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 University of Tulsa 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?

Applicants to The University of Tulsa College of Law can set themselves apart by doing the following:

--Demonstrate commitment to service and leadership within the community, work environment, or college.

--Exemplify a seriousness of purpose and passion with regard to pursuit of a law degree.

--Meet or exceed TU's median undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores.

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

Essays should be well written, concise, and convey something personal about the applicant that cannot be learned from the applicant's LSAT score or undergraduate transcript. Essays generally paint a picture of the applicant's maturity, passion for law, and readiness for the rigors associated with law school.

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?

In accordance with the statistical data provided by the Law School Admission Council, the LSAT score, although imperfect, has proven to be the best indicator for success in law school. As a result, we consider the LSAT score to be the best quantitative measurement of an applicant's ability to think analytically. However, if an applicant with an LSAT score lower than our median has an undergraduate GPA substantially above our median in a rigorous course of study, then the applicant's chances of admission are certainly strengthened, particularly if the application is coupled with strong letters of recommendation, personal statement, and proven leadership. Although TU Law views each application holistically, the letters of recommendation, personal statement, and leadership qualities alone are not substitutes for both a strong undergraduate GPA and LSAT score.

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?

Once a candidate meets our basic GPA, LSAT, and character criteria, then work, internship, and life experiences help to determine if that individual will be offered a seat in the incoming class. Because TU Law values diversity of background, no specific amount or type of work experience is necessary for admission.

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?

Having the benefit of a low student/faculty ratio, the TU faculty and administration have a personal commitment to the success of each law student. TU Law prides itself on a strong sense of community that extends beyond the classroom to our national alumni base, friends of the College, and legal communities. In addition to these strong mentoring and networking opportunities, our students learn to think and practice like a lawyer through strategic academic programming, clinical programs, practicums and internships. For a law school of approximately 400 students, we offer multiple opportunities for leadership and professional growth through our 35 student organizations, two law journals, and nationally recognized Board of Advocates Program. Just as we are committed to our students' journey in becoming lawyers, we are committed to their outcomes. Our Professional Development Office and Bar Support Program successfully works with students to sharpen their professional skills and prepare for licensure in any state. Likewise, our high job placement rate, as well as the diversity of placements, demonstrates that TU law students enter the profession prepared for any legal market and other areas of professional employment throughout the nation and abroad. Our geographic location and historical roots in Oklahoma makes TU Law an ideal environment for students who have an interest in Sustainable Energy & Resources Law (SERL) and Native American Law (NALC)--our two signature programs that have produced nationally renowned scholars and lawyers.

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?

Drawing upon personal knowledge of the candidate, recommendation letters should discuss specific reasons why the writer believes the candidate is suited for the study of law. Specifically, the letter should discuss the candidate's ability to think analytically, to reason, and to communicate thoughts in a concise manner. Letters should be candidate-specific, not generic, and highlight not only the applicant's academic strengths, but also their proven potential for leadership and professional success. It is important that the writer know the candidate well enough to address these issues. Though academic references are preferred if available, other types of references are also acceptable if they follow the above criteria.

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

The University of Tulsa College of Law begins accepting applications on September 1 and continues to accept and review applications through the end of July. However, applicants are encouraged to submit application by February 1 for purposes of scholarship consideration. After an application is received, a letter acknowledging receipt of the application is sent to the candidate and the application is quickly processed. Once all required documentation (the LSDAS report, personal statement and at least two letters of recommendation) is received, the file is considered complete and ready for formal review. Depending upon the time of year a file becomes complete, the TU admissions office will generally make a decision within one month. All applicants are notified as quickly as possible regarding the final determination of the review committee. 8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

Law firms, businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and international entities seeking law students who are self-aware, confident, and eager to achieve recruit at the TU College of Law. Students from the Class of 2009 are employed across the United States within 21 states and Washington, D.C. In fact, the third-highest concentration of our alumni reside in Washington, D.C. A sampling of employers who hired our 2009-2010 graduates includes: Cherokee Nation Tribal Government, Colorado Court of Appeals, ConocoPhillips, Western District of Texas, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, McAfee & Taft, Hall Estill, Riggs Abney, Chesapeake, AT&T Legal, in addition to many other legal and nonlegal employers.

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

--Applying late in the year.

--Taking the LSAT with little or no preparation prior to the exam date.

--Lack of interest or inattention to the preparation of the application file.

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

The typical TU Law student is service and leadership oriented, self motivated with a strong work ethic, and committed to the values expressed within the College of Law's mission statement.

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Getting into Law School: Tulsa College of Law