By Tatum Wheeler • August 26, 2017•Law School, Pre-Law
Now that you've got a grasp on your LSAC account, let's get to work. After reviewing multiple law school applications, I've included this comprehensive list of information to help fellow applicants gather background material so that there are no surprises when you go to fill out applications.
- Biographical Information: Given and preferred name, birth date, gender, and place of birth. May also include Social Security or the Insurance number provided by LSAC.
- Contact information: address, email (the professional one you check often, not bossgirlsk8s) and phone number. Your current address is where you reside the day you submit your application, permanent is where they will likely send you future communications regarding your decision and potentially 1L information. Applications usually allow you a space to note when each address is valid until; however, be sure to update the school if your address, email, or any other contact information changes.
- Family: includes an emergency contact and information regarding your parent(s)/guardian(s) should you choose. There may also be a separate section in which you can list personal connections, such as relatives, that attended or have a professional relationship with the law school.
- Demographics: USA citizenship status (non-resident, citizen, permanent resident), country of citizenship, ethnicity (you can decline entering this information if you’d like).
- Education: dates (month/year) of all educational institutions (high school, community college, bachelor’s degree granting college, grad school and any schools in between). This section also allows you to discuss any interruption in education (for instance a semester off to care for a relative or to pursue treatment) as well as allows space to list academic honors, awards, and recognition. There is an additional section for those that have previously attended law school to explain the circumstances if they left the school in less than good standing.
- Standardized Tests: LSAT or GRE, and TOEFL (for applicants with all applicants with a law degree background in a language other than English or whose degree-granting institution is located a country without English as its primary language). Includes opportunity to list dates you have taken “or plan to take”; however, it is best to have scores on file to ensure that information is accurate.
- Character and Fitness Questions: These include questions regarding your disciplinary history and ethical behavior modeled off the questions required on the bar exam. Typical questions include: -“Have you ever been subject to disciplinary action (including matters that were expunged or dismissed)?"
-“Have you ever, either as an adult or minor, been charged with or convicted of any crime, or charged with or found to have committed any offense (whether or not defined as a crime)?” This should include matters that have been expunged or dismissed.
-“Are any charges pending or expected?”
-“Have you ever been subject to academic probation, discipline or other sanction by any college, university or professional school?”
Please note that a yes to any of these questions will not preclude you from a successful legal career; however, they should be addressed honestly and tactfully to ensure that there are no impediments to the bar examination.
- Military Status: duty period (month/year), duty status now and at time of law school, including discharge. There is an additional section to explain whether you’ve been separated from a branch for less than honorable conditions. And, thank you for your service!
- Employment and Extracurricular Activities: Dates (month/year) of all employment positions and the opportunity to list up to 8 extracurricular, community, or other activities. The employment section requires information on the location, commitment (part-time, full-time, paid/unpaid internship), your title, organization name, and allows you to list your reason for leaving. The extracurricular section allows you to provide an extremely brief description (40 characters!), organization name, and hours per week.
- Financial Aid: includes entering law school scholarships (which tend to have earlier application dates and may be as early as November or December), information about the free FAFSA (which has different state deadlines and a federal deadline of June 30), the CSS/Profile AID (only required by certain law schools and has some fees), and VA tuition benefits.
- Supplemental Information: information to highlight your pre-law advisor, list specific programs of the school that interest you, indicate whether you’ve applied previously, and track how you learned about the school. May also include a career interest and goals section in which you can choose and describe an area of law you’re interested in, as well as an opportunity to discuss your short-term and long-term goals following finishing law school.
- Signature: Your first declaration of many, that the information “is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
When you go to fill out your applications, be sure to fill in all blanks to the best of your ability. The website will not let you move on (or submit your application) until all asterisk-indicated information is filled out; however, if you have questions or concerns it is best to contact the school directly, after consulting the instructions and reading them thoroughly. When you see the words “optional” or “encouraged,” consider the optional practices held by sports team coaches. While the coach cannot force its team to participate in an optional practice or penalize the players that don't attend, attending optional practice shows a greater commitment by players to the team. Please also note that you will be able to preview your application before submission and that you can save your progress as you go. Take advantage of this opportunity to devote focused attention to your applications and ensure that everything is in order before hitting the submit button.
As App Happy continues, I'll be doing more research into specific application components and questions. If you have an application question or would like to learn more about a particular application component, please don't hesitate to comment below or contact me.
Tatum Wheeler is a fellow law aspirant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not working as a Research Associate, she spends her free time exploring new trails with her dogs, reading narratives, and cheering on her favorite sports teams. Please feel free to contact her with any questions, comments, or further advice.