The law school application process starts by, you guessed it, studying for and successfully conquering the LSAT—arguably the most important component of a student’s law school application. With successful completion of a bachelor’s degree program being the only law school application requirement, the result is an extremely diverse applicant pool, and to stand out as an applicant in such diversity, proving one’s ability on the LSAT can become the sole separating factor between an admission and a “dong” (rejection) when all else is alike.
In addition to the graduate admissions exams, there are several important law school application checklist items to complete, including: Credential Assembly Service (CAS) registration, collection of letters of recommendation, writing of personal statements and supplementary statements, and filling-in school-specific application questionnaires. While this may seem like a daunting set of tasks—it’s not, if you give yourself an adequate time frame to complete the process and if you take advantage of the available resources, such as the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). In fact, using the CAS (generally a requirement for application to A.B.A.-approved law schools) makes applying to law school an organized process, and the system will notify a student regarding any missing or incomplete documents.
A common misconception held by individuals applying to law school with a PhD or a master’s degree is that their graduate GPA will somehow “override” their (possibly low) undergraduate GPA. While it’s true that holding a graduate degree makes a law school applicant more marketable down the road, it’s unlikely that a graduate degree GPA, or a graduate degree in general, will have significant effect on an applicant’s prospective chances for admission to any particular law school. Although there really isn’t much one can do to “fix” their undergraduate GPA, students with low a GPA, or a GPA below a particular school’s median, can increase their chances of admission by applying early in the cycle, increasing LSAT scores (or GRE scores, depending on the school), and taking their time to draft written statements to perfection.
Prerequisites for Law School
Unlike medical school, which requires an extensive list of prerequisites to attend, anyone with a bachelor’s degree meets the qualifications for law school—regardless of the subject matter of the degree earned. With that said, if you’re still on your undergraduate journey and becoming a lawyer is your dream, it’s a great idea to take as many “pre-law” courses offered by your institution as possible. While doing so likely won’t increase your chances of admission to any law schools down the road, you’ll likely learn an abundance of applicable skills that will be useful during your first year of law school (ex. case briefing, constitutional framework, etc.).
While on the topic of prerequisites and requirements, it’s critical for students to understand that honesty and truthfulness on their applications is required. A dilemma many applicants face when completing their law school applications is how to answer questions on the character and fitness section of a law school application. The short answer is—state everything relevant to the question. It’s best to err of the side of caution here, as not disclosing an event pertinent to the question is the same as lying, and lying on a law school application can get you kicked out of law school, or even worse, make you ineligible to sit for the bar exam after 3 grueling years of hard work.
Law School Acceptance Rates
The statistics don’t lie—earning an acceptance from a top law school can be tough! The chances of admittance to a law school’s program are highly dependent on an individual’s undergraduate GPA and their graduate exam scores. Simply put, law schools with high acceptance rates tend to be found lower on the law school rankings list as these schools’ undergraduate GPAs and LSAT medians tend to be lower, and in turn, the bar is set lower for admittance. Higher ranked law schools are more difficult to earn acceptances from; with higher medians to maintain, and an over-abundance of highly qualified applicants to fill a limited number of seats. Thus, top law school acceptance rates are inevitably much lower than those for schools with lower ranking. Applicants can get a broad sense of their prospective admissions chances by using LSAC’s law school probability calculator found on the LSAC website.
Law School Application Cost
The cost of applying to law school will depend on whether you’re a fee waiver recipient or not. Individuals can find out whether or not they’re eligible for fee waivers by referring to LSAC’s website. According to LSAC, the “basic criterion for receiving a waiver is the absolute inability to pay for the LSAT and Credential Assembly Service (CAS).” Approved fee waiver recipients will be provided two LSATs, one LSAT writing, one CAS registration and LOR service, and six CAS law school reports. The value of this package (in US dollars) is $650, and those without fee waivers can purchase this package as a bundle (the purchased bundle only comes with a single LSAT), or separately for: $200 for one LSAT (includes writing), $195 Credential Assembly Service (CAS), and $45 per law school report. Purchasing the bundle is a great idea as most likely you’ll want to apply to six or more law schools and it does save a few dollars. The total cost to apply to law school, if you intend to apply to all the T14 schools, would be $1010 (cost of 8 law school reports is additional to the cost of the CAS bundle).
Law Schools That Accept GRE
Many law schools are now accepting the GRE in place of the LSAT, but does that mean you should take the GRE instead? The answer can be pretty complicated. If you’re flirting with the idea of law school but you’re really set on attending a PhD or master’s program and just want to take your “what if” shot, then by all means, try applying to law schools with a GRE and don’t think twice about it! However, there’s no way to predict how an admissions officer will view your application with only a GRE if you have “pure” law school intentions; after all, the GRE being sufficient for law school admissions is a fairly new concept. A list of law schools that accept the GRE can be found on the “Educational Service Testing Website” (the company that administers the exams). It’s a popular misconception that only low ranked schools accept the GRE; in fact, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and NYU are all among schools that accept the GRE for law school. If you’ve taken both the GRE and the LSAT you should note that you’ll be required to submit scores for both exams when completing applications!