With the fall season upon us, the J.D. Admissions office is hard at work gearing up for the 2021–2022 application cycle. We’re sure many of you are similarly beginning to prepare your materials and get organized as well. To that end, the J.D. Admissions team recently came together to offer their thoughts on some underrated and overrated approaches that applicants might take towards their HLS application. We hope you’ll find some of these nuggets useful. This week, we continue our Underrated Approaches to the Application series with some additional advice.

Assistant Director Sam Parker

Underrated: A clean, one-page resume
“We always appreciate seeing a clean, crisp, one-page resume that is well-organized. It helps the application reader better parse your path and understand your motivations. Aim to narrow down your list of work experiences, activities, and accomplishments to the most recent and relevant. Identify experiences you’ve had that are most important to your law school application. We recommend including any summer internships, work experiences, or leadership positions (during or after college) that have inspired or affirmed your decision to pursue a legal career.”

Underrated: Submitting two well-chosen letters of recommendation
“Submitting two, rather than three, letters of recommendation can be an excellent judgement call. If you are spending a significant amount of time searching for a third letter of recommendation or having trouble deciding who to ask, let it go! We only require two letters of recommendation, and we do not preference candidates with three. In fact, a third letter could weigh down your application if it doesn’t add a new perspective or offer the same degree of insight as the others. Before asking a third recommender to write you a letter, think through whether that letter is going to bolster your application or not.”

Admissions Officer Monique Atkinson

Underrated: Proofreading
“Let’s go back to the basics! Make yourself comfortable with a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and read your application all the way through. Ask yourself questions about what might be missing, oh . . . and check your grammar. Consider reaching out to a friend or trusted colleague who can review your written work with a different perspective (you’d be surprised what a fresh set of eyes can offer!). We don’t demand perfection but be sure to present yourself as a thoughtful and professional applicant by catching spelling, grammar, syntax, and formatting issues.”

Admissions Officer Pamela Toscano

Underrated: Choosing the right standardized test for you
“At Harvard Law School, we accept both the GRE and the LSAT. We leave the decision on which to submit entirely up to the applicant, and there’s no advantage to choosing one rather than the other, or both.  Only you can determine which exam best reflects your abilities. Both the LSAT and the GRE offer online practice questions to help you get a sense of what to expect. Determine which test is the right fit for you, spend time preparing and practicing, and remember that the test score you submit is just one part of the overall application.”

Filed in: Inside the Black Box

Contact the J.D. Admissions Office

Website: hls.harvard.edu/jdadmissions

Email: jdadmiss@law.harvard.edu