by Kim Clark

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 Boston College 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 admissions committee understands, respects, and embraces the diversity that each individual candidate offers. Our applicant pool represents various school types, academic programs, personal backgrounds, extra-curricular interests, and professional experiences, among other characteristics. As one pursues a professional degree, we hope that a person possesses great self awareness. An applicant may distinguish him/herself by demonstrating strength and confidence in his/her choices and accomplishments. There is no formula to the admissions process. We want to accept someone for his/her unique talents, perspectives, and contributions. Genuine engagement is evident in a competitive candidate.

2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?

Each candidate has a unique voice and perspective. We respect an individual's choice of topic and writing style. Committee members look for profound and nuanced self reflection. A personal statement may expound on personal goals, professional aspirations, or formative experiences. The ability to articulate a narrative in a concise manner is among the skills we look for in and value in a personal statement.

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 is an important element in the application review process as are the other components of the application (transcript, personal statement, résumé, and letters of recommendation). Each component is important for different reasons because each provides a snapshot of the candidate. No individual component should be considered or "weighed" outside of the context of the entire application. The LSAT is the one component that every candidate shares in common; therefore it provides the committee with valuable comparative information. The LSAT does evaluate a skill set that is relevant to success in the first year of law school. The test does have predictive value, but it cannot give us a complete measure of a candidate's potential for success in law school. A candidate's performance during college must be considered alongside performance on the LSAT to gauge academic achievement and preparedness. Study skills, time management, organization and prioritization of assignments are important to success in law school. A student's academic achievement measures qualities that one sitting for a standardized exam may not.

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/internship experience is an important element in our process because it reflects a candidate's ability to excel in a professional environment. Practical applications of one's academic skill set (communication, critical thinking, problem solving, ethics, etc.) are essential to success in the legal profession. Employment experience also sharpens and expands one's existing skill set and helps define one's interests and professional paths and goals. The ability to interact with co-workers (professional and support staff, colleagues and superiors) and clients/constituents are among various personal qualities we evaluate during the application 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?

The members of Boston College Law School's community cannot comment on the offerings of other institutions. We can only highlight what we feel makes our community particularly appealing. Students, faculty, and staff contribute to a collegial atmosphere. Our Jesuit ethos promotes academic rigor, personal well being, and service to others. We appreciate pluralism of belief systems and we support the unique talents and achievements of each member of our community. Our graduates come away with lifelong friendships and a deep respect for humanity. Our students and alumni possess a strong sense of leadership and work/life balance. Members of our community enjoy tremendous professional success and appreciate the value of personal relationships with colleagues, mentors, and constituents.

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?

We hope that letters of recommendation are thoughtful and detailed. Letters from academic sources, usually from professors, provide us with valuable insight on a student's written assignments and classroom disposition. Letters from professional sources, usually from a supervisor, should also address a candidate's intellectual capabilities, in addition to highlighting personal qualities. It is tremendously valuable to the admissions committee for a reference to be familiar with a candidate over a period of time because the substance and tone of the letter will likely reflect the strength of the relationship.

7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?

A complete and thorough evaluation of an application usually takes eight to 12 weeks due to high volume of applications we receive annually. Each application is reviewed by multiple members of the admissions committee. We begin reviewing applications in November and render decisions on a rolling basis. Our final postmark deadline for receipt of applications is March 1.

8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

Boston College Law School is very fortunate to have the finest law firms and organizations recruit at our school. A few of the firms and organizations that heavily recruit our students include the following:

Bingham McCutchen LLP

Committee for Public Counsel Services

Foley Hoag LLP

Fried Frank

Goodwin Procter LLP

K & L Gates

Manhattan District Attorney's Office

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

New York City Law Department

Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Ropes & Gray LLP

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP

Sullivan & Cromwell

Weil Gotshal & Manges


The following firms and organizations hired the highest percentage of our graduates over the past few years:

Ropes & Gray LLP


Manhattan District Attorney's Office

Goodwin Procter LLP

Foley Hoag LLP

Committee for Public Counsel Services

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?

The admissions committee would like for applicants to be genuine throughout the entire process; nevertheless, an individual must exercise sound judgment. Applicants have made the process more challenging for themselves by not carefully following the instructions provided in the application form. Careless mistakes, such as typos, grammatical errors, and addressing the wrong school, reflect immaturity, disregard for the institution, and a lack of motivation and focus. If a candidate expects a thoughtful evaluation of his/her application, the admissions committee, in turn, expects a candidate's best effort in preparing the application. A candidate's use of foul language, lack of etiquette and decorum around law school members, disparagement of other applicants, and lack of professionalism in written correspondence also hinder prospects for admission.

10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?

Boston College Law School is very proud of its diverse community and we will continue to honor the institution's tradition of attracting students from a wide variety of backgrounds. When prospective students and their families visit our campus, they often comment on the hospitality of our student body. Our students enjoy challenging each other and their faculty mentors in a respectful and deeply intellectual manner. A BC Law student's sensitivity to the human condition is a trademark.

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Getting into Law School: Boston College Law School