Admission to US law school is a very long and meticulous process that requires any willing bachelor's degree holder to show a high degree of dedication and concentration. This, of course, is still a challenge, but one that you can still handle. For our part, we offer you a guide to the main aspects of the path to admission to your favorite law school in the United States.
Method 1 of 4: Get a Bachelor's Degree
Step 1. Choose a specialty to taste
Unlike medical school, law school does not have specific requirements for the specialty of basic higher education. By the way, the American Bar Association does not provide any advice on choosing an education before entering law school.
- Choose the major that most people go to law school with. Consider getting an education in philosophy, economics, or journalism, according to data from most law schools regarding student enrollment rates.
- Think twice about the implications of entering the legal field. While the name itself hints at a potential advantage when enrolling in law school, not everyone agrees. Check how many coursework you need to complete in your pre-law program and compare the findings with those required in law school.
- Areas of basic higher education that require a lot of reading and emphasize critical thinking will lay a good foundation for law school education.
Step 2. Focus on your academic performance
Getting the top grades will have a significant impact on your success in law school. No matter what specialty you master, work hard on your academic performance.
- The average academic score for admission to a US law school is 3.42 (according to the American assessment standard, if you have a diploma from Russia, you will have to use the services of an agency engaged in the examination and comparison of foreign diplomas). The more prestigious the school, the higher the requirements it will place on your academic performance.
- Get off to a powerful start. Since academic performance is so important, don't waste a minute and study as hard as you can. Attend all classes, read a lot, attend private classes with instructors if necessary.
- Academic performance is not your only concern, but it is very important to maintain good grades during your studies in order to obtain a basic higher education diploma.
Step 3. Take part in extracurricular activities and clubs
While grades are important, it doesn't hurt to present yourself as a fully developed person, so pay attention to your extracurricular activities as well.
- Sign up as early as possible. The admissions office will most likely ask how long you have been a member of a particular circle and what contribution you have made. If you passively wait until the fourth year, it may seem that you enrolled in a circle just to please the admissions committee.
- Limit the number of clubs you attend to a quality minimum. After all, the depth of your participation is much more important than meaningless visits to many sections.
- Explore all your options: hobby groups, local sports clubs, service organizations, then devote some of your time to two or three of the ones you like best.
- Keep track of the time spent in each of these circles, because you may need to indicate the specific number of hours of direct active participation per week when filling out various forms upon admission.
- Consider visiting large, established organizations. Many prestigious unselfish organizations, such as UNICEF or Home for Humanity, may have branches on college and university campuses.
- Become a member of the student council or newspaper, which is very much appreciated when applying to law school.
- Take up a senior position. Whatever organization or circle you join, try to occupy the most responsible positions. It is very important to appear as a person capable of taking responsibility, soberly resolving unexpected problems or conflicts, performing several functions at once and achieving positive results.
Step 4. Get an internship
Working as an intern in a law firm or other similar business can enrich you with irreplaceable practical experience in the field of law, give you the opportunity to meet professionals who can give you a lot of useful advice you need for your future career.
- But, if you can't find a job at a law firm, look for jobs at government or community bureaus, and journalism. Experience in a law firm sounds solid, but if you only had to answer calls and serve coffee, then you won't have much to tell.
- Look for internship positions online or at your future law school. There are many sites that list open positions, and seek advice from a law school employment counselor who should also have the information you need to know.
- Plan ahead. Trainee positions - for grabs. Apply for summer vacancies back in winter; book an internship at least one semester in advance.
Step 5. Remember the timing
One of the most useful tips for getting into law school will be to strive to do everything well in advance, because you not only need to be an excellent student, take part in various circles, interns, but also submit all the necessary applications during the long process of entering law school.
- Rob Schwartz, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at UCLA Law School, said: “It's best to start thinking about recommending and preparing for the LSAT entrance examinations at least a year in advance, and preferably two, because that letters of recommendation constitute a critical part of the application package for admission … "
- Take the entrance exam early. For fall admission, take the LSAT entrance exam before December of the previous year. If you think that you will need several attempts, then make the first one back in June or October.
Method 2 of 4: Create all required accounts
Step 1. Set up a Law School Admission Council (LSAC) account
LSAC is responsible for taking the LSAT that you need to pass for admission.
- You will create a username and password. You will continue to update your information as you progress through the enrollment process.
- Log in to your LSAC account to view reminders to submit important documents and meet all your applicant obligations on time. Learn more about entrance exams, purchase preparatory study materials, register for an exam and get your results sooner.
Step 2. Use the LSAC service to organize professional aptitude recommendations
As soon as you create an LSAC Admissions Consul account, you will immediately have access to a professional aptitude recommendation service. This service helps you to combine all your diplomas, certificates, merit, written work samples and results of the entrance exam into one folder for sending to the law school of interest to you for further consideration.
