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Applying To the Law School

published February 19, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
( 5 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
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This article will take a look at the law school admissions process. That process begins long before you start writing "personal statements" and asking for letters of recommendation. Once again, it starts with you and what you want.

Applying To the Law School

There are some obvious things you have to do to get into law school. You have to take another standardized test, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). You have to subscribe to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), the organization that forwards your transcript and LSAT scores on to law school admissions offices. You must experience the joy of completing law school applications: getting the application form in the typewriter so that it's not crooked, trying somehow to make the x key line up with those little boxes, and looking for gray "white-out" to fix the typos you make. Trying to come up with something, anything to say in those dreaded personal statements that will make you stand out without being too cute, too apologetic, too self-centered.

Before you do any of these things, you have to do some thinking about where you should go to law school and how to improve your chances of being accepted there.

The School for You

There are several law schools approved by the American Bar Association and still others that are not "accredited." How should you go about deciding which would be right for you?

Start by thinking about where you want to be when you graduate. If you want to work in a particular region of the country, focus your thinking about law schools on schools in that region. Some people will tell you that if you go to a "national" law school you can get a job anywhere. There's a lot of truth in that view. But if you know you want to work in one region of the country and you go to a national law school in another, you simply won't see as many of the potential employers that you want to talk to as you will if you go to a national or regional school closer to where you want to end up. If you're sure where you want to practice, you might even be better off going to a less prestigious school in that area.

The best place for you to practice will depend very much on - who you are and what you want to do. Next, consider whether there is a particular course of study that you want to pursue in law school. If your reason for going to law school is to become an environmental lawyer, or an intellectual property lawyer, or an international lawyer, you'll want to go to a law school that has the course offerings and the faculty to permit you to develop that interest. If you want to practice at one of the large, national law firms or if you want to teach law, you'll want to attend the very best law school you can get into, regardless of geographic location.

Learn the 10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School

Just as you did when choosing an undergraduate school, you will have certain personal preferences when it comes to picking a law school. There are big law schools and small law schools, and bigger or smaller isn't necessarily better. There are urban schools, suburban schools, and rural schools. There are law schools near beaches and law schools near mountains. Some law schools have very large classes, especially for first-year required courses, while others emphasize small class sizes. Some law schools have a more diverse student body and faculty than others. Your personal preferences on these issues are important considerations.

Learn as much as you can about the law schools you're considering. Send away for the applications, even before you're ready to apply. The applications to law schools will tell you a lot about how a particular law school sees itself. The application brochures are marketing pieces, but they often contain loads of information about courses and faculty.

Refer to The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, which is put out by Law Services, the people that bring you the LSAT. That book profiles each of the accredited schools, giving you an overview of the size of the enrollment, faculty, library facilities, curriculum, student activities, and special programs. Law schools are grouped by region, which helps you compare the schools in the part of the country you're interested in. The Official Guide also gives you information about LSAT and grade point averages for the applicant pool at each of the law schools, so you can evaluate your odds of gaining admission.

Ultimately, your choice of law schools will, as a practical matter, be constrained by how well you do on the LSAT and by your undergraduate record. But even if your academic record is not especially strong, you'll have choices if you do your homework.

Stop - Put Down Your Pencils - Turn Over Your Test Booklets

First there were the PSATs. Then the SATs. You may have thrown in some GMATs or GREs for good measure. Now it's time for the LSAT. The last SAT.

Few things are absolutely required to get into law school. The LSAT is one of them. Every law school approved by the American Bar Association requires that you take the LSAT prior to admission.

The LSATs are like a grown-up version of the SAT. There are five sections of multiple-choice questions. Each section takes thirty-five minutes, during which you blacken lots of oval spaces and worry whether you should mark three C's in a row even if you think each is the right answer. ("There is no penalty for guessing.") The test sections evaluate your reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. There's a half-hour writing sample at the end of the test. (Anyone who can write coherently at the end of that test deserves to go to law school.)

The highest possible score on the LSAT is 180. That's your goal. Just for paying for the test, they give you 120 points. So all you have to do is earn another 60. Shouldn't be too hard, right? In order to improve your chances of earning those last 60 points, you can do a couple of things.

The LSATs are offered in February, June, October, and December each year. Toward the end of your junior year of college, you'll want to contact the LSAT/LSDAS folks and start thinking about when to take the test. Many students take the LSAT in June after their junior year or in October of their senior year, to allow time to get their scores back before applying to law schools. Waiting until December or February of your senior year to take the LSAT may force you to apply to law school before you know how well you did.

Please Type or Print Legibly

Law school applications don't differ very much. Most of them want the basics: name, address, educational background, LSDAS registration number, something about your work and extracurricular activities, and the names of the people writing letters of recommendation for you. Doesn't seem too difficult until you look at the "checklist for application" and start thinking about the required "personal statement."

The most time-consuming part of the application-especially once you've pulled together all your dates of attendance and dates of employment-is writing your personal statement. This may also be the most important part of the application. It's the last chance you have to improve your odds of getting into law school. After all, your grades are what they are and your LSAT score is what it is. You either got to know some faculty members well during college or you didn't, so your letters of recommendation are beyond help at this point. But you still have to write that personal statement.

Your personal statement is your opportunity to convince the law school admissions committee that they should want you as part of the incoming class. It demonstrates how well (or poorly) you write. In fact, it may be the only writing sample from you that the admissions committee reads. So it could be your last chance to make yourself stand out. You want to showcase yourself as a potential member of the class both by what you say and by how well you say it.

But just what are the law schools looking for here anyway? A pure writing sample? An essay about your greatness? A self-analysis about why you want to go to law school (save the world, etc.)? An explanation for the low grade you got in freshman chemistry class? The admissions applications vary in what they tell you.

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

Most law schools do not interview applicants for admission, in contrast to many colleges, which require interviews. The law schools that do interview are usually trying to decide between candidates fighting for the last few spots in a class. Still, applicants are strongly encouraged by most schools to visit and to sit in on classes.

When evaluating your application, most law schools take your undergraduate grade point average and your LSAT score and come up with an index. The index is used primarily to sort applications into categories: those very likely to be admitted, those very likely to be rejected, and the "great middle." The law schools and LSDAS (the people who run the LSAT) often trade information that enables the law schools to determine which types of information about you best predict your first-year success at their particular school. This permits individual schools to adjust their index to reflect actual results at the school.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published February 19, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 5 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.