Tips on Applying to Law School

by Dr. Schotten

1. Applying to law school is not a casual process. Successful law school admission requires thought, planning and a strategy.

2. The LSAT Test:

Study seriously for the LSAT. It counts approximately 50% toward your admission for most law schools. A good score is crucial if you desire to get (merit) scholarship assistance. You should take the test in June at the end of your junior year, or, at the latest, in September during your senior year. You may want to retake the test (which you can do as late as December your senior year) but you should NOT do so frivolously or merely because you feel you could do better. Please consult with your pre-law advisor regarding this matter.

3. Formulate a law school application strategy and carefully consider:

  1. if you will simultaneously apply to other graduate level program(s) while applying to law school;
  2. if your chances of being admitted to the law school(s) that you have identified are realistic;
  3. what plans you have for financing your law school education;
  4. eventually where you want to live; and
  5. what kind of law (you think) that you might want to practice, etc.

Visiting with your pre-law advisor at this time would be a good idea. Be sure you select a range of law schools to apply (usually 6-9 schools is a good idea).

Focus on completing your application EARLY. It would be best to have your applications complete and sent by September/October of your senior year. Since many law schools use a rolling admissions formula for admissions, and because a number of them give an advantage to earlier applications for awarding financial aid, there is no reason to delay your application.

4. The application process:

What drives your law school strategy and schedule is when you want to attend law school. If you want to enroll the same year you graduate, then you must be focused upon the time schedule outlined above. If you are thinking about taking a year or two off before attending law school, you still may want to take the test during your senior year and prepare a file (containing letters of recommendation), each of which would be appropriate for the future.

Information on applying to law school is contained in The LSAT and LSDAS Information Book. Your pre-law advisor can give you a copy of this publication. It can also be accessed on line, under the Law School Admission Council Web site. This is an essential Web site for it explains in detail virtually all aspects of the law school application process (and contains a great deal of other useful information as well).

When seeking admission, you will need to apply to each individual law school. The most challenging aspect of the individual law school application is the personal statement. Even though these seem easy, they are very challenging to write. It is vital that these be well written. Count on writing at least two to three drafts.

Be sure to register for the LSAT on time. You will need to set up an individual student account. Consult with the Law School Admission Web site on how to do this.

If you are applying to law school for the year after you graduate, you will need to send your transcript (from Augustana and from all other colleges you have earned academic credit) to the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service). Again, the Law School Admission Web site explains how to do this.

If you have been convicted of any violations of the law, you will need to disclose them fully and honestly when applying to law school.

5. Go forth! Do well!! Good Luck!!!