Albert R Turnbull

Associate Dean for Admissions and Placement University of Virginia School of Law

UNTIL ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO, we used the stimulus, "Give us in 200 words or so your reason for wanting to go to law school." We became dissatisfied because the responses we were getting, particularly from undergraduates, were repetitive, bland, and not very helpful in getting a handle on the individual involved. Eventually, the stimulus became, "Write on a matter of interest to you," the purpose to be quite open-ended. Non-undergraduates still focus on u hv they're applying to law school at this particular time in their lives, but our new stimulus has produced a much more individualized and helpful addition to the application folder because oftentimes it tends to mesh with and complement the lists of extracurricular activities. We get a very wide range of approaches, from poems to essays on economics. Were looking for style and writing ability to some extent, as well as additional insight about the applicant.

Applicants make a mistake when they try to write something they think will please the committee. When they try to anticipate what that might be, they run a great danger of going astray.

The best statements we get reflect the individual in an honest, genuine, and effective manner and thereby project to us an additional dimension that may be inadequately developed in the rest of the application. A lot of time needs to be put in on the crafting of the essay once the applicant decides on the subject.

Of the 3,500 applications, every one gets at least one careful read by a professional admissions person on the admissions committee. The more complicated cases go on to second and third reviews and maybe more.

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