September 21, 2022
From LSAT scores and transcripts to letters of recommendation and personal statements, there’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to a law school application. This special event covered all the required and optional components of the application, with input and expert advice from some of the leading figures in the law school admission community.
Kyle: Hello, everyone, I’m Kyle McEntee and welcome to the LawHub Prelaw Success live event series. Today marks the first in a series of live events intended to help guide you through the next few months or years of your law school admission journey. We’ll hold these events every single month, and we’ve specifically designed the series as a whole and each individual event to help you answer critical questions about law school and the legal profession at critical times in your learning journey. One very important set of questions, the ones we’ll be answering today is what does my application timeline look like? What should I be working on? And when? Where do I go to find out more? And am I on the right track? These questions are asked by law burners every single day for regardless of where they are in the process. So if you’re two years out from starting law school or one year are out, or wherever you are, we’ve got something here for you.
So today we hope to answer these questions for you, as well as any of the related questions you have throughout the program. I usually leave the live event today with a better understanding of the components required for a successful application of law school, as well as a clear plan for the steps you need to take to get all of this done. So, to help us achieve these objectives today, I’m joined by Gisele Joachim is the executive director of ambassadors and education at LSAC, and a former admissions Dean. For my part, I’m the I run the pre-law division as the senior director for prelaw, please be sure to ask us questions in the QA throughout Q&A throughout the program. And do note that this event will be made accessible a recording will be made accessible after all right, so thank you, Gisele. And sorry, again, even a just ask you how to say a name I’ve been pronouncing for yours. No problem submitted difficult.
So, I do want to welcome all of our participants today to the session, we really do think we’ve got a lot of great content for you. And it really is an important part of your law school journey to be taking this time to think intentionally about each of these components of your application. Today’s meeting will be only 60 minutes, so we have a lot to cover quickly. But let’s get on with it. So, you can go ahead to the next slide. So, at a high level, this is the application timeline that we’re working with, we think give it starting about 24 months out from when you would start 1L and 1L is your first year of law school. And then we also break it down into the six-month buckets. That doesn’t mean that like exactly 18 months before is when you’ll do this. It’s a give or take. As you’ll find, as we discussed today, a lot of the elements of your application are at your discretion. But it does happen in the context of a greater process where you’re competing for spots. So, it’s important to keep in mind kind of saying roughly on track, but not getting so obsessed with each particular moment in time.
So, we’re going to do a poll here. The question really is, where are you in your journey? Now, the answers you see in front of you here, they’re based on a monthly timeline. But to give you kind of a rough idea. 12 months out would mean you are intending to start law school in the fall of 2023. Six months out might mean that you’re starting this coming winter. And then you can do that do the math on the others. So, we’ll just wait here for a minute gets get some results.
And we’ll see how this affects the trajectory of today. We do have a question here. Will you have a chance to ask questions? Yes, you can use the Q&A feature as you did to ask that question. And we will do our best to answer as many as we can live. But some will also be answered by text via our staff.
All right. So, this is good news for us, Gisele. So, 84% of you are intending to start a year from now, which is the intended audience for this is that this event that said, the things we say will be relevant to you, no matter where you are. So, we’ll talk a little bit about the 24 months, the two year out period, just to give you an idea of some of the things you should have done. And if you’ve not done them yet, it’s not too late. But you’ll know what you need to go back and do.
All right. So, Gisele, let’s talk about some of these, these elements. So can you talk a little bit about why someone would need to register their LSAC.org accounts. Now everyone on this presentation today already has a LawHub account. But just because you have a LawHub account does not mean you have an LSAC.org account? So just want to talk a little bit about that?
Gisele: Sure. So your LSAC.org account is really going to be the entry point for all of the other LSAC services, including registering for your LSAT, which we’re going to spend some time talking about preparing for your LSAT. And then as you get up to the point where you’ll be applying to law schools, you will certainly be utilizing the credential assembly service also known as CAS. That also happens through your LSAC.org account for those of you who are earlier in the process, and even those of you who are in that 12-month window, but maybe still seeking out the schools that you’re not sure where you want to apply to. The other thing in LSAC.org account does for you is it gets you into the CRS, the candidate referral service, which allows law schools to search for you, and send you proactively information about the law schools themselves. And that’s important, especially as I say, if you’re, you know, sort of thinking about where else you might want to apply, the candidate referral service can actually mean money in your pocket. In that law schools will provide application fee waivers, through the CRS process, information about scholarships, and other sorts of important information. So, I’ll take a minute and just talk about CRS because I know that some students are hesitant, they don’t want all of that email, I view it as spam. You may want to consider using another outside of your regular email account, because you will accumulate a lot of emails. But as I say, it’s still worth it, it can very often mean money in your pocket. So, I want to encourage you all to use that process.
