Three easy ways to get organized for law school applications

Dear Hillary:

What, if anything should I be getting done for law school this summer? I’m hoping to apply this fall. I’m going to be a senior. I do have a summer legal internship lined up — what else is important?

Thanks!

B.

Dear B.:

Finals are over. Fall seems like a long way off. But there are a few things you could do now, over the summer, which will make your life easier this fall. When you get back to campus and are swamped, you will be glad you got them done.

1. Get Those Letters of Recommendation done:

Professors are usually asked to write letters of recommendation in the fall when everyone’s getting ready to apply. Unfortunately, that’s the time of year when they are totally swamped. Classes just started, students applying to all sorts of graduate schools are approaching them — perhaps not the ideal time to contact them, especially if you are in a hurry. Instead, track them down this summer and see if you can get your letters of recommendation done and on file with LSAC. Employers tend to be busy in the fall as well, and will probably remember you best shortly after working with you, so approach summer internship supervisors before fall if you are planning to use them as a recommender.

2. Write a Personal Statement Draft:

When you get back to school there will be papers to write, research to do, and textbooks to read. So, if you can hammer out a draft of your statement, you can polish it in the fall. Try to write down a list of preliminary topics. Internships, travel, legal jobs, major life experiences, achievements, and obstacles overcome are just a few of the potential themes for personal statements. Let your creative juices flow. If you can decide on a topic during the summer, and churn out a draft or two, you will be in good shape for fall.

3. Surf your way through the LSAC site:

The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) site is fabulous — it is one stop shopping for law school. It contains so much great information, and practically everything you need to know about law school is on the site. But, students sometimes tell me it can be a little overwhelming at first. So, if there’s a day this summer when you are not doing much, take a few hours to go through the site. You can locate all of the instructions for completing the different components of your application, and find out lots of detailed info about the different law schools. When you are busy this fall, and trying to figure out how to get your transcript in, and where to attach your personal statement, you will already know what to do. While you are at it, if you are taking or retaking the LSAT, check out the registration dates for the upcoming year now, and try to register early — convenient test center locations tend to fill up quickly.

All of these things can be accomplished pretty easily, and you can still fully enjoy your summer. Don’t forget that most law schools have rolling admissions. It’s often considered advantageous to apply as early in the cycle as possible. The sooner you get everything done, the earlier in the fall you will be able to apply.

Have a great summer!

Hillary Mantis

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Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students, and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University, and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.