How to Write a Criminal Record Addendum

Are you afraid you might not get into law school because of your criminal record?

It’s okay to be afraid. But don’t let that stop you from applying!

I’ve worked with many law school applicants who had a criminal record. From minor possession to felonies, I’ve seen a lot of unfortunate situations. Still, these records did not keep my students from being admitted to law school.

When it comes to having a criminal record, you should disclose it in an addendum. When in doubt, disclose.

Watch the video above for details on how to write a criminal record addendum for law school. For more tips, check out The No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum.

NOTE: If you have a serious criminal record, it’s important that you visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners to view the specific policies for taking the bar exam in the state where you want to practice law. Just because you’re admitted to law school doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to take the bar exam in all states.

Who to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

Who should you ask for letters of recommendation (LORs) for applying to law school?

I recommend choosing three professors, teaching assistants (TAs), supervisors, or mentors who know you well, know your work, and still like you.

For more details and examples, watch the video posted above. Go ahead. I’ll wait.


Good. Now, let’s go over some more details about LORs.

Most schools require two LORs but I recommend getting three.


First, it is possible one of your recommenders may not follow through. It sucks, but it happens.

Second, you may need that third LOR for some law schools. Many schools require two LORs, but some require three. In general, I recommend sending in what they require, not what they will accept. So, if they require two, but will accept four, just send two.

Third, for law schools that only want two LORs (and many do), and then later place you on the wait list, you might be able to send your third LOR as further evidence that you are a great candidate.

Back to who you should ask for LORs.

If you are a current student, focus on securing all your LORs from professors and/or TAs.

If you graduated college two or more years ago, and are no longer in touch with your professors, ask for LORs from your supervisors and/or professional mentors.

How Do I Write an Addendum for Law School?

So, I get this question a lot: how do I write an addendum for law school?

You should write an addendum whenever there is a weakness in your background.

That could mean a low GPA, some low grades (D’s, F’s, grades of 1.5 or lower), a withdrawal for a quarter or semester or longer during college, and/or a LSAT score that is not representative of your potential.

How long is an addendum?

The addendum is about 3 paragraphs. It should fit on one page, and be double-spaced with a 12-point font and 1-inch margins.

How do you write an addendum?

First, you need to title it. For example, it can be titled “Transcript Addendum” if it’s about your grades or “LSAT Addendum” if it’s about your LSAT score.

You’ll start off with giving the specific time that the problem occurred. For instance, let’s say during your freshman year you contracted the flu and it caused you to be out of school for several weeks and also caused fatigue for the rest of the term. You ended up not doing well in your classes.

Name the quarter or semester and the year that it happened. Then explain what happened. Explain the impact that it had on you. Include anything you tried to do to remedy the situation.

Then take responsibility for it. Admit if you didn’t ask for help during that time. Take responsibility for what you didn’t do and then tell us what you learned from that experience.

For example, in the case of the flu, you may have learned that if you get sick again, you should talk to some professionals on campus (academic adviser, campus health center nurse or doctor, professors, TAs, etc.) to get help. Now you know that if you’re absent from class for a week, you will talk to your professors about making up tests and/or essays or possibly withdrawing from the class.

Last but not least, end your addendum on an uplifting note. Perhaps you had some low grades during your freshman year but in the last two years of college, your grades have been a 3.6 or higher. You should write that! Point out the positive that has happened since the issue occurred.

That’s how you write an addendum for law school. It’s not difficult to write once you know what to do. Watch the video above to hear my tips again.

Want more tips for writing the addendum?

Check out the No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum. This guide provides detailed advice on writing the law school addendum, as well as nine sample essays.

Do You Need a Diversity Statement?

Do you need to write a diversity statement for your law school application?

Diversity factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ethnic minority
  • Low-income childhood
  • Low-income existence now
  • First generation in your family to graduate from college
  • Non-traditional student (i.e., older student)
  • Single parent while attending college
  • Learning or physical disabilities
  • Immigrant
  • Grew up in an unusual neighborhood, town/city or country
  • Grew up with unusual circumstances, unusual parent(s) and/or unusual sibling(s)
  • Foster child in the past

Diversity is important to all law schools.

Why? Because law schools want to foster a rich learning environment. You cannot have a rich learning environment if you do not have different perspectives, backgrounds, experiences and philosophies contributing to the dialogue, debate and discussion in each class. Having a diverse student body is a benefit to all law students.

That said, I highly recommend that you think hard about whether you have any diversity factors. If you do, write a diversity statement.

NOTE: If the law school does not specifically ask for a diversity statement, contact the admissions office to see if they will accept one. Some schools would rather you incorporate your diversity factors into your personal statement, while others are open to a separate essay. If they allow a separate essay, and you have diversity factor(s), I recommend that you write one.

So, how do you go about writing a diversity statement?

First, watch my video above on “How do I write a law school diversity statement?”

Second, download my FREE Personal Statement Packet and read the four diversity statement samples in there. You will get a good idea of how to approach and structure a diversity statement just by carefully reading and analyzing these samples. Similar to the personal statement, the diversity statement is essentially a short story about an important aspect of yourself. Keep in mind though that your diversity statement is much shorter than your personal statement–it should generally be one page, double-spaced, with a 11- to 12-point font.

Third, read each of the diversity statements again and read the adjoining personal statements that go with them. Notice how the applicant’s diversity factor(s) might be mentioned in his or her personal statement but they are covered in more detail in the diversity statement. I recommend that you do this too. As law school officials always tell me, “Applicants need to self-identify!” And I would add, applicants need to self-identify in more than one place in their law school application.

Last but not least, when you have a draft that is ready for human consumption (usually your second or third draft), have several trusted and objective people review it. Look for patterns in the feedback given to you. If two people say the same thing, pay attention. Then revise, revise, revise until it is the best that it can be.