As with most advanced degrees, it’s becoming more common that there is no set path to pursuing law school. An entering class to any Juris Doctor program is comprised of a myriad of students, some recent graduates, others with established careers spread across all disciplines and industries. For students, this sort of freedom can be exciting as they prepare or contemplate a career in law. It means that they do not need to compromise all of their interests to fit one “future lawyer” mold but rather their unique experiences may serve as an asset and divergent way of thinking. Ultimately, they will need to encompass a core set of characteristics and skills such as strong academic discipline and performance, research ability, attention to detail, and critical thinking.
The process of pursuing a law degree requires the same research and attention to detail students develop as they go through the undergraduate application process. However, for those who are already considering a career in law, utilizing the tools and resources available to them during their time as an undergrad will only serve as an advantage. For example, many schools offer a pre-law emphasis or major which not only includes courses that will prepare and demonstrate fit for law school, but also engage students outside of the classroom with workshops, application and resume review, and law school fairs where students can interact with admission representatives as well as one-on-one advising.
Prior to the application process, students should research different elements of the law, types of law that can be practiced, and the role lawyers play in a variety of fields. This research will help students identify a potential career path and passion for law, which can be supplemented with work or internship experience as well as elective or major courses.
The process of applying to law school requires forward thinking. Students are required to take the LSAT, which is offered four times throughout the year, submit their applications, and potentially interview for a seat in the incoming class. The LSAT is notorious for its rigor and students will need to learn to think differently to earn a competitive score. It is also a key component of the law school application. As such, test prep is highly recommended, whether through a course, book, or private tutor. A benefit to current students interested in studying law is the opportunity to participate in fellowships or other programs that assist with the financial burden of taking the LSAT and performing well on it.
Beyond taking the LSAT, students will also need to sign up for LSAC-Credential Assembly Service. This is a database, similar to Common App, through which they will submit all of their applications. Transcripts are submitted through LSAC as well as the letters of recommendation and evaluation. Another key component to the application is the personal statement. While some schools may offer prompts, many will simply want to learn more about the student and why law school, specifically their school, is right for them at this point in their lives. Most schools offer admission on a rolling basis, so it’s in the applicants’ best interest to submit applications well before the deadline, which usually falls around early spring.
The attention to detail and dedication required throughout the law school application process is only the beginning for these students. Those that are able to successfully navigate this system have completed the first of many steps towards becoming a lawyer and highlighting the key aspects mentioned here coupled with the crucial application timeline and support system will only help their journey (and maybe result in some free legal advice down the road!).
By Kendall Williams