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Applying to Law School

Students should begin the process of applying to law school at least a year in advance of the time of their desired enrollment. Consequently, those who intend to enroll immediately after the completion of their undergraduate degree should begin the application process near the end of their junior year and should take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in June after that year or in October of their senior year.

    Grades & Transcripts

    Personal Statement

    Letters of Recommendaton

     

Grades & Transcripts :

To submit your transcripts, request that the registrar send you official transcripts to the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service, where your grades will be converted to a standardizing system, and assigned a GPA. This GPA may or may not be the same as your UNO GPA, depending on a number of factors. Grades of 'W' from UNO are not, at present, penalized in the LSDAS conversion system. However, you want to avoid having withdrawals on your transcript, because law school admissions committees will still see and take note of them. You may wish to explain special circumstances behind a W grade, in your application. Courses which are re-taken at UNO will be counted twice: both the original grade (e.g. D or F) and the new grade (whatever it may be) will both be included in the LSDAS calculation of GPA, which will probably reduce your overall GPA compared to the number which appears on the UNO transcript. You may also wish to explain these grades in your application.

 

Personal Statement:

When writing a personal statement for law school, students should follow four steps: pre-writing, writing, editing, and proofing.

Pre-writing:

Motivate yourself. Writing a personal statement is a process that requires time and commitment.

Do your research. Your essay should be tailored to the question. Generic essays are not persuasive to law school admission committees.

Think about WHY and WHAT. Describe the life experiences or career goals that inspire your interest in law and the skills, talents, and passionsyou can contribute to the profession.

Writing:

Outline. Organization is critical; logical, concise writing is essential to law school success. This is your first (and only) opportunity to show the admissions committee you will succeed at their law school.

Explain, in detail, why you want to be a lawyer. Connect your passion to life experiences. Give your readers a picture of why their law school will help you achieve your career goals, but don’t gush about the law or the law school experience.

Make it flow. Don’t write about too many disconnected events or experiences. Choose the most persuasive event(s) or experience(s) that led you to choose law school.

Be truthful. Your personal statement is the place to explain any negative experiences that may come up throughout the application process and explain how the experience has changed you. Turn negatives into positives.

The final draft should be no more than two typed, double-spaced pages with standard margins.

Sell yourself. Be persuasive, but be authentic.

Editing:

Avoid overusing a thesaurus or writing in clichés. Concise, clear writing is more impressive than overblown embellishments.

Be professional and be very careful when using humor. Be sensitive to your audience; you are writing to lawyers and law professors, not your friends.

Be positive. You are convincing the admissions committee–usually consisting of law school staff, faculty, and law students–that they should want to work with you for the next three years. Coming across as a bitter, angry person can hurt your chances.

Don’t be too specific about what you want to do with your law degree, unless your experience shows that it is a logical extension of what you’ve already done.

Don’t just repeat the activities and experiences in your application. Your personal statement is not your resume.

Proofing:

Find reliable, trustworthy people who are not afraid to tell you the truth when they proofread your personal statement.

At least three people should proof your personal statement. Choose people with different skill sets, such as a professor, a lawyer, and a friend/parent/spouse. Your readers should each provide a critique based on their individual knowledge and experience.

Don’t make any spelling or grammar mistakes. Lawyers must be precise and accurate. Spelling and grammar mistakes make you appear sloppy and careless.

Don’t rely on spell check to catch mistakes.

Letters of Recommendation:

You should try to have three letters of recommendation in your LSAC file, even if some schools only request two. At least two of those letters should be written by professors who have seen your best work, and can communicate detailed information about your academic performance. The third letter may be another professor, or an employer or supervisor who knows your work well. Through LSAC, you may designate certain letters as "targeted" to particular law schools. Do not seek recommendations from, for example, a lawyer you happen to know, unless that person has also been your employer or teacher, familiar with skills relevant to your academic performance. Remember that law school admissions committees are trying to determine how well you will succeed in the extremely academically challenging environment of law school.

As early as possible in the fall of your senior year, ask your prospective letter writers if they can write a strong letter for your law school application. Provide them with your academic resume, a copy or draft of your personal statement if feasible, and any other information which may help remind them of your specific academic performance (for example, a successful paper you wrote for their class, the name of their course and the term in which you took it). Consult the LSAC for recommendation letter procedures, and make sure the recommenders understand how to complete the form and where to send their information. Follow up in the spring with your recommenders, and let them know the results of your application.