Kyle: So Gisele, can you use a different email address for CRS? And what you did for, say, your LSAC.org or LawHub account?
Gisele: Yes, you can. So you can set that up so that all of the email is going into a different place? It’s a good way to want that to.
Kyle: Yeah, and one tactic to use for that might be if you use a Gmail account, for example, you might do Giselefirstname.lastname@example.org. And that will then let you automatically filter all those emails to a folder that you can then assess later.
Gisele: That’s right. That’s right. And you’ll just and maybe we’ll give this kind of advice to as we move through today. But do you remember that is where law schools will find you and see that email address? So don’t name it something like Gisele spam or Gisele unwanted emails because they’ll see that.
Kyle: So you mentioned money, applying and law school, it can be expensive. So, one thing that we had LSAC do is we have this fee waiver program. So, I do want to talk a little bit about fee waivers, what it can help with sure what it doesn’t help with.
Gisele: Yeah, so we do have a very extensive Fee Waiver Program here at LSAC. I do encourage you to get sort of all of the nitty gritty facts about it on the LSAC.org website. But basically, students who qualify and it is for financially needy students, students who qualify will qualify at one of two tier levels. The first tier, which is the highest tier, the most financially needy students will qualify for sitting at two LSAT exams, they will qualify also for their CAS their credential assembly Service Report, along with the application to six schools have their CAS credentials, which just to be clear, that’s not the same as an application fee. I’ll come back to that in a minute. That’s just the CAS fee. So, to LSATs CAS report sent to six schools, along with our prep Plus subscription, which is test prep for the LSAT. And I feel like I’m missing something. But I’ll come back to it. When I talk about tier two, which the tier two so it’s still very financially needy students, but not quite as much financial need, they will have a fee waiver for one LSAT exam, along with the CAS subscription, three law schools to apply for and the prep plus service. So, it’s basically half of what the tier one service is. I just want to say about application fees, which is fees that law schools will charge you to file your application. Very often law schools have it set up such that if you qualify for an LSAC fee waiver, you will also automatically be eligible for an application fee waiver. But if that’s not the case, you may get one in the CRS process that I described before where many schools do send out fee waivers. Or if you really are in need of one you can oftentimes just send an email to individual admissions office and asking about fee waiver application fee waivers if there was any way for you to get one. So, you want to especially you know, in cases where, you know, financially, things are going to be stressful for you. And this is just the beginning of the process and just the beginning of a financial commitment that’s going to be made to go into law school, you want to take every avenue possible.
Kyle: So, let’s talk a little bit about some of the most important components of your law school application, because what’s happening at this point in time is relevant to these two components. And we’ll start with law schools do consider applications holistically. But we also know that they consider the LSAT scores that you bring to the table as well as your undergraduate GPA, they weigh heavily in your application.
So, talking about the LSAT study plan, and now again, this is also applicable to people who are in that whole month window, because you might be taking it for the first time in the coming months, or you might want to retake it to get a better score and get a better advantage. So, I think the key on this is to just recognize the amount of time that it takes to study. So, you have to plan for that it’s not something you can do over a few week period, it is something that you should take stock of all of the different parts of your life, and how they come together, whether it’s school or family obligations, or work obligations. Now that said, even though it is a lot of work to study for it, it is something that will benefit you, as you become a law student and as you become a lawyer, because what we measure with this test are actual skills that you can develop, and you will develop through practice. And that will again benefit you as you become a lawyer. Gisele, do you have anything basic to add on the study plan?
Gisele: No, I mean, I think you have to give it the care and the time that you’re suggesting, Kyle, I will say maybe it’s already said and what you’ve said, but to put a finer point on it. I do think that there are some folks who come to the process thinking that they should just sit for the exam and see how it goes and use that as a barometer. The LSAT is an exam that you can and should prepare for. It is not something that you should come into blindly. Quite frankly, it’s, it’s it is a difficult test, right? For most people, it can produce anxiety for some people. So, the ways and it can it there’s a financial implication to it as well, right? So, the way that you minimize anxiety, the way that you set yourself up for the best results, and the way that you spend the least money in getting there is to prepare well to begin with, set a study plan, follow it and be true to it.
Kyle: Alright, so we’ve had this question asked a few times I answered it to someone individually, but I’m going to answer it broadly, too. So, the question is, do you use CAS for Canadian law schools? Now, here’s something I have answered about 45 or 50 times in the last two weeks, or last two days, because Gisele and I were just at the Toronto Law School forum.
