Law School Application Horror Story: Ignoring the Traditional Wisdom

by on March 7th, 2015
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I was 21 and was double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Political Science. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with that, not really. Like thousands of other Humanities majors nationwide, I set my sights on law school. My eventual goal, at some point, was to be a Special Agent with the FBI. They liked lawyers, accountants, linguists, and computer nerds.

After three and a half years as a Criminal Justice/Political Science student, becoming a linguist, accountant, or computer guru was beyond my grasp…but law school seemed like a solid bet. I would go to law school for three years, get my Juris Doctor, and, I figured, become a lawyer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General.

I signed up to take the LSAT, the aptitude test for prospective law students. Having done quite well on the SAT and ACT four years prior, with no preparation, I figured that I could, with a good night’s sleep, walk into the test and knock ‘em dead. Traditional wisdom, involving months of exhaustive preparation for the lengthy exam, was ignored with prejudice.

I stayed up late the night before the LSAT watching the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Eraser, downed a Red Bull that morning, and walked into the testing room full of vim and vigor. I thought I did well on the test. When my results came back, I was crestfallen.

I was in the 57th percentile…right in the middle of the pack. My complete lack of preparation was my first mistake in applying to law school. It would not be my last.

My second mistake involved my essay. Instead of expressing my desire to serve the legal profession and waxing eloquent about my desires to pursue justice and equity, protect innocents, and assist the public, I decided to be brutally honest. I said that I wanted to be an FBI agent and the being a lawyer was the most efficient way for me to become one.

Though, to be fair, I included all the good stuff about public service and protecting innocents when discussing my desire to work for the Bureau.

Evidently, law school admissions staff did not appreciate my view as law school and a J.D. as simply a means to an end. I applied to only two law schools, one of them at the institution I was currently attending, and was accepted by neither.

I made a halfhearted effort to go to law school, thinking my natural skills and intelligence, completely devoid hard work and effort, would carry me through with flying colors. Receiving those two rejection letters was a humbling experience indeed, and may others learn from my mistakes!


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