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Appendix F: Letters of Continued Interest
With special thanks to Zareef J. N. Ahmed. Published November 2009.
New College of South Florida suggests that candidates wait-listed at a law school that interests them should “contact the admissions office [at each of these law schools] and speak with a member of the professional staff to find out exactly what this means. Ask the following questions if they are not answered in the letter [that notified you that you were being wait-listed]”:
Then, partition the law schools that wait-listed you into two categories:
First, make a list of the schools that are less appealing than one or more law schools that accepted you. Write these less appealing law schools a letter indicating that you will be attending another law school. Second, make a list of the schools that are more appealing than all of the law schools that accepted you. Notify these more appealing law schools that you are still interested in attending. This is most often done in a Letter of Continued Interest, sometimes abbreviated as a LOCI.
Typically, you write a LOCI to a school that has either waitlisted or deferred you (some schools put you on hold, which is the same as being deferred). In both of these cases, the school has decided not to admit you after its initial review of your application. The purpose of the LOCI is to let the school know that you’re still interested in attending that school. In addition to sending an updated transcript or letter of recommendation, sending a LOCI allows you to supplement your application and gives the admissions committee more material about you to help inform its decision. By the time you are waitlisted or deferred, the school knows that you have been accepted to other places. They want to know that despite your other acceptances, you are still interested in their school. If you don’t show your interest, why would they give you a spot over someone who is dead set on their school?
Some applicants send LOCI’s to schools that they haven’t heard anything from after their application has been complete for three months. While there is no rule against doing this, you should think hard before you do it. You don’t want to run the risk of annoying an admissions committee by sending them unsolicited information before they reach an initial decision. Additionally, some admission committees will place your file at the back of the pile if you send any sort of addendum to your application after submitting it but before they reach a decision. If you’ve been waiting for three months, you probably don’t want to have your application delayed even more because you sent a LOCI.
What should I write about in my LOCI?
Talk about why the school is a good match for you. Do some research and look for a specific program or student organization that is unique to the school that would help further your career goals. You have to seem sincere, so pick something that is consistent with what is on your resume or in your personal statement. In addition to telling the school why you want them, tell them why they should want you. The school will have a long waitlist full of eager applicants. You need to tell the admissions committee why it should choose you over everyone else it is considering.
In addition to showing your continued interest, a LOCI is a great way to sell yourself a little more. Tell the admissions committee what you have been up to, and let the school know in the LOCI if you have any significant updates to add your application. Did you get a promotion? Did you find out that you will graduate with honors? Did you have an experience that impacted you? Tell them! The important thing to remember is to only tell the committee members something they didn’t already know. The committee members don’t want to reread information in your personal statement or your resume. Dean Jeanette Leach of Santa Clara writes, “If there is significant new information, such as if you took the February LSAT and did much better, or have a new quarter or semester of exceptionally improved grades, let us know. That may improve your standing on the waitlist.” Make sure to include verification (e.g. a transcript) if necessary.
The best news to include is an accomplishment that substantially impacted other people in the real world, such as helping a legal team win a significant case, or an outstanding academic achievement, such as having an article published in a scholarly journal. You may also let the committee know if you visited their school and discovered you have specific reasons for wishing to attend their law school that you did not mention in your personal statement. Dean Sarah Zearfoss of the University of Michigan encourages waitlisted students to let her know if someone wants to write a recommendation letter on their behalf.
When waitlisting or deferring you, some schools ask for specific things you can send them to add to your file. If a school tells you what they want, do it! If the school requests another essay on a given topic and you want to send a LOCI in addition to the essay, go for it. The only time you should definitely not send a LOCI is if the school specifically asks you not to send any additional information.
How long should my LOCI be?
A standard LOCI is kept to one page. Admissions committees obviously have lots of reading to do, so you don’t want to unnecessarily add to their reading load. If you do go over one page, make sure that you do not include anything the committee already knows about you and that you’re not just writing to make the letter longer. The committee can easily distinguish between a letter telling them what the applicant thinks they want to hear and a letter with sincere reasons why the applicant wants to go to their school.
Sometimes the school will give you a page limit on anything you send to them. If this is the case, treat this limit as strictly as you treated the parameters laid out for your personal statement.
When should I send my LOCI?
In most cases, you want to send your LOCI as quickly after getting waitlisted/deferred (especially if you were deferred) as possible. You don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed so spend some time on the letter but send it off as soon as you are happy with the finished product.
If you were waitlisted, it’s a good idea to call the admissions office and ask when they will start reviewing waitlisted applicants. If they tell you they won’t start reviewing waitlisted files until April or May, you can take your time and send the LOCI so that it reaches their office by April 1 or May 1. The benefit of waiting until the deadline is that not only does it give you more time to write the letter but there is also a chance that something new will happen to you that you can write about. You can also be proactive and visit the school, sit in a class, and talk to students and write about the experience in your LOCI.
