Framing Your Law School Application as an Older Applicant
While there isn’t an age requirement for applying to law school, most applicants fall under the age of 25, according to the Law School Admission Council.
So, what can older applicants do to stand out amongst the competition? Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently offered a few tips for how older applicants can position their background to be a standout applicant.
FRAMING YOUR CAREER PATH
Law schools are interested in applicants who can convey clear career goals and show how a law school education aligns with those goals. Kuris says older applicants should illustrate realistic expectations about a legal career in their application.
“In their resume and essays, they should clarify their past career path, their reasons for pursuing law and specific postgraduate goals,” Kuris says. “They should frame their career change positively, emphasizing the future over the past. For example, it’s fine for a former teacher to say she wants to work on education reform or ensuring classroom access for children with special needs. She could even say that teaching has been a fulfilling experience but ultimately can’t support her growing family.”
ACADEMIC AND WORK EXPERIENCE
Law school applicants will typically need to submit academic records and at least one letter of recommendation from a professor. For older applicants who have been out of school for several years, tracking down academic records may be difficult.
“Generally, law schools don’t expect applicants who have been out of school for several years to submit an academic reference letter, but older applicants should not feel embarrassed to reach out to professors they haven’t spoken with in years,” Kuris says. “It would help to give them ample notice and offer to provide a life update and details about old grades and examples of past performance.”
Kuris recommends older applicants to older applicants to demonstrate their academic capabilities through their work experience, rather than academic.
“In their resumes, recommendation letters and personal statements, they can highlight recent examples of their skillful use of research and analysis,” Kuris says. “They might consider taking law-related courses at a local college, particularly if coming from an unrelated field.”
One advantage that older applicants may have over younger applicants is life experience. Kuris suggests older applicants highlight their life experience in application materials, such as your personal statement.
“Law schools of all tiers have students who overcame hardships like addiction, incarceration, disability or fleeing a desperate situation,” Kuris says. “Schools value such students because they arrive with more motivation and more direct experience of the legal system than traditional applicants. Applicants with such backgrounds should use their personal statement, diversity statement or perhaps an addendum to thoughtfully provide context for an unusual circumstance. They should make clear their readiness for the rigors of law school as well as their career goals, uniquely informed by their past challenges.”
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.