How to Get In: University of California—Davis School of Law

What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers.

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The best letters of recommendation come from people who really know the candidate well and can provide insight about his or her best intellectual and personal qualities. Applicants should not choose a recommender based on title alone! Letters from high-ranking officials whom the applicant has never (or rarely) met, for example, are not very compelling.

Because we are looking at applicants as prospective law students, our preference is to receive recommendations from professors or others who have been in a position to observe performance in an academic setting. Professors can tell us about an applicant's writing skills, and an applicant's level of intellectual maturity and critical thinking skills. Professors can also compare applicants to other students whom they have taught, and put applicants in that context for us. In large universities where applicants may not get to know their professors, recommendations from the TA or Graduate Instructor are other possibilities.

If an applicant has been out of school for a while, a work-related recommendation that touches on the areas that would indicate preparation for law study would be acceptable.

7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?

Applications are evaluated first by Admission staff and then by the Admission Committee. Files undergo a thorough evaluation. Reading begins in late November and continues through April. The first decisions become available in December and are mailed on a rolling basis from that point on. All decisions should be made by early April. Applicants may use our Status Check website to monitor the status of their applications.

8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

Our approximately 6000 alumni practice in every area of law, business, politics, government and the non-profit sector. Congressman George Miller and California State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are two of our alumni. Employers ranging from the largest national and international private law firms to national and local public interest organizations and law firms, to federal, state and local government agencies regularly recruit at UC Davis School of Law. Our school and alumni enjoy an outstanding reputation in the legal community.

Our robust On-Campus Interview (OCI) program brings employers whose practices vary widely, including corporate, litigation, intellectual property, criminal, environmental, international, labor and entertainment law. Generally each year, slightly over half of our graduates enter private practice, with approximately half of those employed by firms of more than 100 attorneys. Government and public interest agencies employ another quarter of most years' graduates. Some graduates are chosen as judicial clerks by state and federal courts at every level. Generally, almost every one of our graduates (97 percent in 2008) is employed within nine months of graduation. In 2009, 90 percent of our graduates passed the bar examination on the first try, among the highest pass rates in California.

Geographically, our graduates are employed in every state of the union, with sizeable numbers in New York, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, and Texas, just to name a few. We also have alumni who work in Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. A large number of our graduates choose to stay in California. We have significant representation in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento.

All of the counselors in our Career Services Office are former practicing attorneys, with experience in private practice, government and public interest organizations. This wealth of experience allows them to provide students a strong start on their chosen career paths.

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?

Most applicants do a very good job of putting their "best foot forward." A few do not take the time and care to look over their applications to make sure that they have not made typos or other careless errors that can be corrected easily. When it appears that an applicant has not taken the time to present himself or herself in the best possible manner, the Committee questions the applicant's readiness for law school.