Applying to Harvard Law? What You Need To Know
You want to apply to Harvard Law, but you aren’t too sure whether your application is strong enough.
Dyad, a mentorship company that connects applicants with student mentors, recently released a guide to applying to Harvard Law School to help candidates boost their chances.
Getting Familiar With LSAC
Nearly every law schools requires applicants to apply through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).
Jacqueline, a 1L student at Harvard Law School and mentor at Dyad, says applicants should familiarize themselves with LSAC prior to applying to Harvard Law.
“Even if you are not sure that you want to apply to law school—or even that you want to apply in this cycle—it is still a good idea to create an account and start building your application,” she writes. “Your LSAT score is good for three years and LSAC stores application information for up to five years. While applications for many schools are not available until mid-September, why not start entering basic information when things are a bit calmer and get ahead of the game?”
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the law school application.
Julie Ketover, a consultant at Stratus Admissions Consulting and contributor at US News, says nearly all law schools require at least two letters of recommendation.
“Ideally, you should have at least one academic recommender who can write on your behalf,” Ketover writes. “If you’ve been out of school for a number of years, you should aim to secure a professional recommendation as well.”
Jacqueline suggests applicants reach out to potential recommenders as soon as possible.
“Your recommenders are busy people and you do not want them to be rushing to complete your letter, or to have your application held up by a missing letter,” she writes.
It’s also important, Jacqueline notes, to give your recommenders the proper material they need to write a strong letter.
“I recommend providing information which they can reference while writing your letter,” she writes. “Always provide a resume and consider including a paper you wrote for the class or a list of tasks you accomplished while in your work role.”
When it comes to the law school application, the personal statement is “heart of the application,” Jacqueline says.
The difference between a mediocre statement and a strong one, she says, is how compelling it is.
“The most important thing to remember is that your personal statement should be a compelling narrative about you, why you want to be a lawyer, and why you are going to be a great lawyer,” Jacqueline writes. “The personal statement should not just compel someone to let you into the classroom—it should compel them to invite you over to dinner to talk more about your interests and passions.”
This can be a tall order, but it helps to take a step back and analyze your ambitions and goals.
“If you are looking for inspiration, I suggest thinking over conversations you have had with friends, mentors, and advisors when they have asked about your future plans,” Jacqueline writes. “If you are still stuck, there are books with samples of personal statements by admitted students.”
What Harvard Law Looks For
According to Jacqueline, there are a few things applicants should keep in mind when applying to Harvard Law.
For one, she says, Harvard Law admits on a rolling basis.
That means, it’s an important balance between submitting early and ensuring a strong application.
“The earlier you turn in your application, the fewer spots that are filled and the better your chances,” she writes. “However, you should not rush to complete your application because you want to give the best possible impression.”
In terms of specific aspects of your application, there are a number of aspects that can make a big difference.
When it comes to the LSAT, Jacqueline suggests applicants to not take the exam more than three times.
“While Harvard will see all of your scores, it will use only your highest score when considering your application,” she writes. “If you do not like your LSAT score the first time, take it again. I took the test twice and I know students here who took it more than twice. For your own personal sanity, I suggest capping the number of attempts at two—maybe three.”
Additionally, Harvard Law prefers students with work experience.
“Top law schools across the board are expressing a preference for students who worked between college and law school,” Jacqueline writes. “I worked before law school and I think that work experience made a difference in my application.”
However, work experience isn’t a requirement to be admitted. Regardless of whether or not you have work experience, Jacqueline recommends that applicants focus on highlighting their ambitions in their personal statement.
“You should do what feels right to you—and possibly help you explain why you want to be a lawyer in your personal statement,” Jacqueline writes. “If you know for certain that you want to be a lawyer and you want to get to law school as soon as possible to fulfill that dream, you should apply immediately. If you are not certain and want to work before you make up your mind, you should do that. Work experience can only help your application, not hinder it.”