The first question that you need to address when you are trying to establish a timeline for your law school application activities is: Do you plan to go to law school directly after undergraduate school or do you plan to take a few years off?
What follows is a year-by-year guide to what you should be doing to prepare for law school. If you did not know that you were interested in law school until your junior or senior year, don't fret about not having done many of the recommended activities. Most of them are not absolutely vital.
During your freshman and sophomore years, you should:
- Take courses that will help you to develop the many skills that you will need during your career. Most lawyers will say that WRITING is the most important skill that a lawyer needs. Critical thinking is also very important. For recommendations from the ABA regarding preparation for law school, click here.
- Take the time to read some of the many books that can give you insight into what you are proposing to do with your life.
- You should be careful to maintain an excellent credit rating. This will be important when you later need to borrow money.
- Make a concerted effort to earn as high a GPA as you can manage.
- Read voraciously and write, write, write.
During your junior year, you should:
- Continue making excellent grades.
- Do an internship with a lawyer or volunteer to work in a local law office.
- Sign-up for the LSDAS and register for the LSAT that is administered in June following your junior year. There are several reasons why this is a good idea:
-- Unless you are taking summer school classes, you will not be in school in the few weeks leading up to the exam. Thus, you can be well rested, focused and well prepared.
-- If you should happen to score far more poorly than you have reasonable grounds for expecting, you have the time to re-take the test in September/October of your senior year and still meet application deadlines.
-- Having a score in hand at the beginning of your senior year will make your planning process much more efficient.
- PREPARE well for the LSAT prior to taking the test. You might want to consider taking a commercial preparation course. There are also good preparation guide books that you can purchase and work through.
- Study the application process and begin thinking about which law schools you might want to attend. You can also begin contacting law schools and requesting information and application materials.
- If you have the opportunity, during the summer following your junior year, you might want to visit several of the law schools that are high on your wish list.
During your senior year (or starting in the September prior to when you want to enter law school), you should follow this schedule:
September – October
- If you have not already done so, register for the LSDAS and the September/October LSAT.
- If possible, attend one of the forums that LSAC sponsors around the country. Alternatively, you should attend a law fair in the Western New York area. These are generally held at larger schools during the fall months. Contact the Director of Prelaw Advisement for information about such fairs.
- Speak with the your prelaw advisor to make sure that you fully understand the application process. Your advisor can also help you decide where it is most appropriate for you to send your applications.
- Contact the law schools for information and application materials.
October – November
- Ask carefully selected professors or others for letters of recommendation.
- Write your personal statement.
- Compile and submit all of your applications by Thanksgiving break. This can now be done electronically through LSAC.
- If you have not already done so, complete and submit all of your applications.
January – February
- Monitor your LSDAS account and make sure that all of your applications are complete.
- If you have problems or questions, see your prelaw advisor.
- If you have been accepted to a school that you want to attend, pay your deposit and promptly inform all of the other schools who are still considering your application of your decision.
- If you have been wait-listed, then wait and make the best decisions that you can.
- Once you have accepted an offer from a school, contact their financial aid office and begin working on a package to pay for your study.
- Order a final transcript from your registrar's office (showing graduation date). Have this sent to the law school that you have decided to attend.