FAQ: Law School Applications

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?

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.

Good luck!

LawToya ♥

I Graduated From Law School: Here’s a 3 year recap!

Wow, I know its been a while but, the blog is back! Let me tell you, being a law student is extremely time consuming. When I created this blog in 2015 I thought I would continue blogging throughout law school and beyond. I made it to the second semester of 1L year & all h**l broke loose! I knew it’d be hard to maintain a steady presence on the blog and be a good student, but clearly it was a bit harder than I anticipated. So, now that I’m LawToya J.D., I figured it was due time to start blogging again. I have so much to share about my law school experience and cant wait to post them on the blog. I’ll also be incorporating a few of my favorite things like beauty, travel, and food (I really love food.)

So, where have I been? Here’s a recap of the last 3 years!

1L Year

1L year was a whirlwind. Everything was new, everyone was new, and every where was new. I grew up in south Florida and went to the University of Central Florida for college. For law school I decided to switch up the scenery and move to Illinois. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “why in the world would you leave those warm sunny beaches?” I’m insane, that’s why. Adjusting to life in Illinois took up a huge chunk of time during 1L, but it also made it fun. Imagine a Florida girl learning how to shovel snow!

I joined the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) which was absolutely necessary (Look out for a blog post on BLSA). I also got involved with the Woman’s Law Society, took a seat on the faculty curriculum committee, and worked with the prisoners rights research group. Overall, I had an amazing 1L year.

1L Summer

Summers in law school are reserved for working and networking. I was incredibly fortunate and landed an in-house position at a fortune 500 company for my 1L summer. It. Was. Amazing. I worked and lived in Chicago, I got to party on the weekends and explore my neighborhood on weeknights. I fell in love with the city & knew I wanted to be back for 2L summer. I also networked my a** off, I met tons of lawyers from all different backgrounds. This networking proved to be invaluable during OCI. Oh, and speaking of OCI . . . it was . . . interesting. (I’ll have a separate post on how to survive). Fortunately though, I made it out of OCI with my sanity and an offer from my top firm!

2L Year

2L year worked me to death. It was the most difficult year of my academic career. I took 18 credits, competed on the trial team, and clerked part time at a local firm. I also decided to be an over achiever and join the BLSA & WLS executive boards. Although it was incredibly difficult, I got bomb grades and actually had a lot of fun. 2L was a busy blur but somehow I made it out alive!

2L Summer

Back in Chicago, this time at the firm of my dreams! I’d looked forward to this for 9 months! I was one of 6 summer associates at the firm. We spent 10 weeks working as “associates,” taking on assignments, attending court hearings, and shadowing depositions. Outside of work I was living my best life! Rooftop parties were a weekly occurrence and Sunday brunches with unlimited mimosas were an absolute must. The summer was incredibly challenging and the anxiety of post-grad offers plagued my thoughts daily. In the end, the stress and late nights at the office were worth it! On August 9th 2017, I signed an offer to return to the firm after graduation. Talk about a sigh of relief!!!

3L Year

Finally. The end was near. 3L year was the home stretch, but boy was it difficult. Fall semester I decided it was the perfect time to become a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. This. Was. Difficult. But, I wouldn’t change it for the world! Then, spring semester decided to show me who’s boss. I was enrolled in 8 classes, some short sessions, some intersession, and some traditional doctrinal courses. I’m still not sure whether it was the overload of courses or the senioritis that made me feel like jumping off of a bridge. The semester proved to be my most challenging. Grades haven’t been released yet and honestly, I’m not checking them.

Overall my law school experience wasn’t a bad one. I truly enjoyed most (read: some) of the process and have many fond memories. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m SO glad its over! Now onto Bar prep…pray for me.

LawToya, J.D.

Networking 101

meet-you

This past summer I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of attorneys in the Chicago area. I went to firm receptions almost every week and initially I dreaded them. That awkward moment when you walk into the room and don’t know anyone really made me uncomfortable. But, as the summer progressed I began to love these events and that nervous feeling quickly subsided. Continue reading “Networking 101”

1L Spring

After an amazing Christmas break, I thought I would come back to school rejuvenated & ready to work.

I was wrong! I gave my ALL in the fall & I just didn’t have anything else to give. LOL. I crawled to the finish line of this semester just thankful that I made it to the end. I had to write a 30 page brief, interview for jobs, network, comprehend torts, & maintain my sanity.

Even though I felt completely overwhelmed. A lot of positive things happened this semester, so let’s get caught up:

  1. My 1L summer will be spent working as a legal intern at a Fortune 500 company! :O
  2. I’m living in Chicago for the next 2 months
  3. I was selected to compete on the college of law’s official Trial Team!
  4. I’m the BLSA 1L coordinator for 2016-2017
  5. I’m now on the board of the Woman’s Law Society
  6. I found the most amazing friend & we’re going to be roommates next year!
  7. I’m seeing Beyonce with my best friend (Read her blog ByTisha) on May 28th

Nothing can top Beyonce so that’s the end of the list. I’m sorry for the lack of blog posts this semester. I’ll be posting frequently throughout the summer!

Thanks for reading😘

-LawToya

Using Microsoft OneNote: Law School Notes

 

Organized notes are the key to success! 

I’ve used OneNote since day 1 of law school and its been amazing. I don’t know how everyone else keeps their notes together but I couldn’t use anything else. OneNote is great because it provides you with one place to keep everything! Notes, to-do lists, syllabi, etc.  It’s also supported by Microsoft OneDrive, the iCloud equivalent for PC’s. So last semester when my computer crashed all of my notes were safe up in the cloud (THANK GOD). You can download OneNote online here : Download OneNote

I’ll run you through how I organize my notes, but remember there are lots of ways to mold the program into what works best for you. Continue reading “Using Microsoft OneNote: Law School Notes”

Everyone is Smarter Than Me & Other Crazy Things Law Students Think

Even with a 3.5 GPA, being surrounded by 4.0 students will make you doubt yourself.

Unfortunately this is a huge issue in the law school community. Self-doubt and insecurity are at an all time high. With people getting jobs, scholarships and awards its easy to find yourself feeling inadequate. Continue reading “Everyone is Smarter Than Me & Other Crazy Things Law Students Think”

The sweet smell of freedom!

FINALS ARE OVER. I AM A FREE WOMAN.

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I can’t believe 4 months went by so quickly, but I’m not mad about it all. They say your 1st semester of law school is the most terrifying and they were not lying about that. I won’t miss the fear induced panic of being called on, looking up every other word in the dictionary and I definitely will not miss criminal law! (Worst class ever btw). Anyway, I’m so glad its over. I’m even more excited to know that I can do it, its hard but its possible.

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Last night I arrived in Orlando and I’ll be driving down to Palm Beach later today.  This is going to be the most appreciated christmas break EVER!

Lot’s of exciting posts will be coming soon!

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-LawToya