We posed questions to admissions officials at the Florida State University College of Law regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
At Florida State University College of Law the admissions committee relies on the personal statement in the application to provide the necessary information that will distinguish one applicant from another. All other factors equal, an effective, well-written personal statement can make an application stand out. The committee is looking for applicants whose personal experiences and backgrounds will enhance the cultural, experiential, and intellectual diversity of the student body. Additionally, an applicant that communicates a knowledge of or familiarity with our faculty through the personal statement, and expresses a desire to work with our faculty in a specific area, can set themselves apart from other applicants.
2. What do you look for in the application essay? What does the essay tell you about a candidate?
The admissions committee looks for the personal statement to be a well written, engaging representation of the applicant that explains what makes them unique. The committee looks for the applicant to fully utilize the number of pages allowed for the essay to communicate traits not found on the transcripts or résumé. It is truly a personal statement in nature and as such should include content relevant to the applicant's life, goals, struggles, triumphs, and how those elements have prepared them for law school.
The essay communicates to the committee not only what is evident in its content, but also several other things. The applicant's attention to detail is also communicated through the essay based on the length of the essay, proper spelling and grammatical correctness.
3. How important is the applicant's LSAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work/internship experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The LSAT score is one of the most important factors in the application, followed by the undergraduate GPA. These two factors combined make up a significant portion of the application strength. Related work or internship experience can add to the strength of the application; however, it will not hold more weight than the LSAT and undergraduate GPA.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
An applicant with a strong LSAT and undergraduate GPA who also brings significant work experience to the table typically significantly increases the strength of their application. The committee does not hold an expectation that an applicant coming straight out of undergraduate studies will have work experience. Participation in an internship while in school is not required, but successful completion of an internship while maintaining strong academic standards is a positive addition to an application.
5. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting? Do you put much weight on letters from prominent public figures who may not know the applicant well?
The admissions committee looks for letters from faculty members who taught the applicant or from someone who knows the applicant very well, such as an adviser. The committee looks for details regarding the applicant's aptitude for success in the study and practice of law based on close observation of and interaction with the applicant in an academic setting. If an applicant has been out of school for an extended period of time and obtaining academic letters of recommendation is not possible, then letters from employers that can attest to the applicant's aptitude for success are acceptable. Letters of recommendation from individuals who are personal family friends or have not worked directly with an applicant either in an academic or employment setting do not strengthen the application.