentials are going to be important in the law school application, right? And one of the things we’re looking at is can this person handle the academic rigor of law school? And so, you know, we are looking at LSAT and GPA for that, but that personal statement, that’s going to be you. So how you stand out is, let us hear your authentic voice. One thing I tell people about the personal statement, please don’t go out and Google, what is it good law school personal statement, because what you’re going to do is you’re going to read some examples. And you’re going to try to merge your story into whatever you just read. And it’s really easy to lose your voice. And what we are looking for in these candidates are people who are passionate about taking this step in their journey. You know, we call it here, we’re looking for that seriousness of purpose for this next step. And so whatever you are writing about, make sure that within that statement, we are able to see that this is a student who has really thought about what they want to do, and law school is a part of that journey. And so, I think it’s important to, you know, advocate for yourself, why you’re a good candidate, but let that passion shine through. And so sometimes students will apply, and they will put their entire life story in a personal statement, everything for when they were little, and they like to argue all the way through high school all the way through college and see their work experience, that sometimes we don’t learn a lot about them, because they’ve cramped in so much that I think when you can really pinpoint in on those moments in times when you started thinking, I think law schools for me, those are the moments that when you reflect on those, and you can tell us your story and where this passion comes from. Those are memorable statements, right. And so, everyone has their own unique journey. And I think it’s really easy to try to make your story what you think we want to hear. But that may not be your story. And so, my biggest advice with that question is tell us about you, and why you want to do this and let your passion shine through. And that that that’s what’s going to stand out. Right. There’s not a magic, personal statements. But it’s what have you learned in your life journey that has gotten you to this point, and that that will stand down?
Collin: Wonderful Dean Bailey, did you have a quick response to that as well?
Megan: I’m just, I think it just goes with the dean Henson said about being genuine, be true to yourself. We can recognize when we read a personal statement or an essay, when somebody is trying to fabricate something or draw from experience and make it bigger than it truly is. So being genuine and true to yourself is the most important thing and letting your own voice shine through your essays is what we’re looking for. We’re not necessarily looking for somebody to stand out. We’re just looking for a group, right of great students. I don’t need one great student in my class. I need 215. And so, what I’m looking for is a bunch of great students. And so just letting you Your voice shine and being genuine is the most important thing you can do.
Collin: Excellent. And I think that’s an excellent point for us to end on today, I really appreciate the work that both you Dean Bailey and Eugene Henson put in, as well as the work that Dean Lee put into this session as well, before we had to leave us for today. I really appreciate your time, and your expertise that you shared with with me and with the students here on the call today. So, thank you both. I wish you both a great day. And I hope to see you both again soon. And I want to also thank everyone who joined us today and has stuck with us for the entire hour asked fantastic questions, there are still many questions that we weren’t able to answer in the Q&A, just because we got inundated with incredible questions. So please, if you feel as though you still need an answer to your question, make sure you reach out to us at ambassadors@LSAC.org, or at Wall help events@LSAC.org to options. So, you got double the coverage, make sure you shoot over those questions to us. And we’ll get back to as soon as we can. Now in general, I want to thank you all again for joining us today. And I hope that you’re leaving today with a better sense of what’s the high-level expectations are of these three, law school admission professionals and admission professionals in general, I also hope that you’re able to understand what admission professionals are seeing so far from their applicants, and where you stand with respects to the process and the work you still have to do. And finally, I’ll say that for those of you who are attending the live event today, we will be sharing that resource that Dean Henson shared her screen and walked us through via the chat. If you have any questions or would like access to that tool, and you attended the live again, event, please again, feel free to email us of lawhubevents@LSAC.org. And we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Okay. Well, thank you all. I look forward to seeing you all next week. If you’re available for our next two live events. Another version of this same live event will be home run with Dean’s from representatives from three different law schools, as well as another session on Wednesday, which is really cool. We’ll be talking about we’ll be talking to a legal profession optimist and kind of putting him on trial, asking him some of the hard questions about the legal profession and getting his honest take on what the legal profession is really like. So, I hope to see you all at those two sessions. So, thank you all have a wonderful day. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.