Optional addenda are supplemental materials you are not required to submit, but may at your discretion include. These are often used to explain any weaknesses in your application or to provide additional context that might be helpful to the admission committee. Common examples of optional addenda include (but are not limited to):
An addendum to explain the circumstances around a very low GPA or poor grade in a course;
An LSAT addendum to explain a large shift in scores, multiple cancelled scores, or (very occasionally, if you have a very compelling reason) a very low LSAT score;
An addendum explaining a leave of absence from school or a large gap in your resume;
An addendum explaining a lack of extracurricular activities or involvement
An addendum to explain extra responsibilities or hardships that would not otherwise be known (for example, are you a single parent? The caretaker of your elderly parents? An active duty military member? Did you suffer a loss in the family during your undergraduate studies?)
An addendum is not always necessary or recommended. Addenda are best used when you have something meaningful to say about the issue that would not otherwise be known to the admissions committee. For example, explaining a low grade in a class because you are a poor test taker is unlikely to be helpful to the admission committee, where as explaining a low grade in a course because
Be careful not to…
Use an addendum to make excuses. Addenda need to be thoughtfully crafted explanations, not excuses;
Accidentally use an addendum to highlight an otherwise minor weakness in your application;
Use an addendum as a secondary personal statement -- your addendum should be straightforward and the point;
Highlight minor weaknesses in your application.
If you submit an addendum, make sure to:
Have something meaningful to say and say it in the clearest, most straightforward way possible;
Edit it and review it. It is another sample of your writing so it should be just as strong as every other written piece of your application
Each law school requires applicants to disclose incidents related to academic discipline, arrests, and criminal convictions through character and fitness questions that appear in the law school application. A person applying to law school must read the questions carefully and provide honest and complete answers and explanations to any “yes” answers to these questions.
Addressing issues of ‘character and fitness’ can be stressful, but rest assured that the vast majority of students who are required to write a mandatory addendum go on to be successful law students and lawyers. However, it is important to understand that an applicant who fails to fully disclose required information can suffer severe consequences, including expulsion from law school, being denied admission to practice or the ability to sit for the bar exam, or having their law school diploma revoked. Therefore, when in doubt about whether disclosure is necessary, disclose.
If you know that you will be required to submit a ‘character and fitness’ addendum, reach out to Legal Pathways early in your application process to set up a time to discuss your addendum and get assistance.