Thinking of Going to Law School?

The law can be a rewarding profession. At its best, legal practice challenges the intellect, demanding the exercise of reason and judgment. The ethics of the profession require attorneys to promote justice, fairness, and morality; thus, legal employment can bring particular satisfaction to those who seek to work, within the law, to seek social injustice.

There are a number of ways you can explore the field of law:

  • Talk with a pre-law advisor about your interest in pursuing legal studies.
  • Conduct research on a legal career.
  • Investigate online resources, including the American Bar Association, the National Association of Law Placement, and the Internet Legal Research Group.
  • Intern with a law firm or law-related organization.
  • Conduct information interviews to learn:
    • What lawyers do in a typical work day
    • Personal attributes needed for a legal career
    • Satisfactions and dissatisfactions of the field
    • Impact of legal career on personal lives

Additional Resources


The great news about applying to law school is there are no formal prerequisites for certain majors needed.

“The ABA does not recommend undergraduate majors or groups of courses to prepare for a legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline.”

-American Bar Association

Choose a major that interests you.  Admissions offices are not particularly interested in your major, but they are interested in how well you did in the discipline(s) you chose to pursue.

Law schools are looking for students with diverse academic backgrounds who can demonstrate analytical/problem-solving skills, critical reading, writing skills, oral communication abilities, public service, and promotion of justice.  Keep these skill-sets in mind when choosing undergraduate course work.

It is imperative you know how LSAC calculates your law school GPA vs. what may be listed on your transcripts. There are several things that can cause a difference in the calculations from F’s, S/U grades, repeats, etc.

Also, law school GPA is calculated only on undergraduate work done during your Bachelor’s degree. No post-bac courses, graduate level courses, etc. will help your calculated LSAC GPA. Essentially, once you graduate with your Bachelor’s, your law school GPA is set forever.

For more information on how LSAC calculates your GPA, visit the following websites:

When applying to law school, you will need 1-4 strong letters of recommendation from writers with whom you have long-term relationships and who can address multiple competencies, including academics. Each law school may have different requirements, so ensure you are doing your research to understand who you need LOR’s from for each law school. The Credential Assembly Service includes a Letter of Recommendation Service to submit LOR’s.

The most frequent question we get asked is, “who should write my letters of recommendation?” As advisors, we aren’t here to tell you who to ask; we are here to guide you through the process of securing your letters for your application. Generally speaking, the best recommendation letter writers are those professors, mentors and professionals that you have worked with closely, can speak to your academic abilities or humanistic side, and will write you a strong letter. Choose someone who can speak in concrete terms about your passion for professional school and why you will excel as a lawyer. The key to finding these letter writers? Start forming your relationships EARLY in your pre-professional career. Far too often, students come to us at the point of application and are still unsure of who to ask to write their letters. Asking a professor, professional, community service director, etc. “just to ask” will result in a less than stellar letter for your application and this can be detrimental in the admissions process. Remember: start forming relationships early!

Make it as easy as possible for your letter writers. Schedule a meeting to address your goals. Provide your recommender with your resume, personal statement and competencies or strengths that you would like addressed in the letter. Express gratitude for their time and effort.

Respect your recommender and give them ample time to write your letters. Your request already imposes on your recommender’s time, and a last-minute request is an even greater imposition. Not only is it rude to ask for a letter close to a deadline, but you will also end up with a rushed letter that is far less thoughtful than is ideal. Don’t assume that it is anyone’s duty to write a letter for you, and realize that these letters take a lot of time out of your recommender’s already busy schedule.

Types of Letters

It is of the utmost importance that you do your research into the specific letter guidelines for the schools you are applying to, especially in regards to whom the letters should be from. Law schools especially value letters from faculty/professors, but please pay attention to the requirements!

