Individuals from all different career and college backgrounds make their way into law schools. The best method for preparing to become a lawyer is to gain a broad range of basic skills. There really is no set major for pre-law undergraduate work. From English to philosophy and science to art, people with all sorts of backgrounds are considered for entrance into law school. So since there is no set degree requirement, what are law school admission counselors looking for?
Law school admissions counselors typically look for individuals with excellent analytical and problem solving skills. For those still getting their undergraduate degrees, it would be wise to seek out a pre-law advisor to help you select your coursework. In addition to analytical skills, law schools also look for individuals with excellent communication skills (both writing and oral communication). Critical reading and researching are also important skills to master and be able to prove.
While there is no specialized path for undergraduates seeking to become lawyers, it is important to maintain a high grade point average. Most graduate programs only accept students with a 3.0 GPA or higher and law school is not exception.
The higher your GPA, the better off you’ll be (but rest assured that you can still go to law school without a 4.0 or even a 3.5 GPA). In addition to your GPA, extracurricular activities are also a plus. Any activities that show leadership or problem solving skills will only be a beneficial.
Selecting the right law school
When you decide to seek admittance to law school (which can be during your senior year in college or after you’ve taken a break from college altogether), you will need to narrow down your options. Typically, the following factors play a large role in deciding where to attend law school; location, cost, areas of specialty, financial aid, and prestige of the institute.
You will also need to take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Since there are costs to apply to law school, you also need to factor in your background (i.e. your GPA, LSAT scores and letters of recommendations). Unfortunately, if you barely earned a 3.0, scored poorly on the LSAT, and lack the experiences that a law school admissions counselor would look favorably upon, then you probably don’t want to only apply to top tier Ivy League schools. If you do, then you may find that you aren’t accepted into any law school come the next school year.
The LSAT is the law school admissions test. All law schools approved by the ABA require LSAT scores for admissions. This exam does not cover any legal topics. Instead, it tests you on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. Law schools want to make sure you possess excellent analytical and problem solving skills and the LSAT sets out to do just that.
Scores for the LSAT range from 120 to 180 (with 180 being the highest). The average LSAT score falls around 150. The higher you can score on the LSAT; the better off you will be (although if you have strengths in other areas, you can still get into law school with a lower LSAT score).
While admissions requirements vary from law school program to law school program, it is common for the requirements to include the following; undergraduate GPA, LSAT scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
You will need to provide official transcripts and LSAT scores to show your qualifications. Usually, you will submit these to the LSDAS (the law school data assembly service). The LSDAS streamlines admissions for most all law schools in the country. You will also need to submit your letters of recommendation and the personal statement to the LSDAS.
When selecting people to write a letter of recommendation for you consider asking those who know your abilities to solve problems and realize your potential to become a lawyer. College professors and employers are excellent choices.
The personal statement should essentially let the law school admissions counselor know why you want to be a lawyer and inform them of your qualifications. You would want to stress any qualifications that relate to becoming a lawyer. For example, work as an intern in a law firm would be important to showcase (as are countless other examples).
Tie in your experiences with your desire to go to law school. Be sure to write your essay concisely, keeping in mind grammatical rules. However, there is no reason to write in legalese. Just write naturally and personably.
Remember that law schools accept people from all sorts of backgrounds. If you have an interest in pursuing a law degree, then you should start pursuing it today.