Top 5 Mistakes Made When Re-Applying to Law School

Law School Expert Blog

Each year, I work with people who were either unsuccessful in their attempts to apply to law school previously or were unhappy with their options at the end of the admission cycle. There are absolutely things you can to to bolster your applications, but here are some common mistakes people make when reapplying to law school:

1. Sending the same personal statement and letters of rec to the same law school that rejected you last year.

2. Thinking that simply getting an internship/paralegal position in a law firm will make all the difference in the world, even when you have a letter of rec from an attorney.

3. Attempting to “go back to undergrad” to improve your UGPA. It doesn’t work. And getting a paralegal certification isn’t going to impress anyone. But do take care to update your transcripts (see this post about reapplying to law school).

4. Not Retaking the LSAT when you didn’t prepare adequately the first time. (See this previous post for more about how the LSAT factors in when you are reapplying to law school)

5. Failing to evaluate your schools list with a candid view of your credentials.

Re-applicants get into law school all the time, but the trick is overcoming any weaknesses you may have (inadvertently) shown the school in the previous admission cycle. Here’s more about reapplying to law school.

56 Responses

  1. Hello! I really love the blog; please keep it up.

    Can a redone version of an old essay be resent, if accompanied by updated rec letters and a better LSAT score?

    Also, do law schools keep old applications?


  2. I am reapplying to law school and would like to use at least one of my LORs from last cycle. What is you’re recommendation on that?

  3. Can you explain in more detail why getting practical experience for a few years as a paralegal and getting excellent grades in a paralegal AAS degree program to bolster a less competitive undergrad GPA aren’t helpful in my application if I were to apply to law school? I understand that LSAT scores count heavily, but it’s hard to fathom that the above items aren’t at least helpful. Thanks in advance for any elaboration.

    1. Hi Angie,
      It’s not that a paralegal program is hurtful; it does show interest in law but no more so than simply working in a law-related agency or firm. And these programs can be expensive, and usually aren’t a prerequisite to getting hired for a job in a law firm. It can help if you need letters of rec, but just taking one or two extension courses would be sufficient for these purposes.

  4. I am reapplying after 3 years to law school.There are 3 listed that I have applied to before. Do the schools still keep your applicat information on file that long?

  5. Hi Ann,

    Thank you for this informative blog post! I have a question regarding mistake #1. I’m planning on applying this round, but have only 2 academic LORs (which I will submit to the law schools I apply to) that I received while I was an undergrad. If I do get rejected from a law school and decide to reapply again the following cycle, is it okay to submit those same 2 LORs (assuming that they aren’t the reason why I got rejected) again? I honestly don’t see another way around submitting different academic LORs since I’ve been out of school for a year and haven’t kept in touch with any of my professors. What do you think? Thank you!

  6. Hey Ann ,
    Thanks for the post . Any advice for a third time applicant ?? I strongly believe my LSAT was the problem so I’m studying and retaking it . I also do have the same recommenders , but updated letters . My personal statement is changing to update my professional experience , but overall everything is the same . Any advice ???? I want the schools to see that I don’t give up, but I don’t want to come off as unrealistic or desperate

    1. Bea,
      Great insight! The tone of your application, as a re-applicant, is important: some do come off as desperate and/or unrealistic.
      Improving your LSAT and strengthening your materials are great next steps.

  7. Hi Ann! My question is along the line as Michelle’s in that I originally applied to law school in 2009, but without success (only conditional admittance). I will be retaking the LSAT in December. The applications now ask if you have applied to the law school before, and if so when? My question is, because so much time has passed, am I to check yes if my previous app is no longer on file at the law schools? Also, should I begin to send in my apps now to get a early start to boost my acceptance later (previous 140’s lsat/2.7 gpa combo), or wait until after the Dec 2012 scores are released and apply in January? I am also a minority, applied to the CLEO program a few weeks ago hoping to up my chances, 33 years old and non-traditional student, been out of undergrad and working full time as a teacher for the last 7 yrs, and earned a Masters in 2009 with a 3.9 gpa of that helps. There is just so much conflicting info on when to apply, when not to, and if you have a low gpa/lsat applying as early as possible. Thank you in advance.

  8. Ann,

    Like Bea, I have also been previously rejected and the only thing that has changed is that I’m applying as a transfer student to one of the school’s I was rejected from. My original Personal Statement explains my desire and decision to go to law school and I planned on using the same one (plus some recall of my first year in law school and reasons for wanting to transfer). I also planned on using the same LOR’s plus a new LOR from one of my professors.

    Why exactly is it a bad idea to use the same LOR’s and Personal Statement?

