We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of North Carolina School 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?
Our application is designed to give applicants an opportunity to share details that help us understand them more holistically, taking into account their background and experiences, as well as their legal aspirations and inspirations. Applicants should take special care with these parts of the application to ensure they provide the admissions committee with a complete picture of who they are and what they have to offer the University of North Carolina School of Law.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We want students to answer the questions we ask on our application, not to submit general personal statements or essays obviously written for multiple law schools. Applicants should consider the essay an opportunity to "interview" with the admissions committee. The essay should underscore the qualities that an applicant believes will make him/her a good fit with UNC School of Law. Because strong writing skills are crucial to success in law school, it is important that essays reflect a student's attention to detail. Essays should be free of grammatical and typographical errors.
3. How important is the applicant's LSAT score? How do you weight it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
We have no minimum LSAT score requirement, nor a minimum GPA requirement. No part of the application carries a particular amount of weight. While scores and grades important, typically an applicant must demonstrate evidence of the ability to handle the academic rigor of a legal education at UNC School of Law. UNC does consider grade trends over the course of an applicant's undergraduate career, how grades and LSAT scores compare to the grades and scores of his or her peers from the same undergraduate institution, and whether the applicant was employed or involved in activities that could have affected undergraduate performance.
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 experience can be a good indicator of an applicant's goals and dedication. While UNC School of Law does not require previous work experience, it's helpful to see evidence of a strong work ethic and the maturity needed to manage the multiple demands of law school life. This ability can be demonstrated by extracurricular or co-curricular activities as well.
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?
UNC School of Law is proud of the dedication that even our most distinguished faculty members bring to teaching and the mentoring of students. The school provides a rich curriculum that allows students to study almost any area of the law and that will prepare them to practice law in virtually any professional setting. UNC School of Law has a vibrant and involved student body who participate in more than 50 student organizations. Virtually all students will find like-minded colleagues at Carolina Law who are interested in similar career paths or public service opportunities. As a public school, UNC School of Law students build close community ties with each other, and take serious the obligations of all lawyers to serve the public good, whether in private practice or public roles. North Carolina's Research Triangle—comprised of Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh—provides diverse neighborhoods, a mild climate, outstanding universities, a healthy quality of life, and a thriving legal community with ready access to local, state, and national government.
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?
Letters of recommendation should come from people who know the applicant well enough to speak to their skills and abilities, particularly skills generally seen as necessary to succeed in law school and practice. Some examples: critical and analytical thinking, reading comprehension, leadership potential, time management, and organizational abilities. If the writer can give specific examples of circumstances under which the applicant has demonstrated these skills, the letter is more persuasive.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
Upon receipt of a completed application, candidates will receive E-mail notification. In the weeks and months following, applications are processed as the Admissions Office ensures the application is complete and routes it for review to a faculty admissions committee. If an application is incomplete, candidates will be notified by E-mail and given the chance to supply missing materials. The Admissions Committee begins reading applications in early December and a first round of decisions is made around the December holidays. Decisions continue to be made throughout the winter, with most decisions made by April 1. Decisions on every complete file are made by May 1.
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
In a typical year, approximately 60 percent to 65 percent of our graduates are recruited into private law firms, and approximately 15 percent to 20 percent take positions with government agencies and public interest organizations. Nearly 10 percent enter judicial clerkships, and 5 percent to 10 percent take jobs in corporations. We have a diverse range of employers recruiting on campus: many large national and regional firms, mid-sized or smaller firms, as well as federal and state governmental agencies, nonprofits, and corporations.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Incomplete applications cannot be processed, so applicants are encouraged to ensure that all of their materials are submitted to the School and the Law School Admission Council in a timely manner. Another mistake applicants make is to submit the same personal statements to UNC that they submit to every other school. UNC School of Law asks specific questions on its application and not answering those questions can hurt the applicant's application. For those students applying as a North Carolina resident, there is a required residency application, and not submitting a completed residency application in a timely manner is another common mistake.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
UNC School of Law looks for applicants who have demonstrated that they are hard-working and motivated, who have prepared themselves for the academic rigor of a legal education at UNC, who have backgrounds and experiences that will contribute to the opinions and viewpoints here, and who want to be at a law school that will prepare them to make a difference in the lives of their clients and the communities they serve.