- Use of a service for organizing professional aptitude recommendations. After you create an account, all that remains is to attach the necessary documents and pay certain fees.
- Make sure your Aptitude Advice Organization file contains your entrance exam results.
- Give information about all the schools you attended.
- Make sure all academic transcripts are uploaded to your account.
- Attach any required recommendation and evaluation letters.
- Pay the fee for using your account, which will function for the next five years.
Method 3 of 4: Take the LSAT Entrance Exam
Step 1. Register for "LSAT"
The Entrance Exam (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test designed to measure reading comprehension, critical thinking, logic and analytical thinking. The test is conducted four times a year (February, June, October, December) at selected test centers around the world. You will need half a day to complete this test, which consists of five 35-minute multivariate test sections and one 35-minute written work.
- Register to take the test online. Also, registration is carried out by telephone and by mail.
- There is a registration fee. You can pay by check, postal order, or credit card, but not cash. An additional fee will be imposed for late registrations.
- Check the calendar on the LSAC website for news on the start and end of the registration period.
Step 2. Prepare well for the exam
The entrance exam is quite difficult, so do not be lazy to prepare thoroughly and in advance. You can prepare on your own or seek the help of private tutors or group courses that specialize in preparation for the entrance exam.
- Take some preparatory lessons. Choose a professionally organized course that can give you an overview of the entrance exam and provide you with advice and knowledge on earning the highest score.
The most productive course will be a course taught by professional instructors for a small (up to 20 students) group, so you get more personal attention from the educators
- Take this course three months before the day of the entrance exam to save some time for self-study and more detailed study of the material passed in the courses.
- Study with a private tutor. Face-to-face classes with a professional instructor can help you address your individual needs and fill knowledge gaps to successfully pass the entrance exam.
Find a teacher with at least 2 years of teaching experience and plan to attend classes at least 2 times a week for best results
- Take mock exams. One of the best ways to prepare for the LSAT exam is to practice taking similar tests. Familiarization with the format and questions of the test will increase your combat readiness on the day of the exam itself.
- You can take the practice exam yourself. LSAC offers a free online test, and you can also find it on other Internet sites. If you wish, consider purchasing test preparation tutorials.
- Join the group. Take a practice test with other students under supervision, which will immerse you in circumstances as close as possible to the real test, since your test will be on time and under supervision, which will not give you the opportunity to cheat.
- Some LSAT preparatory courses include a practice test, so select courses that offer this.
- The importance of practice should not be underestimated. Sean O'Connor, head of Stratus Prep recommends taking at least 30 practice tests before attempting a real one.
Step 3. Pass the exam
Excitement and fear are old enemies on the exam, but careful preparation and knowledge of what will help you overcome any fears.
- Don't forget to take your ticket. Once you have registered for the LSAT exam, you will be given an entrance ticket, without which you will not be allowed to enter the exam, so be careful.
- You will need a valid photo ID. You must attach a photo (passport size) to your LSAT entrance exam pass. The photo must be taken recently and be no less than 2.54x2.54cm and no more than 5.08x5.08cm.
- Take your writing materials with you. Make sure you stock up on a # 2 or medium pencil and a sharpener just in case. The use of mechanical pencils on the exam is prohibited, but you can use a highlighter if needed.
- Electronic clocks or mobile phones are also not permitted, so if you want to keep track of exam times, get yourself an analog clock.
- Check the LSAC website for other prohibited items on the exam.
Method 4 of 4: Apply to Law School
Step 1. Search for a law school
Law school has a tremendous need to devote your time, money and effort, so try to choose the one that suits your interests.
- Pay attention to specializations. If you want to practice family law, for example, then it makes sense to look for a school that specializes in this area. Conduct a preliminary survey of schools to determine their legal orientation profile.
- Be realistic about your chances of being admitted to a specific school. Top-tier schools receive thousands of applications every year, but only a handful of applicants are rigorously screened. Choose one or two reputable schools (the ones that you don't really expect to enroll in), as well as several schools that really match your academic performance requirements. This does not mean that you just need to forget about even the slightest possibility of entering one of the best schools in the United States, but at the same time you need to be realistic.
Getting a diploma from a prestigious school does open up some additional doors in a professional direction, but not everything depends on this alone, so do not be overly receptive to beautiful stories about successful graduates of a particular school
- Chat with alumni of this school. No one can tell you better about all the pitfalls of the school than a recent graduate. Look for recent graduates and ask them to meet with you to get practical advice about living and studying in this institution.
