Recently I tweeted that I’d be giving advice & guidance to those working their way through the law school application process. I received well over 200 hundred messages and it wasn’t long before I realized a common theme. Everyone asked the same questions!
So, as a result, I figured I’d post the answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding the application process!
When is the best time to apply for law school?
- My best advice? Apply as early as possible! For most schools, applications open in early fall. So, apply in early fall! (If you can, obviously) So here’s what I did: I took the LSAT for the first time in February 2014. This was the spring of my Junior year. I didn’t like my score, so I tried again. My second attempt was June 2014, with this score I knew I could get into decent schools, but I wanted to give it one more shot. My third and final attempt was October 2014. With this schedule, I was on track to send out applications as soon as they opened. Ultimately, I gave myself a December 31st deadline, and that worked perfectly.
- Applying early allows you to get “first dibs” on admissions officers. It also guarantees (scores permitting) that you’ll get a decent scholarship offer.
- Action Item: Write out an application timeline. Give yourself deadlines for each item in your application packet. Aim for December 31st as a submit deadline.
I’m majoring in Political Science, is that OK?
- Ehh…I’m on the fence when it comes to Poli Sci degrees. I think Poli Sci worked fine in 1999 when everyone who wanted to become a lawyer could become a lawyer and secure a well paying job. That just isn’t reality anymore. I truly believe that you should make yourself as marketable as possible and, in my opinion, political science degrees are a dime-a-dozen. I majored in Hospitality Management because I truly had an interest in the industry. I tied it into my personal statement and used it as a talking point in interviews. Law schools aren’t looking for the “cookie-cutter” applicant anymore, so think outside the box.
- Action Item: If its not too late, consider exploring other majors. If it is, think about how you’ll differentiate yourself from all the other poli sci majors out there.
I want to write my personal statement, how do I start?
- This is a tough one. The thing about personal statements is, well…they’re personal. I had to sit and spin my wheels for a few days before I wrote a single word on paper. Then I wrote one, scrapped it, and wrote another. I also read a ton of examples throughout the writing process. I used Top Law Schools for everything, click here for their forum solely on personal statements.
- Action Items: Start a list of interesting facts about yourself. Work on this list for a few days before you start drafting your PS.
- Have your personal statement read and reviewed by multiple people. Find friends and mentors who aren’t familiar with the law school process and ask for their input.
- Double and triple check your grammar and spelling. Go to an english lab for help.
Do I need to write a diversity statement?
- Is it absolutely necessary? No. But, do I recommend them? Yes. I used my diversity statement as an opportunity to showcase: 1. My writing and 2. Things that make me different. In my statement, I wrote about the struggles of growing up in a Jamaican-American household, and how it helped me become more accepting of other cultures. You might not think you have anything that makes you a diverse candidate but, everyone has something that sets them apart.
- Action Items: Read sample diversity statements here.
- Think about what makes you different. What’s your race? Your nationality? Your family structure? Your sexual orientation? Your sexual identity? All of these things make you different, in a good way!
What prep course do you recommend for the LSAT?
- I used TestMasters! I loved everything about the course and heard nothing but great things about the company. My course met two times a week for about 4 hours each session. We had a live instructor who went through a standard “lecture” and then spent time working through sample questions. Our instructor was also available by email/text whenever we needed him.
- Action Item: I can only personally recommend the class I took but, click here to read about other prep courses, costs, and success stories.
What prep books do you recommend for the LSAT?
- Alright, there are TONS of prep books out there but, I’m going to recommend the holy grail. (Click the titles to purchase the books online.)
How long did you study for the LSAT?
- Short answer: a long time! In 2014 I was obsessed with the LSAT (not by choice). As I said above, my first attempt at the LSAT was in February 2014. I started studying for the test in November 2013. For my first time, I self-studied using the PowerScore bibles. I didn’t have a set study schedule, so I studied as many hours as I could, whenever I could. For the June 2014 exam, I enrolled in TestMasters which started on March 31st. Again, this class met two times per week for 4 hours each session. We also had diagnostic exams a few times during the course. In addition to these 4 hour sessions I studied on my own for 3 hours per day, with more time on the weekends. For my last attempt, I was back to self studying. This time I went IN! I studied every single day. Sometimes for 3 hours and sometimes for 5. Fortunately, I had a light course load and an internship that allowed me to study at my desk.
- Action Item: For a lot of people, studying for the LSAT is an extremely daunting task. My best advice is to make a schedule and stick to it! Everyone’s schedule will be different. I recommend AT LEAST 12 weeks of serious study time. Start with an hour or two per day and add more as time goes on.
What school can I get into with XX GPA and XXX LSAT score?
- Well, it depends. There’s no guaranteed combo for any one school. Every school has a range. You’ll need to do your research and figure out what the average GPA/LSAT scores are for the incoming class of each school. Every ABA accredited school is required to post disclosures with this information. The ABA 509 form should be posted on the admissions page. Click here to see the 509 report from the University of Florida’s law school.
- Action Items: Another great resource is LawSchoolNumbers.com. The site lets you input your GPA & LSAT score and generates a list of schools that fit within your range. TLS also has a forum where students post their own numbers along with what schools they’ve been admitted to. Click here to view.
Ok, I’ve been accepted into a few schools, how do I choose which one to attend?
- This is a great question! Keep an eye out for an entire blog post on this topic.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions please, feel free to send me a note via my “Ask LawToya” page.