Law Vs. Undergrad: How Different?

hippie busWhen and How to Write a Law School Addendum

Law school attracts the high achievers, no doubt. Many applicants earned the highest marks and held the highest school offices, and their resumes reflect a long, unbroken string of successes. However, some applicants take a different path, replete with detours, steps backwards, and hard lessons. Maybe they wrestled with illness or substance abuse. Maybe they didn’t take academics seriously until late in their schooling. Or maybe they simply took risks that didn’t pan out. Regardless, low scores and gaps are hard to disguise in an application. If they aren’t addressed, they leave an applicant’s wrongs to the imagination. At best, adcoms will dismiss the applicant as lazy. At worst, they’ll wonder what he or she is hiding. That’s why an addendum can be an applicant’s best friend. However, it comes with potential pitfalls, according to Shawn O’Connor, a Harvard Law grad and Founder and CEO of Stratus Prep, a top admissions and career consulting firm for graduate students. According to O’Connor, candidates make two mistakes with addendums: Writing “unnecessarily just to add as much as possible to their application, or not taking advantage of the opportunity to elaborate on a unique circumstance when they really should.” For example, O’Connor argues that an addendum might help when applicants earn disparate LSAT scores. In the addendum, applicants could outline the conditions that produced these differing scores to explain why the higher scores are better reflections of their abilities. So what does a good addendum include? For starters, O’Connor counsels clients to keep their addendums brief. Why? By sharing too much, applicants could raise more questions. “The longer an addendum,” O’Connor warns, “the more you risk providing excuses rather than an objective explanation. Keep it simple and easy to understand.” O’Connor also advises clients to keep their addendums succinct and simple: “It is not an essay, and does not require an introduction, body and conclusion.” Instead, applicants should state the issues followed by facts that reinforce their views. Even more, they should keep their tone objective. “While emotion and personality are welcome in your essays,” O’Connor notes, “your addendum should be a statement. Again, if you get too emotional, the text may start to sound like excuses rather than additional information.” Finally, O’Connor cautions applicants to remember the audience for whom they’re writing. Addendums are targeted at admissions people: “[They] have a lot of reading to do, so anything too lengthy will not resonate well.” Source: U.S. News and World Report

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