The law profession is one of the most prestigious in the world. Perhaps that’s why prospective law students have to go through so many processes to become a lawyer. This article provides helpful tips on how to get into law school and subsequently build a legal career. You need to cultivate core skills in planning and logical reasoning, but that’s not all you’ll need.
If earning a law degree is one of your career goals, this article has invaluable information to get you started. You’ll discover details like how to get accepted into law school, and the standard law school requirements. You’ll also gain a clearer picture of the steps involved in navigating law school admissions, especially for options like Columbia University, Yale, and Harvard University.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into Law School?
While the personal experiences of applicants differ, most people will agree that getting into law school is tough. Based on the correlation study done by Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) for 2017, 2018, and 2019 sessions on 173 schools, the median undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) for law aspirants was 3.35, and the average LSAT score was 153.77.
The GPA and LSAT scores of an applicant are two of the most important factors considered by any law admissions office, especially at top-ranked schools. To gain admission into the law program offered by Harvard Law School in 2021, for example, applicants had an average GPA of 3.92 and an average LSAT score of 174. Out of the 9,993 who applied, just 7 percent were admitted.
Regardless of the discouraging facts, getting into a good law program is not impossible, and the level of entry difficulty differs among schools. It’s essential, then, that law school applicants familiarize themselves with the acceptance rate, application requirements, and admissions process of the programs they want to attend.
Common Law School Requirements
- Online Application. All future law students are required to submit an online application. This is the major part of the law school application process. Most programs require students to apply through the LSAC. When doing so, specify the program type, which can either be the Juris Doctor program, Masters of Law, or other graduate programs.
Applicants will mostly be expected to fill in empty boxes with their personal information and include attachments. A section of the application might include questions regarding character and fitness to practice law in the United States.
- Resume. Most schools require a resume as part of their application process. This resume should be one or two pages long. It should paint a clear picture of an applicant’s academic history and professional experience. In most cases, relevant real-world experience can boost the chances of being accepted.
This resume should also emphasize any involvement in impressive extracurricular activities and public service. Most schools factor this into their decision-making. Applicants should also be able to explain all gaps in time in their resumes as well.
- Official Transcripts. Whether applying for an LLM or JD degree, official school transcripts are mandatory. They should contain any graduate or undergraduate degree work and details about class rank, coursework, and GPA. Some law schools allow prospective students to apply without a degree.
Students who have yet to complete an undergraduate program should indicate as much in their application. Most law schools require that applicants’ credentials be submitted through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Report.
- Standardized Test. The LSAT or GRE are the two defining admission factors for applicants. These admissions tests are used to judge a candidate’s academic competence. To secure acceptance, law school hopefuls should score between 150 and 180. Applicants have the option to submit one or both test scores, but they must report all LSAT and GRE scores acquired within 5 years to ensure efficient comparison. Those whose test scores are not submitted may be withdrawn from the admission process.
- Letters of Recommendation. Most schools request two letters from applicants, and some schools allow up to four. While a resume and transcripts tell the admissions officer about an applicant’s past, the letter of recommendation shows them the academic promise and personal charisma.
These letters should be written by professors, teachers, or academic mentors who can attest to a prospective student’s academic ability. Those who have been out of school for a substantial period can substitute with their business associates or employers.
- Personal Statement. The personal letter can be two or more pages and disclose unique or important information about the applicant. The information should be different from what is contained in their application but be submitted electronically along with the application.
Applicants should consider this statement an introduction to their persona, and detail factors such as how they hope to contribute to the law program and community. Some schools use this statement in lieu of an interview.
- Application Fee or Fee Waiver. The electronic application fee varies depending on the school. It’s usually between a $0-100 non-refundable fee that is typically paid by credit card. Prospective students who cannot afford the fee can apply for a fee waiver from LSAC. This waiver will be sent along with the application.
Members of the US Military, US Reserves, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, or Peace Corps may have their law school application fees waived as well.
How to Get Accepted Into Law School: A Step-by-Step Guide
Below is a step-by-step guide to a typical law school admission process, from earning a relevant bachelor’s degree to getting accepted. Individual law schools might have specific requirements, so you should always consult a counselor or attend school information sessions to ensure you’re accepted into your school of choice.
Step 1: Complete a Graduate or Undergraduate Degree Program
The first step to securing admission into law school is to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. This is a requirement for all schools. It’s a good idea to meet with a college advisor to learn exactly how to select courses and boost GPA, how to prepare for the LSATs or GRE, and how to select a law program. Students should make sure their GPA is at least 3.5.
Step 2: Open an LSAC Account
Most credentials and application paperwork will have to go through the LSAC’s CAS, including an assessment test and application fee. Prospective students should open an LSAC account and register for the CAS to keep track of their application status and timeline. This will help compile and submit unique reports to their selected law schools.
