We posed questions to admissions officials at Lewis & Clark Law School 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?
Applicants can set themselves apart in several ways, but being different from everyone else is not required in order to be admitted. Some students stand out because of their academic success, others stand out because of their work accomplishments, and others stand out because of their unique backgrounds, accomplishments, or success in the face of significant obstacles. Ultimately, those who show strong academic potential, maturity, a sincere interest in law and in Lewis & Clark, and evidence of pursuing personal and professional development, seem to impress the committee the most.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
The essay provides an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to learn more about the applicant beyond the statistical indicators and basic information that are provided in his or her application. We look for motivation, maturity, interest in obtaining a legal education, and interest in Lewis & Clark Law School in particular. We also use it to assess writing ability. Statements should be carefully proofread and the writing should be clear. When writing the essay, applicants should also be personal, genuine, and true to themselves.
Lewis & Clark also seeks to enroll a diverse class, so candidates may write an optional essay that specifically addresses how their interests, backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives would contribute to the diversity of the entering class. Further, they may describe any disadvantage they have faced with relation to their education, socio-economic status, culture, or other significant challenges they have successfully overcome.
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 Admissions Committee does not use any formulas, indexes, points, or numerically weighted factors when reviewing applications. All applications are read in their entirety and each factor is considered in relation to the others. That said, indicators that show one's ability to succeed in law school are given significant consideration. These factors include a combination of grades, rigor of curriculum, and LSAT score. However, they are considered along with one's professional work experience, examples of leadership, strong writing ability, life experiences, challenges overcome, and other accomplishments, along with letters of recommendation.
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?
There isn't any particular amount or type of work or activities that the admissions committee is expecting to see on a résumé. For example, we do not expect an applicant to have worked in a law firm or have a certain number of hours of community service. We are interested in learning about all of an applicant's various pursuits and interests outside of his or her coursework. The résumé gives us a good idea of the experiences the applicant will bring to law school and can highlight things about him or her that might be different from other applicants. There is no "typical" or "expected" résumé, but applicants who have not stretched themselves beyond the classroom are usually less interesting to the admissions committee.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students attain at your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
Rather than comparing us to other law schools (which is difficult for us to do when we have not attended all other law schools), we feel this question is best answered by discussing the reasons why our students chose to attend Lewis & Clark. These reasons are based on surveys we conduct with our current students.