Misconceptions About Applying to Law School as a Veteran

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Happy Veterans Day to those of you who have spent time in the military. We here at Blueprint LSAT Prep cannot thank you enough for your service and dedication to keeping the rest of us safe. We have nothing but respect for you and the work you do.

It’s a small thing we can do here on the LSAT blog, but we’d like to take this opportunity to provide advice to those servicemen and women who will pursue a career in the legal field after their time in the military.

So let’s clear up some misconceptions about which I’ve been asked:

1) “My service might say something about my personal politics, so I should downplay that.”

I hear this a lot from conservative members of the military, worried that the liberal-dominated world of law school will look down on their views, or their service.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, most liberals view members of the military with respect. Second, law professors want interesting people in their classroom, and not just those who agree with them. Which brings us to number three – most law schools have a dearth of conservatives, so being on the right of the political spectrum might actual add to your value to the class.

2) “I can’t think of anything but military experience to include in my résumé/write my personal statement about. That’s a problem, right?”

Wrong.

Think about it from the other angle – most law school applicants only have academic experience (i.e. being a student) to include in their résumé, yet most don’t view that as a problem.

Outside of a high GPA and LSAT, military experience is the best thing to have in your background during law school applications. The characteristics that allow someone to function in the military are invaluable in the study and practice of law. You don’t want to shy away from it in your law school application. You want to highlight it.

3) “I want to write my personal statement about something other than military service, since doing that will show a lack of depth.”

It won’t show a lack of depth – it will show focus.

By centering your law school application around your military career, you’ll be doing two things. First, you’ll be highlighting what is, most likely, the strongest “soft” (i.e. non-number) factor you have. Second, you’ll be creating an application package that reinforces itself, since your résumé will focus on your experiences in the military and you most likely have a letter of recommendation from a CO.

Additionally, I’ve had the pleasure of working on many law school personal statements for members of the military. Every single story they have to tell is more interesting than any story I have to tell. Believe me, after an admissions officer reads the 50th personal statement about Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity, your personal statement will be a welcome change of pace.

3 Responses

  1. Vincent Kregear says:

    Thank you very much for this post. This is very encouraging. I am compiling my resume and personal statements. I got out of the (enlisted) Navy after 10 years so that I could go to law school. I have been out for 2 years working on undergrad and now that the LSAT score is back it is time to apply. Beginning undergraduate studies in Djibouti leaves little room for options, so naturally I am attending an online school. Having no students or teachers around makes for a very isolating experience, especially when it comes to law school application. Again, I just wanted to thank you for writing this post. It is very helpful to know that others feel as I do.

  2. I completely agree that your article is incredibly inspirational. You see going to law school is all I think about ever since I was disabled through my military service. Basically I view it as my “next mission.” So how do I articulate that to potential schools with out scaring them off or will they see it as an advantage (both, by having the will and drive to be there through adversity)? Or should I strictly focus on the fact that I am both a 13 year civilian law enforcement and retired military veteran? Also, are there any veteran sources or examples to write the near perfect “statement?”

    • Laura Santoski (Blueprint instructor) says:

      Thanks for your comment, and we’re glad you found the post helpful!

      I wouldn’t worry about “scaring off” law schools. Being extremely interested in law school is only going to be seen as an advantage. I think you can very easily write an effective statement that discusses your history in law enforcement and as a veteran, with a tie-in at the end about how law school is your “next mission.” (Just be careful that the “next mission” part doesn’t come off as being cheesy!)

      If you google “military personal statement,” you should turn up a few examples that you can read. I wouldn’t rely too heavily on what other people have done, though. Your PS needs to reflect who YOU are, so don’t let other peoples’ PSes influence you too much.

      And thank you for your service!

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