  • Faculty/Professor Letters
    Since many professors have hundreds of students in their classes in any given semester, it is your job to reach out to them first, build a relationship, and then ask for a letter. Letters from professors should not only address your academic capabilities, but also your motivation for your chosen career. Since letters do address your academic capabilities, you should be seeking letters from professors in which you received a good grade in the class.
    • How to Get Strong Letters from Professors
      • Get to know your professors
      • Go to class and office hours
      • Volunteer for research or to TA
      • Take more than one class with the same professor
      • Maintain the relationship
      • Attend virtual office hours
      • Ask meaningful questions to show that you care about the course
    • How To Ask
      • Be respectful
      • Ask 2-3 months in advance
      • Request the letter via in-person meeting
      • Follow up with a scheduled meeting to review your goals & resume
      • Provide your personal statement and resume
  • Research Letters
    Letters from research professors provide another validation of your aptitude for life-long learning and research. These letters could be especially important to programs with a heavy research mission. In projects led by a graduate assistant, you may find that most of your experience is with the Graduate Assistant rather than the professor. In this situation, the graduate assistant with whom you have worked most closely with may write you a letter and have the lead professor co-sign.
  • Other types of Letters
    Often students will have other letter writers that know them well and can speak strongly to their strengths and attributes. This could be a volunteer supervisor, a liberal arts professor, or an employer, just to name a few. The guidelines are the same. Provide them with the information they will need to write a strong letter. Share your passion and goals.

Who Not to get Letters From

Yes, there are people you shouldn’t be asking for letters of recommendation. They include family members, “family friends”, and, generally speaking, people who don’t know you well. Letters from family and family friends are considered biased and the admissions committees won’t give them any merit. Those from people who don’t know you well often result in “alive and breathing” letters, meaning they don’t tell the committee much of anything other than you are “alive and breathing”.

Also, many students make the mistake of getting letters from distant acquaintances who have powerful or influential positions. The strategy often backfires. Your family member’s employer may know the governor, but the governor doesn’t know you well enough to write a meaningful letter. This type of celebrity letter will make your application seem superficial.

Additional Tips

  • LSAC Letter of Recommendation Instructions
  • You can assign which letters each school receives. Keep that in mind when asking your letter writers and “describing” your letters on the application
  • Electronic submission of letters is preferred by all professional school application services. Follow specific instructions in your application on what information to provide to your letter writers when formally asking for the LOR.
    • Never physically collect a letter from a letter writer yourself!
  • If you need to collect letters early, utilize services such as Interfolio.
  • When asking for a LOR, it is a good idea to give your letter writers:           
    • A copy of your transcripts
    • Your resume/CV
    • A copy of your personal statement
  • Give your letter writers the general courtesy of information about the letter writing process, including deadlines, how they will upload the letter, and by telling them when you have inputted their contact information so they can keep an eye on their email for instructions.

Your personal statement is the part of your application where you have an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are beyond your GPA, test scores, and experiences. It communicates what is important to you and explains in-depth your reasons and motivations for pursuing law school. Additionally, a personal statement can help explain any gaps in education or experiences, as well as any weaknesses in an application. Follow these tips and tricks to help get you started.

  • Take some time to reflect and write some notes on your personal journey to law school. What is your motivation for this career? What experiences have you had that have helped reinforce this motivation?
  • Write down a list of qualities you want to demonstrate to the admissions committee, and select your stories and experiences to show them. Explain HOW these experiences personally impacted you and your journey.
  • Use this as a time to explain any challenges you faced that may have resulted in receiving low grades, gaps in education, etc. Focus on how you’ve overcome these obstacles and make it part of your story.
  • Be concise and simple. Show personality, but don’t overdo it!
  • Edit, edit, edit! Seek multiple opinions from at least 4-5 different people and NEVER turn in a personal statement with grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes.

For more information on how to write a personal statement for professional school, please talk to your PPAC Advisor.

Develop Core Skills, Values, Knowledge, and Experience

Although GPA and LSAT scores are very important for applying to law schools, to be successful in a vigorous law program, students should aim to engage in experiences that will allow them to effectively demonstrate the following skills and/or qualities:

  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing and Editing
  • Oral Communication and Listening
  • Research
  • Organization and Management
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
  • Relationship-building and Collaboration
  • Background Knowledge
  • Exposure to the Law

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized exam offered in February, June, September/October, and December at many locations.  The LSAT is required for admission to American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools.  It is an aptitude test consisting of five multiple-choice sections designed to measure reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning, followed by a writing sample.

Why is the LSAT Important?

  • In law school, having adequate reasoning and reading skills are very important for a student's success as you’ll be reading complicated material you’ll need to be able to read, understand, and analyze.
  • Preparation and performance on the LSAT translates directly into first-year performance in law school, and performance in general. By correlating scores on the LSAT with first-year grades in law school, LSAC has consistently found that year after year, LSAT scores are the single best predictor of performance in the first year of law school.
  • There are over 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the United States and the LSAT is the only test that’s accepted by all of them. So, if you take the LSAT, that gives you maximum flexibility in terms of deciding where you want to apply

LSAT Breakdown (Structure & Length)

  • The LSAT is broken down into two main parts: Multiple Choice LSAT Questions & LSAT Writing sample
  • The total number of questions you get right is what matters for your score, not which particular questions you get right or wrong.
  • Scores are reported to law schools with a score band (range of scores).
  • Recommended to take it no later than June of the year you are planning to apply.
  • Can be taken: three times in a single testing year; five times within the current and five past testing years; a total of seven times over a lifetime.