So, CAS is what you will use to apply to us based law schools, no matter where you live. If you want to apply to a school in Canada, it will depend on the school as to how you will actually do that. So, for schools located in Ontario, you would use something called OLSAS. And for schools that are located in other provinces, you would apply directly to the school.
Gisele: Right, and they don’t have any for the non-Ontario schools. There is no process that’s similar to CAS or OLSAS, which are assembling services, both of them have all credentials. So unfortunately, it means that you would need to send items like transcripts or letters of recommendation to each of those schools individually, along with whatever process you might be doing that includes CAS for US schools, and the OLSAS process for the Ontario schools.
Kyle: So, we have another question here related to fee waivers. The question is basically asking to re clarify the difference between a fee waiver for the school report and the actual application fee waiver from law schools. We all know that it’s a little tricky the language so just always put another finer point on it. So, everyone’s clear.
Gisele: So, I think to do that, I’ll take a minute and describe what CAS does because I think that’s the only way to be specific of it. So CAS the credential assembly service that you will use to apply to any US law school basically gives law school applicants the opportunity to have all of their external credentials, accumulated in one place one time to one file, and leaves it up to LSAC. To distribute that information to the law schools that you’re going to apply, really the application process is from an applicant standpoint, and this is probably getting us up the road a little bit not keeping exactly with our slides, but it’s two parts. The first part is the application itself. And that’s all of the documents that you the person who’s applying submit directly, okay. And so you can see some of that here. What that is, is the application, it’s your personal statement, it’s your resume, or CV, it’s all of those items that you yourself are going to submit, coupled with your CAS items. That’s what makes your full file. And what is in your CAS file are all of the items that admissions evaluators want to include in your evaluation, but don’t come directly from you, they need to come from another source. And those sources are varied. So an example of that is your LSAT score, right? That comes from LSAC, they don’t want you to send them your LSAT score, right, they want it directly from the people who hold that score. In addition to that all of your transcripts from any and all higher education institutions that you’ve attended. schools want that admissions want that from the schools directly, they don’t want that they don’t want your student copy of your transcript, right. So, we have to get that from the school directly. And your letters of recommendation. Again, those are all coming directly into the CAS process. So what you’re purchasing when you purchase CAS is you’re purchasing an overall report that’s going to give some admissions data about all about your transcripts about your LSAT scores, to help the admissions officers be able to properly evaluate those quantitative indices, it’s also then going to have the copies of the transcripts, the letters of recommendations, all in a way that’s secured so that the institutions that you apply to know that it came in directly from those sources. So, when you pay for CAS, you’re paying for that report, but then you’re also paying a per school fee to have it sent to as many schools as you’re applying to. And again, so that’s separate from the application process that was sitting over here, which is when you’re actually applying to the school fit, you know, giving them all your demographic information and all of the other questions that you would traditionally find on an application. I hope that clarified it?
Kyle: I think so. I think that in the future, we’ll add another slide that makes this a little more visual. I think it’s really important. So, let’s talk a little bit more about how someone can think about the next 12 months in terms of financial planning, in terms of things they have to pay for. So, we’ve said, CAS, we know the school reports is part of CAS. We know the law school application fees, and we know LSAT examination fees. What else can someone expect to pay for when applying to law school over this 12-month period?
Gisele: Well, I think that you will want to, if not before, once you’re admitted to law schools, you’ll probably want to visit at least one or two or you know, whoever, whoever is in the final running for you to actually enroll that. So that certainly takes some financial wherewithal. I think as you are getting closer to enrolling, there’s other things to think about outside of you know, actual enrollment and tuition and all of that if you’re going to have to relocate for the law school that you’re going to, if you’re going to need to take some time off work before you go into law school to get yourself situated. Those are all financial things that even though they’re not the same as LSAT, where you’re going to have to like pay that need to come into the equation of your financial thinking.
Kyle: Alright, we had a question here. I was going to answer it privately bugs to answer it out loud. Is it too late to apply for the fee waiver for fall? 23? The answer is no. Very simple. Yeah. But you cannot get a refund for things that you’ve already done. Correct. So, if you sat for the LSAT, LSAT, sorry, you won’t get a refund for that. Although you’d be able to sit again, and have that one paid for.
Gisele: That’s right. And even if you had one paid for, and now you qualify, you can qualify even if you don’t have to take your LSAT again, for example, if you qualify, you’ll get the CAS under the fee waiver, it won’t you won’t have you know, sort of somehow ruled yourself out because you’re already paid for one. So, it’s not too late. I will say that having said that, that it’s definitely not too late, even if you’re applying for next fall. For those of you that have joined us today that are further out, you want to apply for it earlier in the process is better, in particular, because of the $99 Plus subscription that you’ll get, which will greatly help you in preparing for your LSAT.