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Step 3: Sign Up and Prepare for the Assessment Test
Applicants can choose from the LSAT or GRE. Some schools accept the GMAT. These standardized tests are used to estimate future performance in the program. Prospective students must take the test at least two months before submitting their application to ensure the scores are available in time for submission.
Step 4: Decide Which Law Program is the Best Fit
Applicants should ensure the school’s values and associations can help access the career paths they pursue. Those wanting to attend a prestigious school must have a GPA well above 3.5. Researching online about these schools is sometimes not enough to make a decision. Students should also schedule face-to-face meetings with their preferred schools.
Step 5: Provide Official Transcripts
Applicants must request transcripts from their postsecondary schools to be included in their application. These can take longer to acquire if a bachelor’s or master’s program is earned outside the United States. For reference, the LSAC takes between two and six weeks to review transcripts before forwarding them to the law school.
Step 6: Provide Your Letters of Recommendation
This is the final part of the application, and the standard number of letters to submit is two. However, it depends on the school’s preference. LSAC takes at least two weeks to review these letters before submitting them to the prospective schools.
Step 7: Send Out Applications
Once all the components have been compiled, it’s time to send out applications. Those who’ve registered on the Candidate Referral Service will be discovered by schools whose profile they fit into. It’s a way for applicants to broaden their reach and increase their chances of being accepted into a good program. That application is free for all LSAC members.
How to Choose the Right Law School
Law school substantially affects professional growth in many ways. Students need to choose a school that aligns with their career goals. To help with that, they can make a checklist of deciding factors such as diversity trends, school facilities, international recognition, academic excellence, industry influence, location, tuition cost, acceptance rate, and graduation rate.
Top Tips for Getting Into Law School
- Personal statements should stand out. Time to put those writing skills to work! Applicant essays should be engaging and insightful. This is a chance to open up to the recruiter, and it should be treated as such. Prospects should sound confident and share interesting facts about themselves that can help them be better lawyers.
- Leave enough time to prepare. Applying to law school takes lots of planning and preparation. Students need to start no less than eight months before the test date with a study plan. This will help increase the chance of securing admission into a reputable law program. They’ll also need time to request transcripts and recommendation letters.
- Work hard on undergrad GPA. It’s too late to boost a GPA in the third or final year of an undergrad program. The best time to start is the first year. Students should choose courses with future goals in mind and meet with a college advisor to help decide the best classes to take.
- Take advantage of practice tests. Practice tests help build knowledge, speed, and tolerance. To begin taking practice tests, platforms like LSAC, ETS, Khan Academy, and Test Max Prep are some of the best.
- Always review information before submitting it. Applicants can ask an objective friend or colleague to help them go through their application to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Another option is to run essays and letters through text editors to reduce grammatical errors.
- Store copies of application records. Applicants should save a copy of each document included in their applications. They might need to reapply to the same schools or be asked to resubmit some documents along the way.
- Remember, it takes more than just good grades to get in. In addition to positive academic records, applicants should also work on character, professional achievements, work experience, and community involvement. Good schools consider these factors when deciding character and fitness for the program.
Will I Get Accepted Into Law School?
Yes, if you’ve prepared well and matched the type of schools you’re applying to with your skill level. Even then, sometimes the school is full or just doesn’t consider you the right fit. In situations like this, you can prepare to reapply the following year or try an alternative career path. Coding bootcamps are an excellent opportunity to build diverse rewarding careers.
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Is Getting Into Law School Worth It?
Yes, it is. Law school can lead to several career opportunities. Graduates have their pick of careers from fields such as consulting, technology, human resources, entrepreneurship, journalism, politics, teaching, environmental conservation, judiciary, government, military, finance, health law, and investment banking.
There’s also the impressive salary law school graduates enjoy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers earn a median annual salary of $126,930. The legal field is also expected to grow by 9 percent between 2020 and 2030, with plenty of career options for those interested in the practice of law.
How to Get Into Law School FAQ
Yes, an average student can get into law school. GPA isn’t the only deciding factor for acceptance into law programs. Prospective students still have a chance to impress recruiters with assessment test scores, a personal statement, a short essay, and addenda. Some schools also allow students to reapply for up to three consecutive years.
Yes, students can get into a good program with a 3.0 GPA. This value just means they will have to work even harder to impress with the other admission components. Applicants have to show the recruiter why they should be accepted into the program with a lower GPA, and make them see their worth extends beyond their past academic performance.
Yes, as long as one plans to practice law and work in law firms, it will always matter. However, it can matter less when a lawyer’s professional accomplishments in the real world substantially exceed their academic achievements. At this point, recruiters will want to hire legal professionals based on their industry reputation and not just their academic qualifications.
Yes, grades matter a lot at the beginning of law school, and when searching for entry-level jobs in the industry. For prospective lawyers, the higher the grades, the higher the chances of being scouted and recruited by top employers. Poor grades might force a graduate to start at a low-paying job that might contribute little to their professional growth.
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