By Caroline Fuchs
If you are planning to apply to law school this fall, there is a lot you can do over the summer to lighten your load once applications open up in August and September. The average applicant needs to put aside about 10 hours a week to work on application materials in the early fall. With school, work, and LSAT study, planning is key to developing stand-out application materials and submitting them on time.
1. Plan out your application timeline and set personal “due dates.” Galin recommends that applicants apply by mid to late November. Almost all law schools have rolling admissions. While application deadlines for most law schools are in March or April, they start filling seats much earlier. The reality is that there are applicants that schools are willing to admit applicants in November that they will not have room for in February. Having a realistic application timeline and “due dates” to complete application tasks, you are more likely to get things done well and on time. Rushing your application materials leads to sloppy mistakes and sub-par materials.
2. Get a jump on application admin. Start ticking off “administrative” application tasks. There are many tasks you can do now before applications open. Open your Credit Assembly Service (CAS) account. If you have graduated or are not taking summer courses, request your transcripts to be sent to LSAC. Many applications will ask for detailed work history. Start compiling it now.
3. Reach out to letter of recommendation writers. You may not need the letter until mid-fall, but it is not too early to approach letter writers. Every year, I see applications held up because applicants took too long to request letters of recommendation. If you have been off campus for a while, use the summer to reconnect with professors. Even if you return to campus, I don’t advise waiting until fall. Keep in mind that professors have many obligations on and off-campus, they do not have unlimited time, and some “cap” the number of letters they write in a year. Asking early in the cycle allows them to plan and prepare to write a strong letter.
4. Develop a rough draft of your personal statement. If you have a busy fall ahead of you, the summer can be a low-pressure time to begin brainstorming and developing a personal statement draft. While schools have different prompts, most are similar enough that you can develop a “base” draft to give you a leg-up in the fall.
5. Start researching schools. You can start researching schools and building your application list even if you do not have an LSAT score. Now is the time to start thinking critically about factors outside of rank. School location, professional outcomes, and clinical training are important to consider. Make a plan for how you will visit schools (virtually or in-person). While it may not be realistic to visit schools in person before applying, many law schools attend law school forums and fairs throughout the fall (keep in mind that these still might be virtual this year). Meeting with admissions representatives is the best way to learn about a school and get questions about their approach to the application process answered.
6. Get help. The law school application process can be overwhelming to navigate. There is a lot of advice out there, a lot of it bad. Even more challenging is figuring out how to apply the good advice to your personal circumstances. If you are struggling or would like support in the process, reach out to a law school admissions counselor now. An admissions counselor can help you with the process from start to finish. They can help develop an admissions strategy that fits your life and help you reach your goals.