Law schools are highly selective. While there are good reasons to consider a school with a strong regional reputation, national prestige and selectivity of a law school will not necessarily mean a more successful career for you as a lawyer in the state in which you choose to practice.
Review school rankings in one of the books available in the CP&R library such as “The ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools.” Consider your level of competitiveness as an applicant and to apply to schools in three tiers: “dream schools,” realistic schools and safe schools. Many students apply to 5-10 schools. Utilize on-line directories such as these to research programs:
The deans of law schools nationwide list three criteria an entering student must be able to meet to be successful in law school:
- Read critically.
- Think analytically.
- Write and speak well.
Each of these skills can be developed in courses across the curriculum. No one major better provides preparation for law school than another. Similarly, no set of courses guarantees admission. If you’re interested in law school, be thoughtful about your course selections. Choose courses with professors who challenge you to read critically, think analytically and write well.
There are critical events to plan for if you would like to go directly into law school following graduation. The following is intended as a guide only. Consult the appropriate programs and organizations for the most current information.
Spring/Summer prior to senior year
Make sure you’ve registered for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) if you plan to take the test that is offered in June or October. Check the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website for registration deadlines. Law schools accredited by the American Bar Association use test scores from the LSAT as one of the primary criterion for admission.
Register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). The LSDAS compiles a record of your LSAT scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Law schools which utilize the LSDAS service (and most do) will request your information from this centralized system once they receive your application. See the LSDAS website for more information.
Begin drafting your Personal Statement. Each school will likely have a slightly different question (or questions) that they want you to address in essay form. Be sure to answer each question directly; do not assume that the exact same statement will be appropriate for all schools to which you are applying. Write about something special, something interesting to you. Don’t argue legal points; the personal essay is designed for them to get to know YOU.
Early Fall Semester, Senior Year
Seek out professors and have them write recommendation letters. These professors should be people who know you well and are willing to write an excellent, supportive letter. The letter should contain details about your competence as a student and compare you to other students.
Prior to December 1
All application materials should be ready to for submission by December 1. Many schools have rolling admission, so “the earlier the better.”
CP&R Designated Counselor
Valinda Lee, Associate Director