Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?

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Offline Anne

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Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« on: February 24, 2010, 11:33:29 AM »
If so, then I am happy to help out. I help tons of students every year with their law school apps, and have seen a lot of questions and doubts come up--I'd love to share my knowledge and advice. It doesn't matter if you're near the end of the process or you're just starting out; if you've got a question, post it on this thread. We'll pool our collective knowledge together and help you out.
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline copy 46

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 03:20:18 PM »
Actually I do. I have a very high GPA (3.9) and a good lsat (162). I also have a pretty impressive resume, as I have been successful in my career. I do however have some skeletons in the closet. I suffered from alcoholism for a couple years and was arrested for DUI. I was sentenced through diversion, which was completed successfully. A short time after my DUI, while on diversion, I assaulted a guy in a bar during a drunken bar fight There were no mitigating factors, I was the absolute aggressor and the victim sustained minor injuries.  I pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to some classes and community service. Within a week of the assault, I enrolled myself into an inpatient rehab facility where I remained for 35 days. I have been sober ever since and have also taken an active role in AA where I have helped countless men who suffer from alcoholism. I have not yet sent in my applications because I am unsure as to how my arrest record will affect my ability to practice law. I have conducted a lot of research and found nothing that specifically prohibits me from gaining admission or bar admittance, but I am still skeptical.

I want to convey the fact that the underlying issue of alcoholism lead to these arrests and that I have taken aggressive steps to deter any future issues. I am unsure as to whether I should be brutally honest about my past battle with alcoholism or if I should “just state the facts”. I want to be totally forthcoming about my addiction to alcohol because I know the power of rehabilitation, which is a major factor in my decision to practice law. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.     

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Offline copy 46

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 06:51:30 PM »
Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this type of question, I realize that most topics are LSAT related, but this forum seems to have a lot of knowledgeable members as opposed to some of the alternatives.

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2010, 06:40:58 PM »
Hey copy! This is actually a very interesting situation, and one that I am happy to offer my advice on. I'll break my analysis down fact by fact based on the info you provided.

I suffered from alcoholism for a couple years and was arrested for DUI. I was sentenced through diversion, which was completed successfully. A short time after my DUI, while on diversion, I assaulted a guy in a bar during a drunken bar fight There were no mitigating factors, I was the absolute aggressor and the victim sustained minor injuries.  I pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to some classes and community service. Within a week of the assault, I enrolled myself into an inpatient rehab facility where I remained for 35 days. I have been sober ever since and have also taken an active role in AA where I have helped countless men who suffer from alcoholism.

The DUI and assault charge by themselves would be red flags. However, the fact that you not only faced your problem but embraced the solution--and then became active in helping others who suffered from the same problem--turned what could be a big negative into a big positive. Instead of presenting a flawed character you have instead shown strength (facing your problem and enrolling in rehab), perseverance (staying sober ever since), and leadership (helping others in AA with the same issue).

Regarding your question:

I am unsure as to whether I should be brutally honest about my past battle with alcoholism or if I should “just state the facts”.

I would almost suggest that you talk about this in your personal statement, since I have a feeling it could be a very memorable and impactful piece of writing if done well. This would allow you to both state the facts (which you will need to do anyway due to the character and fitness questions in the application), but also present a little of the emotional and personal side of the situation, its effects, and its eventual outcomes. If you've already written your personal statement and it's not about this topic, I wouldn't worry--just write an addendum and explain the situation, state the facts, and tell them what you did to remedy it. As a matter of fact, a slightly "fancier" version if what you wrote in this forum would work just fine, and would also convey the same positive traits.

About this:

I have not yet sent in my applications because I am unsure as to how my arrest record will affect my ability to practice law. I have conducted a lot of research and found nothing that specifically prohibits me from gaining admission or bar admittance, but I am still skeptical.

Your record should not affect your ability to practice law or get licensed. You will likely face some very direct questions during the C&F hearing, but as long as you are honest and keep on the same "straight and narrow" that you have been on thus far, I don't really see how it will affect you. As I said, you've actually turned some very negative aspects of your past into some very positive enhancements of your character. As long as you practice full disclosure with EVERYTHING about your record (both now during the law school application process and during your licensing and Bar proceedings), then you should be fine. Disclose, disclose, disclose--be honest and you will be fine.

