The Third Critical Question Your Law School Application Needs to Answer

The third big question you should be asking yourself is: Why now?

The Big Three: Why Now?

Last but not least, your application needs to explain why it makes sense for you to go to law school right now. Is there something else you'd be better off doing instead? This question may require less overt discussion than the first two, but it's still worth thinking about.

Applying Straight from College

If you're applying straight from college, there's an argument that you'd be a better applicant if you had some work, or life, experience. Maybe this is true for you, maybe not.

Either way, it's going to be in the back of the admission committee member's mind when she reads your application. Are you mature enough to go to law school? Do you have the intellectual chops required to succeed? Are you going to be happy starting a professional career at such a young age? Your application needs to address these concerns, even if it does so implicitly.

Mostly this is a tone issue - you need to come across as professional, mature, and thoughtful. To the extent your recommenders can help, even better. It's easier for someone else to discuss your maturity than it is for you to do so. But you can bring in examples of your maturity and perspective, highlighting leadership opportunities you took advantage of or circumstances where you took responsibility in a challenging environment. (It's easy for these sorts of essays to get histrionic and cliche, so be careful with the tone.)

Applying Later

If you're not applying straight from undergrad, you'll have work experience or additional degrees to explain. To the extent your experience is related to the law, you don't have to say much - law school will simply seem like a natural progression. If, however, your experience isn't law related, you need to make the connections for the admissions committee.

Why is this a good time for you to leave your present career path and become a lawyer? Are you seeking a new challenge, having learned all you can in your current job? Do you want to apply what you've learned to a specialized area of the law? What's motivating you to seek a change? If you're applying after completing another graduate degree, why do you want to switch paths? How does your earlier graduate education relate to your proposed legal career?

Don't Make the Reader Think! Make the Connections Yourself.

There's really no right or wrong answer here, but it's important to make the links for the people reading your application. If you explain why it's completely reasonable for you to leave your biotech job to come to law school and study intellectual property, people are likely to be persuaded. Similarly, you could have exactly the same background and discuss how your volunteer work with juvenile offenders convinced you to become a criminal defense attorney to ensure everyone gets a fair shake at trial. Less obvious, but also persuasive.

If, however, you simply submit a resume listing a Biology undergraduate and Masters degree and three years of work experience in a lab, and offer no reason why you want to transition to law, people are going to be confused, and probably not convinced. Do the work for the reader.

The Fundamental Question

Why should you be admitted to this law school, this year?

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