Preparing for Law School
Do I need to take any particular type of courses in order to prepare for law school?
Future lawyers need to focus on developing strong analytical skills. Further, whether in high school or college, it is important to work on developing oral and written communication skills. This means working on writing skills and, depending upon your interests, strengthening your public speaking skills.
Unlike medical school, and some other professional schools, there are not specific courses that are considered prerequisites for law school admission. However, your GPA is also an important factor in your law school application process. You should choose a major that is interesting to you, and focus on succeeding academically.
Paying for Law School
How do I pay for Law School?
Law school is not cheap. Aside from relying upon a parent or relative to pick up the tab, many students will left to borrow the money to finance their legal education. While loans may provide the only way for some students to obtain a legal education, prospective law students should still research and consider other alternatives. These include scholarships, post-graduate fellowships to payoff loans, e.g., legal aid work, grants, and other contests.
Working During Law School
The ABA provides the following guidance on working during law school: "A student may not work in excess of 20 hours per week while attending school on a full time basis."
Evening vs. Day Programs
Some laws schools have part time or evening programs that allow you to remain employed while attending school. This can be helpful if your continued employment is a necessity; however, the programs will take longer.
Warning About Debt
As a prospective law student, you need to be a smart consumer. You are strongly encouraged to do the research so that you can realistically assess the income potential for a legal career.
Choosing a Law School
How do I choose a law school?
Similar to the decision to select a particular college, there are a multitude of factors, e.g., geographic location, specialized degree programs.
The ABA provides the following statement on ranking:
No ranking or rating of law schools beyond the simple statement of their accreditation status is attempted or advocated by the official organizations in legal education. The American Bar Association and its Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar have issued disclaimers of any law school ranking system. Prospective law students should consider a variety of factors in making their choice among schools. A discussion of those factors can be found in Chapter 5 (Choosing a Law School) of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide toABA-Appl'oved Law Schools.
Previewing a Legal Career
How do I know if a legal career is right for me?
High school students can test their interest in a future legal career by pursuing extra-curricular activities that highlight more of the conventional aspects of being a lawyer. These include debate, teen court, mock trial, and shadowing an attorney.
College students may consider internships or other shadowing opportunities with lawyers and law firms to get a feel for a legal career. In addition, development of formal and informal mentoring opportunities may help facilitate the selection of a particular law school and a particular career path.
Applying to Law School
What does the application process include?
The law school application process is administered by the Law School Admissions Counsel ("LSAC"). There are essentially four components to your law school admission package (1) Resume; (2) GPA; (3) Personal Statement; (4) Letters of Recommendation;(5) The LSAT.
Your law school admission resume should be detailed and highlight student involvement, awards, work, honors and volunteer activities.
Your grade point average is an important component of your law school application. Regardless of your choice of major, it is important to focus on your studies to insure a good GPAwhen you apply to law school.
3. Personal Statements
The personal statement is your chance to tell prospective law schools about you. You can be as creative, or as conservative as you would like. The personal statement is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee who you are, and why you will be an asset to their law school and a great lawyer.
4. Letters of Recommendations
Letters of Recommendation are where others get to shine for you. You should ask people who know you and your work ethic. Even if you have attended a big university, try to get to know a few of your professors, their personalized letters can make a difference. A word to the wise: you will not get to read the letter of recommendation before it is submitted to the LSAC, so make sure your recommender doesn't mention a specific law school (or if she does, make sure the letter is only submitted to that school!)
5. The LSAT
One of the first steps in applying for law school is the LSAT. The test is designed to test analytical skills and reading comprehension. As a result, any work that you can do to prepare for the example is well worth the effort. You may consider buying studying guides or enrolling in a practice course. Some of the more well-known are Princeton Review and Kaplan.