We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Florida Levin 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?
Through our admissions process, the University of Florida Levin College of Law seeks to admit and enroll students who will excel academically, attain the highest standards of professional excellence and integrity, and bring vision, creativity and commitment to the legal profession. Substantial weight is given to numerical predictors of academic success (undergraduate grade point average and LSAT scores). Numbers alone, however, are not dispositive.
All information submitted by applicants will be considered carefully. Factors such as the difficulty of prior academic programs, academic honors, letters of evaluation from instructors, or graduate training may provide additional information about academic preparation and potential. In some cases, demonstrated interest, prior training, or a variety of experiences may indicate that an applicant is particularly well suited to take advantage of specialized educational opportunities. Information about work experience, leadership, community service, overcoming prior disadvantages or commitment to serve those for whom legal services have been unavailable or difficult to obtain may show that an applicant is in a unique position to add diversity to the law school community or to make significant contributions to the practice of law.
Students who can convey much of this information may be able to set themselves apart from other applicants.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Effective essays are those that provide information about the applicant that is not already available in other parts of the application. Essays that follow the instructions, are well written and without typos, and that provide information about the applicant that goes beyond "the numbers" can be very helpful in the evaluation process.
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 Levin College of Law seeks to admit and enroll students who, collectively, bring to its educational program a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives. With this in mind, selection is based on the applicant's academic credentials, including LSAT score, undergraduate GPA, level of writing skills, breadth of studies, and on other criteria, including—but not limited to— the applicant's work and other life experience, leadership experience, depth of particular interest, and any other aspect of an applicant's background suggesting a suitability for the study and practice of law. Ours is a holistic review process where no one factor carries more weight that another.
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?
As stated above, work experience is one of many factors that will be considered in the review process. It is not required and while some successful candidates have substantial work experience, other successful candidates may have lesser or no work experience.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
We feel we offer one of the best educational values in the country, combining low tuition with an outstanding academic experience. Our graduates become very special members of the "Gator Nation," the University of Florida's large, loyal and powerful alumni network. Many of UF Law's 18,000-plus alumni serve in leadership positions, and include the 2010 president and four previous presidents of the American Bar Association, more than any other college since 1973, the majority of The Florida Bar presidents, four governors of Florida, and hundreds of state senators and representatives and Florida Cabinet members. Nine became university presidents, including at UF. A dozen have served as deans of law schools. We are ranked fourth among public law schools (eighth overall) in the number of graduates serving as federal district and circuit court judges.
We are Florida's most prestigious law school, with a 100-year legacy of leadership and public service. We are an integral part of the University of Florida; a leading land-grant university that also happens to offer what many believe are some of the country's most exciting athletic programs. With Gainesville's attributes as an active and engaging college town, not to mention the great weather, we have a wonderful location where students can create enduring relationships and build some great memories as they earn their degrees.
6. 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?
Recommendations should be from professors or employers who know the applicant well and who can speak very specifically about their academic experience, skills and abilities. Letters from prominent public figures who do not know the applicant well are not helpful.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
Applicants who apply by the deadline can expect a decision by the end of April the latest. We use a modified rolling admissions process; applications are reviewed as soon as they are completed but do not necessarily receive a decision in this order. With an applicant volume of more than 3,400 applications, ours is a comparative review process and often applications are held and re-reviewed against other applications as they are completed.
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
About 66 percent of our 2009 graduates were employed in private practice, 10.9 percent by the government, 8.2 percent in business/industry, 4.8 percent in public interest, 4.6 percent in judicial clerkships, 2.9 percent in academia, and 2.4 percent in the military. Top employers included Foley & Lardner, Proskaur Rose, Bryan Cave, Holland & Knight, White & Case, Greenberg Traurig, Shook Hardy, and Hunton & Williams.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Some things that may reflect poorly on an applicant are: typos in the personal statement and/or throughout the application, not abiding by specific instructions in the application regarding length of essays, résumés, etc., not revealing disciplinary matters, and using recommenders who do not know them well and cannot speak specifically about their skills and ability to be successful law students.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Our student body possesses first-rate qualifications and a broad range of backgrounds and experience. Students come from throughout the southeast and the nation, representing more than 85 colleges throughout the country. Some come directly from earning their bachelor's degrees while others have experience in their first field of choice, including accounting, business, education and journalism.
Our students benefit from a comprehensive curriculum that includes more than 100 elective courses, advanced courses, seminars, certificate programs, joint degree programs, and study abroad programs. In addition, UF Law works closely with organizations, agencies and legal services groups to provide students opportunities to gain practical experience though internships, externships, and pro bono work both in and outside of Florida. The UF Law experience is further enhanced by students' participation in moot court competitions, journal activities and clinical programs.