Kyle: So, Gisele tell our attendees today a little bit about the law school forum experience. So, what you see on the screen here is the upcoming forms that we have.
Gisele: So, I’d love to. So, we got ahead of ourselves right when we started when I started talking about visiting law schools that you’ve already been admitted to. So, let’s roll the tape back and say, how, how do I find out about schools to even just apply to how do I find out some information. And so, the forums are a terrific way of getting sort of a lot of information in one place about a lot of different law schools. And these are large scale events that we host both virtually digital forums and in person. And I’ll start with the in-person forums, because I think that’s a format that many of the participants in our audience will be familiar with. If I say oh, think of like a college fair, I think many in the audience probably attended college fairs back when they were looking at undergraduate institutions, picture big ballrooms with, you know, tables, and representatives behind the tables, who can provide you with information about their individual law schools.
And, well, we don’t, not too much swag. Basically, they have swag on their table, and they can hand you pens, but that’s pretty much it. But information sheets, for sure. That kind of swag. And so, we have those in major cities over the next few months, you can see them listed here. Generally speaking, every in-person Forum has at least 100 law schools attending usually around 150. And so they are, as I say, really good places to get a lot of information. In addition to the school booths, they have a resource room where you can come in and get more generic information about financial aid, sit down and talk to a prelaw advisor, and any other kind of information that you may need, certainly information about LSAC programs and services. And so, it’s great for all of that.
We also have digital forums, which are online forums, where basically all of the law schools in the US and at least for our first digital Forum, which is in October, all of the law schools in Canada will participate as well. And those are virtual booths with real people there, so you’re able to chat with them live. And the nice thing about the digital forums, which we give everybody who attends any forum access to, even if it’s an in-person forum, is that the amount of digital information that the law schools have in their online booths is terrific. There’s videos, there’s downloads, there’s links to the websites. So again, it’s a great place to go one place to get all the information that you need. All of the forums are free for all candidates. And so, we encourage you to take advantage of them.
Kyle: So, let’s start with the letters of recommendation because this is not something you can just do on your own time. This requires other human beings with schedules. So, we’ll get into some details here, but I encourage you all to inside of LawHub, go to the program Admission Unmasked and if you’re not enrolled, you just click Enroll. It’s really easy. It’s all on demand. And there’s lots and lots of great information there, including information on letters of recommendation. And we actually have a live event replay from this summer, basically an hour-long event specifically dedicated to letters of recommendation. So anyway, Gisele, what are your kind of top tips for someone who is about 12 months out or 11 and a half months out at this point?
Gisele: So, I think for letters of recommendation, while we’re you know, focusing on time, you want to be sure to leave letter writers minimally six to probably eight weeks to write letters. So, you have to think back from when what is that ideal timeframe for you to have your application completed in the hands of an admissions committee, and then work back from there six to eight weeks. And that’s when you want to be lining up those letter writers, when you’re lining up a letter writer, ideally, and I, I will preface this by saying I know, not every applicant can do it this way. So, I’m going to lay out sort of the ideal way to do it. And then we’re going to talk about other ways that you can accomplish the same thing. If you can’t do it the ideal way, the ideal way is to about eight weeks before you’re looking to complete your application, you set an appointment with the individual or individuals who you want to write your letters, you sit down in their office with them, and you remind them who you are. You tell them some things about what you’re doing things, if they’re a teacher, for example, if they’re one of your faculty members that are happening outside of their classroom, maybe that they should be aware of that are pertinent to either the classroom work that you’re doing, or to the study of law about what brings you there, be sure they know who you are, when you’re asking them to write a letter it you’ll want to ask them in a way that truthfully gives them an out that if they don’t know you well enough, if for whatever reason, they’re uncomfortable writing you a letter, you want them to have it out, because you don’t want a poor letter, it is very rare, I will tell you from an admissions professional lens, it’s very rare to see a poor letter of reference. But when you see it, it catches your eye. So, you don’t want to be that guy. That said, what happens with a lot of letters is that they’re very plain. They’re not poor, but they’re not great. You want letter writers who are going to say something more about you than the admission professional can see in the rest of your file. So, you want somebody who’s going to say something more than, Oh, this person got an A in my class, you want somebody who’s going to go into it a little bit more in depth. So, you can ask them, can you write me a positive letter of recommendation? And even just adding in that one word versus can you write me a letter of recommendation, it gives them a little bit of an out to be like maybe I’m not your best letter writer, if that’s the way that they feel. So, time is important, being sure that they know you is important. So, if you can’t meet with somebody, for example, you can send them an email, and you can sort of outline all of those things that you might have had the opportunity to discuss with them about what you did in their class, reminding them who you were asking them if they’re comfortable writing you a positive letter of recommendation.
