Schools generally give you the option to include an addendum, in case there’s anything you want to address that wasn’t covered in the body of the application.
When Does an Addendum Make Sense?
When should you include an addendum, and what topics are reasonable to cover?
Consider an addendum if there’s something important you want to explain, and you have a good explanation for it.
Do not use an addendum for something that’s trivial, or that you can’t explain.
When in doubt, ask yourself whether this topic is sufficiently important that you want to draw the reader’s attention to it. If the answer is no, leave it alone. (No one really cares why you got a C in Organic Chemistry, trust me. You’re applying to law school, not medical school, after all!)
Appropriate Topics for an Addendum
Topics that could be suitably addressed in an addendum include:
- multiple LSAT scores
- LSAT absences or cancellations
- significant GPA shifts (good or bad)
- previous honor code violations
- previous criminal violations
- diversity statement
- statement of strong interest in this particular school
This list is not exclusive, naturally.
Keep it Simple, Keep it Short
The addendum is pro forma in that it primarily exists to address a potential black mark in your application in the most concise way possible. You don’t need to include your entire life story.
It’s sufficient to note that you cancelled your first LSAT score because you had the flu and didn’t think your performance was going to be optimal. Certain topics may require more detail. If you saw a major grade dip for a semester because of a personal tragedy, you’re going to have to include sufficient detail to convince the reader that your explanation is legitimate. Saying the family cat passed away after a long and happy life isn’t going to cut it.
Know What You Must Disclose
In some cases, the school will require an addendum. This is often the case with prior ethical or criminal violations.
Look carefully to see what you’re required to disclose (some schools ask only about convictions, whereas others want to know if you’ve ever been charged with a crime).
Do NOT Lie
Do not lie! If you fail to disclose something that the school requires you to disclose, you could eventually run into trouble with the character and fitness portion of your bar application.
Having a minor criminal conviction isn’t the end of the world when you’re applying to law school. If you frame the addendum in terms of what you learned, and take responsibility for your actions, it’s unlikely to wreck too much havoc on your applications. Lying about it, however, could have long-lasting repercussions.
It’s Not All Bad
You might have noticed that the final two topics listed above are a bit different. Instead of addressing potentially negative aspects of your application, they add positive information.
If you’re an underrepresented minority, or could add some other type of interesting diversity to the class, consider an addendum. Are you a first generation immigrant? Did you grow up on an isolated rural farm, which impacted your early educational opportunities? The line here can be tricky, since we’re all special snowflakes, but if you have something truly unique to offer, consider bringing it up. But make sure it’s actually interesting before you do.
Similarly, if there’s some reason you have a particularly strong interest in a school, this might be worth mentioning. Ideally, this would be in your main essay, but the addendum offers a second chance, should you need it.
Keep it Short, and Proofread
It goes without saying that you should carefully proofread any addendum. And remember that brevity is the better part of valor. Keep it short!
How to Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In
Find out how to make every component of your law school application the best it can be:
- Perfect Your Personal Statement
- Perfect Your Law School Résumé
- Sample Law School Résumé Teardown
- Get Great Letters of Recommendation
Return to Applying to Law School 101.
Wondering whether you should include an addendum with your application? Leave questions in the comments!