Students of all ages and experience levels often wonder how to appropriately express their professional credentials on their law school application. Whether you have college jobs, an internship, or twenty years of professional experience under your belt, there are a few overall guidelines you can follow to get the biggest application bang from your experience buck.
In 1992 the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State in re M.T.S. (609 A.2d 1266 (N.J. 1992)), a case about the meaning of the term “force” in New Jersey’s sexual assault statute. As soon as the court published its opinion, scholars predicted that the decision was bound for the casebooks, and they were right. It is a great teaching case, and it is also an important early defense of the principle of affirmative consent, a way of thinking about sexual assault that has gained considerable traction in recent years. A generation of law students has now been introduced to sexual assault law through In re M.T.S.
But there’s something else about M.T.S. that’s striking and important, something that has less to do with sexual assault and much to do with the talents of law students.
Ever since I could remember I have wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I have always been fascinated by the process that occurs behind the scenes in order to take a concept from an artistic idea in someone’s head to an actual product that people around the world can enjoy.
One of the most sought-after credentials for students currently in Law School, is Journal membership. How many Journals a particular Law School may host varies considerably, but Seton Hall Law School is home to only three: The Seton Hall Law Review, Seton Hall Circuit Review, and the Seton Hall Legislative Journal. All three Journals are tremendously prestigious, and the small number ensures that only truly worthy members will be invited to join.
Seton Hall’s first year curriculum includes a class that is not found at many other law schools. It is called Introduction to Lawyering, and it is broadly ambitious. The course introduces students to the core skills, values, and professional habits that are integral to lawyering across many areas of practice. Fundamentally, the course is grounded in the practical experience of real lawyers. It is modeled on what real lawyers do. Seton Hall used to offer a class that is more typically offered at law schools across the country – Legal Research and Writing. So how does Introduction to Lawyering differ from Legal Research and Writing and why did we make this change?
Well, it’s that time of year again. With the holiday season comes law school exams, and the anxiety that inevitably comes along with that. It is important, however, not to let stress carry you away. You have worked hard all term. Think of exams not as a trial but as a chance to demonstrate your mastery, to show your professors just how much you know about Contracts, Civil Procedure or whatever else has filled your brain over the last few months.
Plagiarism — the use of someone else’s words or ideas in writing without proper attribution — is one of the easiest ways to ruin your academic or professional reputation. Just ask Senator John Walsh, whose Master’s degree from the United States War College was rescinded after it was discovered that he copied large portions of his final thesis without attribution. Or Benny Johnson, the BuzzFeed writer who was dismissed after Twitter users pointed out dozens of examples in his articles of “sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites.”
As a law student, being scrupulous about avoiding plagiarism is particularly important, as a plagiarism violation could be used as evidence of poor “character and fitness” when you apply for admission to the bar. For lawyers already in practice, plagiarism can be grounds for professional discipline.
Applying to graduate school for a master's degree can feel daunting, particularly if you are a mid-career professional who hasn’t been in the classroom for a while. Most graduate schools will require that you submit a personal statement as part of your application, but don’t be intimidated by the task.
If your goals of returning to school include developing new skills to better position yourself for new or expanding opportunities within your industry or related industry, a compelling personal statement can be the key factor in the school’s decision to admit you. Graduate schools desire diverse students with a variety of personal, professional and educational backgrounds.
Think of the graduate school personal statement as your opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants and to highlight something that the admissions committee would not otherwise know about you.
(Post updated September 26, 2019)
There is no doubt that there's just a little bit of pressure on you to write the best personal statement you can. After all, there's no other component of the law school application that you can control as much as this one. And...a well written personal statement can really help to set you apart from all the other applicants since this is essentially your interview on paper. So, how do you write a personal statement for law school? I'm hoping that I can offer some thoughts to prevent you from dreading the personal statement and instead embrace it as an amazing tool to share your story!