Kyle: Give me a lot of time to answer a bunch of questions in the Q&A. Great, great. And we’ll do that again. Now, because I’m going to ask you for some advice on writing your personal statement. What kind of topic do you think is appropriate for your applicant’s personal statement?
Gisele: Sure. So, you know, this is a very common question. And once that hard, I mean, it’s not that certain things are more appropriate or certain things are inappropriate. I think what’s important for our participants to know, Kyle is I think that there is a misunderstanding about the way personal statements are used, and what admissions evaluators are trying to ascertain from personal statements. So, there’s a few things going on, at the very basic level, there is some check on the applicant’s writing ability right. So, it has to make sense it has to be free of you know, grammatical errors and spelling errors. It has to flow. So those are sort of the basic, okay, this person can write decently kind of thing in terms of the content, really what most admission evaluators want.
Want to see in that personal statement is because most places don’t allow for an interview. They’re just trying to get to know you. They’re not trying, they’re not looking for, oh, I want to be sure that this person interned in a legal department, for example, they just want to get to know you. And they’d like to ideally get to know what is motivating you, what’s motivating you to apply to law school, what’s motivating you to want to be a lawyer, those kinds of themes. So, you can get there are many different directions, depending on what your own personal story is, some people, what motivates them, what animates them is a particular circumstance, something happened. And that’s what they want to talk about, they want to talk about what happened, and why that made them want to be a lawyer, for example, for some people, it’s an array of life experiences that brought you to this, that can be fine. Also, you want to be careful in those kinds of essays, not to belabor the point, you don’t We don’t want something that begins with I was born on Friday to, you know, as single mom, you know, we’re not looking for an exact timeline on your life, we’re looking for sort of the important things that motivate you. I think that some other tips for your personal statement is to absolutely have at least one other probably more like two or three other people read your personal statement. My advice is usually to have one person that knows you pretty well. And one person that doesn’t know you as well read it. And the purpose of the I know you really well person is what admissions people want to know, again, is they want to get to know you. So, you want to be sure in the end, that your personal statement reflects who you are, it portrays you as you really are as yourself. And so, somebody who knows, you well can sort of check you for that they can be like, This doesn’t sound like you, right. And if it doesn’t sound like you, even though that’s not necessarily something the admissions reader would know, because they don’t know you. Sometimes when they’re reading it, they can get a sense of that. But that doesn’t feel unique, that it doesn’t feel like a real experience. So that’s the point of somebody who knows you somebody who doesn’t know you reading it can be more, I think critical in some ways, because they’re the ones who are going to check sort of the outcome. tell you this is what this tells me about you. Is that right? Is that what you wanted to say? Because maybe it says something that you didn’t mean it to say, I worry about students who get too lost in telling a story of adversity, for example, which can be very compelling personal statements. But sometimes, the life stories of adversity can be so difficult that an admissions reader would wonder, wow, how are they going to be able to set this aside this really difficult life story, and be able to do the work with the rigor that’s required a law school. So that’s why these two kinds of readers can often pick up on those kinds of things that maybe as the writer, you’re, you know, you can miss on.
Kyle: So, I would encourage everyone to check out the writing workshop, that’s part of the free admission and mass program. And then there’s a bunch of other information on personal statements there. And you can also look at the simulated admission committee that we have, where you can see three actual law school admission, Dean’s discussing three applicants, files, and you can they talk about the grammatical errors and then you can see kind of the hope they put in the people and how it helps them get to like the people get attached. Right. And that’s, this is your opportunity, because these are human beings reading these files. And they want to admit you that’s there. They want to admit you, there’s just that’s just who the people are, who are reading these files.
So, Gisele, let’s talk a little bit about other essays. Let’s talk first, generally the categories of other kinds of writing that you’ll have to do as part of your application. And then let’s dig into diversity statements a little bit more in terms of who should be choosing to write that.
