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Tips for prospective law students from a former admissions committee member

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I've already finished the application process but this post is great. A lot of information I had to bring together from different places brought into one post.

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I'm reading this and praying that I avoided all the pitfalls mentioned in my applications this year.

 

Very informative post.

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D) I would encourage students not to spend as much space on #3 as they currently do. Compliments about the law school don't usually get you very far, unless they are very specific to your interests, e.g., "As you can see from my degree in biochemistry, I am very interested in the natural sciences, so I am especially interested in X law school because it is the only school with a natural sciences law clinic." Complimenting the law school in general doesn't help the committee - they already think their school is great, and they want to know about you. Compliments that are overblown can actually hurt your application. If you say something about the school being "world-renowned for their legal clinics" when they are not that well-recognized, the committee will think you're blowing smoke, and it won't help your chances.

 

 

 

 

Question on this specifically. I used space on every law school personal statement saying something along the lines of "I wish to go to UBC, because I one day intend on practicing in Vancouver, because I like the Ocean (or whatever)". 

 

Was this a complete waste of time in your opinion? I thought that Law Schools in wouldn't want to spend their limited resources training a guy who would immediately move out of province or country. Could have been a waste of space though.

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I accidentally sent a rough draft instead of my main draft of a personal statement (forgot to hit save when I made my last edits, really dumb mistake), for my first choice in school. There is an omitted word and I also used the plural version of one word when it should be singular. How much will this damage my application? 

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I accidentally sent a rough draft instead of my main draft of a personal statement (forgot to hit save when I made my last edits, really dumb mistake), for my first choice in school. There is an omitted word and I also used the plural version of one word when it should be singular. How much will this damage my application? 

 

I can imagine you are feeling incredibly anxious right now, but there is nothing you can do about it at this point. I imagine it would be frowned upon if the errors were particularly glaring, but depending on which school you are applied to the ad com may be willing to overlook it in lieu of your stats (assuming they are good)

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My stats are right around the average of getting in for the school, however I have noticed many people with lower stats have been admitted while I have not. Not sure if I should be worried.

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Question on this specifically. I used space on every law school personal statement saying something along the lines of "I wish to go to UBC, because I one day intend on practicing in Vancouver, because I like the Ocean (or whatever)". 

Was this a complete waste of time in your opinion? I thought that Law Schools in wouldn't want to spend their limited resources training a guy who would immediately move out of province or country. Could have been a waste of space though.

It might depend on the law school, but at our school, the committee didn't seem to care whether someone was a "flight risk". The school cares about keeping you for all three years, but after that, they're happy to see you tromping all over the world wherever your career may take you. It probably won't hurt your application, but it's not likely to be a significant helper. Indicating your interest and attachment to a particular city will help you when you're applying for articles, though, because law firms do care about flight risks.

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Question on this specifically. I used space on every law school personal statement saying something along the lines of "I wish to go to UBC, because I one day intend on practicing in Vancouver, because I like the Ocean (or whatever)". 

 

Was this a complete waste of time in your opinion? I thought that Law Schools in wouldn't want to spend their limited resources training a guy who would immediately move out of province or country. Could have been a waste of space though.

 

UBC is straight up index score, the admissions guy there (think his name was gareth) told me to my face they don't  care about the personal statement at all. they don't even take reference letters.

Edited by JohnsonWest
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My stats are right around the average of getting in for the school, however I have noticed many people with lower stats have been admitted while I have not. Not sure if I should be worried.

I wouldn't stress about it (although that's easier said than done). The admissions committee really only can go through so many files at once, so very often there's just a bit of lag before your application gets read. The "holistic" schools will have the committee read every application in full, so those schools can take a while to hear from. More numbers-based schools will often give offers to people with really strong numbers without showing the file to the committee (it is still read in full by an admissions officer, who refers it to the committee if there are any red flags). Those with numbers in the middle will have their files go to the committee. It sounds like you're right at the average (stats-wise) so your file may not have been read yet.

