When should I upload my documents to LSAC?

A question from a student who just started my LSAT class in San Francisco: Hey Nathan- I have some questions about the application process. I have already asked some of my professors if they would write me recommendation letters and they agreed, and I'm still polishing my personal statement. Do I need to wait until everything is done, or can I add stuff little by little? Or do I wait until after the test to upload everything on LSAC? Thank you!

This one is a no-brainer. Once you've registered for the LSAC's credential assembly service, you should definitely start uploading bits and pieces as soon as possible. For example, there's no reason not to upload your resume almost immediately. Once you've uploaded it, look at it through the LSAC's website and make sure you're not missing any typos, formatting problems, etcetera. The sooner you start with this stuff, the sooner you'll finish.

The two worst sticking points, for most students, are the letters of recommendation and the transcripts. These can easily delay your application because they are out of your hands. Literally. For letters of recommendation, you must print out the LSAC's form and send the form to your recommenders, who must then send their recommendations directly to the LSAC... you're not allowed to touch them. Same with transcripts: You'll have to request a transcript from every college you've ever attended, and the college(s) must then send the transcript(s) directly to LSAC.

Many, many pitfalls await your letters of recommendation and your transcripts. Here are a few:

--The nutty professor who agrees to write your letter, but then leaves for a sabbatical before getting around to it. You keep checking the LSAC website every day, waiting for the letter to be posted, without even knowing that the professor is in Ghana and your letter doesn't exist.

--The harried professor's assistant, who is tasked with putting the professor's beautifully crafted letter in the mail. The assistant puts the letter down in the university mailroom just for a second, and never picks it back up. Your letter is dumped in the recycling.

--The stoner college kids who have work-study jobs in the university registrar's office. Your law school application is nowhere near as important as the Ren and Stimpy marathon that awaits them when they get back to the dorm.  Plus they ran out of Zig-Zags, and your transcript request form will do in a pinch.

--The US Postal Service. Self-explanatory.

--The LSAC itself. For $155, you'd like to think that the Credential Assembly Service would be infallible. It's not. When your letters and transcripts arrive at LSAC, there is a "processing period" that can stretch out for weeks. Furthermore, the LSAC has also been known to make outrageous mistakes. When I was applying, the LSAC sent two copies of the SAME letter of recommendation to UC Hastings, instead of one letter from each of my two recommenders.

In conclusion... don't wait! The credential assembly service is good for five years, once you register. If you're interested in starting law school next year, you should get cracking. There are a million hoops to jump through, and the failure of any one of them can delay an otherwise flawless application.

Let me know how I can help!

--nathan