Gisele: Terrific. So, in addition to your personal statement, you in many cases have the opportunity to submit other statements. And so, one of those examples is a diversity statement. I’ll come back to that in a minute though. First, I want to deal with other kinds of agenda because it speaks to a common question I get about personal statements. If you have a situation that you need to explain whether that’s something with something that’s being called out, whether it’s an arrest record, or something like that, or it’s something about why you scored the way you did on your LSAT, or you had a bad semester in school that you want to explain. If you have something, that’s an explanation, I encourage you to not do that, as part of your personal statement, you’ll want to go ahead and submit an additional agenda with the explanation. It should be short, it should be factual, it should be to the point, it shouldn’t be labor, any of the points about whatever it is you’re trying to explain has to be factual, though, but you don’t want to belabor it. And the reason for that is because you want the admissions evaluators focused on your personal statement, which is where you’re going to really use that opportunity to advance yourself to, to show why you should be part of the legal community, right. So, you don’t want to detract from that by some other explanation that may have to come through. So those are common other. But even in that to Kyle’s point, which I don’t know if he was making even in that that is a writing exercise that will be looked at for grammar and spelling, and you know, sort of so be careful in every part of your application. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to submit an additional statement about why you’re applying to an individual law school. If you have a great affinity to attend a particular law school, I encourage you to do that and to say why that said, by nature, that’s the kind of statement you shouldn’t be submitting to many law schools, one, maybe two. But if you’re doing it beyond that, it just means that you’re willing to go to a lot of different places. And that’s fine, you don’t have to say that that’s understood by you being in the application process. In terms of a diversity statement, that is an option that will often be available to you to submit an additional statement, the things to keep in mind about writing a diversity statement is first and foremost, you do not want it to be a repeat of your personal statement. That’s not the point of it. It is a statement where you are encouraged to look at yourself, and to talk about the ways in which diversity has played a part in your trajectory to go into law school decided to become a lawyer. And so it may be that some of those themes or that theme is directly already covered in your personal statement. If so, you don’t need to do it. Again, optional, really means optional, you shouldn’t feel the need to check all the boxes. But a lot of times, and I would encourage you, if you do come from a diverse background in particular, and if that has played a part in your decisions, or if you believe that your diverse self can have positive impact on your law school or on the legal profession, which is another use of reason to use a diversity statement, I actually encourage you to take the opportunity to write two statements, write your personal statement about something else. And then also write the diversity statement. Your application process is like about real estate, you have limited real estate, to get your best self forward to the reviewers. And so you want to use all of the opportunities that you can to put forth those pieces. And you need to do it in a way that’s strategic. You don’t get there by writing a personal statement that’s 10 pages long, because they’re not going to read that right. So, you need to find the right topics and focus on them concisely and forthrightly.
Kyle: On that point about the 10-page personal statement, it goes to something that’s important in law school and something that’s important as a lawyer, you have to follow the rules. Now you can talk about changing the rules later when they’re unjust or whatnot. But in this case, you will lose every time if you violate the rules, so don’t violate the rules.
So let’s say I want to underscore your point about the limited real estate that you do have to convey who you are and what you can offer within your last publication and just said it is so important to think of your application as law schools are going to look at it which is holistically that every opportunity every time you write something even if it’s writing your own name, it has an opportunity to either show them something good or not show them something bad. Within that simulated admissions committee that we were talking about earlier from admission on masks. There was an applicant who wrote their name in all lowercase. And that was flagged by the admissions professionals. And they did not like it. So if you write your name, normal title case, it’s not going to help you. But if you do, don’t do it, it will hurt you.
Gisele: Yeah, important to keep in mind, your admissions application, your personal statement is not a place to be catchy, or to try something new.
I’m telling you, you will just need to take my word on this admissions committees, they do not want to see the statement that’s written as if you’re at a trial, which I’ve seen too many students do. They do not want to see your name and the initials brought out in a poem. That’s not what this is for this is not creative writing. It has a particular purpose. The purpose is to add to your admissions application and to get to know you, and ideally, why you are suited for the pursuit of this education and this career.
Kyle: Alright, so I feel like the theme today is to keep bringing it back to money. Let’s talk about the FAFSA process. So, FAFSA opens on October 1, and many schools have deadline in early February. But can you talk a little bit about the FAFSA process, Gisele? And how it impacts whether someone gets in? Or if it doesn’t impact whether they get in? Or if it impacts their scholarship? Or what does it and what doesn’t not implicate or impact?
Gisele: Sure. So, the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the basic financial aid application. Hopefully, some of you are familiar with that process from your undergraduate education. It’s the same application, the primary difference, if you’re a student of traditional age, is that regardless of how old you are, once you step into professional school law school, you are considered independent, which simply means that when you fill out the FAFSA, you no longer have to indicate your parents’ income and assets. It’s just you and that of your spouse if you’re married, what the FAFSA does for you in the law school world, really, there isn’t a lot of federal grant money, if any, that you like you find in the undergraduate world, but it is the basic application for student loans, which are in all likelihood going to be at least some portion of the way that you pay for your law school education. So, you do want to go ahead and file it, there may there probably are some law schools that will also use it for the basis of their own financial aid. Financial aid from the law schools themselves is actually a big resource. But it normally usually comes in the form of scholarship money, which is to say that it’s not usually based on financial need, like the information you would get from FAFSA, but it’s based on merit. So, the other things, the admissions, things that are in your file, things like your GPA, your LSAT score, and other things that they might be looking for in terms of your interests, for example, public service, public interest, scholarships are fairly common. And there’ll be looking for applicants who have a dedicated interest as seen on their resume in their personal statement in public interest. So that’s the basic contours of financial aid, but you’ll want to go ahead and file that FAFSA after October 1, just so it’s on file. So, when you’re getting to the point where you’re applying for loans, if nothing else, you know that it’s there.
