Timetable for Applying to Law School
More than 2 years ahead ... (Freshmen and Sophomores)
Explore your career options:
- Research legal careers utilizing resources in Career Services.
- Conduct informational interviews with practicing lawyers - use personal contacts or CUA's Alumni Career Network.
- Consider working or volunteering in a law-related field.
Develop skills and abilities for law school and the legal field. Take challenging courses or jobs that enable you to develop and demonstrate the following skills:
- Written and oral communication
- Critical reasoning
- Analysis and evaluation
- Organization & management of complex information
Focus on building a strong academic record.
Participate in activities that enable you to develop and demonstrate leadership, maturity, and service. Focus on the quality of your involvement, not just the quantity of activities.
Develop relationships with faculty.
2 Years ahead ... (First Semester Juniors)
Begin investigating law schools and the application process:
- Attend the Washington area's Graduate & Professional School Fair in late September.
- Review law school catalogs and directories, including The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools
Continue to explore career options and to pursue law-related experiences.
1 & 1/2 years ahead ... (Second Semester Juniors)
Meet with a pre-law advisor to discuss your law school plans.
Register and prepare for the June LSAT, if appropriate.
Begin identifying faculty to write your letters of reference.
Continue to explore career options and to pursue law-related experiences.
1 year ahead ... (Seniors)
|Summer||Take the June LSAT, if appropriate ...
Register and prepare for the October LSAT, if necessary.
|Sept||Register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS).
Continue to investigate law schools through catalogs and the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.
Request applications and financial aid information.
Request letters of recommendation from faculty and employers. (Check out Career Services' Credential File Service.)
Visit law schools, if possible. Sit in on classes, talk with faculty and students, tour campuses, etc.
|Oct||Take the October LSAT, if necessary
Register and prepare for the December LSAT, if necessary. (Note: December LSAT may be too late for some schools.)
Write your personal statement for the law school applications.
Begin submitting completed applications to law schools.
|Nov||Register and prepare for the February LSAT, if necessary. (Note: February LSAT may be too late for most schools.)
Check to see that all letters of recommendation are completed.
|Dec||Take the December LSAT, if necessary.
Finish mailing completed applications.
|Jan||Complete & submit financial aid forms. Do not wait until you are admitted to law school.
Follow up to ensure that all materials have been received by schools to which you applied.
Send 7th semester grades to LSDAS if they are requested and/or if they are good.
Decision process begins at some schools.
|Feb-Apr||Decision process continues ... waiting lists are begun.|
There is no "best" major to prepare for law school. Emphasis is on your academic performance and the level of course difficulty rather than your field of study. Successful law school applicants from CUA have come from a variety of backgrounds - accounting, engineering, English, finance, history, nursing, philosophy, politics, psychology, etc.
Whatever your major, try to include courses that can help you develop the skills needed for law school and the legal profession: writing, analytical and logical reasoning, research, etc. The most important thing is to find a major which you enjoy and can do well in!
The LSAT/LSDAS registration booklet contains valuable tips and information! Carefully review it for up-to-date details on fees, policies and procedures. As you consider registering for the LSAT, keep several things in mind:
- Allow adequate time for LSAT preparation, including one or more practice tests in a "timed" situation.
- Try to take the LSAT in June or October. If you take the test in June you will receive your score in mid-July and have ample time to plan application strategies (i.e., target schools based upon your LSAT & GPA; retake the LSAT; etc.) If you take the test in October you will receive test results in mid-November and will still have time to submit applications in a timely manner. But most importantly ...
- Take the LSAT during the month that "makes the most sense" for you. Consider when you will have adequate time for preparation amid classes, senior comprehensives and/or thesis, athletic schedule, part-time jobs & internships, professional job search (have a back-up!), etc.
- If you want to take the LSAT in the Washington area - register early!
The October test is especially popular and late registrants have been known to be assigned to test sites as far away as Baltimore & Richmond.
Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS)
The LSDAS was created to organize, analyze and summarize biographic and academic information for law school applicants. Most law schools require applicants to subscribe to this service. The LSDAS report includes:
- Biographical information from your registration form
- A year-by-year summary of your undergraduate record
- A copy of every transcript(s) from each school you have attended
- Your LSAT score(s) and LSAT writing sample(s)
The LSAT/LSDAS BOOKLET provides a registration form and procedures.
You may subscribe to LSDAS at the time you register for the LSAT or at a later date. Since LSDAS is a one-year service, remember to register for the year during which you are actually applying to law school.
Where Should I Apply?
Apply to a realistic range of law schools, offering varying degrees of probability for your acceptance (e.g., 1 "dream" school, 2-3 "probable acceptance" schools and 1-2 "safety" schools.) On an average CUA graduates apply to 5-6 places. The following are factors to consider:
- admission selection criteria
- geographic location
- costs and financial aid
- curriculum & special programs
- facilities & resources
- students (age, diversity, etc.)
- size; faculty/student ratio
- placement opportunities
- competitiveness of classes
- student groups & journals
- housing availability
- personal considerations
The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools contains up-to-date information.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are not as significant as your academic record or LSAT score. However, they can play a critical role in borderline cases. Seek writers (e.g., faculty) who know you and can address your academic ability and communication skills. Law schools are not impressed by "big names" (politicians, prominent alums) who have little in-depth knowledge about you.
Provide writers with a copy of your resume, transcript and/or personal statement. This will give them a better sense of who you are and provide support for their points. Be considerate by providing a stamped, addressed envelope and plenty of time (4-6 weeks) in which to write your letter! You may wish to set up letters of recommendation through Career Services' Credential File Service. Contact the office for details.
LSDAS also offers a letter of recommendation service. Check the LSAT/LSDAS registration book for more information.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has established strict procedures for dealing with misconduct in the admission process and on the LSAT. Candidate misconduct is a serious offense with serious consequences. It can include, but is not limited to, falsification of: disciplinary action records, letters of recommendation, transcripts, honors and employment records.
Should you have questions regarding your disciplinary record, check with CUA's Dean of Students and/or the Office of Adjudication. Rarely will a law school deny admission to someone guilty of an isolated, relatively minor violation of the student conduct policy. However, they may refuse admission if there is a discrepancy between the applicant's and the University's response to the question concerning academic or disciplinary misconduct.
Tips on Writing the Personal Statement
Many law schools require a personal statement. This 1-2 page document is designed to assess your motivation for the study of law, your significant achievements, and your uniqueness as an individual. Maintain a positive and confident tone - do not spend an entire page explaining a weak LSAT score. Focus on accomplishments and obstacles you have overcome rather than your theories of law and society. Write clearly, creatively and concisely. For more information on writing your personal statement, check the Pre-law section of the Career Services Office.