The J.D. Application Process
Each year, St. Mary’s University School of Law seeks to enroll a first-year class whose members will commit themselves to work that will benefit the legal profession and society, in addition to contributing to an intellectually engaging academic environment.
St. Mary’s, with the work of the Admissions Committee, seeks to enroll students from a wide variety of backgrounds who share a desire for academic excellence and accomplishment in the practice of law. The Law School receives many applications from smart, accomplished students who are ready for law study, but choices must be made among them because of limited space and resources and to ensure an optimal learning environment.
In making admissions decisions, evidence of academic ability is of primary importance in consideration of each applicant. Transcripts (from undergraduate and graduate education), letters of recommendation and other submissions by the applicants are valuable in that evaluation. Additionally, the applicant’s LSAT score provides the Committee with important information about academic potential and how well prepared the applicant is for law school.
Transcripts and LSAT scores cannot determine which candidates are the most impressive or most qualified. Therefore, the Committee dedicates significant time to a thorough and holistic review of every completed application.
Through the personal statement, resume and other documents prepared and submitted by each candidate, the Committee seeks a better picture of a candidate’s strengths, accomplishments, passions and potential. Applicants may wish to highlight information that illustrates qualities such as leadership ability, maturity, ethical integrity, perseverance, organizational skills, knowledge of other languages and cultures, a history of overcoming disadvantage, commitment to public service, success in a previous career and work ethic, for example.
The Admissions Committee begins reviewing completed applications in November. Completed applications are reviewed continually from that date on, and applicants are notified as decisions are made. The Committee may decide to admit an applicant, deny an applicant or offer an applicant a place on a waiting list so that commitments from offers made can be assessed into the summer. Applicants who apply by March 1 should expect to receive an initial decision by May.
A person applying to pursue the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree at St. Mary’s must satisfy the following minimum requirements:
- Complete the application for admission as described under How to Apply below.
- Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and receive a reportable score. The LSAT is offered multiple times per year in locations around the globe. More information about dates and registration can be found at lsac.org. The Law School strongly recommends that students seeking admission take the LSAT no later than January of the year of planned entry, but the March administration of the LSAT will be accepted. Applicants presenting scores from tests later in the process will be considered on a space-available basis. Scores from the July test administration are reported too late for consideration for admission the same year. LSAT scores are valid for five years.
- Complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. St. Mary’s Law will consider applicants who have not yet been awarded a bachelor’s degree, as long as the applicant has completed three-fourths of the credits required to complete the degree. Proof of the awarding of the bachelor’s degree is required prior to the start of law study. To be considered for admission, the bachelor’s degree must be awarded by an institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.
How to Apply to the J.D. Program
The Law School is limited in the number of new J.D. students it can admit to the first-year class each year. To be considered for admission, a completed application must include the following:
Items submitted by you through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC):
- A completed application for admission, with electronic certification;
- A personal statement not longer than three pages;
- A resume of not more than two pages; and
- Complete explanations to any affirmative responses to the academic probation/discipline questions, and the character and fitness questions asked in the application. Each affirmative response must be accompanied by a separate electronic attachment, submitted under the attachments tab of the application.
You must also arrange for LSAC to release to St. Mary’s Law Admissions Office your complete Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report, including:
- Scores from the Law School Admission Test (LSAT);
- Transcripts reflecting all postsecondary academic coursework undertaken or attempted, and all degrees conferred; and
- Letters of recommendation. We highly recommend (but do not require) that you submit at least one letter of recommendation. Letters from those who have taught you in an academic setting are encouraged and may be sent by the recommender directly to the St. Mary’s Law Admissions Office.
There is no application fee to apply to St. Mary’s Law or to be considered for admission and scholarship.
Attachments to be Submitted with the J.D. Application
Resume (required, limit two pages)
Your resume should contain detailed information about your education, honors and awards, work experience, leadership, public service, extracurricular involvement, military service and honors, and details about titles, positions and responsibilities in those undertakings, as well as time committed to those endeavors.
Service is central to the mission of St. Mary’s Law, and we encourage you to include information about any volunteer, public interest or social service work in which you are or have been involved. Please provide details about the capacity in which you served, the time commitment involved and any leadership responsibility you held.
Personal Statement (required, limit three pages)
Your personal statement should provide information about your life, your experiences and your character. Our goal is to create an intellectually engaging academic environment for all students, thereby challenging each student to achieve his or her highest potential in study and later in practice. Legal education is collaborative. Therefore, students learn from the diverse experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and accomplishments of their classmates.
Because we recognize that a candidate’s true potential cannot be assessed in transcripts and scores alone, we dedicate significant time to a thorough and holistic review of every completed application. Through the personal statement, the Committee seeks a better understanding of a candidate’s strengths, accomplishments, passions and potential. Applicants may wish to highlight information that illustrates qualities such as leadership ability, maturity, ethical integrity, perseverance, organizational skills, knowledge of other languages and cultures, a history of overcoming disadvantage, commitment to public service, success in a previous career and work ethic, for example.
Diversity Statement (optional)
St. Mary’s Law values diversity and understands its importance in creating an educational environment capable of preparing law students to become lawyers and leaders. If you wish to provide information about how your ethnicity, background, experiences or cultural background will contribute to a dynamic learning environment and/or enhance professional services to a diverse population, we encourage you to address how you believe you can contribute to our community. This information may also be an appropriate focus for the personal statement.
J.D. application is available through www.LSAC.org.
Application review process begins.
J.D. application – priority deadline (Applications received after March 1 will be considered on a more competitive and space-available basis).
Financial aid application – priority deadline.
Admitted students must submit a nonrefundable $500 tuition deposit to continue to hold a seat in the class. Deadlines for this deposit can be found on an applicant’s online status checker.
Courses assignments are made and course schedules are shared with entering students.
Participation in orientation is mandatory for first-year students. Further information is available by contacting the Law Admissions Office. In July, the Admissions Office will register first-year J.D. students for fall classes and will send course schedules for the fall semester to new students in late July. Orientation will be held during the week prior to the start of fall classes.
Declaration of Intent to Study Law
Shortly after beginning the study of law, a student may be required to register with the Board of Law Examiners in the state in which he or she plans to practice. A summary of the relevant requirements appears in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.
The Rules Governing Admission to the State Bar of Texas require, among other things, that applicants possess good moral character and fitness. The state bar seeks to exclude from practice dishonest or untrustworthy persons, as well as persons whose character traits or mental or emotional health are likely to injure clients, obstruct justice or lead to violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Every person intending to apply for admission to the State Bar of Texas must file a “Declaration of Intention to Study Law” with the Board of Law Examiners during the first year of law school. The Board of Law Examiners requires students to submit a copy of their completed law school application with the “Declaration of Intention to Study Law,” so it is important to retain a copy of your law school application.
The Board of Law Examiners will conduct a proper investigation of the moral character and fitness of the applicant (excluding cases that were dismissed or in which the applicant was found not guilty, minor traffic violations, expunged records of arrest or conviction, pardoned offenses and Class C misdemeanors), evidence of mental illness, legal proceedings alleging fraud against the applicant, and civil litigation or bankruptcy proceedings that reasonably bear on the applicant’s fitness to practice law.
Further information will be furnished to incoming students at a special orientation session after the start of classes. Students also may request this information from the State Bar of Texas, Character and Fitness Division, Board of Law Examiners, P.O. Box 13486, Austin, TX 78711-3486. Visit the Texas Board of Law Examiners website at ble.texas.gov/character-and-fitness.