Tips for Writing Personal Statements & Requesting Letters of Recommendation
There are many different paths in deciding to attend law school. In many cases, students may not even consider law school until after graduation when they are out in the workforce. Others come into college thinking they want to attend law school and decide along the way that it is not for them. Others enter college knowing they want to go to law school and do just that immediately after graduation. The point is, there is no one path.
Unlike medical school or some other graduate programs, there are no course pre-requisites for law school. The only requirements are that you take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and have a bachelor's degree. Let me reiterate that: there are NO courses that you must take as an undergraduate in order to apply to law school. You may want to take a class that is law-related to see if you like the material, but there is no requirement that you do so.
What follows below is a timeline you might follow in an ideal world. You'll notice that the timeline begins in the junior year. If you are a freshman or sophomore, you really do not need to be worried about law school yet. And, even as a junior, you have plenty of time to prepare. If you plan on attending law school directly after you graduate, it is best to begin the application process in the summer after your junior year. If you can get some of the application done before you return to school in the fall of your senior year, it will make your life a lot easier in terms of handling your regular courseload as well as submitting your applications. This is particularly true of your personal statement. If you could have that well on its way by the time you return to school in the fall of your senior year, that is optimal.
- If you are taking the LSAT in June (which I strongly encourage if you want to attend law school the fall after you graduate), take a few practice LSAT tests to see how you perform on each section.
- Register for the Law School Credentials Assembly Service (CAS).
- If you know you plan to take the LSAT in June, register for it. Seats often fill quickly at certain testing centers, so sign up early.
- Register for an LSAT-Prep course or put yourself on a firm study schedule if you plan to study on your own.
- Take the June LSAT.
- Begin drafting a personal statement.
- Ask two or three professors to write letters of recommendations on your behalf.
- Letters of Recommendation requests can be sent on-line through LSAC website or forms may be downloaded and given in hard copy form to recommenders.
Prepare information packet for each of your recommenders including:
- Send on-line request or download recommendation form (available at LSAC website)
- Samples of your work from the class or classes you took with the Professor
- Pre-Addressed, stamped envelopes to the CAS
- Narrow down your list of potential law schools, considering your LSAT score and GPA.
- Register for the October LSAT if you are not satisfied with your June score.
- Complete Registrar's Transcript Request Form accompanied by CAS Transcript Request Form (available at LSAC) to be sent to the CAS.
- Attend the Law School Application Workshop led by Prof. Nemacheck--see information on main Pre-Law Advising web page.
- Take the October LSAT.
- Attend Career Center Law School Forum.
- Finalize personal statement.
- Check in with recommenders, make sure recommendations have arrived with LSAC.
- Send CAS reports to schools to which you wish to apply.
- Complete on-line applications through LSAC.
Winter / Spring
- Visit schools, take a tour, observe classes.
- You may be able to set up a meeting with an admissions officer if you are interested in doing so.