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Following up on our last post, here are some more tips from Junior Deferral Program (JDP) students from Boston University, Berkeley, Penn, and Harvard College. Stayed tuned for another post from the JDP Admissions Committee soon!

Play To Your Strengths

Think critically about your long term goals; make sure you have a good sense of what you want to do with the deferral period and how that relates to your overall career plans. You don’t have to know exactly where you want to work or exactly what master’s degree you want, but do you want to do something that will inform your time in law school? Do you want to try something completely different before settling into a law career? The JDP requires a lot of really far out thinking, so know for yourself: what’s the big picture plan?

For many undergrads, it’s hard to get a lot of legal experience or to get professors who can speak to your abilities in legal scholarship or law-related subjects. So instead of trying to build an app that directly shows your potential as a lawyer, you can think a lot about the ways different fields and experiences can speak to law. For example, I didn’t have much experience working in the law, but I did have a lot of experience in applied sociolinguistics research. So I used my personal statement to talk about the impact of language and language discrimination on the law and how there’s huge potential for bringing linguistic research into legal practice, and got recommendations from my Linguistics professors that talked about my research with English Language Learner students and how that relates to educational equity and civil rights.

Juliana C.
Class of 2019, Stanford University
Class of 2024, Harvard Law School

Balance the Quantitative and the Qualitative

Numbers alone do not seal your fate. Of course, it would be naïve to believe that your LSAT score and GPA play only a minimal role in your admissions decision. Those results are critical. But it is just as naïve––and far more common––to believe that the qualitative aspects of your application are merely supplemental. Spend plenty of time writing (and even more time re-writing!) your story. An outstanding LSAT score cannot make up for a lazy personal statement or résumé. If you take every component of your application as seriously as the LSAT, good things will happen. I wish you the best of luck!

John C.
Class of 2019, Boston University
Class of 2024, Harvard Law School

Think About Your Goals and Interests

If you are considering the Junior Deferral Program, think about your post-graduation plans and how certain you are that you want to attend law school. If you have post-graduation plans that you want to work towards and are sure that you want to study law in a few years, then the Junior Deferral Program is a good fit for you. Not only can you know with certainty that you will be able to attend law school if you are accepted into the program, but you can also spend your post-graduation years working or volunteering or doing whatever your plans entail without worrying about taking the LSAT and writing application essays.

To those working on your application, make sure that your interest in law comes through, even if you don’t have past experience with anything related to law. It’s good to have a clear vision of what you would do in your deferral years, and also make sure your academic, extracurricular, and work experience are all evident in your materials. Finally, let your personality and passions shine through in your personal statement.

Emily H.
Class of 2019, University of California, Berkeley
Class of 2024, Harvard Law School

Be Authentic

I chose the Junior Deferral Program initially not knowing exactly how I wanted to spend my two years before law school, but confident that I needed that time to gain perspective and honestly a break from formal education. My advice would be to not stress too much about figuring out exactly what you want to do in those two years; instead, first figure out if taking that time is right for you.

The best advice I received while working on my application is to be authentic. While it can be tempting and even beneficial to ask friends and family for their advice on your personal statement, it is important to make sure that your own voice and passion shines through.

Teddie L.
Class of 2019, University of Pennsylvania
Class of 2024, Harvard Law School

Prepare Early, Keep an Open Mind

I recommend that you think about how you intend to spend the deferral period between graduation and law school, and envision those two years as broadly as you can. The JDP deferral period is an incredible opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something bold, so while conventional choices are great, I encourage you to consider experiences that truly excite you! For me personally, conversations with people working in areas that inspired me turned out to be incredibly helpful in guiding my thinking, and ultimately led me to the job that I’ll be doing during my first year of deferral.

Second, on a more practical note, early preparation truly does pay off in the JDP application, as there are inevitably delays and unexpected waiting periods for materials like recommendation letters, LSAT scores, and transcript processing. If you can get these components secured and completed early on in the process, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress later on!

Adam M.
Class of 2019, Harvard College
Class of 2024, Harvard Law School