Who should I send my LOCI to?
Often, in your waitlist or deferral notification, the school will tell you who to send additional materials to. If that is the case, follow the directions laid out for you. If there is no mention of who to send additional materials to, send your LOCI to the person whose name appeared on the notice of waitlist or deferral you received. If the waitlist or deferral letter had a generic sender (XXX School of Law Admissions Committee), send your letter to the Dean of Admissions.
How should I send my LOCI?
Assuming the school doesn’t specifically tell you how to send in additional materials, it is preferable to physically mail your LOCI as opposed to emailing it. By physically mailing the letter, you know that someone will have to open it and when they do, they will place it in your file. If you email it, you have to rely on whoever reads it to print it out and place it in your file. Additionally, emails have a greater chance of being overlooked than a hard copy letter. The deans and admissions committees are being flooded with emails around decision time. You want to eliminate any chance of administrative error and sending a physical letter helps you do that. A physical letter also takes more time and effort to send than an e-mail and is a sign that sending the LOCI was important to you.
Other points about LOCI’s
In some cases, you may be waitlisted from a school that you were fairly confident you would be accepted to based on your LSAT and GPA. Often times, this is a case of yield protection. All law schools are conscious of their US News & World Report ranking, and one of the factors in the rankings is a school’s yield (the percentage of accepted applicants who attend the school). If a school thinks you applied to it as your safety school and will probably get into higher-ranked schools, they may waitlist you so that you will not lower their yield. If you are truly interested in that school, write a solid LOCI, and you have a good shot of being bumped off the waitlist. In a case like this, the school wants to see whether you truly are interested in attending the school or if you just applied to it as a safety school and have no real intention of going if you get into a higher ranked school. A good LOCI will show them that you are sincerely interested.
Carefully follow whatever directions a school sends you in regards to sending additional information. If it doesn’t want you to send anything else, don’t write a LOCI no matter how good or important you think yours is. If it has page limits, a deadline, or a preferred method of submission for any additional materials, adhere to its guidelines as closely as you possibly can.
Month, Day, Year
Desirable School of Law
Dear Dean of Admissions of Desirable School of Law:
I am writing to reiterate my interest in attending Desirable School of Law. Aside from being a prestigious law school, the program at Desirable complements my career goals extremely nicely. Specifically, the [insert certificate program, professor’s work, academic center, etc.] is something I find exciting because of my interest in the field of [your favorite field of law] law. Fleshing out this point…
In addition to my interest in [the above mentioned factor], I feel that I will bring a unique perspective to the Desirable School of Law community. Due to my [relevant past experience, unique background, etc], I will bring a [something that nobody else but me has] to the community.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to update my application. Since submitting my application in the fall, I have [earned a 4.0 last semester, was promoted, was awarded the Nobel prize]. In addition to that, I [started a volunteer job at the public defender’s office, was selected by my professor to be a research assistant, found a cure for baldness].
Desirable School of Law remains one of my top choices. The programs offered fit neatly with my legal interests, [location of Desirable] is a place I can see myself living, and the student body at Desirable is one that I will not only learn a great deal from but also contribute a great deal to. I would be honored to be offered a place in the Desirable Class of [whatever class you would be a part of].
Thank you very much for your time.
Here are samples of two applicants’ LOCI. Both applicants addressed these letters to their top choice school. If you are writing a LOCI to a school that is not your top choice, consider telling them that you are still extremely interested, and if admitted, you would find their offer hard to pass up.
1. Interest in Juvenile Law
March 27, 2009
[Name], Assistant Dean for Admissions [Name] School of Law
Dear Dean [Name]: Thank you for taking the time to review my application for the 2009-2010 school year, and especially for offering me a place on the waitlist. I am writing to assure you that, should I be extended an offer from the [name of law school] waitlist, I will gladly accept the offer and withdraw all of my other pending applications immediately. As I move to this next stage in my career, I have absolutely no doubt that [name] is the right law school for me. Since submitting my application in early January, I have learned from my company director that the 2008 calendar year was the most profitable year in the existence of the [city] branch of [workplace]. While I am proud to have attained this financial milestone, I am more pleased with the impact I have been able to have upon the [city] area students; our enrollment over my four years as program coordinator has increased by more than 70 percent, which means I have been able to positively influence the education of hundreds of local students.
The potential to have an even greater impact upon [city] area children is exactly what draws me to [name of law school]. At no other school could I have the opportunity to learn from Professor X as part of the X Clinic, benefit from Ms. Y’s experience with the County Juvenile Public Defender’s Office, or perhaps even apply for a Justice Corps Fellowship with the intent of using it to serve America’s youth, as two recent Fellowship recipients have done.
