Craft a Successful Application to a Top Law School

Give yourself plenty of time to study for the LSAT and prepare your law school application.

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Give yourself plenty of time to study for the LSAT and prepare your law school application.
Give yourself plenty of time to study for the LSAT and prepare your law school application.

All law school applicants consider myriad factors when selecting schools to which they will apply. But barring financial hurdles, a top 14 law school is appealing to the majority of applicants because of the enormous variety of standing opportunities that such an education provides.

These are institutions at which students will certainly obtain an astounding education and will have job opportunities nationally after graduation.

Of course, you should take other factors beyond rank into consideration, such as culture, class sizes and available activities, but if you find that a T14 law school has everything you are looking for, see the tips below to increase your chances of gaining acceptance during the competitive application process that will begin in a month.

[See the top law schools in photos.]

The first step is to recognize what distinguishes the students admitted to top law schools. Do they all have 4.0 GPAs and 180 LSAT scores? No.

Even though top schools like Stanford Law School and Yale Law School could fill classes with perfect LSAT scores and GPAs, they choose to assemble a diverse class of individuals who demonstrate a broad interest in a wide variety of legal disciplines and a rich array of personal and professional experience.

While you should maximize your grades and test scores where possible, the qualitative parts of the application also greatly differentiate prospective students, especially at the top law schools.

Your Stats: This category includes your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score. While your numbers are not the only factor considered in the application process, there are some steps you can take to maximize your grades and LSAT score and increase your chances of acceptance.

If you are still in college, consider taking additional course work and put in extra study time to boost your GPA. Even a small increase can make your application more competitive.

When preparing for the LSAT, give yourself at least four months to study. The exam is an important aspect of the application, and you do not want to leave it to chance. In addition, consider seeking help from an expert tutor.

[Explore what successful law school applicants have in common.]

Your Story: It is crucial to craft a compelling narrative throughout your application which should be reflected in your essays, recommendations and extracurricular activities. This narrative should be coherent but also demonstrate your variety of interests and unique attributes.

Start early. The sooner you begin to compile your application, the more developed it will be because you will have had extensive time to review it and make any changes necessary. If you are applying this year, you should begin as soon as possible.

Brainstorm the most unique possible essay topics and strategize how to most effectively link them. For example, one of the most compelling essays I ever read was from a woman who was admitted to University of California—Berkeley School of Law with relatively low statistics, but who illustrated the key life lessons she learned from her colleagues while working at Applebee's.

As you can imagine, top law schools get an enormous number of applications each year, so research each school.

To demonstrate that you are serious about attending, gather as much information about the institution as possible. Mention specific classes, clubs or professors in your essays that draw you to the school.

[Get the answers to vital law school questions.]

It is acceptable and common to ask a family member, a mentor or an expert law admissions consultant to read over your essays or review your overall application.

It is a challenging process to apply to and be admitted at any law school, but if your goal is to attend a T14 law school, it is essential to craft a well-rounded, thorough application. Focus equal attention on your statistics and your authentic narrative to ensure that your candidacy resonates with admissions readers.

There is no one formula for admittance to a top law school, but allotting yourself plenty of time to prepare applications and demonstrating your unique qualities in your essays will maximize your admission chances at a T14 law school.

Are you applying to a T14 law school? Let me know in the comments, email me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com or contact me via Twitter at @shawnpoconnor.