Most misconceptions about law school applications are easy to understand. It’s easy, for example, to understand the impulse to explain away negatives in a personal statement or to focus essays on key accomplishments that already appear in a few other places on your application.
Once in a great while, though, a bit of advice making the rounds stops me cold and, were I not a dignified professional, would make me say, “WTF?”
So it is with one bit of law school application wisdom I have heard only in the past couple of years: it might be good to work in a typo or two. Yes, if you haven’t already heard this, some factions are advising you to feign a couple of mistakes in your applications. And while I’m usually very much of the “everyone has to find what works for him/her” mentality, I want to say something categorical about the strategic typo: That really freaking stupid.
The theory goes something like this: A lot of law school applicants are getting professional help with their essays. Those people’s essays are perfect, so if you just leave a couple of mistakes in yours, you can really set yourself apart and let the committee know (or create the impression) that you did it all on your own.
I think the reasoning behind the theory is that if you have an error or two, the reader will assume that you didn’t hire help and that your essay is a true expression of your voice and your abilities. Thus, your essay will carry more weight than those that have been basically purchased out of the box and tailored, or even those that have been critiqued and polished by professionals.
Of course, it’s absolutely true that you want to set yourself apart. But, you do not want “the guy with the typos” to be your identifier. You want your essay to stand out because you’ve chosen your subject matter well, written a solid essay and let your voice and what’s unique about you shine through. That’s the key to setting yourself apart. And when you’ve done that…proofread. Really.