Tips for Veterans Applying to Law School | Information on law admissions

The United States celebrates Veterans Day every November, and it’s a good time to reflect on how law schools serve those who serve the country.

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Veteran applicants are highly valued by law schools. Many of the skills acquired through military service contribute to success in both law school and legal practice, such as self-discipline, teamwork, working under pressure, and time management.

Applicants who are veterans, as well as those who are in active military service, should take note of the following tips:

  • Show how your service strengthens your candidacy.
  • Look for the benefits of veterans.
  • Find schools where veterans are active and supported.
  • Express your experience in simple English.

Show how your service strengthens your candidacy

Many forms of diversity are important to law schools, beyond conventional factors such as race, ethnicity, religion and gender identity. Law schools seek a balance of students of varying ages, expertise, geography and socio-economic background. Candidates for military service also bring valuable perspectives to campus.

Veterans can use their personal or diversity statement to highlight how their service prepared them for law school, including the skills and experiences they bring to the table.

Without bragging, point out how equipped you are to handle the rigors of legal education and pursue long-term goals in your legal career. Show how you plan to continue serving others with your law degree, even if you don’t plan on working in the public interest. Lawyers protect the interests of their clients, assess risks and navigate uncertainty – roles familiar to most veterans.

Seek out the benefits of veterans

If the rules for funding legal education under veterans benefits like the GI Bill seem complicated, seek advice from the Department of Veterans Affairs or law school financial aid offices. Some universities have dedicated Veterans Benefits Coordinators.

Find schools where veterans are active and supported

Many law schools have student organizations for veterans for socialization, support, information sharing, professional networking, and ongoing service. Some also have strong military law or national security programs, clinics, and clubs. Some even have professors or dedicated staff to advise veterans in the transition to campus life and preparation for a legal career.

The National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium hosts events and information on opportunities to gain hands-on legal experience while serving veterans. The organization’s website lists more than 30 law schools with veterans legal clinics, including John Marshall Law School at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Antonin Scalia Law School at the George Mason University and the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Veterans who are disabled or have health problems must also ensure that the law schools they apply to can adequately meet their needs. Ask admissions officers to put you in contact with disability resource offices, career guidance offices, and relevant students, faculty or alumni, if possible. The National Association of Law Students with Disabilities also offers a range of resources and advice.

Veterans may also consider access to care at nearby Veterans Health Administration facilities as a factor in choosing target schools.

Express your experience in simple English

Candidates with significant work experience often fall into the trap of assuming that the language and specialist knowledge used in their workplace is widely shared. This is especially true for the military. From job titles to responsibilities to indicators of success, the world of national security has its own dialect and style of communication. Those who gain the mastery necessary to establish their credibility may begin to look like Martians to civilians.

What good is hard-earned experience if you can’t pass it on to readers who will assess your application?

If you already have a resume that you use for advocacy roles, you can use that as a starting point, but it’s often best to write a resume for a law school from scratch. Rather than just itemizing your technical tasks and roles, put important information in simple English, as if you were describing it to a bright teenager.

Of course, these tips don’t just apply to veterans of the US military. Many applicants have successfully leveraged their service in military and civilian organizations in the United States or overseas. Law is a service-oriented profession and there are many ways to show your commitment to the legal field.


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Nancy I. Romero

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