Law School Application Process
When to begin thinking about it?
You should begin planning to apply in your junior year. Utilize all of the services and resources offered by the Pre-Law Program, including meeting with the Pre-Law advisor to discuss your application/LSAT preparation strategy.
The law school application process includes the following 7 components that are all important:
LSAC and LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
The LSAC is the central clearinghouse for all application materials, including your academic transcripts, LSAT score(s) and letters of recommendation. You can also access, save, and submit law school applications through LSAC. All ABA law schools require applicants to use CAS. You should register and pay for a CAS account – in addition to your main LSAC account – by September of the year when you apply.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is required by most law schools in the U.S.; although several law schools now accept the GRE as an alternative, you should assume that you will need to take the LSAT! It is a standardized test focusing on reading comprehension, as well as analytical and logical reasoning skills. You must allow adequate study time as law schools will see all of your scores. Test scores do not typically improve significantly with retakes.
The LSAT is offered 4 times a year and there are pros and cons to consider for each date:
Pro: This test date is the only one offered on a Monday afternoon and taking it between your junior and senior years allows you to concentrate exclusively on the application process in the fall.
Con: If you are scheduled for a tough spring semester, adding LSAT preparation to that class load may be too much.
September / October:
Pro: You can prepare for the LSAT during those long summer days and nights. After taking the LSAT, the remainder of your fall may be devoted to your applications and personal statement.
Con: Though this test date generally falls before midterms, a different date may be better for you if you have a heavy course load in Fall semester.
Pro: Taking the December test will allow you to get your application in by the first of the year so as to take better advantage of potential scholarship awards.
Con: The test date generally overlaps with UGA final exams. If you miss the December test, you may end up waiting another year to begin law school since you may not be considered for admission because many law schools have rolling admissions. In addition, you will be preparing law school applications along with preparing for the LSAT (not to mention those pesky undergraduate courses in which you are enrolled!).
Pro: You can get a jump-start on other juniors by taking the LSAT in February. This allows you to use the summer and early fall for researching and applying to law schools.
Con: If you are a senior, the February test is generally too late to be considered for acceptance into law school in the coming academic year. The February test is also the only non-disclosed test, meaning that you will not receive individual section scores nor see your actual test booklet for review in preparing for any potential re-takes.
Official Transcripts must be submitted directly to the Credential Assembly Service of LSAC. Transcripts must be requested and submitted from every school/college where you were enrolled in classes as an undergraduate. You request transcripts the Registrar’s Office. CAS will submit your transcripts and GPA conversion calculation to law schools. Be sure to give the Registrar’s Office the LSAC request form and report fee, matching it to your CAS account. You should allow LSAC at least 2 weeks to process your transcript.
Personal Statement / Essays
Admissions committees will use your personal statement / essays, and other addenda to evaluate your “fit” for their law school, as there is usually no formal interview process. The Pre-Law advisor will critique and offer feedback on these documents if you wish. Personal Statements / essays usually invite you to answer a specific prompt in order to learn more about you and your communication and writing skills. Addenda offer you an opportunity to explain any discrepancy or item of concern in your application materials, such as your LSAT score or poor grade(s) on a transcript.
Letters of Reccomendation
Law schools require letters of recommendation. They offer insight about your academic and intellectual abilities, as well as your potential to succeed in law school. All law schools require two letters of recommendation but will generally accept up to four letters. Letters from a faculty member are preferred, particularly if you intend to go to law school immediately or if you graduated recently. External letters of recommendation are also acceptable, coming from an employer, internship supervisor, or other professional contact. Because these letters are so important, choose your recommenders wisely. Consult with the Pre-Law advisor about your selections if you wish.
Character fitness and misconduct issues are a key area of focus for law schools, for attorneys must abide by a professional and ethical code of conduct. It is CRITICAL that you disclose all legal and school disciplinary misconduct charges and violations, EVEN IF your record was “expunged” or otherwise favorably resolved. Some law schools require a fully encompassing disclosure that may even include speeding tickets. Discuss any misconduct disclosure issues and questions you may have with the Pre-Law advisor for advice on such disclosures.
Financing law school
Financing law school is a serious matter that you should fully consider before deciding to attend law school. Although financial aid for law school is limited, you should prepare a FAFSA as you/your parents did at the undergraduate level. Merit aid is generally awarded simultaneously with acceptance, but some law schools announce merit aid awards at a specified date after admittance. There is generally not a separate application process for such awards, but you will need to thoroughly research each law school’s policy. Federal loans are often a primary source for financing law school, and the Pre-Law advisor will provide resources about the mechanics of federal loan financing.