How To Write A Law School Application Addendum
A law school application should illustrate your experiences — good and bad. Discussing the aberrations in your candidacy can be difficult, but there are strategies to addressing the addenda topics in your application.
Julie Ketover recently wrote a U.S. News piece on four common addenda topics and how applicants should and shouldn’t address them.
1.) Low GPA
A low GPA should be explained to admissions committees. Perhaps your low GPA is due to extenuating circumstances, such as medical or family issues. Regardless of what the reason behind a low GPA is, Ketover highlights that it is important to “provide explanations rather than excuses.”
On top of explaining the reason behind a low GPA, be sure to highlight classes or areas in which you excelled. Ketover notes how your GPA may be lower than the average GPA at the school you’re applying to, but it may be higher than your overall major. A high LSAT score can also help a low GPA.
What you shouldn’t do is write a GPA addendum that “sounds like a sympathy grab for the choice of a hard major or a challenging course load,” Ketover says.
Bottom line: you want admissions committee members to see your GPA as something that’s only part of your application and not an aspect that will weigh your candidacy down.
2.) Low or Multiple LSAT Scores
Similar to writing an addendum for a low GPA, low or multiple LSAT scores should be addressed as only one part of your application. If you have a low LSAT score but a high GPA, be sure to emphasize the latter. Ketover also advises highlighting significant research or writing experiences as real world experiences make applications stronger.
If you have multiple LSAT scores, Ketover advises that you characterize the low score as “an anomaly, if true, and explain why you might have done poorly on that particular exam.” Focus on your higher scores and, if more recent, explain why the higher is a “more accurate representation of your ability to excel in law school,” Ketover says.
One big mistake you can do is to blame the test itself for your low or multiple scores. Similar to the low GPA, it’s important not to make excuses, but rather explain the weaker areas in your application and focus on the strengths.
3.) Disciplinary or Criminal Record
In your career, nearly every school or job application will ask you the disclosure question. It’s important first to understand what classifies as “criminal.” Shawn P. O’Connor, a contributor at U.S. News, says applicants should obtain all documentation possible on past incidents and how they have affected your record.
If there is a mark on your record, Ketover advices to “err on the side of overinclusion.”
“Give truthful accounts of each situation, detailing any mitigating circumstances without diminishing your acceptance of responsibility,” she says. “Discuss any lessons you have learned from the incidents, and show that you have since reformed your behavior and become more responsible. Take the opportunity in this addendum to highlight your respect for rules and laws.”
4.) Other Anomalies
There are more minor anomalies that may be worth explaining to admissions committees as well. For example, if you transferred from one college to another or took a leave of absence, explain why. If you’re still unsure whether or not to address certain anomalies, Ketover urges readers to seek guidance from a counselor or reach out to the law school you are applying to.
Anomalies don’t mean the end of your candidacy and they shouldn’t be the main focus of your application. However, they’re still important to make note of and explain.
“If you decide to submit an addendum, keep these goals in mind: Be respectful, gracious, forthright and brief,” Ketover says.
Sources: US News, US News