How to apply to law school

Most of the information you need to apply to law school is available from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Their web site should be your first stop as you begin the journey toward law school. It explains the process of taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), applying to law schools, and obtaining financial aid, and has links to many other sources of information.

The law school application process is highly centralized and designed to handle the enormous number of people--over 100,000 per year--who take the LSAT and consider applying to law school. The Law School Admission Service (LSAS), which is affiliated with the LSAC, is the collection point for your transcripts and LSAT scores, as well as other materials. You pay them for doing this, and for sending your file to the law schools of your choice. But you also need to apply to the law schools directly, and pay each school an application fee. After your file is complete at LSAS (transcripts and LSAT scores ready), and after you have applied to the schools of your choice, those law schools will call for your file and LSAS will send it to them. Then you wait for the decision, and that's the hardest part.

Think of the process of applying to law school as if you were trying to find the best path through a forest that has many different paths leading in different directions. Some paths will lead you in circles. Others will take you nowhere. Some will get you through, but will not be the shortest or best path. You need to find the optimal path, which means you need to think about what is sometimes called the "critical path." The critical path method is used in design and construction. The critical path is the sequence of steps that must be completed, in the proper sequence, in order for the project to be completed on time. What is the critical path for an aspiring attorney?

  • You need to choose an undergraduate major that fits four requirements:
    • You enjoy it
    • You learn about things that will help you in the future
    • You develop the aptitudes you will need for the LSAT, law school, and the legal profession
    • You get good grades in the subject
  • During your undergraduate years you need to
    • Develop good work habits
    • Take courses that develop your aptitudes for
      • reading comprehension
      • structured thinking--especially a course in Logic
    • Learn about law school and the legal profession
  • You need to apply for the LSAT and take it in June, October, or December of the year before you expect to matriculate at a law school.
  • Apply to law schools by the end of December
    • seek fee waivers
    • apply for financial aid
    • get letters of recommendation that will help you
    • write a compelling personal statement
  • Make a decision!
  • Prepare to attend law school by eliminating distractions from your life. Simplify!

Choosing the Law Schools for Your Applications

A large part of getting into law school is quantitative. They screen most of their applicants in or out based on grade point averages and LSAT scores before making fine distinctions based on personal statements, letters of recommendation, balancing for diversity of all types, and other considerations. You can find out how likely you are to get into any given law school by consulting The Official Guide to US Law Schools, an on-line publication from the Law School Admission Council. This source also gives you detailed information on each law school, including areas of specialization, tuition, faculty, and nearly everything else you need to know at this stage. You can also look at the law school rankings done annually by US News and World Report to see how high in the ratings your choices are. You can contact the law schools directly by using this list of links to law school web sites.