you need to know
major should I choose if I wish to attend law school?
schools do not favor any one major over another. They are interested
in having students with diverse backgrounds and will consider all
applicants regardless of major. That said, however, there are some
things you should consider when choosing a major and courses.
are certain basic skills needed by lawyers and required by law
writing skills, strong critical and analytical thinking skills,
strong reading comprehension skills, and public speaking skills.
Law schools will look closely at your transcript to see if you
have taken rigorous and challenging courses demanding these
skills. A high GPA in lightweight courses will not impress them.
Students should choose courses they are interested in, since they
are more likely to do well and improve their overall GPA. Law
schools like to see that a student has developed a passion for
learning whatever its direction. There are no required courses and
there is no advantage in taking a lot of courses related to law.
Law schools take the attitude that they will teach you what you
need to know about the law. What they look for in an undergraduate
program of studies is a general knowledge in a broad range of fields such as
history, politics, philosophy, economics, sociology, etc.
Students should talk to a pre-law advisor for more specific
advice on course selection.
the official statement of the American Bar Association on Pre-law
What factors do law schools take into account in their admissions
school entry is highly competitive and law schools take the best
students they can get. The two chief criteria in their decision are
a high GPA and a good score on the LSAT (Law School Admissions
Test). These are considered together so that a high GPA will be
undermined by a low LSAT score and vice versa.
year to year law schools consistently accept students within a
certain range of LSAT scores and GPAs. For a number of reasons,
they may admit students outside these ranges but this is rare. The Official
Guide to U.S. Law Schools provides a complete breakdown of the
LSAT and GPA scores of students admitted in the previous year for
every US law school. The Boston College Law School Locator (http://www.bc.edu/offices/careers/gradschool/law/lawlocator)
provides a quick and easy-to-use
index of the same information. You should consult these early
on so that you have a realistic idea of what is required to get into
the schools you are considering.
What is the LSAT?
LSAT is a standardized test (similar to the SAT, but differing in
content) aimed at testing the kind of skills mentioned above. It
is scored on a scale of 120 to 180. The LSAT is administered by the
Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). You must be registered with the LSAC to take the test. The LSAC records your scores and reports them
directly to the law schools you nominate.
For details on registering, consult the LSAC website at http://www.lsac.org.
The LSAC website offers a different
sample LSAT question every day, as well as a description of the
different parts of the exam.
should I take the LSAT?
LSAT is administered four times a year: June, October, December and
February. Most advisors recommend taking the LSAT in the June
following your junior year or in the October of your senior year. If
you take the exam in February of your senior year your scores will
not be submitted in time for admission the year immediately
following graduation. The
June test has the advantage that, if necessary, you can take the
exam again in October and still submit your scores in time. The
disadvantage with the June exam is that your preparation is likely
to overlap with the university exam period.
can I do to prepare for the LSAT?
your LSAT score is so important for getting into law school you
should try to perform to the best of your ability. Some
students are good at standardized testing and others are not, but
all students can benefit from preparation. If you take the test more
than once all your scores will be reported and most law schools will
average the scores. Ideally, then, you should take the test only
once and only when your are fully prepared.
are a number of things you can do to prepare.
it is strongly recommended that all pre-law students take the mock LSAT offered by Kaplan at the beginning of their junior year.
This will give you a concrete and realistic indication of what the
exam is like and of how you will perform, while leaving you
enough time to prepare for the June exam.
you are well-disciplined and confident of your ability, you
may choose to study by yourself. The LSAC has a package
of self-study materials that they can send to you. You
should obtain this and put aside time to work through
it, so that you can get used to the style of the questions,
techniques, and time yourself.
you are not a good exam taker or think you need a more intensive
and disciplined preparation, there are a number of commercial
LSAT preparation courses such as Kaplan and Princeton Review.
Temple also offers a LSAT prep course at TUCC. It is considered
best to take the prep course as close as possible to when you
will take the exam.
Other factors in the
are two other components that law schools consider in making their
personal statement. This
a brief statement in which you can tell the admissions board
something about yourself and bring to their attention factors
that may not appear elsewhere in your application (e.g.,
personal hardships overcome, community service, special
aspirations). You should take some care with the composition of
the statement, as schools often take it as an indication of your
Most law schools require a number of recommendations as part
of your application. The best people to get these from are
professors who know you well, from courses you have done with
them or from activities outside the classroom.
Obviously, senior faculty or faculty with some expertise
or law or law-related areas are an advantage. A good idea is to
inform your professor at the beginning of the course that you are a
pre-law student and that you might be asking for a
recommendation from him or her at some stage. This is a good way
to kick off a more personal relationship and it will also allow
the professor to pay more attention to your work throughout the
course rather than trying to remember everything about you at
Is it best to apply straight out of college or can I take some time off?
schools give no preference to applications from students still in
college. A large proportion of admissions every year are from
non-seniors (about two-thirds at Temple Law). It is important,
however, that if you take time off you do something constructive
that will support your application. More important than a
law-related job is a job that shows you are responsible disciplined,
organized, and hard-working.
Resources and further information
should consult a pre-law advisor either in their department or
Academic Advising at Sullivan Hall.
Career Development Service can also offer advice and has a
library of law school catalogues and guides for pre-law
provides an excellent guide to all aspects of being a lawyer and
getting into law school, So
you Want to be a Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Law as a Career
(about $12.00). It can be
ordered online at the LSAC website.
A wealth of information can be found on the
internet. Visit the pre-law links library on
this website for a good start.