Applying to Law School
The first step for any student who is thinking about applying to law school is to register with the Law School Admission Council. The LSAC website is an indispensable resource with a wealth of information for prospective law school students (to include information on scholarships).
In addition, the law school application process is centralized through LSAC’s Credential Assembling Service (CAS). CAS offers a centralized process for standardizing your undergraduate records to simplify the law school admissions process. By registering with CAS, this process will prepare a report for each law school you apply to that includes an academic summary, copies of your academic transcripts, your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score(s), and letters of recommendation. Once your file is complete, CAS will submit these documents to each of the law schools you list in your CAS account. You will still need to prepare and submit law school applications directly to your chosen law schools. There is no cost to sign up with LSAC, but there is a fee for the Credential Assembling Service.
Real steps will need to be taken to begin the process of applying to law school no later than your junior year. Above all, you will need to decide when you want to take the LSAT, which is offered now several times per year (check the LSAC website for the current year’s test dates).
Applications are generally submitted in the fall of senior year. Many schools have rolling admissions, which means there is no hard deadline, but it is certainly better to plan to apply early rather than later. Some law school recruiters say, as a rule of thumb, that you should try to have all your materials submitted by Thanksgiving.
You should identify two or three professors to write letters of reference for you. Law schools prefer academic letters from instructors you have had in class because those letters will allow them to compare you with your peers. Letters from employers or other individuals who know you well may also be submitted, but academic letters are preferable (schools generally permit you to include at least one letter beyond the number they require). For optimal results, choose your letter-writers carefully, ask them far enough in advance, and provide them with information (your resume, papers you wrote for their class) that will help them write the best letter possible for you.
The LSAT is a half-day, standardized test required for all applicants to law schools in the United States that are approved by the American Bar Association. The Law School Admissions Council website provides information about the LSAT, how to register to take the LSAT, test dates and locations, and offers copies of old tests for sale as preparation materials.
The LSAT is a standardized test that most law schools place great emphasis upon in the admissions process, and the better your score, the better your chance of admission to a particular school as well as to top-ranked schools.
Most students find that taking a commercial preparation course specializing in the LSAT is vital to enhancing their prospects for getting the best score they can on the LSAT. You should plan to take the LSAT only once, maximizing your score on that test, since retaking the LSAT may often result in the law school averaging scores if a student takes the LSAT more than once.
Commercially available LSAT preparation courses include the following. (Inclusion of these links does not constitute endorsement or recommendation of these programs by Carthage.)
- The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) — Find information on the GRE, register for the test, prepare for the test, and more.
- The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) — Find information about law school in general along with how to choose the right law school for you and information about the LSAT.