    1. Mark, it’s hard to know it’s a bad idea without seeing the documents or knowing more about your strategy, but I would only use these again if you are REALLY confident in them. Since you were rejected last year, I’m not sure there is a basis for being truly confident. Plus you probably want to share something new about yourself with the school.

  9. I am choosing between two schools and it is a deadlock. If I go to one and decide I don not like it, can I reapply to the school I declined at or would they not take me?

  10. Earlier in the year I applied to the only law school I want to go to, I wrote an excellent personal statement – and I got put on their waiting list. Turns out a week or so after I get the letter than the semester had already started and sorry, that my undergraduate school was telling me I needed 4 more credits to graduate – so I didn’t have my diploma. After a mild battle with them, I won, I’m getting my diploma. I still signed up to retake the LSAT for the 3rd time, seeing as I got a 145 the first time and a 149 the second…I wanted to just try to see if I could boost it a little more. Should I rewrite my entire personal statement when I submit my application again?

    1. Hi Monica,
      You don’t necessarily have to re-do your personal statement. You may want to update it, though….

  11. Hi,

    I was academically dismissed from second tier law school last year, I’m not working at a law firm as a receptionist and re-applying to law school, hopefully I’ll be able to get into a tier 4. Anyway, any help for someone trying to overcome the whole academic dismissal issue would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Agatha,
      You are probably required to sit out two years and to demonstrate that the issues that plagued you in law school are now resolved. However, if you had a low LSAT score and/or GPA applying to law school initially, it may be an uphill battle because you may not have a lot of numbers on your side to show promise. However, if your numbers would be high for a Tier 4, they may be more willing to give you a chance.

  12. I am reapplying to schools this year after having been waitlisted at several schools that I want to attend. I am retaking the LSAT this month and, at least from what my practice tests are showing me, I should score considerably higher than last time. I believe that my personal statement was well-written last year and would like to keep it as is, if possible, but I am worried that it will seem like I am not putting much effort into my application. Do you recommend that I change my personal statement, or is changing another aspect of my application (LSAT score) enough to prevent me from just seeming lazy? Thank you for your help.

    1. I don’t usually answer anonymous comments because it’s too hard for people to tell which question I’m answering, but I generally recommend some revamping, updating something new.

  13. So I am still a bit confused..

    when you reapply you shouldn’t reuse the letters of recommendations you got from your professors? ( i’ve been out of school for over a year) does LSAC let you keep the letters on your account even after a year?

    while i am studying i was hoping to go work at a law firm, is not recommended?

    1. Christina, you can absolutely use the LORs from professors. LSAT keeps them for 5 years.
      You can work at a law firm – why not? Of course it’s always good experience!

  14. Hello!

    I applied to law school 3 years ago and was successful in getting wait-listed at my top schools. I just finished two years as a Teach For America Teacher and I now teach 5th grade. I also just graduated from Johns Hopkins Graduate school of education. I am reapplying for Fall 2016.

    I have three new letters of rec (two from TFA and one from grad school), but I would love to use a letter of rec from my undergraduate years. Is that alright to use? I am applying to almost all of the same schools. Will my file still be with them? Does it matter if they receive her letter too, it is from 2013?

    Thank you!

  15. Hi Ann,

    I applied for law school but after the deadline, now I’m re- applying two months after my first application. Do you recommend using the same personal statement and LORs? It’s beneficial to change your personal statement after two months?

    Thanks you!

  16. Is it really that bad to use the same LOR’s as the previous year? What can be said differently? Any info is much appreciated so I can perhaps relay this to my referee’s.

  17. Hi,

    Mistake #1 stood out to me the most. I applied to law school last year, unfortunately I was rejected. I am in the process of reapplying. If you do not mind, please explain why I should not use the same LOR’s that I used for my first application. Thank You

    I Love Your Blog!

  18. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for the post! I applied for law school last year and am applying again this year. Last year I was waitlisted to two of my top schools, one of which I interviewed with. Because I met with the dean and other admissions counselors at that school, it is possible they will remember me if I apply again. I only have one new letter of recommendation to submit, and would like to reuse my personal statement. Do you think this will negatively impact my application? I should also mention that this will not be the only school I am reapplying to, and my significant changes are a case assistant position at a big corporation and a projected 7-10 point LSAT score increase.

    Thank you!

  19. The first Mistake has me a bit confused. I took the December LSATs and my score was lower than what I received 3 years ago. Currently my score report reads 4 scores ranging from 136 to 143. My UGPA is 3.6 in both of my majors and a 4.0 in my Paralegal studies program. I have been employed in the law field for the past three years. I am a minority I have some strong LORs as well (Judge, Paralegal Professor, . I was encourage to apply this cycle and see what could happen. But I am fearful that at this time in this currently cycle that it is extremely competitive and my application is not strong enough. If I wait and take the June 2017 Lsats and apply in September for next year my two lower 130 scores will not show on my report, and I will be able to apply early.

