We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Colorado 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?
The University of Colorado Law School is an exciting place to study law. We want to enroll students who share our enthusiasm for learning about the law and serving the community. Applicants should assemble an application package that conveys who they are based on individual experiences and attributes.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
At Colorado Law, we are searching for applicants whose backgrounds demonstrate leadership, character, diversity, and a commitment to service. We ask each applicant to use the personal statement to explain how he or she can bring one or more of these qualities to our school. We use the personal statement to get to know the individual, but we also care how well it is written. It should not be a rehash of an applicant's résumé.
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?
Our Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications. While the LSAT score and the undergraduate GPA are the two most important factors, we take all aspects of the application into consideration before making a decision. Other factors include—but are not limited to—the personal statement, strength of undergraduate school and major, diversity, and work and volunteer experience. We do not use numerical formulas or percentages, but examine each application individually. The Admissions Committee selects students who they believe have the best chance of succeeding at Colorado Law and will make the most positive future impact on the legal profession, their communities, and the larger society.
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 weighs favorably in the committee's consideration, although we have no expectations for a minimum amount of work or type of experience. Some Colorado Law students are beginning their second careers, and some recently graduated from college with less work experience. We recognize that some students worked their way through undergraduate school, while others may have had only paid summer employment. We look at the quality of the work or volunteer experience rather at the quantity.
The Colorado Law faculty, students, and alumni are committed to public service, so we like to see some public service in an applicant's background. We ask for a résumé as part of the application package to help us see the individual beyond the numbers. Colorado Law's voluntary Public Service Pledge Program, which began as a student initiative in 2008, recognizes students who have completed 50 hours or more of law-related public service while here. Our students report almost 10,000 hours of public service a year—exemplifying the public service ethic we look for in prospective students.
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?
In addition to the wide variety of courses, an Experiential Learning Program, nine clinics, four research centers, eight dual degrees, four certificate programs, and three LLMs characterize an especially robust curriculum at Colorado Law.
Second, our location at the base of the Rocky Mountains is ideal for promoting a healthy work-life balance in law school and beyond, with countless outdoor activities, nearby cultural and sports activities, and entertainment possibilities.
Third, Colorado Law is nationally renowned for its programs in Environmental & Natural Resources Law, Technology, Entrepreneurial & Intellectual Property Law, and American Indian Law. The offerings in these areas are broad and deep, yet the overall curriculum provides our students with one of the best comprehensive legal educations in the nation.
Fourth, Colorado Law's relatively small student body (about 520) allows students to know their future colleagues in a more relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Notwithstanding the academic rigor and competitiveness of our program, our students are known for their supportiveness and collegiality, creating a healthy environment conducive to learning. With more than 30 recognized student organizations, there is a group or activity for everyone. A low student-faculty ratio of 11.5 to 1 also allows students to interact with our dedicated and expert faculty members, who maintain an open-door policy.
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?
At Colorado Law, the Admissions Committee finds recommendation letters that speak to the candidate's ability to succeed in law school and are based on a genuine knowledge of the candidate. We want to know that an applicant is ready for the rigors of law school, and professors are usually in the best position to make that determination. The more information the recommender can provide about the applicant's writing and analysis skills, the better.
For an applicant who has been out of school for several years, recommendation letters from employers and supervisors with more recent contact are very important. A letter from a person who does not know or remember you is not helpful! Letters from public figures are not helpful unless they have significant knowledge about your skill set.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
We accept applications for Early Decision from September 1 to November 15. This program is a binding decision program and applicants agree to enroll in Colorado Law if admitted, and must withdraw other law school applications.
We accept applications for regular admission from October 1 to March 15. We process and make decisions on a rolling basis, so the earlier an applicant submits all their materials, the earlier we make a decision. We read applications in the order in which they are completed and aim to send decisions within four to six weeks from that time.
An application for regular admission may be submitted before taking the LSAT, and when the test score is available, it can be added to the file. The February LSAT is the last test that an applicant can take during the regular application cycle to be considered for fall admission.
We make multiple scholarship awards on a rolling basis. Every applicant who is admitted to Colorado Law is automatically considered. We notify applicants of scholarship awards by regular mail. The first of two seat deposits is due in April.
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
Regional and national law firms recruit at the School and hire Colorado Law graduates each year. We consistently have some of the highest percentages of graduates receiving judicial clerkships amongst law schools nationally. Many of our students serve in public interest, government, and the military. The current Colorado governor, secretary of state, and the attorney general are Colorado Law alums. .
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
The most common mistake applicants made is failing to follow instructions, which differ from school to school. Some applicants ignore deadlines and fail to pay attention to details, such as addressing our specific essay topics in their personal statements or not submitting our two required recommendation letters.
Applicants should treat each contact—written, oral, or in person—with the Colorado Law Admissions Office as an "interview" and potential consideration in the process.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
No two Colorado Law students are alike, but they are people whose interests and experiences exhibit leadership, character, diversity, and a commitment to public service. The Admissions Committee searches for interesting and qualified candidates with a high potential for success and who would benefit from and enjoy being part of our community and program.