When a person asks, “How do I get into law school?” he or she must be prepared to take on the academic challenges associated with attending pre-law and law school degree programs. The best law schools in the country have tight acceptance rates and stringent LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and GPA requirements, especially to combat the dreaded law school bubble. Obtaining the following attributes is how to get into law school:
- Record of academic excellence
- Superior communicators
- Assertive personalities
- Detail-oriented and highly organized
Any plan for how to get into this field will also involve obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Some universities offer a pre-law major, but additional bachelor options include history, philosophy, English, business, and political science.
Prospective lawyers will usually start the application process in the last year of their undergraduate studies. Each law school will review college courses and extracurricular activities, but the two key metrics admissions staff members look at are GPA and LSAT score. The Law School Admission Council gives the LSAT, a standardized test used to evaluate a person’s readiness for law school. The top ten law schools in the country have a median LSAT score of 165, but a score over 160 is considered very good. The LSAT can be taken multiple times with the best score submitted to law schools.
What Law School Prerequisite Courses and GPA Do I Need?
Another worry of prospective lawyers is how to get into law school with a low GPA. It is possible to gain admission with a low GPA, but many top schools request a 3.3 or higher GPA to get into law school. On an admissions application, the law school will typically list the target GPA. If a score falls below the median range, a prospective applicant can look to improve his or her chances by scoring high on the LSAT. The GPA to get into law school may also be lower than average if the applicant has strong recommendations and full-time post-bachelor work experience.
Law school prerequisite courses vary from college to college and many do not require any core classes at all for admission. Sample law school prerequisite courses include economics, ethics, psychology, criminology, sociology, economics, political science, legal writing, philosophy, and history. Strong writing and communication skills are needed for success in law school and should be honed during undergraduate courses. Performing strongly in these courses can help a person’s chances for law school acceptance. Prospective students should also take classes electives in the areas of law they are interested in. For instance, future contract attorneys should enroll in business courses while criminal attorneys may take criminal justice classes.
What is the Law School Application Process?
To start, check law school application deadlines. A law school application should be prepared months in advance, not days before the deadline, because they tend to be very involved, with a lot of required information and documents. The law school application requirements will usually involve sending in an electronic or paper application. The college may accept LSAC electronic applications or school electronic applications. LSAC electronic applications allow for individuals to apply to multiple institutions quickly since information is saved in the database. Law school application requirements usually involve the person submitting the following information:
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
- Personal Statement
All information should be submitted as part of the law school application process. The resume, one to three recommendations, and a personal statement are especially important for individuals with either a low LSAT or low GPA. These elements can help show how an applicant can still prove to be an asset to the college. The law school application may also allow for an addendum. The addendum gives the applicant a chance to explain any “issues” such as work gaps and low grades. Law school application fees usually cost each student a minimum of $400 per school. Law school application fees include LSAT fees, application processing fees, CAS reporting fees, and transcript request charges.
How Do You Write a Law School Application Resume?
A law school application resume will follow a similar format as a traditional resume (if you have experience with a paralegal resume, you’re in the right direction). All experience should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent positions first. Experience listed should be relevant to law school with concrete examples with action verbs. Some phrase examples listed on a law school application resume are “negotiating contracts,” “training employees,” “advocating for clients,” and “creating marketing initiatives.”
A difference between a law school application resume and a traditional resume is educational experience is listed before work experience. Educational experience should include GPA, degree conferred, and any honors awarded. The resume should be organized with headers with all information included on a single typed sheet.
The law school application personal statement is intended to articulate a person’s reasons for attending law school. Being an attorney involves effectively arguing a case and a law school application personal statement should showcase this ability. The personal statement is a place to discuss career goals and ambitions and reflect on past experience. Perhaps most importantly (and where many applicants go wrong), the personal statement is not meant to reiterate information already provided in the resume – it should argue its own case.
What is the Value of Internships?
Legal internships are intended to help a person decide if a career as an attorney is the right fit. Most law schools will not require an internship for admission. However, it could help improve a law school application resume by showing past legal experience. The best pre-law internships give an insider look at what it’s like to work as an attorney. Legal internships are offered at government offices, non-profit organizations, corporate legal firms, and private law firms.
Most placements involve the student performing clerical work, but the best pre-law internships will include attending court proceedings and meeting with clients. At the end of the internship, the undergraduate student is likely to know whether a legal career is something he or she wishes to pursue.
Another benefit is internships are perfect networking opportunities. The intern can use the connections made during his or her time at the law office for future letters of recommendation and personal references. The best pre-law internships could result in full-time employment after the completion of the programs. Internships don’t guarantee future employment, but a law office may give hiring preference to former interns.