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UBC is straight up index score, the admissions guy there (think his name was gareth) told me to my face they don't  care about the personal statement at all. they don't even take reference letters.

Actually I just made that one up because I was in Vancouver the afternoon I posted about that. I never actually applied to UBC. 

U of A told me the exact same thing BTW.

Edited by AntelopeofZeus

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Actually I just made that one up because I was in Vancouver the afternoon I posted about that. I never actually applied to UBC. 

U of A told me the exact same thing BTW.

 

yup, UofA is also index score

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I wouldn't stress about it (although that's easier said than done). The admissions committee really only can go through so many files at once, so very often there's just a bit of lag before your application gets read. The "holistic" schools will have the committee read every application in full, so those schools can take a while to hear from. More numbers-based schools will often give offers to people with really strong numbers without showing the file to the committee (it is still read in full by an admissions officer, who refers it to the committee if there are any red flags). Those with numbers in the middle will have their files go to the committee. It sounds like you're right at the average (stats-wise) so your file may not have been read yet.

 

If you don't mind me asking, what is considered a "red flag" by an admission officer at a number-based school when looking over a strong application?

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If you don't mind me asking, what is considered a "red flag" by an admission officer at a number-based school when looking over a strong application?

Some examples that I came across in my year were: very poorly written personal statements (where it's obvious that either no effort was put in or the applicant has really weak writing skills); bizarre comments in the personal statement; notations relating to academic dishonesty on the transcript; and "drops" that are wildly out of sync with the rest of the applicant's grades. These issues are rare, but my understanding from the faculty members on the committee was that a handful or so are found each year. If one of these issues comes up, you may still get an offer from the school, but the admissions officer will want the committee to read the file and the committee may do some follow-up.

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Would you be able to comment on course loads? Specifically a lower amount of classes and justifying it. Due to financial circumstances I will only be able to take 2 classes a semester till the end of my degree, delaying it further, however I don't want the adcoms to believe that I am taking two classes just to boost my gpa. 

Thanks 

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Some examples that I came across in my year were: very poorly written personal statements (where it's obvious that either no effort was put in or the applicant has really weak writing skills); bizarre comments in the personal statement; notations relating to academic dishonesty on the transcript; and "drops" that are wildly out of sync with the rest of the applicant's grades. These issues are rare, but my understanding from the faculty members on the committee was that a handful or so are found each year. If one of these issues comes up, you may still get an offer from the school, but the admissions officer will want the committee to read the file and the committee may do some follow-up.

 

could you expand on that part please 

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Would you be able to comment on course loads? Specifically a lower amount of classes and justifying it. Due to financial circumstances I will only be able to take 2 classes a semester till the end of my degree, delaying it further, however I don't want the adcoms to believe that I am taking two classes just to boost my gpa. 

Thanks 

You may want to check with the schools you are interested in, if you haven't already. Some schools won't consider part-time students.

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Would you be able to comment on course loads? Specifically a lower amount of classes and justifying it. Due to financial circumstances I will only be able to take 2 classes a semester till the end of my degree, delaying it further, however I don't want the adcoms to believe that I am taking two classes just to boost my gpa. 

Thanks 

 

When I was on the admissions committee, I don't think we ever assumed that someone was taking a reduced course load strictly as a GPA-boosting plan. However, there were times when we questioned whether someone would be able to handle a full time course load at law school because they had only ever attended undergraduate classes on a part time basis. It's a good thing to briefly address in your personal statement if you have no full time experience, or if your grades were quite a bit lower when you were taking courses full time.

Edited by redlead
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could you expand on that part please 

 

Some law schools have an index system where they drop your lowest two or three grades from the calculation of your GPA. Usually the number of courses you can drop is dependent on how much of your undergraduate degree is complete. The dropped courses won't count against your GPA; however, an admissions committee look more closely at a candidate if they have an A average after dropped courses but they got Ds in both of the courses that were dropped. On the other hand, a candidate with an A average after dropped courses who got B-s in both dropped courses might not be so closely scrutinized.

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