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Applying to Law School

Many students are intimidated by the law school application process and may be overwhelmed at the prospect. Applying to law school requires research and decision making that can only be undertaken by you, the student. The faculty of the Department of History & Government, however, are willing to offer assistance to students interested in legal careers. You will also need to obtain official catalogs and application materials from the schools to which you are applying along with the necessary registration material for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). Some of these materials are available through the History & Government Department or online. Please check with your faculty or pre-law advisor regarding any questions or concerns.

In general, the application process involves four major stages. The first step toward attending law school is to earn an undergraduate degree. Your preparation begins with selecting a major and fulfilling the College’s graduation requirements. Ideally, by the time you reach your Senior year you will have positioned yourself to be competitive in the law school market with a strong G.P.A. (Grade Point Average), a solid educational foundation, and the analytical, writing and communication skills necessary to law school success. As you move toward your Senior year you will need to proceed to Stage II, preparing for and taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). As you will read, performance on this test is very important and this stage should be taken extremely seriously. Upon taking the test you should already have some idea as to the law schools you intend to apply. Thus, Stage III, researching and applying to schools of your choice, and Stage II will overlap. Securing letters of recommendation and preparing your personal essay are critical and we have some specific advice on these important steps that you may find useful. The last step in the application process is making a final determination of where to attend.

Most schools require that your application include:

A Completed Application Form: The form is provided by the school and is usually included in the admission catalog. Many schools have their forms available online as well. The form must be completed in its entirety and will provide directions for the submission of additional materials. If you have difficulty in obtaining the form or have questions on the information and materials required, contact the law school’s admissions office for official clarification.

LSAT Scores: Because your LSAT score is an important factor for selection you should have prepared for and taken the LSAT well in advance of admission deadlines. (See section II in this booklet on the LSAT). The LSAC keeps records of your LSAT score(s) and provides them directly to the law school upon request. (See also the section on the LSDAS below). Refer to the LSAT registration booklet for guidelines and regulations regarding the reporting procedures and policies for delivery of LSAT scores.

Transcripts and G.P.A.: You will be required to submit formal transcripts of every undergraduate, graduate and professional school you have attended. The requirement is almost always for “official transcripts” (transcripts sent directly by the issuing school). You should check with each of the schools you have attended for that institution’s procedures for obtaining transcripts. Typically, you must pay a fee to the issuing institution and provide them the office/address to which the material is to be directed well in advance of the deadline (minimum of 2-3 weeks usually). For law schools that require you to utilize the LSDAS, transcripts will be submitted to directly to that service rather than to the law school. (See the section on the LSDAS below). Most law schools do not accept unofficial transcripts (i.e. reproduced copies or copies which have been forwarded through the student).

Recommendation Letters

: You will also be asked to submit letters of recommendation, typically from 3 different recommenders. At least one of these sources should be an individual familiar with your academic work. (See the section on Letters of Recommendation below).

Admission Letter/Personal Essay: Most schools also require that you write a letter that introduces you to the admission committee and relates your purpose and intent in attending law school. Many schools also require a “personal essay” in which you present your reasons for pursing a legal career and convey personal aspirations or information. Admission letters and essays are an important way a prospective student can buttress the application and distinguish him or herself in the selection process (See the section Application Letters and Personal Essays below).

The Law School Data Assembly Service

An increasing number of law schools are requiring that students submit application materials via the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). This is an organization that collects and prepares material for law school admissions. There is a fee for subscription to the service. Once you have subscribed to the LSDAS you will be asked to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essay directly to the LSDAS. Follow the directions for each law school’s application requirements in submission of materials. Consult the LSDAS catalog/webpage for specific directions for submission, including the forms that must be submitted along with recommendation letters.

Information submitted to the LSDAS will be forwarded to the law schools you indicate along with an LSDAS prepared summary. This service is preferred by many law schools and saves you a considerable amount of time. Schools requiring use of this service will not process your application if materials are not handled by the LSDAS.

In subscribing to the LSDAS, you may also elect to join the Candidate Referral Service (CRS). This service makes your information available for recruitment by other law schools. In other words, schools to which you have not applied may access and contact you based upon the information available through the CRS. To subscribe, contact the LSAC at or call (215) 968-1001. Or you may fill out the appropriate application in the LSAT booklet.

You do not have to subscribe to the LSDAS at the same time you register for the LSAT, but you should subscribe well in advance of pending application deadlines to ensure that your file will be handled in a timely manner and is available to the law schools when needed. The LSDAS subscription is good for one year from the date of registration.