We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Minnesota 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?
Applying early can help an applicant a great deal. With a rolling admissions process, the most space in an incoming class is available at the beginning of the application cycle. As the cycle progresses, the applicant pool becomes considerably stronger. Also, applicants can set themselves apart from their peers by identifying in their application why they are interested in attending the University of Minnesota Law School, specifically. Students are encouraged to cast a broad net when searching for law schools, but our Admissions Committee is often impressed by applicants who take the time to tailor their application for Minnesota.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Minnesota's award-winning legal writing program recognizes that written communication is vital to the success of our graduates. The Admissions Committee therefore uses the personal statement not only to assess the applicant's writing skills, but also the applicant's judgment, passions and analytical abilities.
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 an important part of the application, but it does not determine the success of an application by itself. The Admissions Committee reviews each application holistically and in most cases stronger portions of an application can help an applicant's chances of admissions more than weaker portions can harm them. An applicant's LSAT score can be enhanced by a strong undergraduate GPA and vice versa. Those applicants who are not confident in the strength of their LSAT score or GPA can improve their applications with work/internship experience, a well-written personal statement, strong letters of recommendation and/or strong academic performance in a graduate program.
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?
Prior work/internship experience can enhance an application, but the lack of experience typically does not hurt an application if the applicant is able to demonstrate maturity through the personal statement and letters of recommendation. Applicants with prior work/internship experience can often benefit from the perspective and focus that can come after time away from undergraduate education. For applicants with no work or internship experience, however, participation/leadership in extra-curricular activities or volunteer service can also develop positive qualities that not only would be helpful in writing a strong personal statement, but can ultimately contribute to success in law school.
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?
The University of Minnesota Law School has excelled at providing its students with practical learning tools that enhance traditional doctrinal study. From first-year legal writing classes of 10 students or less, to offering 18 clinics to our second and third-year students, Minnesota strives to ensure that each student has many opportunities to put theory into practice before graduation. Minnesota is able to do this while being relatively affordable. With nearly 90 percent of our students receiving some financial aid and more than 60 percent receiving a merit-based scholarship each year, Minnesota provides a nationally recognized education that is economically accessible.
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?