Order in the court

Reflections on the law school application process

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I am really lucky to be attending Duke Law in the fall. As I reflect on my admissions process, one thing stands out: I could not have done it alone. I was only able to get to this point from the help and advice of others. As I leave Muhlenberg, I want to impart some wisdom on what it takes to get into a T14 law school, so that others from Muhlenberg can do the same. 

The biggest piece of advice I have is to surround yourself with people who will both support you and push you. Studying for the LSAT was one of the hardest things I have done. It took me nine months, and the majority of weeks I clocked in at about 15-20 hours of studying. That was on top of classes, clubs and ensembles. If I had not had people around me to support me and check in on me, I would have been so burned out that it would have been impossible. I also needed people around me to push me. There were times I wanted to give up or settle for a lower score. If I had not had people around me telling me that I was capable of more and that I would regret not pushing myself further, then I would never have done as well as I did. Sometimes you need people to cut through the self-doubt and mental fatigue and remind you of what you set out to do and what you are capable of. 

Second, ace the LSAT. This is your biggest tool in the admissions process. I recommend using 7Sage. The progress will be slow at first, but trust the process. Make sure you are regularly doing drills and practicing different skills. If you need a tutor, then get one. Yes, they are expensive, but the higher your LSAT score, the better the school and the better the scholarship. It will pay off to pay more and do better. Trust me. I improved my score by five points using a tutor, which is the difference between paying full tuition and getting a full ride. 

Third, do research with a professor. Find out what interests you, and then find someone who can guide you as you explore that topic. Not only is doing research a great way to learn something new and interesting, but you will also improve your writing skills, which are essential for both the application process and law school in general. And, if you are able to get it published, that is even better. The majority of applicants do not have a published paper, and this will help you stand out. Doing research will also give you a stellar letter of recommendation, as the professor you work with will get to know you really well. The more personal the letter, the better. 

Lastly, find your why. Law schools want to admit students who are passionate about the law. Before applying, do some soul-searching and ask yourself why you want to go to law school. When did the idea of going to law school first come across your mind? How do your values align with the legal profession? Those are all important questions to ask yourself, and being able to answer those questions with a compelling narrative is super important. I have heard of people getting into top law schools with a GPA and LSAT score that were below both medians but had such a compelling reason for going to law school that they got in anyway. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor should it be taken as a sure-fire way to get into a top law school. Ultimately, what you put into the process is what you will get out of it, and it may not always be necessary for your career goals to go to a top law school. In fact, many people are still able to get jobs at top firms without going to top schools; they might just have to work harder in law school to get there. Muhlenberg prepared me well, and it will prepare you well too. Just remember, everything happens for a reason, so give it your all, trust the process, and everything will fall into place. 

Matthew '24 is a philosophy and political thought major on the pre-law track.

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