The Law School Admission Process Guide
While political science is by far the most common major for entering law students, there also is no ideal major. Many law school admissions experts instead recommend that potential applicants major in an area that interests them; undergraduate GPA is one of the most significant factors in law school admissions, so picking a major you enjoy and in which you’ll do well is far more important than picking one that you think will prepare you for law school.
Create an LSAC account
Your first formal step in applying for law schools will likely be creating an account on the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) website. Through this account, you’ll register for the LSAT, research programs, and send your applications. This account will be vital to you over the next few months–you’ll probably want to put it at the top of your browser’s bookmarks.
Register, prepare, and sit for the LSAT
Along with your undergraduate GPA, your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score is one of the two primary components of your law school application. While there is a trend among law schools to accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT, most schools still require that applicants complete the LSAT. You’ll register for the LSAT through LSAC, which will provide you with all the information you need to take the exam.
You’ll also likely want to sign up for an LSAT prep course. There are a number of options on the market, and most of them can be completed online. Be sure to do your research by looking for reputable, longstanding LSAT prep programs.
Taking the LSAT–or any standardized test–can cause a great deal of anxiety. The best way to prepare for such a test is to mimic the conditions of the test as often as possible before you sit for the actual exam. Taking full-length, timed practice LSATs will give you a level of comfort with the exam that should help immensely on test day.
You can start researching law schools at any time, but it usually makes sense to wait until you receive your LSAT (or GRE) score so that you have a rough idea of which schools you’ll be competitive at gaining admission to. There are countless resources available to help you find the best law school for you. LSAC’s website includes a comprehensive database of schools with a nearly limitless supply of information and statistics on each school. U.S. News annually promulgates the definitive law school rankings, along with detailed stats on schools.
The best way to get a feel for a law school is to actually visit camps–most schools offer tours for both interested students and admitted students. Be sure to focus especially on each school’s employment outcomes–that is the area in which schools most dramatically differ, and as someone paying for a professional degree, it is likely among the most important factors for you.
Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
CAS is a feature of LSAC that allows applications to submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other documents required for law school applications just one time, to LSAC, as opposed to having to send each piece of material to each individual school. Because most students apply to multiple schools–with many applying to ten or more–utilitzing CAS can save you countless headaches. Today, most schools require that applicants use CAS. As of 2021, the fee for CAS is $195.
Most schools will want to see transcripts from any educational institutions you’ve attended post-high school. You’ll have to request these transcripts individually from these institutions, and there is typically a nominal fee to receive your transcripts. Be sure to send your requests early in the application process, as schools may take some time to process your request (though this is becoming less of a concern as more schools move to online processing). Once you receive your transcripts, you’ll upload them to LSAC, where you can then attach them to your applications.
Request letters of recommendation
Nearly every law school requires that you submit multiple letters of recommendation. It’s vital that you think about who you ask to write your letter(s)–they should be people who know you well, and can speak to both your work ethic and quality of your thinking and writing. Because you’re applying for an academic program, most law schools want to see letters from your professors, but many schools also say they are interested in hearing from past employers. Check your law school’s application FAQs to see if they provide specifics on who should be writing your letters of recommendation.
Give your recommender at least one month’s notice before your letter needs to be submitted. This gives them plenty of time to put thought into what they write without feeling rushed. LSAC also states that it may take up to two weeks for them to process your letters of recommendation.
At this point, you’ve done the hard work. Now that you have all of your application materials together, it’s time to apply. Many law schools today have rolling admissions, meaning there is no formal admissions deadline. However, to have the best chances of getting accepted, it’s best to apply early–ideally, in the fall before you intend to start law school.
You can apply to as many US-based law schools as you want through your LSAC account. Each school has an application fee, but many schools will waive their application fee for a variety of reasons–check with each school to which you’re applying to see if you might be eligible for an application fee waiver.
Once you get to law school
Law school is likely to be the most difficult academic challenge of your life. Law students need all the help they can get; over the past decade, tens of thousands of students have turned to Quimbee’s law school study aids and case briefs to help them make sense of their studies. It’s no wonder the National Jurist named us one of the two best law school study aid providers. Be sure to check out Quimbee early into your law school career!