Mistakes in Law School Applications: To Fix or Not to Fix?

Law School Expert Blog

I received calls both yesterday and today from readers of my blog who just found mistakes in their recently submitted applications. Both were panicked about what to do, but my suggestions might have been different for each of them based on the type of mistake that was concerning them.

There are three kinds of mistakes that you could have made in your law school applications:

1. Factual – Did you put a wrong date for something or get the name of something wrong? This type of law school application mistake has the easiest solution: simply email the school(s) and let them know you made a mistake and the real date or name is “so-and-so.” No problem.

2. Typo/Grammatical – This is the most heartbreaking kind of mistake because you worked so hard to avoid it and it feels so final. One person called me yesterday and said she had repeated “the the” in a sentence in her personal statement, and another applicant called me today because she left out the word “to” in a sentence in her optional essay. If you’re going to make a mistake in your personal statement, let it be this kind. While I do advise avoiding any errors because it appears unprofessional and lacks attention to detail, it’s not the end of the world in the computer age to have a cut and paste error, etc. If you have one incident like this, just let it go. If you have something really wrong with your personal statement, you can email the school an updated copy. They will probably add it to your file but not replace the original version.

If you have an error in your resume, it can be easier to fix. Wait a week or so, say it’s an “updated resume” and send it to the schools without saying what about it is updated….they are unlikely to notice whether it’s an updated job, an honor, a description, or a typo correction.

3. Bad Judgment – If you just started reading my book or blog after submitting your applications and you are now realizing you made some rookie mistakes and wish you’d done things differently, there is not a lot you can do at this point. You can update the law school with other things, but you can’t really submit a whole new personal statement. You can add applications to other schools with improved materials, but it’s hard to do damage control after the fact. You could visit the law school and make a case for yourself in person to try to correct some perception issues and send supplemental information as appropriate (for example, if you feel you left out something crucial in your application).

Mistakes can be frustrating and cause you to lose sleep over missed opportunities, but you also have to keep it in perspective. They are part of human nature and perfection is unattainable. We just do the best we can and move on with our lives, trying to do better.

441 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,
    I realized that I left out a hyphen on my personal statement. I submitted the personal statement to 2 schools so far. Do you think I should try to contact these schools?
    Thanks,
    Sarah

  2. Hi Ann,

    I hope that all is well! I am a long time fan of your blog, and purchased your book, The Law School Admission Game, to guide me through the application process. I just began applying to schools, and realized I forgot to include a part-time job I had for two weeks. It was in no way significant, however I completely forgot to mention it. What should I do?

  3. Ann,

    I have 3.7x GPA and a 176 LSAT. I’ve applied to most of the t14, including Harvard and Stanford, with 1 typo in my Personal Statement. I wrote “the the” in one sentence. For these very elite schools, is it worth resubmitting my PS with the extra “the” removed? I’m terrified that I’ve ruined my chances after all this hard work.

    Best,
    Mike

    1. Mike, I really think, if this is the weakest thing in your application, all will be fine. Really. Yes, if this is what you get dinged for, then a school was just looking for an excuse to ding you….I think you’ll start to feel better when acceptances start coming in shortly.

  4. I forgot about a course I took 4 years ago during the summer. I already contacted LSAC and sent in the transcript. Should I email each school also?

  5. I just realized I signed my certification part of the application with the wrong date (I accidentally put in my year of birth not the current year). My deadline is in two days and is this going to be a big deal? I have already emailed the school and planning on calling them as well

  6. Ann,

    In the first application I sent, I listed the wrong location for a community college at which I took a class for high school credit. (When I entered the college’s name, its location was automatically filled in as City A, but I attended the City B campus.) The transcript sent to CAS has the correct location.

    I’m not sure if this is important enough to contact the admissions office about. Do you think I should? Thanks!

  7. Ann,

    In three applications I have submitted I listed the wrong year (2008 instead of 2009) for a course I took at a community college between freshman and sophomore year of college. Should I e-mail the admissions offices at each school? They should have the correct date on the transcript sent by CAS. Thanks!

  8. I just realized that in the personal statement I submitted to a few law schools, there is a typo in my LSAC account number, which I included in the header. Is this something I should contact the schools about and try to fix? Thanks!

  9. Ann,
    I forgot to include my high school information under the Education section in my apps. I did however include it in my resume, which is attached to all apps. Is this a problem worth being concerned over?

    -H

  10. Hi Ann,

    I am really grateful that I found this article as it has helped me calm down after I found a mistake in my personal statement. Just to get your opinion on this I forgot to put an ā€˜Iā€™ where there should have been one should I be worried? Anxiously awaiting your response because I have already submitted to all of my top choices and this is really bothering me

    Regards

    1. Jane, I completely understand how you feel. When I was director of admissions for different schools, almost every application had some error in it. It’s more important that the overall substance be compelling and strong. One typo won’t undo all of your hard work in everything else.

  11. Ann,

    Thank you for being a resource to law school applicants. A couple of issues: I JUST realized an error in my personal statement. In explaining promotion between one job to another within the same company, I missed four words, so it mistakenly reads I became a managing partner, instead of assistant to. I don’t want anyone to think this is an intention to mislead the reader!! Do you advise that I email the school ASAP? Or wait until Monday to speak with someone?

    In my diversity statement, in just one line, I refer to the school by name. Of course, I uploaded that version to the wrong institution. Please advise.

    Thank you

    1. Julia,
      Oops – send an email to the school explaining the error and attach a copy of the PS with the proper language.

      About the diversity statement problem, OUCH. You can write a note apologizing for your oversight and include a new copy of the DS, but it might have already been seen at this point.

      For readers who aren’t Julia, please learn from this mistake: I don’t know why people try to tailor their diversity statements to different schools – your diversity won’t make a different contribution to one school versus another. It just opens up the door to trouble. Doing a fill-in-the-blank school name never pays off, and can really hurt.

  12. Hi Ann,
    After submitting my application I realized I forgot to remove the “Future LSAT: December” on my application ; I had previously planned to submit my application before the December test. As a result, my status page for the school has a “future LSAT score” box unchecked. My December LSAT scores and all other materials have been received by the school. Should I call or write to them and inform them that there are no pending test scores? Or is this something that will be evident?

    Cheers,
    Roc

  13. I typed a diversity statement and in one part of my essay I said “Intra-racial prejudice” but in my closing paragraph I just said “internalized prejudice ”

    I’m completely freaking out because to me that has to different meanings!