It hit me when I was sitting in the middle of my constitutional law class as a sophomore in college. After finishing his lecture, my professor asked us, “Now who’s taking the LSAT this weekend?” and everyone’s hand shot up except for mine. (Mind you, I was the only sophomore). I thought to myself Wait a minute. Am I missing something? Then everything just sort of clicked. From then on it was nonstop. I started mapping out my route to law school, and it turned out to be a long and winding road. Perhaps some people experienced this already when applying to undergrad, but believe me when I say this is the college application on steroids. I’ve broken down my advice for any law school hopefuls into steps, and hopefully some of the things I’ve learned along the way can help the next bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student that comes along.
Step One: The Law School Admission Test
Start studying for the LSAT. Today. It’s never too early to start mastering the fundamentals of this test, because it’s honestly unlike any other standardized test out there. I recommend ordering the PowerScore bibles, and if you have the extra money, I would order the workbooks to go along with the textbook set. A free resource I used all the time was 7sage. They have a youtube channel where they work through almost all of the existing logic game problems, and if you’ve got some time to spare during your lunch break or between classes, try working through a whole game. Although I only self-studied, if your schedule allows it and you feel you need to be held accountable, signing up for an LSAT prep course could also be an option.
Step Two: Building Your Resume
Firstly, if you don’t have a resume yet, you should definitely make one. Even if you have very little experience you will have a template ready to go for when you do land that first internship or job. I was lucky enough to be able to shadow one of the attorneys in my town, which eventually turned into a paid position. It was one of the best things I could have done to get a closer look at what it’s like working as a lawyer from day to day. If an unpaid internship isn’t possible for you (i.e. you need a job that covers your groceries for the week) I wouldn’t stress about it.
If you can manage it, however, I would suggest getting involved in clubs on campus. Your choices could vary from your school’s Student Government Association, the debate team, Mock Trial, or even Model United Nations. Academic extracurriculars like the ones listed above show an admissions team that you are already working on mastering some of the skills needed in law school and beyond. Not only do they look good on paper, but these clubs are a great opportunity for new experiences. With my Model UN team I was able to go to NYC and Canada, and I was able to meet people from all across the world, some of whom I still talk to today.
Step Three: Identify Your Goals
So you figured out you wanna go to law school, but what’s your end game? If it’s Big Law you’re after, then a law school with more recognition is what you should aim for. Do you dream of opening up a practice in your hometown? Perhaps look for a school that’s in-state, so you can save on tuition. When selecting target schools, it’s all a balancing act. You need to be able to gauge schools that are within your reach. Look at their median LSAT scores and GPAs, the bar passage rate, employment rate after graduation, etc. Additionally, look for schools that offer certain types of law that you think you might be interested in. It could be Intellectual Property or Environmental Law, but each school can offer you something special. Lastly, don’t be afraid to apply to those reach schools. A large part of the admissions process is numbers, but you also have those invaluable experiences that make you you.
Step Four: Build Your Application
Most law schools only accept first year students during fall semesters, so if that’s the case for your target schools I would recommend starting your application the year before. I personally took the LSAT one last time in September, but had already begun assembling my application before then. In August I asked my professors if they would write letters of recommendations for me, giving them a hard deadline of mid-October. Make sure you give your professors plenty of time to write one of these for you. The last thing you want is a disgruntled professor under a time crunch tasked with the job of painting you as a dependable student. Apart from these letters of recommendation, it is absolutely essential that your personal statement be a true reflection of your character. While you should try to be original, the most impressive thing you can do is come across as sincere to the admissions team. And make sure the story is about you, not your grandmother or your parents — no matter how impressive they may be. Have professors, and even friends, look over your first few drafts. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for this step!
Step Five: Hit Send!
By this point you should have given it your all. You squeezed out the highest score you could on the LSAT, pieced together a sparkling application, sent thank-you emails to your professors, and suddenly it's all out of your hands. During those weeks of waiting, I found myself on some law school admissions forums on Reddit. While this can be a good tool to connect with other equally ambitious applicants, you can’t let the numbers on there discourage you. I had to keep myself away form the app whenever I was feeling down, because sometimes you can’t help but compare yourself to other applicants who are worried their 179 score coupled with their 4.0 GPA won’t be good enough. Instead, acknowledge that the worst of it is over. You put in the work, and all that’s left to do is wait for the schools to come to you.
I’ve currently been accepted to American University, George Washington University, UGA Law, Georgia State Law, Emory Law, and SMU Law. If you have any questions about these schools or anything else, feel free to comment below.
Thanks for reading!
All my best,
I'm Lisa Cecilia Garcia. I'm a freelance writer specializing in food and lifestyle but have experience in poetry, creative writing, and everything in between. I'm a recent college graduate residing in Valdosta, GA. I love sketching, running, and obviously cooking and eating. When I'm older, I plan to run away to the mountains.