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Pre-Law Preparation

Freshman Checklist

  • Meet with your academic advisor and your pre-professional advisor.
  • Begin basic courses.
  • Join the pre-law club and/or other organizations.
  • Subscribe to and read journals and/or news magazines.
  • Seek volunteer experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years).

Sophomore Checklist

  • Choose a major (if you haven’t already done so).
  • Begin to form relationships w/ professors.
  • Explore career options; write resume.
  • Seek internships or research experience.
  • Become involved in campus/community activities (and continue throughout undergraduate years).
  • Start researching schools – a good way to begin is on the web, such as on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website.

Junior Checklist

  • Meet with pre-professional advisor to assess your preparation and discuss the application process.
  • Attend law school fairs held at the University and in San Francisco.
  • Reality check - What are your chances? GPA/LSAT? Experience? Personal attributes?
  • Consider taking valuable electives: Computer classes, Philosophy, Communication, Statistics, Ethics, Economics.
  • Visit as many of the law schools to which you plan to apply as possible.
  • Pick up LSAT/LSDAS Information booklet.
  • LSAT-sign-up, study, take exam in February or June.
  • At the beginning of the school year, start working on your personal statement.
  • Attend appropriate workshops to help with the application process.

Senior Checklist

  • Late summer or early fall, sign up for LSDAS and send in your transcripts.
  • Request catalogs, application materials, and financial aid information.
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation.
  • Retake the LSAT if necessary.
  • Check out your graduation requirements.
  • Send out all applications by late November.
  • Make sure your LSDAS report is accurate.
  • Early Spring semester -contact all schools to which you have applied to check on the status of your file.
  • Send appropriate people thank-you notes and inform them of your success or future plans.

Overview

Law schools require a bachelor's degree and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) for admission. Law school normally takes three years but 4-year part time programs are available at some schools. Information about American Bar Association approved schools may be found in The Official Guide to US Law Schools. Reference copies are available in the bookstore, or can be ordered from the Law School Admissions Council (www.LSAC.org).

Undergraduate Preparation

The American Bar Association (ABA) has developed a statement on pre-law preparation which addresses the course of study as well as the skills necessary to gain admission to law school and to be a successful lawyer. The statement emphasizes that there is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education.

Students enter law school from widely different educational and experiential backgrounds. As undergraduates, some have majored in subjects considered to be traditional paths to law school:

  • History
  • English
  • Political science
  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • International Relations

Although the ABA does not recommend any particular group of undergraduate majors or courses that should be taken to prepare for legal education, there are significant skills, values, and bodies of knowledge that are strongly emphasized:

  • Analytic and problem-solving skills
  • Critical reading abilities
  • Writing skills
  • Oral communication and listening abilities
  • General research skills
  • Organization and management skills
  • Foreign language skills
  • The value of serving the interests of others while promoting justice

Types of knowledge that can be useful in resolving disputes include the following:

  • Broad understanding of history
  • Fundamental understanding of political thought
  • Basic understanding of ethical theory and theories of justice
  • Grounding in economics
  • Basic mathematic and financial skills
  • Basic understanding of human behavior
  • Understanding of diverse cultures within the United States and of international issues
  • Having excellent interpersonal skills and an overall interest in helping others

The Application Process

Law Service Data Assembly Service (LSDAS)

  • LSDAS provides a means of centralizing and standardizing your undergraduate academic records. LSDAS provides the law schools to which you apply with a report of your undergraduate academic work, transcripts, LSAT Scores, and your writing sample.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

  • The LSAT consists of five, 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions. The sections include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. A 30-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. The score scale for the LSAT is 120 to 180. The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

  • In determining a student's potential, law schools often consider the LSAT score and GPA together. The GPA on its own can be interpreted many ways. In addition to the cumulative GPA other factors are considered, such as your major, if there were external factors that brought your GPA down in a given semester, or whether you had work obligations. In some cases, a high GPA can compensate for a low LSAT score.

Personal Statement

  • The personal statement is a critical component of your admissions package. Since there are no personal interviews, your personal statement needs to stand out. Work with your pre-professional advisor to ensure that your statement demonstrates your values, growth areas, and other characteristics and skills that are important. Remember, your statement should be concise, yet interesting, and tell the committee something about yourself that is not included in your application or resume.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Most law schools require one to three letters of recommendation.  Letters from professors, internship supervisors, or employers would be appropriate. At least one letter should be from a professor who can assess your academic potential for law school. These letters are important because they provide different perspectives about who you are to the admission committee members.  Letter of Recommendation forms and instructions are included in the Registration and Information Book, or you may visit http://www.lsas.org.

Which Law School?

The best advice on how to select a law school is to choose the school that is best for you, which involves researching the different schools and deciding what your priorities are. You need to determine what you are looking for in law schools: a certain specialty? location? reputation? small student/faculty ratio? cost? job placement after graduation? To help you gather some of this information, you may want to attend the annual Professional and Graduate School Fair at UNR or LSAC, the annual national law school fair in San Francisco. 

 

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