Also:

I have a very high GPA (3.9) and a good lsat (162). I also have a pretty impressive resume, as I have been successful in my career.

That will go a long way to also demonstrating that you have grown up as a person and are able to succeed both academically and professionally. This will only bolster the positive qualities I mentioned above, and will be gravy to the rest of your application.

In short, I think you'll be fine. You don't even need to "spin" anything. Your actions have spoken louder than any words ever could--just make sure to present the facts to the Admissions Committees, and they will see the same things I did. Your past doesn't preclude you from either going to law school or practicing law--as you mentioned yourself, it enhances your position, not detracts from it.
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2010, 06:42:27 PM »
One more thing:

I want to be totally forthcoming about my addiction to alcohol because I know the power of rehabilitation, which is a major factor in my decision to practice law. 

That would make a fantastic start to a personal statement or statement of purpose (i.e., "Why I want to go to law school" essay), if you haven't already written one.

Best of luck! Let me know if you have any other questions or want clarification on anything.
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline copy 46

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2010, 08:46:02 PM »
Thank you so much for all of you insightful input. I plan on disclosing everything of course as I really do not want to spend 3-4 years in law school only to learn that I cannot pass the moral character and fitness requirement. I have heard opposing arguments as to whether or not past mistakes should be included into the personal statement, but you make some valid points. Thanks again for your help!


 ;drunk;   

I wish I would have noticed this during my first post!

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2010, 08:36:23 PM »
Thanks again for your help!

My pleasure! Let me know if I can help with anything else.
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline UnfGirl

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2010, 12:25:27 AM »
Hi Anne,

I am taking the LSAT this coming October and am planning on using this summer to get my application materials together (as well as take an LSAT course). How do you think I should spend the summer/ what should I focus on first, as far as getting applications ready for fall? Would it be best to have all of my materials ready before I take the LSAT?

Also, once I have everything (LOR'S, transcripts etc)..do I just sent it all to LSDAS?

Thanks so much!
 ;thnx;

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2010, 12:47:29 AM »
Hey UnfGirl! I'm glad to give you my take on your situation:

How do you think I should spend the summer/ what should I focus on first, as far as getting applications ready for fall? Would it be best to have all of my materials ready before I take the LSAT?

Since you're taking the LSAT in October, I would definitely make sure that you have everything else ready before then, for two reasons:

1. If you spend the spring and first part of the summer taking care of your personal statement, LORs, etc., then you can spend the latter part of the summer studying for the LSAT without distractions.
2. If you have everything ready by the time you take the LSAT, you can go ahead and submit your applications as soon as your LSAT scores are ready (late October/early November), which is very early on in the application cycle, which can only work to your advantage (both in peace of mind and availability of seats at the schools you're applying to).

I would start by working on your LORs. They can be the most time-consuming aspect of the application process, since you're essentially dependent on other people's timelines to get them done. Approach your recommenders as soon as you can and get them taken care of by early summer. You can probably leave working on your personal statement until June or July, but you might want to get that out of the way sooner rather than later, so that you don't have to be worrying about any essays late in the summer.

You can also sign up for LSDAS right now, and get Transcript Request Forms sent out to your undergrad institution(s). Those can take a while to get from your school to LSAC, and then it can take up to 2 weeks to get processed by LSAC, so getting that done early is one more step you can take. Also, check to see if any of your schools require Dean's Certifications. If so, get those submitted to your Dean's Office early; if you leave it until later, the Office can get flooded with requests which can delay your own form getting done.

Also, once I have everything (LOR'S, transcripts etc)..do I just sent it all to LSDAS?

Yes. Here's how the major components work:

1. LORs: These will be submitted by your recommenders to LSDAS. They need to send the letter, along with an LSAC Letter of Recommendation Form, directly to LSDAS via snail mail or fax. They can take up to two weeks to process by LSDAS.
2. Transcripts: These will be submitted by your undergrad institution to LSDAS. They need to be submitted, along with an LSAC Transcript Request Form, directly to LSDAS via snail mail. They can take up to two weeks to process by LSDAS.
3. Personal Statements, Additional Essays, Addenda: These are uploaded by you onto LSDAS. They do not need to be approved by LSAC/LSDAS. You just upload them via your LSDAS profile.
4. Dean's Certificates and other assorted forms: If your school has additional forms that they require you to submit, they will have instructions on how they want you to submit them. Some of them will be through LSDAS, others will ask that you send them via email or snail mail. Just follow the instructions on the form.

