The Law School Application
Applications to law school are centralized by Law School Admission Council (LSAC). You will need to register for an account with LSAC. This will help you track the status of each step you take as you apply to your selected law schools. You will log in to your LSAC account to register to for the Law School Standardized Admissions Test (LSAT). This is a standardized admission test that is required by almost all law schools.
When you are ready to begin the law school application process, you will also need to register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). This service streamlines law school admission by allowing applicants to have all transcripts and recommendations sent to LSAC.
LSAC summarizes and combines that information with LSAT scores and writing samples into a report that is sent upon request to the law schools to which you apply.
The Law School Application has several elements. Law schools have a number of different application requirements. Whey they all a=have the basics, pay close attention to the individual requirements of each school, as they may vary slightly.
In general, the law application will include:
- LSAT score
- Transcript and GPA
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
- Other addenda
Read more about these law organizations and the services they provide: LSAC, CAS, and LSAT.
The LSAT score is arguably the most important part of your application to law school. The LSAT is a half-day standardized test of reading comprehension and analytical and logical reasoning skills. It also includes a writing sample that is administered separately online via a secure testing platform.
It is a test for which you should prepare—either on your own, with commercial test prep materials, or with Khan Academy free LSAT Prep .
Beginning in 2019, the test is administered at a testing center using tablets that are distributed. The optimal time to take the LSATs is the June or September/October administration of the year that you are applying. Most law schools will accept scores for up to three years.
Law schools vary in how they look at multiple LSAT scores. Some average them, some will consider the highest scores, some will look at the most recent. Don't take the test without carefully preparing.
Transcript & GPA
You will need to send transcripts to LSAC for every college-level or above school you have attended. This includes college courses taken during high school. CAS produces a report for law schools that includes a LSAC calculated GPA from all schools attended, which may be different from your Oberlin GPA.
After academic performance and the LSAT score, the personal statement is the next most important component of the law school application. This is your chance to show who you are beyond your numbers and let the admissions committee know more about you, your interest in law, and why you would succeed in law.
Clarity, conciseness, and candor are crucial.
Your goal is to produce a vivid and powerful essay that has a strong central theme. You might discuss:
1) a turning point in your decision to attend law school,
2) a role model for yourself,
3) a personal struggle or accomplishment, or
4) a leadership, employment, or community service experience that is somehow related to your interest in law.
In general, the essay should convey to the reader a clear sense of why you want to go to law school, why this particular law school is a good fit for you, and why this is the right time for you to go to law school.
Be sure to read the prompts for each school carefully, and tailor your essay appropriately. Personal statements are typically two, double-spaced pages, though you may find that some schools will give more latitude. If schools don’t provide guidelines on length, it’s advisable to submit a statement that’s approximately two pages in length.
A few schools will limit the number of words permitted and you should abide by their guidelines. Plan at least a month for reflecting, drafting, revising and proofreading. The pre-law advisor is happy to read a final draft and to provide feedback.
Letters of Recommendation
Most schools request two to three letters of recommendation and, if you are a recent graduate, most admissions committees will expect two of these to be from faculty members. Choose the faculty members who can best speak to your intellect, skills, motivation, and overall academic ability.
Your recommenders can be in any department. Skills that law schools are looking for include writing, reading, organization, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, time management, motivation for attending law school, and overall preparedness for the rigors of law school.
If you are a senior, your recommendations should come from faculty. If you are an alum between one to three years postgraduation, at least one letter should be from faculty and a secondary letter can be from a work supervisor.
Your resume should be one to two pages if you are a senior or recent graduate. Make sure to include your relevant internships and work experience, extracurricular, volunteer, and leadership activities.
Many law schools require or encourage other addenda to your application, including a diversity statement, optional essays with varying prompts, an academic addendum to explain any issues on a transcript, college disciplinary issues, or criminal records.
Most of these are not required but should be considered depending on your background and overall application. In general it is advisable to complete any optional essays that might be appropriate. When in doubt, set up an appointment with the pre-law advisor to discuss.
College disciplinary issues