First-year Law School Applicants Prepare for Admissions Deadlines
Each fall, law schools across the country begin eyeing prospective students, and as such, pre-law applicants are preparing applications for admission to BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. We have spoken with a few former applicants, a BYU prelaw advisor, and the BYU Law School admissions director for advice and inside tips about the process.
Plan to take the LSAT the summer before your senior year, or the year before you want to start law school.
Applicants are advised to begin preparing their application to law school early. This begins with taking the LSAT. “You’re going to apply during the fall of your senior year, so take the LSAT in June, prior to the start of your senior year,” prelaw advisor Kris Tina Carlston recommended.
“Take the time to properly prepare for the LSAT,” first-year BYU law student Mary Black said. “The LSAT isn’t something that you can just do on a whim. It takes real dedication and hard work.”
Begin preparing applications in the summer before your senior year.
Having taken the LSAT, students are prepared to begin selecting the schools to which they will apply. Pre-law adviser Kris Tina Carlston said that this process will be different for everyone, and students should consider cost, location, and career goals before looking at the rankings.
Individual school selection “depends a lot on what the students want to do after law school,” Carlston said. “Sometimes students forget about what comes after they graduate. You should have some ideas about where you would like to live, where to raise your family, and what type of lifestyle you want to have.
“The student needs to think about what opportunities he or she is looking for after graduation. Location should be a huge consideration because often, finding a job is locally and regionally based on where you attend law school.
“The rankings provided by U.S. News and World Report are very subjective. Attending an ABA approved school means that your education is similar, no matter where you attend. However, often your opportunities during and especially after graduation can widely vary. Students should always look at where graduates of the law school are placed after employment, average starting salary, and the amount of debt incurred.”
One first-year law student at BYU, Kristina Hardy, agreed that location and cost are very important in choosing a school.
“Location was a big factor for me,” she said. “Because I was interested in doing government/policy/public interest work, I wanted to attend a law school in Washington, D.C.”
Kristina was offered admission without financial aid to the Georgetown University Law School, in addition to admission and a full scholarship at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. Even though she wanted to go to a D.C. school, she chose to come to BYU.
“I realized,” she said, “that the agency that I would have with graduating from BYU with no debt was invaluable. I’m so excited to be able to graduate and choose a job based on the experience it would give me rather than the salary.”
First-year BYU law student Mary Black decided to come to BYU in main because of its religious affiliation.
“I really liked the idea of a gospel centered learning experience,” Mary said. “BYU was the school I really wanted. It was a pretty easy choice.”
Complete applications during the fall of your senior year.
The prelaw advisor, admissions director, and students we interviewed all recommended that potential applicants finish their applications early.
“I would start the application process as early as possible,” first-year law student Kristina Hardy said. “Map out every part of the process so you know what takes the longest (i.e. letters of recommendation) and you can work on that first. Pick a few valued mentors to review your personal statement. If you ask too many people for advice, your voice gets lost in it, but you still want constructive feedback.”
BYU’s prelaw office can become a major asset to students preparing for law school or preparing components of their application. Located on the third floor of the Wilkinson Student Center, the office provides information about law school and the profession, application advisement, contact with law school representatives, and information about prelaw classes and internships.
“The purpose of advisement is to help students make a wise decision about whether or not they should attend law school. Once this decision is made we walk students through the process, and help them make educated decisions about where they would like to go,” pre-law advisor Kris Tina Carlston said.
The office also employs a skilled resume and personal statement editor. “Your personal statement is like your snapshot,” Carlston said. “You want to be the most interesting and unique person at the party. [The editor] helps students sharpen their personal statement. To me, that’s a great service.”
Law school admissions committees require personal statements because it helps them select students who are capable of writing well and who will add to the personality and character of the class.
BYU Law School Admissions Director GaeLynn Kuchar advises students to read and to follow carefully the instructions on the application form. For example, in addition to the online LSDAS application, applicants to the BYU Law School must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement and a dean’s certification form. “We want everything in by March 1. If hard copies of everything are in by then, we will get an admission decision to them by April 15.”
Before the application deadline, confirm that your application is complete.
“I try to send an email when the applications are complete,” Kuchar said. “However, if applicants have any questions about their application and haven’t heard from me yet, I encourage them to contact me. That way we can avoid any miscommunication, and we can make sure that we have everything in their application.”
Additionally, showing courtesy to admissions staff, especially around the stressful deadlines of the application process, evidences maturity and character.
Wait for an admissions decision.
At the J. Reuben Clark Law School, a faculty committee chaired by Dean Carl Hernandez reviews each completed application. First, individual applications are divided among members of the committee. After reading through every part of a group of applications, the committee meets together to decide which applications to accept, to deny admission, or to place on hold.
This is where applying early can be beneficial.
“Many times, the committee will review an application, but they can’t make a final decision yet,” Kuchar said. “They want to hold onto the application to compare them to others that apply later. In this case, it can be helpful to have applied earlier because their name is seen over and over again. The committee does their best in getting final decisions out by April 15, but that final decision can be accept, deny or wait list.”
Prospective applicants to the J. Reuben Clark Law School can learn more about the school and the admissions process by visiting the website, at BYU Law Admissions
. BYU’s Prelaw Advisement Center
is located in room 3328 of the Wilkinson Student Center.
Written by Justin Forsyth