The J.D. Application File
Southwestern requires the following materials in order to review an applicant's application for admission. An application file will not be considered complete, and cannot be reviewed, until all required materials are received. The optional materials listed below will also be accepted. For explanations and instructions related to various application components, click on the expandable headings at the bottom of the page.
- Application for Admission
- Personal Statement
- Official CAS Report containing:
- Complete undergraduate transcript(s) (all transcripts for all credits earned in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree)
- LSAT score(s)
- LSAT writing sample(s)
- Letter(s) of Recommendation (up to three)
- Application Fee
- Character and Fitness Disclosure(s)
- Applicants who respond affirmatively to any of the questions in the Character and Fitness section of the application must provide a detailed statement as described on the application.
- NOTE: In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
- Previous Law School Attendance
- Applicants who have previously attended any law school must provide a letter of standing, official transcript, and enrollment verification form from each previously-attended law school.
- Applicants from Foreign Institutions
- Applicants who have earned an undergraduate degree from an academic institution outside the United States or Canada must have their transcripts evaluated by a credential evaluation service.
- Southwestern does not require the TOEFL exam for J.D. admission consideration.
- Additional requirements for SCALE 2-Year J.D. Applicants
- Additional requirements for Concurrent-Degree Applicants
- Diversity Statement
- Optional Essay on one of three prompts (see below)
- Graduate Records Exam (GRE) Score
- Addenda to address areas of the application for which the applicant believes additional context would be helpful for the admissions committee
Bar Admission Requirements - Character and Fitness and Other Qualifications
In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Instructions for Application Components
Application for Admission
The official Application for Admission to Southwestern may be completed in electronic form through LSAC. Any additional documentation not submitted electronically with the application may be sent to the Admissions Office via email, fax, or mail, unless otherwise indicated by the instructions included on the application itself. Although online applications are preferred, applicants who wish to fill out a paper application may request a copy by contacting the Admissions Office.
- J.D. Program Applicants. Regardless of which of our J.D. programs is desired, applicants complete the same application form. The first question on the application form asks applicants to indicate their program preferences.
- J.D./M.B.A. Applicants. Applicants to the concurrent-degree program with The Drucker School of Management complete a specific concurrent-degree application and also have the opportunity to indicate their desired Southwestern J.D. program on the form.
Southwestern does not provide a specific prompt or question for applicants to address when preparing their personal statement. An applicant's personal statement may address, but is not limited to addressing, issues such as interests, motivation toward law, personal qualities, academic experience, social background, or other topics not presented on the application form. Applicants to the PLEAS program who have child- or elder-care responsibilities may wish to share why this program would be particularly beneficial for them, but they are not required to do so.
The personal statement should be two to three pages in length, typed, and double-spaced. When applying electronically, applicants may submit the personal statement as an electronic attachment to the application form.
Letters of Recommendation
At least one letter of recommendation must be submitted on behalf of the applicant, but Southwestern will accept up to three letters should the applicant desire to submit additional recommendations. Southwestern prefers that letters of recommendation be from college professors who can provide a candid assessment of the applicant's potential to successfully complete a competitive professional degree program. For applicants who have been out of school for some time, letters from employers are acceptable, but should focus on addressing the applicant's strengths and abilities as they relate to potential success in a law school environment.
The CAS subscription includes a Letter of Recommendation Service. Copies of letters submitted via the Letter of Recommendation Service will be sent to Southwestern along with the applicant's CAS report.
Applicants who choose to have letters of recommendation submitted directly to Southwestern must ensure that the letters are signed and sent by the recommender. All correspondence concerning an applicant's file should include the applicant's full name and LSAC account number.
Diversity Statement (optional)
Southwestern values the uniqueness of each applicant and believes that an inclusive campus environment enriches the study of law. Therefore, applicants may submit a statement addressing their diverse background and personal experiences in order to provide a more robust picture of their personal and academic strengths. The Diversity Statement should not be a reiteration of information or insights already addressed in the Personal Statement, and should be no more than two pages in length, typed, and double-spaced. If you choose to include a Diversity Statement with your application, please indicate so in the Diversity section of the application form.
In addition to the personal statement, applicants may choose to write one optional essay. The essay should be no more than two pages in length, typed, and double-spaced. The optional essay must address one of the following prompts:
- Discuss an ethical dilemma you have encountered, either personally or professionally, and explain how you resolved the situation.
- Discuss a risk that has led to significant change, either positive or negative, in any aspect of your life.
- Discuss the life experiences or relationships that contributed to your development as an individual, and provide specific examples of how this relates to your goal of becoming an attorney.
LSAT Addendum (optional)
If you have taken the LSAT or LSAT-Flex on more than one occasion, you may wish to submit an LSAT addendum to address changes in your method of LSAT preparation, conditions during your exam(s), or any other factors that may have affected your performance. While this addendum is optional, for those who have experienced a change in score of +/- 10 points, it is strongly recommended that you submit this addendum. If you have only taken the exam once but would still like to address your score, you may also submit an addendum.
Graduate Records Exam (GRE) Score (optional)
Applicants can submit official Graduate Records Exam (GRE) score(s) in addition to their LSAT score(s). Please note that the GRE score cannot be used in lieu of or in place of an LSAT score.
Applicants choosing to submit their GRE score(s) should answer the relevant questions on the application form and then submit via the Educational Testing Service (ETS) an official report of all valid and reportable GRE results for the last five years, including any new results received after the application is initially submitted to Southwestern.* Applicants may not choose which results to share. Official score reports must come directly from ETS to Southwestern. Self-reported scores or copies of score reports that are not accompanied by an official score report cannot be considered.
In the review process, special weight is not given to GRE scores. Rather, they are used as additional data points in conducting a holistic review of the application. Competitive GRE scores are those that are comparable in percentile to Southwestern’s median LSAT score or higher. Just as with the LSAT, we will accept an addendum to address discrepancies between multiple GRE scores. Note that we will not pause review on an otherwise complete application in order to wait for an official GRE score report or GRE addendum.
Southwestern's GRE Designated Institution (DI) code for ETS reporting purposes is 3933.
*This GRE reporting requirement parallels the requirement that five years of LSAT scores be disclosed on the application. Failure to report all GRE scores may result in the following: withdrawal of your application, the rescission of an admission offer, cancellation of your enrollment and/or Southwestern’s referral of you to the Law School Admissions Council for misconduct in the application cycle. Please visit https://www.lsac.org/applying-law-school/misconduct-irregularities for more information on misconduct reporting.