Kyle: So, we’re getting a lot of Canadian questions.
Gisele: Okay, so let’s so no, no FAFSA for Canadians. My understanding of Canadian financial aid is that it’s not as much a federal process that it’s more provincial. So, you’ll be looking to apply for loans through your individual, your home province, regardless of where you’re attending law school, I believe that is how it works. There are some bursaries and scholarships for Canadian students attending in Canada, but less so than the scholarship.
That is for US law schools. That said Canadian law schools are generally much less expensive than it was last school. So maybe it all works out in the end.
Kyle: A fun fact, for our viewers today, Gisele is actually in Canada at this moment.
So, we’re getting a lot of questions. We’ve got a lot of open questions we’re trying to get through them, answering directly and trying to get through them through this process. So, our sincere apologies if we don’t get to your question.
That said at the end of this, once I get my notes back up, I’ll tell you the email address, you can send it any other questions too, and we’ll do our best to get back to you. Okay, so let’s, we’re going to talk a little bit about comparing law schools. Because it’s, it’s really important, you have to be very intentional about the choices you make about where to apply to school, because that impacts where you can actually attend, but also impacts how much you pay because at various points in the process, you’ll be able to ask law schools to reconsider the amount of scholarship that you received. And they will often do this based on the scholarships received at other law schools. So, you just have to be intentional about your choices when you’re deciding where to apply. Now we have a variety of resources available at LSAC. I would say the best one would be Law School Transparency. So that’s it law school transparency.com, or from within LawHub, you can click the button on the front page that says Law School Wizard, and you’ll use your LawHub account to get into this to LST.
Here, you’ll be able to create personal reports based on will ask you some questions, you fill it out and will reduce the number of schools that might interest you and then provide a job score that will basically say how close is our particular schools to the job goals that you’ve set out. And that’ll help you make these comparisons in a little bit easier way than just trying to look at 197. All schools all at once are one of the primary reasons it’s so important to rely on data like that, is that the other shortcuts that are out there not that that’s a shortcut for a lot of work. But there are shortcuts out there, such as rankings. And it’s not that there’s not a difference among law schools reputationally. And the outcomes and the cost. There are real differences among schools.
But the US News rankings, they don’t really help you discover those differences. There’s much better information out there to help you discover the differences among schools. So, with that, talk to law school alumni, talk to law students at the school, talk to prelaw advisors, read the school websites, but don’t lose sight of you know, the hard data, the things that show whether the outcomes achieved at a particular school are actually you know, what, what schools are saying there are?
You can add to that, Gisele?
Gisele: Hi, that’s very brief for discussing that topic, which is my favorite topic. But yes, I feel like that’s a whole other webinar. And I know we’re short on time, so I’ll leave it at that.
Kyle: All right, let’s try to talk about a few other questions here about resumes. Do people need to submit a resume alongside their application? The answer’s yes.
What should go into that?
Gisele: Yeah. So yes, you will submit a resume, you should look at the resume a little bit differently than you would for like a job resume. So, you will want an employment history. But you wouldn’t necessarily have to list out all of the things that are your job responsibilities. Because it’s not really pertinent to the process, but it’s trying to give a timeline. And if there are things in your job responsibilities that are sort of pertinent to being a good student, then you would list them out. But additionally, internships, externships, volunteer experiences, all of that should be on the resume. And those are things that you might not include on an employment resume.
Kyle: Do you recommended resources for how to write a resume for the law school application?
Gisele: I don’t, Kyle, do you?
Kyle: You know there is some information in Admission Unmasked, but if you still have access to your Career Development Office, at your undergraduate institution, that might be a good place to start. Just make sure that they know the specific purpose for what you’re doing this, right? So, along those lines are prelaw advisor also, or pro advisors as well. But you want to make sure that they can articulate the differences between the kinds of resumes. And if they can’t, then maybe don’t trust their word as much as you might someone else’s. Yeah. And there’s lots of one of the things you’ll find as you’re going through this process is there’s lots of people with lots of opinions.
And you want to do your best to get your answers from those who are as close to possible to the decision makers as possible. Right. And so, the law schools here, while they are trying to recruit you, while they do want you to attend and give the money, right, that’s just reality. They also want to make their lives easier. And you can make their lives easier by doing things as they’ve instructed, whether it’s who to address a letter of recommendation, or how long your resume should be, or how long your personal statement should be. It’s like being a good employee, you want to make your boss’s life easier, and you’re more likely to get better outcomes when you make someone else’s life easier.