Multiple Choice LSAT Questions

  • Each multiple-choice section of the test is 35 minutes long and between sections two and three there is a 10-minute break. So, from start to finish it's about 150 minutes, or about 2.5 hours.
  • Reading Comprehension: designed to measure your ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school.
  • Analytical Reasoning: designed to assess your ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and, given those facts and rules, determine what could or must be true.
  • Logical Reasoning: designed to evaluate your ability to examine, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments as they occur in ordinary language.
  • There is a fourth unscored variable section that helps LSAC to validate new test questions for future use and ensure that they are free from any form of bias.

LSAT Writing

  • The LSAT Writing is a 35-minute long proctored, on-demand, writing exam that is administered online using secure proctoring software installed on your own computer.
  • Opens 8-days prior to every test administration.
  • Uses a decision-prompt structure that is specifically designed to elicit the kind of argumentative writing that you would be expected to produce in law school.

Important LSAT Information

  • Applications to law school are submitted approximately 12 months before you intend on enrolling (think: summer of the year prior to enrollment). However, the exact timing depends on when you will take the LSAT, complete your degree, etc.
  • Visit the website for a general overview from LSAC.
  • It is helpful to create a timeline for yourself when applying to law school, but your timeline should be flexible. Course scheduling, extra-curricular activities, deadline changes, etc. all contribute to the need of having flexibility in your timeline. Visit our office for help in creating your timeline!
  • Make sure you pay attention to specific deadlines for the schools you are applying to! For specific application deadline dates, check the LSAC website and your CAS when you begin your applications.


The entire application process and list of application materials can be found on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website.

All students applying to accredited institutions within the U.S. are required to use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). CAS is a central clearinghouse for information about law school applicants. This service allows you to conveniently submit your application materials in one central location. CAS registration includes access to electronic applications for all ABA-approved law schools.  Register for CAS no later than early Fall of the year in which you are applying to law school.

Research! Visit each professional schools’ respective website; they have tons of tools for prospective students!

There are a variety of things to consider when putting together your school list. Firstly, you should be applying to schools where your GPA and LSAT score are competitive due to the weight of those two components on your overall application. Beyond that, you may want to consider the following:

National/Regional Schools: Does the school attract applicants from across the country and abroad, or are most students from the region in which the school is located? Do most students want to work throughout the country or in the school's region following graduation?

Location: Is the school in an urban area or in a suburban/rural setting?  Is it part of university or independent? Are there other graduate schools nearby? Is the school in a place you would want to be for three years and where you would be willing to work following graduation, depending on employment opportunities?

Faculty/Classes: What are the academic and experiential backgrounds of faculty? How accessible are they?  What is the faculty-student ratio, the number of full-time vs. adjunct faculty, and the number of female and minority faculty? How many students are in each course? Are classes taught in the Socratic method or lecture?

Facilities and Resources: Is the school affiliated with a university? Do students have access to courses from a range of academic disciplines to supplement their legal curriculum? Is the library large enough to accommodate holdings and permit students to conduct research and study?  How helpful is the library staff?  How accessible are electronic databases such as Lexis and Westlaw? In general, do the facilities provide a comfortable learning environment?

Student Body: What is the size of the entering class? What does the admissions profile tell you about the quality of the student body? Where did students study as undergraduates and what are their geographic backgrounds?  Is there diversity in interests and personal/cultural backgrounds? What is the overall atmosphere–are students friendly or overly competitive?  Is there much interaction with fellow students outside the classroom?

Special Programs: What courses are available in specialized areas? What joint degree programs of interest to you are available? What are the opportunities for practical experience, including clinics, internships, etc.? Can you “write” on to law reviews in addition to being selected based on class rank? What specialized institutes, journals, or organizations exist in your areas of interest?  Does the school demonstrate a commitment to women and minorities through special programs?