    My question is, should I apply now with my creditials and see what happens? If I do not get in to the schools , would I be able to reuse the same LORs and personal statement if I reapply this September? Would that be OK to do?

  20. Hi Ann,

    I’m applying to transfer to a school that I was rejected from last year for 1L admission. After becoming more familiar with the C&F requirements of the Bar I’ve realized that there is a very minor incident that I ought to include in my C&F answer that I didn’t realize was applicable when I applied a year ago. Will this school compare my transfer application to my 1L application from last year? And if they do, will they see the different answer on the C&F question and think I was being deceitful last year?

    Thank you!

    1. Elise, I advise you to acknowledge the oversight on this year’s application and report it fully this year, stating that it was a mistake (and why) to not report it last year.

  21. Hi Ann,

    I actually was admitted to a law school in the T-14 for this upcoming fall, but out of the blue, someone I had met through my current work offered me a research manager position for a study on human trafficking (my legal interest).

    The study might take 1-2 years and I would feel deceitful deferring and then being unable to attend the following year. Plus this was the only school I applied to, and if I reapply, I could reapply to the other schools as well and perhaps be in a better position for negotiating fin aid. However, I worry that since they accepted me this year, they might not be willing to accept me again in a future cycle if I don’t take their offer.

    Do you think I will be at a disadvantage if I turn down their offer but reapply either next year or the year after? This is my dream school and it has the best programs for international human rights work in the T-14…

    Thank you for your advice!

  22. Hello,

    So I did not get into the law school I wanted to get into last year and I strongly believe it was due to my LSAT score. I will be taking a LSAT prep course this summer, retaking the LSAT, and reapplying to law school this fall. My question is, does our personal statement have to be completely different from the previous one I submitted? I was thinking of updating a few parts of it.

  23. Hi Ann,
    I am reapplying to law school this year, and I was wondering if I would have to resubmit my transcripts even if I didn’t take classes at 2 out 3 institutions? I took one course during the Spring, so I will have to update the transcript from that. But should I send in transcript request forms to the other two institutions?

    Thank you for your help!

  24. Hi Ann,

    So I have graduated from undergrad in May 2016 and I did not apply to law school until this year for the Fall of 2017 but I got rejected and I believe it was because of my low LSAT score. Do you think I can reuse 2 of my LOR from my undergrad professors for which one of them is a lawyer? Or do they need to be updated? I plan to retake the exam again and will be reapplying for the Fall of 2018. Please let me know. Thanks!

  25. Hi Ann,

    Last year I was admitted to UT Law. I am reapplying to some T-7 schools this year, some of which I was waitlisted at, some of which I was rejected. In my addendum, should I mention that I declined the scholarship offer from UT specifically or that I declined top tier offers generally?

    Thank you.

  26. Hi Ann –

    Thanks for your blog. I was accepted to a T-14 law school last year and am reapplying this year. I read your advice to compose an addendum. I’m wondering if I should mention the name of the school I turned down last year?


  27. Hi Ann,

    I have a question about mistake #1. The transfer application usually has a slot for additional statements like diversity statements. I am not planning to re-use my personal statement, but am I able to use the same diversity statement?

    Thank you!

  28. when reusing LORs do you need to re notify the professor that you are reusing them as courtesy?

    will law schools ever call professors to verify LORs that were reused the subsequent year?

  29. Hi Ann,
    Last year I was dismissed from a Tier 2 law school after 1L. I can honestly say it was due to lack of maturity. I decided to take a year off and have been unable to find any legal opportunities in my area so far. I am now looking to reapply with an undergrad gpa of 3.6 and lsat of 147. Can you provide some advice in regards to my chances of getting into another t2 school and the reapplication process? I felt my original personal statement was wonderful, but I am wondering if I should write a completely new PS or tweak the old one to include my time in and out of law school? Should I include my 1L experience in my PS at all, or in an addendum?



  30. I took the lsat and got an abysmal score 141 the first time. studied more and got a 150 the second time. applied with that score and got waitlisted at 3 schools, UC Davis, USD, Pepperdine. eventually I did not get in. Studied again to take the LSAT for the 3rd time and got an even worse score 143. That test is not my test. Fortunately, all the schools I got waitlisted on take the top score. However, should I reapply again and if so, change up on personal statement? Or should I not even bother since I was waitlisted and did not get in and did not even improve on the LSAT. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

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