Common Myths About Law School Admissions

November 15, 2022

Common Myths About Law School Admissions

When it comes to law school admissions, there’s no shortage of misconceptions out there.


According to Director of Admissions Darren Kettles, and Assistant Dean Karla Davis-Jamison, there are a lot of misconceptions that prospective students have about applying to and attending law school

The biggest misconception, Davis-Jamison says, is students’ belief that “they don’t belong here. They are very uncertain as to whether or not they could thrive in a setting like this. Based on their background, or experience, or their family history, or not having studied political science – whether they had excellent grades or participated in the typical student organizations that lead to law school.”

Let’s talk about some other myths and misconceptions about law school admissions, and why you shouldn’t let anything keep you from your aspirations and applying.

1. You need to take a gap year to get that application together.

It’s true – applying for law school is a lot. But having to take a year off? This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Depending on your personal circumstances (e.g. when you graduated, or if you decided to switch careers and chose law), you might apply to law school immediately after graduation. So it looks best, if you have all of your ducks in a row, to send that application in earlier rather than later. 

Overall, this 10-month process is fairly involved, but each component can be done over the course of that time, and (hopefully) never all at once.

2. LSAT scores are make-or-break.

First off, the LSAT is not the only factor used to determine law school admission.  It is one of several components of the application that reviewers consider in making an admission decision.

Let’s say you decide to take the LSAT more than once, like 26% of test takers do. All law schools will look at every score recorded in your application and report the highest score as a means of evaluation for admission and scholarship. 

If there is a stark contrast between the scores, say your second score is remarkably higher than the first, it would definitely help your case to include why in an addendum and allow you to focus the reasons for pursuing a JD for your personal statement.

3. They only care about your last two years of undergrad.

The admissions review team views each file through a holistic lens, and wants to see into every part of your undergraduate experience. This includes your entire academic record: every class you excelled in, or maybe didn’t. 

Your undergraduate grades help tell a story about your dedication to school, and are definitely something you can weave into your personal statement or discuss further in an addendum. Let’s say you made a marked improvement in your GPA between your final two years of school versus your first. Tell that story, and tell it with tact.

4. Certain degrees put you at the front of the line.

It goes without saying that certain majors—e.g. political science, criminal justice, history, journalism, and English—help craft excellent law students and, eventually, lawyers. But these majors won’t lock-in a law school seat.

The admissions review counsel welcomes areas of undergraduate studies in any major, and having a diverse background of majors in an incoming class increases the richness of the learning environment for everyone.  Don’t placate the law school, rather focus on areas of studies of great interest to you, challenge yourself to take classes that help you learn about ideas, people and places that are different from you.

5. Letters of recommendation can seal the deal.

While letters of recommendation help admissions teams get the full scoop of who you are as a person, they’re just a component of your holistic file. No matter who this letter is from (even an alumni donor or high-powered lawyer), it doesn’t outweigh the other elements of your application, rather it is another component to support an overall quality application. Only you and the quality of your overall application will make you shine.

6. WPs on your transcript are always a red flag.

While letters of recommendation help admissions teams get the full scoop of who you are as a person, they’re just a component of your holistic file. No matter who this letter is from (even an alumni donor or high-powered lawyer), it doesn’t outweigh the other elements of your application, rather it is another component to support an overall quality application. Only you and the quality of your overall application will make you shine.

7. Never disclose DUIs or misdemeanors.

Personal statements exist to help students paint a story of their lives, passions, dedication and reasons wanting to pursue a legal education. Different than the personal statement, an addendum is the place to explain lessons learned from less-than-ideal personal experiences. People have led different lives, made different choices—and mistakes—and that’s all understandable. 

What’s not understandable on a law school application, however, is to tell an outright lie or omit the truth about any criminal history or academic violations you might have. Lawyers exist to uphold the truth and protect the sanctity of law, and misrepresenting yourself in your very first appearance is just the opposite. Misleading the university creates a larger problem than simply admitting the truth, and you should never lie on an application or personal statement.  Sometimes the lie or holding back of information is even worse than the infraction, so be forthcoming, always. 

8. Non-geniuses need not apply.

The term genius is both subjective and alienating. As a lawyer, you need to have a solid work ethic, excellent interpersonal skills, and strong dedication to the practice. That’s what will make you a great lawyer – and a great student. Not perfect grades or a high IQ score.  Oftentimes what makes a great attorney is not necessarily someone who appears to be the “smartest” rather what makes a great attorney is the one who is most prepared and organized.

3 things you should know before applying to law school

Now that we’ve debunked some myths, let’s talk about some things you should definitely consider before you begin that law school application or submit it for review.

1. Make a timeline.

And we mean a very specific one. Think of applying for law school like a project; this one, however, takes as few as 6 months or as long as 2 years to prepare, plan, and finally apply for. You’ll need to set aside time and set deadlines to:

  • Visit prospective schools.
  • Attend information sessions and other educational events.
  • Study for and take—and possibly retake—the LSAT.
  • Request your undergraduate transcripts.
  • Obtain the required letters of recommendation.
  • Create or revise your resume.
  • Draft, edit, and finalize your personal statement.

Because time management is key to life as a working lawyer, think of the admissions process as a simple, albeit challenging, taste of real-world experience.

2. Choose a school that provides real-world skills.

What you’ve heard is true: knowledge is power. Yet, when it comes to legal practice—and many other professions—you need some hands-on experience to apply that knowledge. When deciding where to pursue your law degree, opt for a university that offers clinical and experiential learning opportunities.

At Stetson Law, we offer multiple clinics and externships, (everyone is guaranteed at least one, and many do more than one while in law school) to help you not only retain what you learned in class, but also apply it to real-life situations that help you gain the skills you need to become a successful lawyer.

3. Remember: TV lawyers don’t represent the real world. 

Law & Order, How To Get Away With Murder, and The Good Wife are showstopping television series that depict—albeit not so accurately—the (literal) trials and tribulations of fictional lawyers around the country.

While these shows make for ample entertainment and present ideas of what law could be, real-life cases aren’t always so high-profile and glamorous – what some lawyers call “sexy” cases. There’s a lot of planning, research, and meetings that these shows don’t touch on. Because watching Viola Davis pour through documents isn’t very exciting.

It’s important to remember that there is a huge quantity of very real work that goes into this profession, and it doesn’t always end in a fist-pumping victory or a huge press conference on the courthouse steps. Often, your experiences will be much more rewarding – and life-changing – than anything you’ve seen on TV.

Learn more about law school admissions on Stetson Law’s “Real Cases” podcast

Our new podcast episode “Common Myths About Law School Admissions” features an in-depth interview with Stetson Law’s own Director of Admissions, Darren Kettles, and Assistant Dean Karla Davis-Jamison. They discuss their dedication to prospective students during the admissions process, other myths about the process of applying and getting into law school, and how Stetson Law supports students from application to graduation.

Check out this and other fascinating episodes of “Real Cases,” a legal podcast presented by Stetson University College of Law.


Listen to all episodes of "Real Cases" now

Topics: Real Cases