After Action Review – Applying to Law School
Applying to law school is considerably different, and in many ways simpler, than applying to business school. Most notably, all law school applications are submitted through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), essays and letters of recommendation can be recycled for each school, and most top-tier schools do not have an interview associated with the application.
Certainly, the streamlined process reduces the amount of work regardless of the number of schools you apply to. I made it a goal to submit each of my applications within the first week of the application window opening, and with the exception of Yale (which had additional components I did not anticipate), I met that goal. Since most schools have a rolling admission process, applying early can give you an edge, and at the very least it reduces stress through the admissions cycle.
LSAT. I took the LSAT twice: once in Sydney, Australia while on R&R leave from Afghanistan and a second time in Munich, Germany about two weeks after my deployment.
Due to the timing, I was not mentally prepared for either test, and scored much lower than I did on practice exams. On R&R I took the test after ten days of standard R&R activities, and after the deployment I took the exam while trying to reintegrate in to Germany. Both times, distractions and other priorities hindered performance.
If possible, I would have tested in the United States. While the proctors overseas were American, the atmosphere was very different from what I was used to with standardized tests like the Fundamental Engineering Exam (FEE) that I had taken stateside.
Like any other standardized test, the LSAT can be learned. There are only so many ways to ask an LSAT question, and repetition leads to improvement. To prepare for the LSAT, I used the Logic Games Bible and Logical Reasoning Bible to get a basic understanding of successful strategies for these sections.
After working through these books, I took as practice tests several previous LSATs purchased from the LSAC website. These practice tests were by far the best preparation I had. Further, it helped that I timed myself on the tests and reviewed my mistakes.
I never considered taking an LSAT prep course because I lived in Germany and had an extremely variable schedule, but even had I been stateside I don’t think I would’ve taken the prep courses. In my opinion, individual study is as effective as an expensive prep course given the nature of the test.
Application Approach. I attempted to approach my application holistically. I knew that I had a very competitive GPA and a less competitive but not bad LSAT score. To me this meant I’d probably at least by looked at by any school that I applied to. For this reason, I tried to present an application that created a picture of me as a complete individual.
Your resume will likely speak briefly about your academic accomplishments and extensively about your actual military career (things like leadership, tactical and technical competence, combat experiences and so on). Having re-enforcing letters of recommendation won’t necessarily hurt, but having letters that can add depth to you as a person, specifically your intellectual capacity will help round you out as a candidate. In the same way, a personal statement rehashing how great you did at school or rewording your military experience bullets will not add anything meaningful to the application.
Letters of Recommendation. I reached out…