We posed questions to admissions officials at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor 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?
Successful applicants have excelled academically and pursued a variety of work, leadership, and/or community endeavors. Accordingly, applicants can distinguish themselves by, for example, achieving high academic distinction in their undergraduate programs, pursuing graduate study, and providing specific information about work, life, and community experiences that demonstrate significant achievement, dedication, and initiative.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We look for some insight regarding the character, passions, and perspectives that the applicant will bring to our learning environment. Ideally, applicants will write thoughtfully and specifically about the experiences, challenges, and events in their lives that will allow them to contribute to class discussions in a unique way.
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?
The LSAT score is one indication of an applicant's ability to succeed in the study of law. We do not assign any particular weight to any of the pieces of the application. We commit to full file review and consideration for all completed applications and seek to bring together a group of smart and intellectually capable people who—because of the variety of their experiences, backgrounds, and interests—challenge each other to think about problems in new ways.
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?
Approximately half (usually less) of our entering students in any given year are people who are coming into law school within a few months of completing an undergraduate degree. Naturally, those who have been out of school for some amount of time have work experience and/or community involvement, but it is noteworthy that many of our younger law students also have work experience, internships, and professional ties. Work experience adds another dimension to an application and can be influential in the review process.
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?
—Amazing access and claim to one of the largest cities in the country—and one of the few large cities that is also the seat of state government.
—Superbly balanced excellence in traditional theoretical education and in practical skills training.
—Student/faculty and student/staff ratios that are among the best in the country and a resultant ability to be very student-centered.
—Public school with public school tuition prices and access to the interdisciplinary opportunities afforded by attachment to one of the country's premier research institutions.
—A vision for finding solutions to global, national, and local problems.
—Prominence in law, science, and innovation; law and global affairs; law and philosophy; family justice; advocacy and dispute resolution; Indian law; and law and psychology.
—Rare breadth of clinical offerings.
—Programs that foster the development of policy skills: Washington, D.C., Externship Program; third year policy incubator options.
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 place greater value on letters of recommendation from people who know the applicant well and have taught or supervised the applicant and can speak specifically to the applicant's abilities and potential.