Filling In Applications

The most serious problem with applications is contained in that headline: "filling in."

You open an application. It has a space for your name. The space is filled in. You see your name, and your eye wanders down to the next line.

You may have missed five things already!

  • Did the app ask whether you've ever used another name?
  • Did it ask for your middle initial?
  • Did it ask whether your legal name is your preferred name?
    • If so, did it ask for your preferred name in all cases, or "only if different"?
  • Did it ask for a preferred form of address — Miss, Mrs. Ms., etc.?

By highlighting certain spaces and pre-filling them, the form does you a grave disservice; it allows you to apply without thinking and reading.

Fortunately, many admissions officers will save you from this lapse by rejecting you; that way, you won't become a lawyer who gets sued for negligence.

If you'd rather not be saved from your own carelessness, then don't be careless!

  • Read every line, every instruction, all the fine print.
  • Pay attention to the meaning of the instructions.
    • "List all work experience. You may also include a résumé" does not mean, "List all work experience, or, if you prefer, include a résumé."
  • Proofread. If you find that your mind wandered for a minute, start over; your mind probably began wandering before you noticed.

I have found two helpful methods of proofreading. One is to make the text

so lagre that you cansee ervery mistake easily.

The other, especially helpful for people leave out words and then don't the mistakes,

is to place your finger on each word as you read it. Then you'll see that you missed "who" and "see" in that line.

When I write, I proofread each line as I type it; then I proofread each paragraph before I move on; that gives me the additional benefit of making sure my paragraph structure is good — i.e., that the paragraph contains exactly one idea, in the order best dictated by logic, chronology, or art.

If I find a mistake and fix it, I proofread again; often, changing one word necessitates changing another word in the sentence. And when I type a big word like "necessitates," I stop and check it immediately; it's much harder to see an error in an unfamiliar word after you've taken your focus off it. I also check the rest of the sentence; I may have been so worried about "necessitates," that I didn't notice I typed "bog" instead of "big."

By now I've proofread parts of this page seven times, and all of it twice. That's why I make so few mistakes.

Reading ALL the Instructions

Reading carefully and proofreading as you go will certainly give you an advantage over your less careful peers. If you want a real bonus, read all the instructions, not just the ones on the application.

Where else would instructions be?

  • How about on that linked page labeled "Application Instructions pdf"?
  • Then, on that page, how about the link at the top labeled "Application Checklist"?
  • And what do you think of clicking on that link that says, "For more information, visit our web site at www.moreinfo.ourschool.edu"?

Leave no blank left unfilled

You're filling out your educational history. You get to that part labeled "degree awarded." You never got a degree from the college you went to that summer. Oh, well, just leave it blank — not!

If you're a DeLoggio client you know that nothing is left blank unless the instructions explicitly or implicitly permit you to do so.

  • "Complete the following only if you claim residency in our state."
  • "Have you ever attended any law school? __ yes __ no
    • "If yes, please indicate..."
  • "List the names of any family members who have graduated from our law school."

These questions invite you to leave something blank. Unless you're quite clear that a blank is not only acceptable but invited, put something in the space. "NA" (or N/A or n/a — we're not that fussy), "did not graduate," or "unknown" are all perfectly fine substitutes for a silence that might be mistaken for an omission.

Consider the Intent of the Question

"Father's name: deceased."
Wow! Your grandparents had a really sick sense of humor!
Oh, you mean your father is no longer among the living. Did they ask that?

Father's occupation: Government employee
So's Barack Obama; could you be a bit more specific?
"Huh? I never heard of that school."
"I ran out of room."
"Why don't you try U. Maryland Balt. instead?"
The purpose of "filling out" the application IS NOT TO FILL OUT. It's to convey information. Think about the intent of the question and make an earnest effort to comply with that intent.

Quel drag! (If you google that phrase, you'll find some fun but irrelevant links.) It's amazing how tedious accuracy can be. If reading, thinking, interpreting and proofreading are too boring to bother, you'll probably have trouble with law school.


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