From my first visit with [name] in the Admissions Office, to the extensive tour provided to me by current law second-year student [name], to my most recent phone conversation with [name], another member of the Admissions Office staff, I have enjoyed every experience with [name of law school] I have had to date. I look forward to continuing those positive experiences should I be extended an offer to join the Class of 2012. Thank you very much for your time. Sincerely,
2. Zebra Law School Letter #1
Dear members of the Admissions Committee:
I am writing to reiterate my interest in becoming a member of Zebra University Law School’s Class of 2012. While Zebra has been among my top choices since I began the application process, my interview in the fall with alumna [name] and my recent trip to [city] to visit the campus has made it clear that Zebra would be a perfect fit for me and is without question my top choice law school.
During my campus visit last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on Professor Y’s Law and Social Change course. By chance, the discussion was focused on an area I am incredibly passionate about: public education. While I have experienced the topic from many angles—as a policy researcher, volunteer, and in my current full time job—it was intriguing to engage in the conversation through the entirely new lens of law. Even more exciting was the impressively high level of classroom engagement and the unique perspectives offered by the students. Zebra’s commitment to creating a community of intelligent, motivated students with diverse backgrounds and experiences was evident in the wide range of ideas and viewpoints offered in the session. Visiting the class, along with touring the campus and speaking with current students, reinforced my belief that Zebra would be the ideal law school for me.
While I know that Zebra has a lot to offer me as a student, I also feel that I would bring a unique perspective to my class and become a dynamic contributor to the law school community. In my current job as a strategy consultant, I have worked with both for-profit businesses and non-profit clients, including those involved in education and juvenile services. As a student at Zebra, I hope to work with the Z Center through the school’s Legal Clinic, where I can utilize and hone the skills I’ve gained through my collegiate and professional experiences in the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors.
I also wanted to notify the Admissions Committee of updates to my application. Since submitting my Early Action application in October, I have earned outstanding internal reviews from my employer, and in December I learned I am on track for a promotion to the level of Senior Associate Consultant in the spring.
Thank you for your time and continued consideration. While I have already been admitted to a number of great law schools, Zebra is absolutely my top choice; if I am admitted, I will definitely attend. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
3. Zebra Law School Letter #2
Dear members of the Admissions Committee:
As an applicant currently on hold, I am writing to express my continued interest in Zebra Law and enthusiasm at the prospect of joining the Class of 2012. As I’ve previously indicated, Zebra remains my top choice school, and if I am admitted I will definitely attend.
In his 2006 orientation welcome to Zebra Law’s new students, Assistant Dean X applauded the incredible accomplishments of the Class of 2009. He argued that what made them special was a combination of strong academic credentials and a tremendous amount of a ‘certain something else.’ Whether they had spent time volunteering overseas or worked for a summer as a taxicab driver, each person brought something distinctive and special to Zebra Law.
The sense of value placed on the ‘something else’ that each student brings to the law school community is a large part of what has drawn me to Zebra. The wide variety of collegial activities, volunteer efforts and work experiences of the student body make Zebra a truly unique place to pursue the study of law. Moreover, student participation in clinics, journals and independent study is among the highest of any top law school, highlighting Zebra as a place where students actively pursue chances to learn experientially and beyond the classroom.
I am confident that as a student at Zebra, I will not only enrich my own learning through engaging with a diverse group of peers, but also bring my own ‘something else’ to the Class of 2012. My experiences include working as an equestrian trainer and horse-movement therapist for children with special needs and as a research assistant analyzing the impacts of shifting racial policy in post-apartheid South Africa. If admitted, I may be the only Zebra 1L who is also a fitness competitor and amateur female bodybuilder, and in my time as a strategic consultant, I’ve helped to develop new products for a foreign language publisher, restructure the operations of a fiber-optic cable manufacturer, and devise solutions to increase graduation rates in some of the largest school districts in the country. My professional and personal experiences have not only given me an interdisciplinary skill set and a strong sense of commitment and drive, but also the desire to challenge myself in every unique pursuit. I have no doubt that if admitted I will become an engaged and active member of the Zebra Law community and bring a distinctive viewpoint and set of experiences to the Class of 2012.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my application, and thank you again for your continued time and consideration.
After You Send a LOCI
Keep in touch with the law schools by email every three to five weeks, making sure to continue to express your interest in attending. If you lose interest in one or more of these law schools, write the schools a letter indicating that you will be attending another law school. Wait-listed applicants may be notified as late as early August, so be prepared to act on short notice. Send bad news only on demand.
If you are waitlisted at a top school, you should know that relatively few candidates get in off the waitlist. For example, UC Berkeley Boalt Hall admits 750 applicants, hoping to get a registered class of 270. The law school takes on average 12 applicants who have been waitlisted; the deepest Boalt has ever gone is 40 names off the waitlist. Unlike other schools, a LOCI won’t help you at Boalt, since the waitlist is ranked by the faculty at the time of the decision to waitlist. Cornell, on the other hand, requires a LOCI to reserve spot on the waiting list, and the admissions committee interviews everyone on the waitlist.