Thinking of Applying to Law School?
Facts on the Legal Profession
- The marketplace for new lawyers remains strong and should continue for several years.
- A law degree is considered prestigious with considerably high earning potential in certain areas.
- A legal education offers a fair amouont of flexibility and can open doors to opportunities within and outside of the legal profession.
- Many employers are recgonizing that law school graduates can offer them a broad range of skills that they may not necessarily find in other applicants.
It is still, however, important to remain realistic about what the field of law entails. The well-padded life of a coporate attorney with a large expense account is more myth than reality. The media continues to perpetuate an inaccurate portrayal of the legal profession as a glamorous occupation with high profile attorneys and exhilarating court cases. This is not always the case for most attorneys, particularly new associates just starting out. Using the Career Development Center's MENTOR NETWORK can put you in touch with the alumni who are currently working in the field of law & can give you a chance to talk to them about their experiences.
Before you decide to apply to law school, you need to research the occupation thoroughly. Meet with career counselors at the Career Development Center as you plan for graduate and professional school.
How much do you know about the field of Law?
- Explore different areas of law, such as coroporate, family, environmental, patent, entertainment, public interest work, and others.
- Find out what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis, especially those in the fields you are interested in.
- Most areas are unique in their clientele, work environment, and earning potential.
- Although information interviews can be very helpful to your research, working in or volunteering with a law firm can also provide valuable exposure to the field on a consistent basis.
How to Choose a Law School
- Contact law schools to find out what the experience will entail.
- Talk/shadow with current law schools to get an understanding of their experience first hand.
- Some schools permit prospective applicants to attend or audit a first year class.
- Contact the Law School Admissions Office of your choice for details on what you can do to gain experience.
- Consider the facilities at the schools you are considering, such as libraries and tutorials, the focus of its curriculum, its student association and placement rate.
- Use the LSAS and LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service) Registration & Information Book published annually by the Law School Admission Council. (This is a free book and you will need it to register for the LSAT). It contains lists of US Law schools approved by the American Bar Assosciation, and also of schools not approved by the ABA
What do Law Schools look for in a candidate?
- The most important factors in gaining admissions are generally
1. Competitive Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores
2. A strong GPA in a solid undergraduate curriculum
3. A broad-based education
- Faculty recommendations are also highly important, including one from your major department.
- Law schools are also interested in students who have demonstrated leadership and who are actively involved in school and community activities.
- Work experience, travel, and cultural experiences and having a diverse background are very helpful to your candidacy for law school.
Preparing for the LSAT
- You should plan to take the LSAT in June following you Junior year or October of your Senior year.
- Taking it later will delay your application, which can affect your eventual acceptance.
- It is advised that you only take the test once, unless extraordinary circumstances affect your score. Studies show that retaking the test results in little, if any, improvement.
The Pre-Law Advisor and the Career Development Center have booklets available from the Law School Admission Council describing the LSAT and test preparation guidelines, as well as upcoming test dates. You can also access this information at www.lsac.org, the Law School Admission Council website.
- The decision to take a commercial course or study on your own to prepare for the LSAT depends on your individual situation. Commerical test prep programs can be helpful; however, if you are committed and diligent about studying, individual preparation can be just as sufficient.
When to Apply?
- Most law schools admit in the fall semester & generally have a limited number of seats available.
- Start planning for admission at least one year before your desired date of enrollment.
- Applications become available toward the end of the summer, with deadlines beginning mid-fall.
- Decisions to admit, wait-list, or deny vary depending on the institution.
- Always start early. It is better to have everything ready early than to scramble at the last minute. ( See the "Law School Timetable" for more detailed information)
LSAT TEST PREP:
LSAT Test prep booklets are also available at the Career Development Center.
Selected Resources available at the Career Development Center:
Looking at Law School
Running from the Law
Full Disclosure: Do you Really Want to be a Lawyer?
Non-Legal Careers for Lawyers
The Lure of the Law
Complete Book of Law Schools
Judging the Law Schools
Peterson's Law Schools
LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools
Princeton Review Best 159 Law Schools
Game Plan for Getting into Law School
Law School Essays
Essays that Worked for Law School
Law School Without Fear
Law School Companion