- Consider tuition fees. Law school is quite expensive. If the school you want is too expensive, you may be able to get a grant or bank loan for your studies. In general, state schools are usually cheaper than private schools.
- Remember that it may take you years to pay off the student loan, so carefully consider your financial capabilities and what the school offers in the field of further employment.
- Choose the location that suits you. Studying in law school is not sweet anyway, and if you add to this the separation from loved ones and the city that annoys you, it will be a real torture. Therefore, think carefully about how far you are able to be away from friends and loved ones, and also whether you like to live more in a big and noisy city or, perhaps, in a small and cozy settlement.
Step 2. Decide on all the schools you want to go to
The number of schools you apply to depends on your entrance exam score, budget, and preferred geographic location of study.
- Let your exam score show you the way. The advice is to apply to two or four schools where your LSAT score gives you a 25% chance of being accepted; three or four schools where your chances are 50/50 and two schools where you will have a 75% chance of successful admission.
- If you are unable to move somewhere far away due to financial or other reasons, then try enrolling in one of the local schools, taking into account the prestige of the school, the distance you can travel and the safety of the local school area. And if there are no problems with the move, then do the same introductory work.
Step 3. Submit your claim using your LSAC account
Then you will find a service for collecting the necessary documentation related to your account to further complete the process. As noted earlier, there are several obligations that must be met:
- Make sure you have a reported LSAC score on your account.
- Upload all information about previously visited schools to your LSAC account
- Make sure all required academic transcripts have been submitted to the LSAC file
- Make sure to send all necessary letters of recommendation and commendation to LSAC.
Step 4. Pay the required fee
There are several payments that must be made, so it will be useful for you to know approximately how much you need to set aside to cover the financial side of the receipt.
- The CAS Document Management Service requires one base fee plus additional surcharges for each school you submit documents to.
- The cost to apply to law school ranges from $ 40 to $ 100.
- Don't forget about travel expenses. You may want to visit schools of particular interest, so consider gas mileage, plane tickets, and hotel meals.
Step 5. Complete your application
It may take you several hours to complete the law school application process, so plan your schedule carefully. You should not fill out all the necessary petitions in a hurry, because everything you write will be carefully considered, and the decision on your admission will be partially based on what and how you wrote.
- The process of filling in the basic information is very simple and straightforward. Just have all the documentation you need ready and keep it with you as you complete your application.
- Take the time to spend more time writing an essay or a so-called personal statement. Your personal soap statement can help set you apart from the myriad of repetitive statements, so work hard on your essay and double-check it for possible grammatical or lexical errors. The admissions office also wants to read in your essay about what exactly attracted you to studying law and which aspect of law you are most interested in.
Ask one of your literate acquaintances to read your essay and express his opinion about what you wrote. Ask if your essay reflects your character and a clear understanding of your goal
Step 6. Request your transcript of academic performance
Submit your request to the registration office of the institution where you completed your basic higher education. Please complete this step three or four months before submitting your application to a US law school.
Step 7. Ask for letters of recommendation
The admissions office also wants to hear other people's voices about your success. Ask for letters of recommendation from people who have enough reason to think well of you and who can describe you as a potentially successful lawyer.
- Each school has its own requirements for the number of letters of recommendation, but roughly count on a minimum of two or a maximum of four letters of recommendation.
- Ask your well-known professors or leaders of circles and sections to comment on what you wrote about yourself in your essay. If possible, give these people a copy of your personal statement so they have a foundation to write good reviews about you.
Step 8. Remember the timing
While some law schools have specific days for accepting new applications from applicants, sometime between January and April, many schools use a process that is preferable to referring to earlier applications.
- Try to submit all your applications by the end of November, the beginning of December, or even earlier.
- It may take you about a year to complete all of the entry points. It's okay if you start a little later, but submitting an early and well-prepared application will give you an edge over your sleepy competitors.
Step 9. Expect results
The decision to admit you to law school can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Try to stay calm and remember that you did everything you could to achieve your goal.
- While waiting is agony, use the time given to you to philosophize about the reason for your decision to become a lawyer, maybe you can figure out the reason that it was not quite a good idea, thereby gaining psychological peace of mind about the possible non-entry into US law school.
- If you will not be admitted to any school, and there is still gunpowder in the powder flask, then there are several ways to make yourself a desirable candidate next time. Consider retaking the LSAT (you can retake this exam 3 times over a two-year period) by working a year or two before retaking or while attending another institution to pursue a master's degree.
- Pay the required deposit upon successful enrollment in law school in order to reserve your place at the school.
- Start filling out your application for financial aid or a bank loan as soon as you know you have successfully entered law school.
- Consult with the US Consulate regarding all visa issues.
- Learn English at a very good level, which is a must when applying to an educational institution in the United States.