Alright, we’re starting to see.
Gisele: Did we get through all the slides, though? Yes, excellent.
Kyle: We did. Thanks for all here’s someone asked what the max length of a resume should be. And it just is going to depend one is going to be safe. One is always true. Some schools might allow you to have an additional page or two depending but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Gisele: Yeah, give a note on there. Another note on the resumes that made me think of that question. Similar to the personal statements, this is not a creative exercise. They don’t want to see your resume that has, you know, flashy colors on the top or anything like that. If that’s what you’re using for your employment, because you’re looking at creative jobs, that’s fine, but then rewrite it use a basic font, a basic look, basic margins, all of that for this resume.
Kyle: How do you feel? Or how did you feel when you saw someone listing their extracurricular activities in clubs from college, or their personal interests, say cooking or traveling or anything like that?
Gisele: Personal interests like that? I would say I’m agnostic on one way or the other, but the club’s certainly those that are academic in nature, I think are absolutely should be included. And I feel like even the extracurricular co-curricular clubs are good for this kind of resume. Gives rounds you out again, it’s just another piece of that real estate that the admissions professionals are getting to know you a little bit. Oh, look, he was a member of you know, I don’t know, the vegetarian club. I don’t know making up a club. That’s interesting. And sometimes what can be really nice is when things tie together, when I read in the personal statement, something that was just briefly listed on a resume. And then I’m reading in the personal statement about, you know, sort of an in-depth discussion of the participation in that club or whatever it is, or how you were a leader in that club or in some endeavor. So, it’s nice when it is a puzzle where the pieces fit together, because it gives the impression true or not, but it gives the impression that I’ve gotten to know you a little bit.
Kyle: Someone specifically asked about student government, I know I put student government and the leadership positions that I held on absolutely what’s it’s really different applying to law school than applying to an undergraduate school in the US. There is it’s not that their schools do look your application holistically, there is an emphasis on your LSAT score and your GPA. And it’s not a credentials race on your resume, as it might be safe. You’re applying to an Ivy League school or even a very competitive state school. So that is a key difference. So, you don’t need to worry about trying to pad your resume with every single thing that you’ve done. But you do want to be able to tell the story of who you are and who you’ve been, where you’ve been, and what you’re doing at various points in time. And again, as with anything you want to read carefully what the school is asking for. I know of at least one law school that they want to see you address the gaps in your resume. So, if you were gone for a year between college and when you’re going to go to law or when you’re applying to law school, and let’s say you’re traveling or you were volunteering or you were a barista at a local coffee shop, they want to know what you were doing and not fill in the blanks with whatever they fill in the blanks with, but that’s going to vary, right? different schools have different expectations, which is difficult for you, but also just reality.
Alright, so I will answer a few housecleaning questions and then get into our outro here.
We will be making this recording available after the fact; I’m going to be very transparent. We have not yet decided how we’re going to do this, it will either come to you via email, or it will be available in GitHub. So, kind of keep your eye on both. If that is something you want to go, go see. The slides will not be available after the fact either way, except as embedded in the video.
And there was another question that just disappeared off my screen. I think someone cleared it. And I can’t remember what it is.
In any events. I do want to thank Gisele, you in particular, but everyone here for your great questions and for hanging out with us for the last hour, we really have covered a lot and it’s our hope that you feel a little bit more comfortable and confident with the components of your logical application, the basic timeline for getting this done, and a clearer understanding of where you can go for more information. As I said, we’ve covered a lot of ground today and I know we may not have been able to answer all of your questions. So, if you do have additional questions, please feel free to email us at ambassadors@LSAC.org or LawHubevents@LSAC.org You can also come visit us at the Forums. Gisele will be at almost all I will be in New York. And then so several other people you all might be familiar with if you watch Admission Unmasked, Katya and Jennifer will also be there as well. And everyone here at LSAC will be ready and willing, excited to answer your questions.
Now before you go, I want to remind you all about what’s coming up next. So, as we discussed throughout the event today, available to everyone in LawHub is emission unmasked, and it’s a program that covers in exceptional detail everything you need to know about applying to law school, and tomorrow we will be hosting another Prelaw Success live events on LSAT prep and mental wellness. And next week on the 28th we’ll be holding a live event focused on answering the question is law school the right fit for me? But Prelaw Success live events will be filled to the brim with useful information. So, I’d encourage you all to register for them via your LawHub account today.
All right, I’m done. See you all tomorrow and thank you so much.