Top 5 Mistakes Made When Re-Applying to Law School

Posted by Ann Levine | August 19, 2008

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.

Categories: Law School Application Tips, Low LSAT Scores


23 Responses to “Top 5 Mistakes Made When Re-Applying to Law School”

  1. Anonymous says:

    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. Lia says:

    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. angie says:

    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.

    • Ann Levine says:

      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. Michelle says:

    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. Johanna says:

    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. Bea says:

    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

    • Ann Levine says:

      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. Natalie says:

    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. Mark says:


    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?

    • Ann Levine says:

      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. Mary says:

    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. Monica McCreery says:

    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?

    • Ann Levine says:

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

  11. Agatha Hale says:


    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.

    • Ann Levine says:

      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. Anonymous says:

    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.

    • Ann Levine says:

      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.

Leave a Reply