We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Washington 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?
UW Law believes that law is a calling in the spirit of public service. Now more than ever, we need lawyer-leaders who will meet the interdisciplinary challenges of law and justice in an interconnected global society. We are looking for candidates with the potential and passion for complex problem-solving.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We look for students who demonstrate outstanding academic and professional promise and whose background and experience enhance the diversity of the student body. The personal statement should supplement information in the candidate's résumé and transcript by focusing on what is unique about the candidate's life experience and goals.
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?
We take a holistic approach, using both academic and non-academic measures such as work and internship experiences. In measuring academic potential, we rely primarily on the applicant's undergraduate GPA and performance on the LSAT. We factor in the rigor of the selected courses, variations in academic achievement over time, and the scholastic quality of the school. Candidates who believe their LSAT score may under-predict their academic potential may document their performance on other standardized tests.
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?
Post-college experiences are important, especially those that indicate academic potential, interest in the legal profession, and a commitment to public service. While prior work experience is not required, most applicants have at least two years of post-college experience. Some common experiences include a variety of law-related positions, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, VISTA, and Peace Corps.
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?
On paper, all law schools are committed to teaching, scholarship, and service. UW Law does more than talk about excellence: it delivers an outstanding educational experience. Students engage every day in the classroom, the law school common areas, and the larger community. UW Law's centers of excellence include public service law; environmental law and climate justice; sustainable development; Native American law; law, technology, and the arts; global health and justice; intellectual property; corporate and tax law; Asian and comparative law; award-winning clinics and more. UW Law is a dynamic, engaged public law school that prepares passionate lawyer-leaders.
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?
The writer should know the applicant well. The recommendation letter should address the applicant's academic potential and should cite to specific examples of academic accomplishments observed by the writer.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
Each completed application is reviewed by at least two readers. The majority of files are reviewed January through March. All decisions are mailed by April 1.
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
The legal market is undergoing dramatic changes. Our placement rate remains high, About half of our graduates go immediately into private practice, in law firms large and small. Almost a third of our graduates accept judicial clerkships or government and military positions. A smaller number of our graduates secure highly competitive positions in public interest law.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Applicants should proofread carefully before submitting their applications and complete all steps with the admissions committee to ensure their files will be ready for review.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Our students come from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of educational and work experiences in business, law, teaching, science, medicine, engineering, and more. Our students are smart, curious, collaborative, engaged, hard working, and passionate about law and justice.