Career Services: What advice and resources are available to help you find a job? Is career counseling available? How many employers recruit at the law school and who are they? What percentage of the class has positions at graduation?  In what types of positions and geographic areas are they employed? What is the percentage of graduates holding judicial clerkships? What assistance is given to students not interested in working in law firms? What is the bar passage rate for recent graduates? How involved are alumni in career activities?

Student Life: Is housing provided for first-year students? If not, does the school offer assistance in locating off-campus housing? Is the school located in a safe area? What is the cost of living? What types of cultural opportunities are there? Does the school provide recreational facilities? What is the general ambiance?

Costs: What are tuition, housing, and transportation costs? Is financial aid exclusively need-based, or are merit scholarships available? Does the school offer a loan forgiveness program for public interest lawyers?  What is the average debt burden for graduates from this school?

There are ways to minimize your cost of attending law school and to keep down the debt you incur. Apply to schools where you will be in the top part of the applicant pool; schools may give you a merit scholarship to attract you.  Also, public schools are usually less expensive, and even if you are not a resident of a state in which a school is located, you can sometimes pay in-state tuition after your first year.

Resources to Begin your School Search

The entire application process and list of application materials can be found on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website.

All students applying to accredited institutions within the U.S. are required to use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). CAS is a central clearinghouse for information about law school applicants. This service allows you to conveniently submit your application materials in one central location. CAS registration includes access to electronic applications for all ABA-approved law schools.  Register for CAS no later than early Fall of the year in which you are applying to law school.

Read all instruction manuals and directions carefully! When available before each application cycle, read all instructions for CAS and the schools you are applying to.

Be prepared months in advance for the cost of submitting applications to law school. Fee assistance is available through the application processing service, but will only cover a limited number of fees. For more information, visit: Fee Waivers for the LSAT & Credential Assembly Service (CAS) page.

Not all law schools require an admissions interview, but it is crucial that you be prepared if you are invited to interview with schools. Most law schools will do a 1:1 or panel type of interview, so it is important to research questions and be prepared in your answers.

Resources to help understand the interview process, possible questions, and how to prepare can be found on these websites:


(the year before you intend to enroll in Law School)


  • Begin compiling a list of possible recommenders, and speak with them regarding your plans for law school.
  • Establish criteria for what you want in a law school and begin researching schools (The
  • Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools is a terrific resource available at http://officialguide.lsac.org/).
  • Register early for the June LSAT to ensure a seat in your preferred location.


  • Increase the intensity of your LSAT preparation as soon as you are finished with your final exams.
  • During the month before the LSAT, study approximately 3 to 4 hours per day.


  • Take the LSAT.
  • Continue researching schools.
  • Begin working on your personal statement.


  • Evaluate your LSAT score. If you’re not satisfied with it, consider retaking the exam in October


  • If taking the October LSAT, study for the exam and register early to ensure a seat.
  • Continue revising your personal statement and resume. Try to have these completed by summer’s end.
  • Refine your list of schools and finalize it by the end of the summer.
  • Register for the CAS (Credential Assembly Service). Order score reports for the schools to which you are applying.
  • Finalize your list of recommenders and compile information packets for them.


  • Meet with those you have chosen as recommenders to ask for letters of recommendation. Be sure to have all paperwork prepared to give to them.
  • Request transcripts from all undergraduate colleges to be sent to CAS.
  • Begin working on application forms.
  • Read applications carefully to determine if you must submit additional essays. If so, begin work on these immediately and have them critiqued as needed.


  • Take the LSAT if you have not already done so.
  • Continue work on applications, including additional essays.
  • Send handwritten “Thank You” notes to your recommenders. These notes will serve as an appropriate gesture of thanks to those who have submitted recommendations and as a reminder to those who have not.


  • For those who took the October LSAT, receive and evaluate LSAT scores. Adjust your list of schools if necessary.
  • Finalize all application forms, resumes, and essays for admission.
  • Follow up with recommenders to ensure that letters have been mailed.
  • Submit applications


  • December 1- Preferred application deadline.
  • Confirm that you have submitted or will submit all required materials to qualify for financial aid.
  • Early Action and Early Decision applicants start receiving admission notifications.


  • Check to ensure that your application was received and that your file is complete.
  • Follow up with the appropriate persons regarding any parts of your application that have not been received.
  • Have your parents do their taxes as soon as possible so that you can complete the FAFSA and all other financial aid paperwork.


  • Begin receiving admission and financial aid award notifications from schools and weighing admission offers.


  • Decide which school to attend and submit a deposit.