Applying to Law School
Create an LSAC Account
This account is your gateway to the law school admissions process.
Register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
You must take the LSAT by December (or, for some schools, January) of your application year, but you should take it in the summer or early fall.
Prepare for the LSAT
If possible, allot at least three months to study for the test, especially if you will be working or studying full-time in addition to preparing for the LSAT. The LSAT is a skills-based test. This means it does not test your memorization skills, nor does it require pre-existing legal knowledge. It also means you CANNOT cram. Taking the LSAT is like running a marathon or learning to play the violin: it requires dedicated practice over an extended period of time.
You should not study for the LSAT entirely on your own. If you decide that you cannot afford or do not need a commercial course, check out the free course LSAC created in conjunction with Khan Academy, as well as these free LSAT preparation materials.
Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
CAS streamlines your application process by allowing you to submit your transcript and letters of recommendation only once.
Request All Required Transcripts
The law schools to which you are applying will receive your transcripts about two weeks after LSAC does, so request transcripts early in the admission cycle. You should request transcripts from every college that you have attended, including a community college at which you took for-credit courses during high school or a college from which you transferred.
Transcripts reflect an applicant’s GPA and undergraduate course selection. Your GPA and your LSAT score are the two most important elements of your law school application, since schools believe, rightly or wrongly, that they predict future academic success. If you’re reading this as a student, the takeaway is simple: get good grades. If you’re nearing graduation or you have already graduated from college, and your grades are below average for the law schools you would like to attend, then know that you will need to compensate with a good LSAT score and/or experience. Perhaps you should apply to law school once you’ve had ample time to study for the LSAT, and demonstrated your competence in a full-time job.
Law schools do not require (and the American Bar Association does not recommend) a specific undergraduate course of study, which explains why students are admitted to law school from virtually every academic major. That being said, skills like problem solving, critical reading, writing and editing, oral communication and listening, research, organization, and time management all provide a sound foundation for a legal education.
Request Letters of Recommendation
Your references only need to submit their letters once to LSAC. LSAC will make copies of your letters of recommendation and distribute them to individual law schools. You may assign specific letters to specific schools.
Request letters as early as possible, since gathering them will take much longer than you anticipate. One key to a glowing recommendation is not requesting it at the last minute. The most effective letters of recommendation are from professors or work supervisors who know you well enough to support their praise of your academic or professional achievements with specific examples.
Create a Resume
Your resume shows law schools what you have accomplished with your time outside of the classroom. Your resume may be two pages in length unless a particular school limits you to one. Your resume should include education, work experience (which includes unpaid internships), and extracurricular activities, and may also include a “skills and interests” section.
A resume description of a job or activity is not a litany of every task for which you were responsible. Instead, the description should state what you personally accomplished and how, preferably in this format: Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z].
Write Your Personal Statement and Optional Essays
Your personal statement is not a recitation of your resume in complete sentences. Rather, your personal statement should tell a story that demonstrates why you will succeed in law school. This could be a story about grappling with personal identity, overcoming an obstacle, or succeeding under pressure. The story could describe a single experience, or a series of related experiences transpiring over the course of many years. What’s crucial is that your personal statement provides insight into who you are and why you belong in law school.
Regardless of what you write about in your personal statement, you must write well. Law schools are looking for strong writers, and admissions committees view your personal statement as a writing sample. Show them that you can be articulate, persuasive, and engaging. For most people, this means multiple drafts over time, so don’t wait until the last minute to write your personal statement.
The two most common optional essays are “Why X Law School?” and a “Diversity Statement.” Read more about these in our Optional Essays and Addenda page.
Complete Each Law School’s Application
Sometime in September, law schools make their applications available on the LSAC website. You will need to complete a digital application for each school to which you apply.