Law School Admissions Requirements: The Ultimate Guide

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So, you’re looking for information on law school admissions requirements, huh?

That’s pretty great! I have to applaud you.

You know why?

Imagine this…

You go to college and know you need to get good grades because law school might be in the foreseeable future.

You aren’t exactly at the top of your class but you aren’t at the bottom either, so you work hard and do your best.

When the time comes to take the LSAT, you spend some time studying but don’t apply yourself. You figure you’ve always done well enough on standardized tests for everything else in your life, so why put in the extra effort?

As a result, you get back a respectable score but nothing that stands out.

You assume it will be okay because your GPA is above average.

So you throw together your law school application the night before you turn it in. You asked a couple professors for recommendations last week, so you figure they’ll do their part and all will be well.

In the past, winging it has always worked, so why deviate from your tried and true approach?

When the time comes to receive either acceptance or denial letters you don’t sweat it. You assume that things will work out because they always have. You’ve always gotten by one way or another.

But when you open that letter, you’re caught off guard.

You realize that you made a mistake.

The time and dedication necessary for a successful application is finally made evident to you. You realize that you didn’t put in the effort necessary to warrant a successful application. And you’re pretty bummed out. There’s a sense of failure you feel because you thought you could wing it. You thought everything was under control.

So here’s the deal:

I do not want you to be that person! The fact that you’re reading this means you must take law school applications at least a little bit seriously.

However, as a law school admissions strategist, I wanted to share with you the value of putting effort into your law school application. And then I’ll give you all the details you need about law school admissions requirements.

I know you have a lot to offer an incoming law school class, which is why I want to give you ALL. THE. THINGS. you need to know for your law school application.

Here is your ultimate guide to law school admissions requirements.

Remember, you don’t want to be that person who tries to wing it. You can live above that and see yourself thrive. It might just take some intentional work. I believe you have that in you. ☺


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Law School Admissions Requirements: An Overview

Let’s dive in together to explore the five law school admissions requirements and the three optional pieces to the admissions puzzle. The requirements for applying to law school may seem straightforward if you look at it as just a few things you need to do, but each element of your law school application tells the admissions committee something about your character.

Here are the eight pieces to law school admissions requirements:

1) College Transcript/Undergraduate Studies

2) LSAT score

3) Law School Application Resume

4) Law School Application Personal Statement

5) Law School Letters of Recommendation

6) (Optional/Only Some Schools Offer This) Interview

7) (Optional) Diversity Statement

8) (Sometimes Optional) Addendum

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The Ultimate Guide to Law School Admissions Requirements

1) College Transcript/Undergraduate Studies

Law school applicants are required to submit their college transcripts to the law schools of their choosing. Your transcripts will give the law school admissions committee an overall objective view of how you are as a student. They will look at your grades and the courses you chose to take during undergrad. They will also weigh the rigor of your courses with your academic performance.

Your undergraduate transcript shows the admissions committee a lot more than just your GPA. While applying to law school with a solid undergraduate GPA is advantageous, you need to consider the potential repercussions of taking courses that will only pad your GPA instead of challenge you as a student.

A rounded approach to choosing a major and then selecting the right accompanying courses matters more than seeing a 4.0 GPA in underwater basket weaving. Let’s be real here for a second. Some majors and courses are far easier than others. Don’t let this deter you from pursuing what matters to you, but if you’re still in college and have the option to choose courses, think about this. How will the courses you take with the grades you earn affect the way the admissions committee might view you? Some students choose to double major so they can pursue their passion and also be challenged academically. This helps them gain skills necessary for law school while giving them an outlet for their interests.

2) LSAT score

Your LSAT score is another key law school admissions requirement. Your GPA and LSAT score are two of the first things law school admissions committees may notice about you as an applicant. They aren’t the only determining factors (those other pieces are crucial as well!), but those scores do serve as an equalizer amongst applicants. Reading essays and reviewing resumes is a little more subjective than looking at scores. And since the LSAT is taken by nearly everyone who applies to law school, it’s the ultimate way to compare applicants who went to different colleges and have different backgrounds.

Since the LSAT is now offered six times per year: January, March, June, July, September, and November, you should have plenty of time to take it. Go into the exam as prepared as you can possibly be. Whether you choose to take an LSAT prep course or do the self-study route, be sure you study hard and smart.

You know yourself better than anyone, so think about the study routines that work for you. Set a schedule and stick to it. If you need extra accountability with LSAT prep, enlist a friend who is also studying for the LSAT to be your accountability buddy. This could mean you study together or it could mean you check in regularly for an honest conversation about how you’re doing. This is not the time to go it alone. Ask for help when needed!

What about the GRE for Law School Admissions?

So by now you’ve probably heard murmurings about how some law schools are now accepting the GRE with law school applications in lieu of the LSAT. This is true. After Harvard paved the way with their decision to allow GRE takers to submit their scores for their law school applications, other law schools chose to follow suit. While the LSAT is still very much the law school admissions exam of choice, if you’ve already taken the GRE (and haven’t taken the LSAT) and have a solid score, you can consider submitting that score in your application.

3) Law School Application Resume

The third key component you’re required to submit when you apply to law school is your resume. Unlike a traditional resume you’d use for a job application, your law school application resume must be clear, concise, and shouldn’t include all of your past jobs. Your goal when putting together the resume you’ll use for law school admissions is to tell the story of who you are as a person and as a student in only one page! That’s a tall order, but I think you can succeed with the right tools.