Let me know if you have any additional questions. Hope it helped!
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline UnfGirl

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2010, 05:02:55 PM »
Thank you! That definitely cleared things up a bit.

As far as having my reccommenders send LORs directly to LSDAS...what address do I give them? Is it on the website? And should I take into account any extra paper work specific schools want as far as reccommendations go? Or is just the reccomendation and LSAC reccommendation form good enough?

 ;thnx;

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2010, 07:12:05 PM »
As far as having my reccommenders send LORs directly to LSDAS...what address do I give them? Is it on the website? And should I take into account any extra paper work specific schools want as far as reccommendations go? Or is just the reccomendation and LSAC reccommendation form good enough?

The LSDAS LOR Form will have all that information--believe me, they take the guesswork out of all of it. It will have specific instructions for your recommenders as well as addresses where the forms and letters can be sent.

I'm not sure I understand your question regarding extra paperwork for the recommendations. Do you mean what should you do if schools ask for additional information from your recommenders on top of their recommendations? If schools ask for that, then you should make sure to provide schools with everything they ask for and require. Read the application instructions carefully and fulfill all requirements. Don't make schools wonder why you didn't submit something or why a form, essay, or letter wasn't done to their specifications.
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline UnfGirl

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2010, 01:33:33 PM »
Well, I am using the LSDAS recommendation tool...so I am giving all recommenders the form that lsac requires for them to send it in. But, UF for instance, requires an additional cover letter to be sent in by the recommender with the recommendation. So my question is, with the recommendation letters all on my lsac account, how do I go about dealing with cover letters that some schools require? Hope this makes sense...it's hard to explain!

 ;stars;

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2010, 08:28:12 PM »
Well, I am using the LSDAS recommendation tool...so I am giving all recommenders the form that lsac requires for them to send it in. But, UF for instance, requires an additional cover letter to be sent in by the recommender with the recommendation. So my question is, with the recommendation letters all on my lsac account, how do I go about dealing with cover letters that some schools require? Hope this makes sense...it's hard to explain!

Oh! I know what you mean. I assume that you're talking about the "Cover Letter for Evaluation of Applicant" that's in the Supplemental Forms section of the application. That form will be filled in by both you (the top part) and your evaluator (recommender). You will fill out the top before you give to it to your recommender, and then they will complete the bottom and send it in via snail mail to UF. If you read under the instructions for the evaluator, you'll see that it tells them to "mail it to the Levin College of Law address listed above." In this case, just have your recommender follow the instructions specific to UF (that is, mail in the rec letter along with the cover sheet directly to UF), but I would also have them send their rec letter to LSAC--that way, it can be processed via LSDAS and it will be available for you to use with other schools. However, if you do this, make sure to tell your recommender to make the letter non-specific regarding schools; if they make it UF-specific, then you won't be able to use it for any other school.

Here's the rule of thumb for "cover letters" and additional documents like this: Follow what the form says. Every school is a little bit different in what they want and how they want it, so if they give you forms with specific instructions, I would always err on the side of caution and do what the forms tell me to do. However if, like in this case, the instructions are contradictory to what the general LSDAS instructions are and you're still feeling a little unsure as to what to do, I would call the schools directly and ask. Believe me, they're happy to answer your question if it means that you will do things in a way that follows their wishes and makes their lives a little easier.

I hope that helped!
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2010, 02:13:15 PM »
Does anyone else have any questions? I can't believe that everyone out there knows everything there is to know about law school admissions! :) Don't be shy, step on up!
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog

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Offline Anne

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Re: Do you have questions about the law school admissions process?
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2010, 10:32:22 AM »
Bumping this thread up just in case any of the newbies have questions. :)
Director of Admissions Consulting for PowerScore LSAT Preparation. I can be reached at [email protected]

Check out my Law School Admissions Tip of the Week on the PowerScore LSAT and Law School Admissions Blog