The ‘Most Considered’ Factor in Law School Decisions

Applying to Law School with an Unconventional Background

If you’re applying to law school without the typical background, you may feel as if you’re at a disadvantage.

But, experts say, an applicant’s unique background can often work in their favor when it comes to law school admissions. Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently explained why the ‘typical law school applicant’ is a myth and how applicants can highlight their unique story in law school admissions.

“Whether you are an older applicant, veteran, athlete or performing artist, it’s safe to assume that admissions officers have read more similar applications than you may imagine,” Kuris writes. “Even applicants with unusual backgrounds in the arts or skilled trades can win over law school admissions officers by showing how their former careers set them up for success in the legal field.”


There are variety of ways that applicants can discuss their story in the admissions process—from personal statements to optional essays. But Kuris says applicants with an unconventional background too often make the mistake of overexplaining themselves to admissions officers.

“They become so focused on how they break the mold that they fail to consider that law schools are not looking for prefabricated lawyers,” Blackman writes. “Rather than justifying the path you’ve taken, or distinguishing yourself from other applicants, show what you bring to the table. Law schools may not be seeking ‘typical’ applicants, but they are looking to build a balanced class composed of students who differ widely but share qualities that will help them succeed.”


If you are intent on highlighting certain aspects of your background, experts suggest using the diversity statement, an essay where applicants can expand on certain qualities that make them unique from other applicants.

“You should use the diversity statement as an opportunity to tell the admissions committee something unique about yourself, what makes you tick, or experiences that have shaped your worldview,” Padya Paramita, of InGenius Prep, writes. “This could include your background as well as any unique extracurricular activities, exceptional experiences, and honors and awards that make you stand out from the rest of the pack. Successful examples include family circumstances such as adoption, or unusual hobbies and accomplishments such as competitive weightlifting.”

Sources: US News, InGenius Prep

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