Becoming a lawyer is a long process that requires a lot of dedication. However, every legal career starts with a law school application. I’d like to introduce you to the initial step everyone has to take in order to become a lawyer in the United States. There are primarily two ways to achieve it, which I discussed in this post a few weeks ago. In short, you can either get a Juris Doctor or an LLM degree before you are eligible to sit for the bar exam. But first, you need to know what to do in order to get accepted to a Juris Doctor program.
I. Take LSAT (or GRE)
In order to get into law school, you have to take a standardized test. Traditionally, every prospective law student had to take LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Recently, some law schools (including Harvard Law School) began accepting GRE (Graduate Record Exam – another standardized test required for numerous graduate programs) in lieu of LSAT to attract more candidates.
LSAT is administered only four times a year. Thus, you have to plan accordingly in order to get your score on time. I would recommend taking it during spring/summer the year preceding your enrollment. Therefore, if you would like to go to law school in the fall of 2019, you should register for the LSAT by summer of 2018, or by fall of 2018 at the latest. December LSAT is the last one schools will accept. Timing is crucial! On the other hand, GRE takes place frequently, but there are certain limitations on how many times you can sit for it within a 12-month period.
II. Fill Out Law School Applications via LSAC
LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) is an organization that processes all of your law school applications. You upload most of the application documents (letters of recommendations, transcripts) via LSAC portal. You have to create an LSAC account before you can start filling out your applications, or even before you can register for the LSAT.
III. Ask for Letters of Recommendation (usually 2 or 3)
I suggest that you ask your professors, internship or work supervisors to write letters of recommendation for you. While choosing a reference contact consider factors such as how closely you worked together, how well they know you, or whether they graduated from a school you’re applying to. The point is… you don’t want a letter to be too general, but rather quite personal. It gives the Admissions Committee a better understanding of who you are and why you are the right candidate.
IV. Request Transcripts
Seems like an easy administrative task, but it’s very important to complete it on time. Again, undergraduate and graduate transcripts usually need to be sent via LSAC, and not directly to the school.
V. Write a Personal Statement
This is the most intimate aspect of a law school application. Try to be creative, but be yourself. As it’s personal, I think everyone needs to develop an individual approach to this aspect of the application. The only recommendation I have is not to send the same personal statement to each school you’re applying to. The worst thing you can do is to copy and paste the essay without changing the school’s name!
VI. Pay Application Fees + Submit Applications
February 1 is often the application deadline. After you pay the application fees (tip: e-mail Office of Admissions at each school whether they can waive the fee to save you some money… some, in fact, would agree to do so!), and proofread your application materials, you’re ready to click “submit.” Yes, this moment has finally arrived and you should be proud of yourself!
VII. Keep Checking Your Application Status
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you 🙂 Don’t stress out – you did your best. I’m sure you’ll receive an acceptance letter from your dream school.
Let me know whether you have any other questions regarding the Juris Doctor application checklist, and I’ll be happy to provide you with some guidance.
Next time I’ll explain how to enroll in an LLM program.