What can you do to set yourself apart in your law school application? Admissions officials have the answers
We posed questions to admissions officials at the
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
Applicants should focus on putting together a well-crafted application package that showcases their strengths and what they can contribute to the academic environment and legal profession. Some applicants make the mistake of developing answers and/or essays that are contrived or unauthentic. The key element applicants should remember is to be sincere, honest, and precise when preparing an application package.
2. What do you look for in the applications essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Written communication is vital in the legal profession. We consider the personal statement a strong measure of the applicant's ability to write clearly and concisely, as well as an important window into an applicant's personality and story. Through the personal statement, the Admissions Committee tries to get a sense of the applicant as a person. An applicant can choose to write about his/her motivation to study law; evidence of academic achievement, leadership, responsibility, or community involvement; educational, social, or economic background; and any special, such as bilingual language skills or advocacy skills. We are particularly interested in any aspect of the applicant's background that would allow him or her to distinctively enrich the law school environment. Once again, the key element to an effective personal statement is to be honest.
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?
The LSAT and undergraduate GPA are weighted more heavily than other factors by the Admissions Committee because of the established predictive qualities of the LSAT and the undergraduate GPA. That said, this does not mean that these two criteria are perfect predictors. This is why we take a holistic approach to reviewing all application files. We also consider such wide ranging factors as work experience, demonstrated leadership potential, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, academic performance trends, undergraduate major, caliber of undergraduate school, circumstances of particular disadvantage, and any other relevant information submitted to us by an applicant.
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?
Work experience oftentimes weighs favorably in the admissions process, but the lack of work experience does not necessarily put an applicant at a significant disadvantage. Our student body is comprised of both students who arrive directly from their undergraduate career with little work experience and those who have been in the workforce or who have extensive internship experience. We strive to select applicants who demonstrate a high level of maturity, a good work ethic, and leadership skills. Work experiences, as well as some extra-curricular activities, develop the necessary framework that enables students to manage the multiple demands that are placed on them during their law school career.
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?
6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regular with the candidate in an office or school setting?
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
8. What firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school. Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
A wide variety of legal employers, representing every area of practice, recruit Baylor law students. The employers include small, medium, and large law firms; corporations and other private business entities; federal, state, and local government agencies; nonprofit groups; and public interest organizations. A significant number of our students also obtain judicial clerkships following graduation. In 2009, the highest percentage of our graduates were employed by private law firms. No particular law firm employer predominates in recruiting. In 2009, the next highest number of our graduates were employed in government positions, including criminal prosecution.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
The most common mistakes applicants make are failing to proofread their personal statement for grammatical and typographical errors, referencing the wrong law school in the personal statement, hastily preparing a personal statement, and preparing a personal statement that is contrived and unauthentic. The personal statement is one component of the admissions process that is completely under the applicant's control, and every effort should be made to ensure that the personal statement is professional. Other common mistakes that applicants make are omitting answers to questions asked on the application form, and failing to follow the instructions. Suffice it to say the application is oftentimes that first opportunity applicants have to make a positive impression with the Admissions Committee. Applicants need to ensure that they present themselves in a professional manner when they submit applications.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
The archetypal Baylor Law student thrives on being challenged, is not afraid of hard work, has strong academic credentials and leadership skills and, oftentimes, elects to take the more difficult path rather than the easiest one. That being said, Baylor Law attracts students from throughout
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