When to Write a Law School Application Addendum

An Addendum can help explain any weaknesses in the application

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In the law school application process, students are usually given the option of whether to submit an addendum to their file. Read on to learn more about what an addendum is, when you should write one, and perhaps most importantly, when you shouldn't.

What Is an Addendum?

An addendum as it pertains to the law school application process is an extra essay that you may include to help explain a weakness in your file. Law school applicants usually write addendums when there is anything they are concerned will prompt questions for the admissions committee.

 Proper Form for an Addendum

An addendum shouldn't be more than a few paragraphs long and should be labeled as an addendum at the top of the page. The structure of the addendum should be simple: state the topic you want to explain, give the point you want to communicate, and then offer a short explanation.

Remember you are submitting this document to address what the admissions committee may see as a weakness, so you don't want to spend an excessive amount of time drawing attention to negative aspects of your file. In the case of the addendum, admissions readers are not looking for an in-depth discussion. Admission readers read a lot in the first place and as stated earlier, going into a detailed explanation of a weakness may draw undesired attention to it.

Proper Way to Use an Addendum

You should write an addendum if you feel that something in your file needs further explanation—so much so that without such explanation, the admissions committee wouldn't be getting an accurate representation of you.

Here are some scenarios for which an addendum would be appropriate: 

  • A failing grade
  • A semester in which you did particularly poorly
  • Gaps in your academic career
  • An LSAT score that does not reflect your ability to do law school level work
  • An overall GPA that does not reflect your ability to do law school work
  • A medical emergency that affected a grade or LSAT score
  • A family emergency that affected a grade or LSAT score

To elaborate on some of these situations, if your poor LSAT score or semester of school was because of a death in your immediate family, this is a good reason to write an addendum. Also, if you have a low LSAT score but also a history of scoring low on standardized tests and then performing at a high level in school, this is another good reason for an addendum. Still, just because your situation falls into one of these categories, that doesn't necessarily mean you should write an addendum. It is always a good idea to ask your pre-law advisor for advice regarding your specific situation. Read some sample addendums on these and other subjects.

Wrong Ways to Use an Addendum

Using an addendum to offer excuses for a poor LSAT score or GPA is not a good idea. If it sounds whiny, it probably is. An excuse like you didn't have enough time to prepare for the LSAT because of your college course load, for example, is not a good reason to write an addendum.

You especially want to stay away from the concept that you were irresponsible as a college freshman but now you've turned your life around. The admissions committee will be able to see that from your transcripts, so you don't need to waste their time with an addendum spelling it out.

Overall, don't feel like you should try to find a reason to write an addendum if a legitimate reason doesn't exist; the admissions committee will see right through your attempt, and you could find yourself on the fast track to the rejection pile.