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Preparation Timeline   

Applying to law school is an involved process. The more organized you are about researching law schools, registering and studying for the LSAT, and completing and sending all application materials, the more likely you will be able to keep ahead of the deadlines. The following timeline will give you a good idea about how to proceed if you are planning on going straight into law school after college graduation.


Do not hesitate to meet with the Pre-law Adviser for the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Paul Crowe, at any point in the process, to discuss your goals and concerns about going to law school. You should meet with a Pre-law Adviser at the beginning your junior year if you have not done so before.


I. Freshman and Sophomore years

  • Concentrate on establishing a high GPA. It is very difficult to gain acceptance to any law school without at least a 3.0 GPA. Work hard on developing your writing skills and analytical thinking skills. You will need these to perform your best in upper level courses and certainly in law school. If you are having difficulty with college-level writing you need to address this as soon as possible. Talk to professors about how you can improve and seek help from the Tuttleman Writing Center.

  • Consider taking a course in logic or critical thinking, as these will develop your analytical thinking skills and help you greatly when the time comes to start preparing for the LSAT exam, two thirds of which consists of logic problems.

  • Try to find out more about law and lawyers, especially the different areas in which lawyers work. If possible spend some time working with a lawyer or in a legal office. Consider taking some courses in law related areas. Think seriously about whether law is really the right profession for you.

  • Find out something about the LSAT exam and what it requires, as well as the whole law schools applications process. Begin to think about what law schools you would like to attend.

  • Make sure you join the CLA Pre-law Society and get yourself on their listserv. The Society sponsors a whole range of events that will help you learn more about law, the legal profession and how to get into law school. It’s also a great place to meet other pre-law students in the college and benefit from their experience and knowledge.

II. Spring Junior Year

  • Pick up a copy of the annual LSAT/LSDAS Information Book and read it carefully.

  • Take a practice LSAT exam to get a sense of what it is like to do the problems under exam conditions. Although your score will be low, it will give you a sense of where you stand and what you need to do to improve.

  • Register for the LSAT examination.

  • The main advantage of registering to take the exam in June is that you will have time to retake it in October if the results are poor and you know you can do better. You will also be able to get all your application materials in early. If you are applying for early admission, you may be required to take the LSAT in June.

  • The main advantage of taking the exam in October of your senior year is that you will free up time in your junior year semester to focus on your academic performance. (Remember that your junior year grades will be the most recently completed and thus reported when you apply to law schools the following fall: it is very important to strive for your best academic work at this time.)

  • Register with LSDAS, the service that will report your LSAT scores and other parts of your application to law schools.

  • Make sure to keep track of all of the registration and application details that you will have to process in the coming months. Remember to make copies of all forms, applications, and correspondence for your records.

  • After receiving your LSAT Admission ticket and LSDAS subscription confirmation, you should begin to receive an LSAC Activity Update each month that activity occurs in your file.

  • Begin to research law schools with the goal of compiling a list of about a dozen that you would like to attend. There are many factors to consider when researching a potential law school, including where it is located, its student body size, the quality of its faculty, how much it costs, and the level of prestige attributed to it. For help with this process, refer to the links provided on this website. Also, you may wish to do some of the following:

  • Keep track of pre-law events and workshops on campus (make sure you are on the pre-law listserv for announcements).

  • Speak with faculty, staff and alumni who have attended law school.

  • Review law school websites.

  • Visit law schools for tours or to audit a first-year class.

  • Think about attending the annually-held Law Forum in New York City or Washington D.C. See www.lsac.org for dates and registration information.

  • Think about who you are going to ask for letters of recommendation. The best letters are usually written by faculty who know you well and for whom you have done your best academic work. Try to ask for letters at the end of spring semester so as to give the professor plenty of time to have it done by the next fall. Include some of your best essays so that the professor can refresh her memory of you when she writes the letter.

  • If you are taking the LSAT exam in June, now is the time to prepare. Some general exam preparation advice is given in the next timeline segment.

III. Summer between Junior and Senior Years

  • Create or update your résumé.

  • Reflect on what you will put into your personal statement. Write a draft and have a number of people look at it for you: people who know you well, lawyers you may know, professors and pre-law advisors.

  • Prepare for the LSAT. Virtually all students can benefit from taking a prep course. Refer to the LSAT Preparation Services section on this website for services that offer LSAT preparation to prospective law school applicants. If you choose to work on your own then come up with a regular study schedule and stick to it. You should be putting in as much time as you would for a regular course at the very least. Make sure you practice taking the exam under exam conditions (i.e., time yourself). Preparation materials (past exams, etc.) can be purchased from LSAC and bookstores. Sample tests are available in the LSAT registration packet or in LSAT prep books. If you think of all the time you have put into achieving a high GPA it makes sense to put in as much time as you into prepping for the LSAT as it as important as your GPA if not more so.

IV. Fall Senior Year

  • With the help of the Pre-law Adviser, make a shortlist of between about five and ten law schools. You can apply to one or two “long shots,” but make sure most of the schools you apply to are likely to consider you. LSAC provides a simple to use online database of law schools to help you determine your chances of getting into any particular law school based on your GPA and LSAT score.

  • Write to the short listed law schools for catalogs and application forms. You can do this by sending the request postcards found in the LSAT/LSDAS packet. Don’t write to law schools before August, as they tend to print current year materials only in late summer.

  • If you intend to apply for financial aid, pick up financial aid applications from the Financial Aid Office of the law school(s) you are interested in. Also investigate other financial aid options.

  • Ask the Registrar's Office to forward an official transcript to the LSDAS by filling out the appropriate form provided in the LSAT/LSDAS Information Book. If you take the October exam you will know your LSAT score by mid-November.

  • If you become uncertain about the strength of your credentials or wonder whether you should retake the LSAT, meet with the Pre-law Advisor as soon as possible.

  • Submit your applications, résumé, personal statement, recommendations, and all supporting materials as early as you can after the law school starts taking applications (this will be easier if you have taken the June exam). Certainly try to have everything in before Thanksgiving. Submitting your applications early can be a real advantage in the admissions process at many schools. Be aware that the application deadlines for early decision or early action programs are as early as mid-October.

V. Spring Senior Year

  • Check periodically with the law schools to make sure that your application is complete and up-to-date.

  • When you have received all of the admissions results, make the decision on which school to attend. If you are unsure about this choice consult the Pre-law Advisor.

  • Once you have made your decision, inform the Pre-law Advisor. Remember to thank the people who wrote you recommendations; they obviously did a good job!

  • Have the Registrar’s Office send a final copy of your academic transcript to your law school once your final senior year grades are in.





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