Guide to the Columbia Law School Application

Application Strategy

Guide to the Columbia Law School Application

Hi! My name is Dorielle. I am a mentor with ChaseFuture and a current 2L (short-hand for second-year) at Columbia Law School (CLS). Given Columbia’s location in New York City and its ivy-league reputation, there is no doubt that gaining admission to CLS is a competitive process. However, with that being said I will seek to demystify the application process and provide some useful tips to consider when applying to CLS during your application cycle.

I. Grades and the LSAT

Applicants interested in CLS should be prepared to face a highly competitive process. This is the usual for any law school. Grades, LSAT scores, or TOEFL scores are very important components of your application. But, there are other ways to distinguish yourself through your application materials, so if these are not your fortes, then do not despair. 

II. Personal Statement

Many applicants underestimate the power of a personal statement. The personal statement is the applicant’s opportunity to really distinguish themselves from a series of other equally competitive candidates. Thus, I'll spend more time on discussing the personal statement.

At Columbia, the admissions committee really values putting together a class of diverse and unique individuals. Applicants should really take the time to think about what would make them a valuable, diverse addition to Columbia Law School. I encourage all applicants to think of a powerful experience, extracurricular activity, an important family member who has inspired them, or any type of life experience that can really speak to who they are as an individuals, but also demonstrate their desire to attend law school, specifically Columbia. It's easy to get into the habit of writing a form personal statement, but personalization is important. 

Columbia really gives all applicants the opportunity to discuss anything in their personal statement. While it may be nice to discuss some of your extracurricular activities, don’t forget you will also be submitting resume or CV, so it isn’t necessary to spend your time summarizing and discussing your activities. Talk about something new and different that will really engage the reader and have them interested in learning more!

All applicants should start their personal statement with a powerful opening that grabs the reader attention. Furthermore, throughout the essay, applicants should really emphasize their interests, backgrounds, and goals. Lastly, including specific reasons why you want to attend law school, especially Columbia Law School. 

I really encourage all applicants to DO THEIR RESEARCH—reach out to students or peruse the Columbia Law School site to really get an idea of what the school is like, the culture, and a greater understanding of why they may want to attend. Providing real reasons, that are well thought out is certainly a plus compared to the more generic answers such as, “I want to go to Columbia because it is an ivy-league.” The reality is that there are lot of people who will say the same; it will not impress the committee, and it takes away space from speaking about your real insights of the university!

III. Optional Essays

It is very important for all applicants to take advantage of all opportunities to write, including any optional essays that may be offered as a part of the application. These opportunities are key, as they give the applicant not only another opportunity to demonstrate their writing abilities, but highlight something that may have not been discussed or mentioned in their application. For example, Columbia offers applicants the opportunity to write a diversity statement. If an applicant feels that they are diverse, they should certainly take the time to discuss how their diversity will contribute to the law school.

IV. Timing

Timing is everything in the law school application cycle. If you take anything away from this blog, remember to include in your strategy early submission of your application. In fact, Columbia Law School reviews most applications in the order in which they are received. Getting in your application materials as early as possible should certainly be something all applicants need to strive to achieve. 

However, it also equally important that all applicants ensure that their materials are all edited, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and proofread before submitting. An applicant should not rush through completing their application just to get it in early. But, it certainly is important that, when thinking about applying to Columbia, all applicants consider the timeline and try to get all of their materials completed at an early date. This means adding a lot of cushion time for your editors. Start early.

I hope this blog, serves as a useful resource for all applicants interested in applying to Columbia Law School. Grades and test scores are certainly not everything, and there are so many ways to distinguish your application and make yourself a strong applicant. Good luck!