Think of your resume like a highlight reel. Only share the most relevant information that gives the admissions committee a glimpse into your life.

Want examples to base yours on? I’ve got you covered! Download your free copy of my law school resume cheat sheet to get all the tips and tricks you’ll need for crafting a standout resume.

4) Law School Application Personal Statement

Another important piece of the law school application is your personal statement. A personal statement can tell the story of who you are and what you hope to do with your future. Writing an effective personal statement takes time. It’s not something to whip up at 2 a.m. the night before you want to turn it in. It’s not like that philosophy paper you put off until the last minute and hope you’ll be able to finish by your 8 a.m. class.

Your essay idea should take time to marinate. After you brainstorm a list of every possible topic, sit on the one you choose to make sure your feelings around it sink in.

For more ideas to craft a killer personal statement download your copy of the Free Guide for Selecting the Perfect Law School Personal Statement Topic.  

5) Law School Letters of Recommendation

While you’re gathering the key parts of the law school application, the trusted recommenders you’ve selected will be crafting letters of recommendation to submit for you. This law school admissions requirement is the form of proof you need to tell the admissions committee what you say about yourself is true.

Think long and hard before you ask someone to submit a recommendation letter on your behalf. This isn’t to say that letters of recommendation are something to be feared, but you want to make sure those who submit letters of recommendation know you well enough (or can have their memory sparked enough) to write a non-generic letter. Nearly everyone will have a law school letter of recommendation that says they are hardworking, but will their recommender be able to give specific examples to back up that claim?

If you’re a genuinely good student with professors who know you, this should be no problem. Your professors want to see you succeed. Something wild to consider now: you might even be asked to write your own letter of recommendation to help the professor save time! They’ll edit it and make adjustments before it’s sent. This could be helpful if there are specific things you hope they include.

6) Law School Interview (this is not offered at every school)

While undergraduate interviews at top-tier schools are the norm, law school interviews aren’t common. In fact, many schools have no option to interview at all. When applicants are invited to attend an interview, they have the chance to show the school they have the right temperament to be an attorney.

Interviews may be used to weed out applicants who are pursuing law school for the wrong reasons. By asking questions about their interest in law, the interviewer can learn about the interviewee’s motivations for pursuing a degree in law. The interview committee wants to identify character traits that would be beneficial for a career in law, such as confidence, maturity, honesty, good understanding of the world around them, leadership, etc.

If you apply to law school and are invited to participate in an interview, use this opportunity to showcase your personality and character. If you’re generally good with people, an interview could be to your advantage!

7) (Optional) Diversity Statement

While not exactly a requirement because it’s optional and all, the diversity statement is potentially another piece of the law school admissions puzzle. Some schools offer this optional essay.

Not everyone should submit a diversity statement, but it can be a great tool for sharing how your unique perspective will contribute to the incoming law school class.

Unlike a law school personal statement, the diversity statement is short. It holds the focus of providing detail about your background. You can share about experiences from childhood that shaped you into the person you are today.

If you choose to submit a diversity statement, remember to write it in a way that shows what you bring to the table.  

Pro tip: be careful that you write from the perspective as someone who has something unique to offer and not as someone who is only looking for sympathy. You want to present yourself as a student who can handle the rigor of law school. This requires maturity.

For more details on the kind of information to include in your diversity statement, check out Law School Personal Statement VERSUS Diversity Statement…Nail Them Both. It will give you lots of helpful advice!

8) (Sometimes Optional) Addendum

We’re now at our eighth and final law school admissions requirement… yay! You’ve made it this far in this ultimate guide, so I have to commend you. You take these law school admissions requirements seriously.

Now we’re going to cover the addendum. It’s sometimes optional like the title says, but here’s the scoop: I don’t want to downplay the importance of carefully considering the other parts of the application, but this one might need even more serious thought. Your law school addendum is available to help you explain a blemish on your application. It’s used to address a situation that could cause the admissions committee to have a negative view of you.

Addendums can be used to explain criminal or bad behavior, sudden changes in LSAT scores, or abnormally low grades. Like I said with the diversity statement, be careful that the way you describe situations doesn’t look like a plea for sympathy. The admissions committee can see right through that. Make sure your reasoning is genuine and not just an excuse for not applying yourself like you wish you had.

If you’re wondering about whether you should submit an addendum, you should probably check out my blog post called 5 Law School Addendum Myths That Will Surprise You. It will guide you through some dos and don’ts of the law school addendum.

What Law Schools Are Really Looking For:

When you apply to law school, you submit materials that share about your accomplishments. Those things are all good. They’re beneficial for the admissions committee to know, but at the end of the day what law schools are looking for are individuals with integrity who want to do a good job as attorneys. It’s not about how great you think you are or how much you have achieved. What matters is that you work hard (and have the numbers to back that up) and you genuinely care about what you pursue.

Law school admissions committees are looking for mature individuals who are real leaders. They have confidence and take pride in the work they do. They aren’t seeking after instant gratification, but are willing to do the hard things to achieve the results they seek.

Are you one of those people? Be sure your law school application materials reflect that!

Conclusion – You now have the facts about law school admissions requirements – what’s next?

If you read all the way to the conclusion, you’re pretty much a rock star in my book. You’re investing in your future as an attorney, and that is awesome. Now that you have the ultimate guide to law school admissions requirements, it’s time to get to work. Are you still thinking law school is next for you? I’d love to help walk you through the process with more tools and resources from Law School Solutions. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for regular law school application tips!

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