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3 Law School Application Mistakes To Avoid

The law school application process can be tedious and overwhelming. Knowing what actions to avoid can help smoothen out that process and set you up for success. Karen Buttenbaum, an Admissions Consultant at Spivey Consulting and former Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, recently highlighted common law school application mistakes to avoid.


Applying to law school takes time with every aspect of the process requiring practice and revision. One of the most common mistakes that Buttenbaum sees is when applicants try to expedite the process by speeding through important steps, such as LSAT prep.

“The LSAT is a relatively learnable test, and it can make a huge impact on your admissions prospects if you’re willing to take more time to attain a higher score,” Buttenbaum writes. “So start your LSAT prep as early as you can relative to when you hope to apply to law school — you may need more time than you originally anticipated to achieve your full LSAT potential, and you may end up wanting to retake it, too. LSAT scores are good for five years, so for most applicants, there’s pretty much no time too early to start preparing for the test.”


Another common mistake to avoid, according to experts, is only applying to a narrow scope of law schools.

“Just as it is in undergraduate admissions, you’ll want to have a good mix of safety, target, and reach schools,” Buttenbaum writes. “This past cycle (2020–2021) showed us how significantly the admissions landscape can change over a short period of time, so it’s a good idea to apply to safety schools where you would be a strong applicant even in an ultra-competitive cycle — that means somewhere where your LSAT score is 3-5+ points higher than their prior-year median.”

Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recommends that applicants apply to at least a dozen law schools: five reaches, five mid-range schools, and two safety schools.


Much too often, applicants will put in the time and effort of perfecting every section of their application only to realize that the individual pieces don’t line up with a cohesive story.

“For example, if your resume is entirely business-oriented (maybe you studied business administration in college and now work for a management consulting firm) with no volunteering or public interest experience, admissions offices will notice the discrepancy if you write your personal statement about how you’re fully dedicated to your goal of practicing public interest law,” Buttenbaum writes. “It’s okay to have different interests (of course!), but none of your application components should directly conflict with others.”

Sources: Spivey Consulting, US News

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