How to Get In: University of Kentucky College of Law

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

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Work experience is most important if you have significant post-college work experience, and that can trump a mediocre college performance from years past. Generally it does not matter that much whether a candidate coming right out of college has summer legal work experience, unless they have followed a very directed path (several criminal law related internships for someone interested in criminal law, for example). Overall,interesting or relevant work experience can help a candidate in the mid range be one of those admitted, but will not "pull up" a candidate whose grades and scores are outside the usual admit parameters.

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?

See the answer to No. 3 above. No typical or expected amount of work experience as there often is for business school, etc.

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?

Our faculty places as high a value on good teaching as on publication, research etc. Evidence of that: of the 11 faculty across the entire University selected for one of UK's "Great Teacher" awards in the past two years, three were from the College of Law. Many other UK Law faculty members have received the "Great Teacher" award in years past. Our students are joining a community and can expect to be treated as important members of that community whose opinions are valued. For example, at UK all our faculty committees including admissions and the faculty hiring committee have at least one student member.

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?

We do take recommendation letters very seriously, particularly those from faculty who have taught the candidate in class and can give us a detailed picture of the candidate'slevel of intellectually curiosity, likelihood to participate in class, writing skills, etc. The closer the faculty relationship (thesis advisor, etc.), the better. Letters from prominent public figures for whom the candidate has not worked (or does not otherwise have a professional relationship with) are not only not helpful but in fact can be a negative if they give the impression (as they often do) that the candidate expects to gain admission on the basis of who they know instead of what they know.

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

At UK Law, as soon as an application is received we request their information from LSAC and typically the file is reviewed the week after the paper LSAC report is received, so long as there are at least two letters of recommendation. The application is reviewed in full for any incomplete information, missing answers to important questions, etc. We are not paperless and in our process two letters of recommendation are required and every file is discussed and voted on in a meeting of the admissions committee, so it can take three to four weeks from the date the application is submitted for a final decision—longer if there is missing information or the two letters of recommendation are not yet in hand.

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

Most of our grads (55 percent to 60 percent) go to work for law firms, with the most common locations being Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati, Nashville, Atlanta and D.C. Also, in a typical year, about 20 percent of the class will be selected for state and federal judicial clerkships.

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

Submitting an application with errors, poor writing in the personal statement, negative factors that are unexplained (if your GPA for a particular semester is unusually low, for example, we will always see it and you are far better off giving an explanation than not), applying at the end of a rolling process, assuming that a clever personal statement, letter of recommendation from a famous person, etc., will be enough to gain your admission at a law school where your numbers just are not in the admitted candidate range, not doing your research before deciding where to apply, omitting answers to questions unique to a particular school, not being professional in your contacts with the admissions office before your file is considered, or waiting too late to ask for letters of recommendation so that your file is not complete until the end of the process.