You have numerous opportunities to share your experiences in your law school applications through the personal statement, diversity statement, and short answer responses. However, you may need to explain irregularities or discrepancies in your application, too. In an addendum, you can address any potential red flags. For candidates who are reapplying to law school, some schools may only require an addendum for admissions reconsideration. The following are tips for writing these statements, which if done properly, can increase your chances of success.
Typically, addenda are short, objective written submissions that respectfully ask the admissions committee to consider unusual or extenuating circumstances that would not otherwise be apparent when evaluating an applicant’s candidacy.
An addendum gives you to the opportunity to explain in your own words an issue that might concern or confuse the admissions committee. However, an addendum is not meant to serve as a long supplemental essay. Nor is it meant to be a list of excuses. Overall, addenda are opportunities to briefly, forthrightly, and graciously share any less-than-ideal aspects of your application with the admissions committees.
The four most common types of addenda are an LSAT addendum, a GPA/transcript addendum, a disciplinary action/criminal record addendum, and a reapplication addendum. These are described briefly as follows:
1. LSAT Addendum (often requested by admissions committees)
Write this addendum if you have taken the LSAT multiple times. In your brief addendum, account for a change in score, emphasizing that the higher (usually the most recent) score is a more accurate representation of your ability to excel in law school.
If your LSAT score declined after multiple attempts, share with the admissions committees what may have been going on in your life that contributed to this dip.
2. GPA/Transcript Addendum
Write this addendum if you have a dip in your academic record or an unusual transcript (e.g., if you have transferred or taken a leave of absence). Account for the circumstances that contributed to this irregularity. Your addendum can highlight unusual circumstances that led to an uncharacteristic performance in a class or semester (e.g., the death of a parent, a serious illness that required hospitalization/missed classes, full-time employment to pay for tuition).
For an uncharacteristically low GPA, emphasize improvements you have made in your academic performance, including a strong LSAT score. If your GPA in your major is stronger than your cumulative GPA, you should highlight this point as well—particularly if your major is in a field that aligns with the study of law.
If both your LSAT score and GPA are low, highlight any classes you have taken since completing your undergraduate studies that show your improvement in classroom performance and evidence learned skills that you can leverage in law school.
3. Disciplinary/Criminal Record Addendum
Write this addendum if there is a disciplinary or criminal record of your misconduct. This information is important to disclose not only to law schools but also when you apply to be admitted to the Bar.
Objectively explain what happened, and emphasize what you have learned from the experience, highlighting your respect for rules/laws.
4. Reapplication Addendum
Submit this addendum if you are reapplying to law schools. When writing this statement, do not make any excuses or speculate on why you may not have received a letter of acceptance. The admissions committee is well aware of your story and understands your weaknesses.
You are best served by highlighting significant improvements you have made since your previous application was submitted. This can be evidenced via an improved LSAT score, impeccable performance in additional courses taken, professional work milestones, involvement within your community, etc. The more you can show that you are able to succeed while balancing multiple competing obligations, the more an admissions committee is likely to strongly consider your ability to handle the demands of law school.
Here are some final tips that apply to all the addenda you choose or need to write:
- All your addenda should have a straightforward but gracious tone and emphasize your ability to learn from previous test-taking, academic, or disciplinary experiences.
- Keep it brief. One to three paragraphs is usually sufficient.
- Let someone edit your addenda. Whether that person is your Stratus counselor or a trusted colleague or friend, let them review what you’ve written to help you ensure that you are striking the right tone.
- Don’t dwell on the addenda or spend time feeling bad that you have to write one (or more). Many applicants do. Instead, focus on writing something thoughtful but concise. You want the admissions committees to spend the bulk of their time reading the other portions of your application.
- Finally, an addendum is relevant for the task at hand—your law school applications—but writing one is also an opportunity to begin self-reflecting. In the bigger picture of your future career as a legal advocate, writing addenda is a good exercise in acknowledging less-than-ideal situations and celebrating how you have worked to move past them. Self-reflection and self-awareness are useful traits to begin cultivating as you move forward with your career and your life.