While your law school application will contain many objective data points, such as LSAT score and grades, it also includes several subjective ones. Everything from the résumé to the personal statement has a strong impact on how the admissions committee considers your preparedness for law school.
Thus, as you write these parts, you need to think critically about the particular qualities law schools look for in their candidates. By demonstrating and emphasizing these qualities, you can make a strong impression on the admission committee. As you review your final application, be sure that you speak to these qualities in one way or another.
Some of the qualities that law schools look for in their candidates include:
1. Great Communication Skills
Lawyers constantly communicate in both written and oral forums. Because of this, law schools want to make sure you have the ability to communicate clearly. Part of this quality gets demonstrated through the information you choose to include. Make sure your personal statement is grammatically correct, well organized, and focused on a central thesis.
Demonstrating the ability to communicate verbally can be more difficult since law schools do not interview their candidates. However, you can emphasize your public speaking experience in your résumé. Think hard about your public speaking experiences, whether they have been obtained through volunteer activities, extracurriculars, or in the classroom, and be sure they get discussed in a meaningful way.
Most people would not initially associate being a lawyer with creativity. However, creativity is extremely important in legal professions. Much of begin a lawyer depends on coming up with unique solutions that meet the specific needs of the situation. This sort of problem-solving demands a deep creativity.
Law school itself is designed to make you think outside the box, but you can impress admissions officers by showing your creative side. Do not hesitate to talk about specific projects or initiatives that required you to think in a novel way to solve a problem. Even talking about more traditional creative pursuits can be impactful provided that you make a strong connection between those activities and your legal aspirations.
You can even demonstrate creativity in your approach to the personal statement if you give the school something slightly unexpected. However, be sure not to go so far outside the box that you miss the mark completely.
3. Analytical Nature
Law school requires its students to do an incredible amount of reading, and moreover think critically about the material they cover. You will need to be able to distill hundreds of pages down to a few manageable, salient points. To do this effectively, you need to think critically about the situation at hand and predicting the potential outcomes based on given facts.
Emphasize any analytical pursuits you have engaged in prior to law school. For example, you could talk about a problem that you solved as part of an extracurricular activity or even discuss why you chose to pursue law from an analytical point of view. Lawyers are always questioning and you should endeavor to show this side of yourself in the application.
4. People Skills
The majority of legal professions require working with people, whether clients, colleagues, or third-party individuals. Law is focused on collaboration. Working well with other people depends on much more than great communication skills. To work with people, you need to know how to discuss contentious points in a relaxed manner and keep lines of communication open when tensions run high.
People often think that being a lawyer is all about arguing, but in reality, the opposite is true. While lawyers to form arguments, they do not do so in a contentious way. Focus on experiences that involved collaboration and talk about your ability to be not just a leader, but also a follower when needed. If you have any experience in mediation, be sure that you highlight them in your resume or your personal statement.
Lawyers understand the value of tenacity. If you fail at first, you try again. Often, lawyers continually pursue cases on behalf of their clients even when the situation seems nearly impossible. To show tenacity, talk about moments when you have overcome major obstacles in your life.
If you talk about these experiences in a way that shows self-reflection, you will demonstrate to admissions committee that you have thought about what resiliency entails. Resiliency is one of the key parts of many professions, but especially law when you may lose several appeals before seeing success. Other times, you may never be successful, but you will still need to show up completely for another client despite the disappointment experience in another arena.