How to Prepare for Law School Admissions in Undergrad

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So you want to go to law school? That’s awesome!

 

My name’s Hannah, and I’m here to help.

 

As a law school strategist, I can provide you with all the info you need to prepare for your law school applications as an undergraduate college student. You don’t have to wait until the end of your junior year to start thinking about how to get into law school. With the right mindset, some tools, and a strong work ethic, you can intentionally plan for your future as an attorney.

 

You’ve probably already heard that a strong GPA + high LSAT score is the winning equation for acceptance into law school, but what if I told you there’s more to the story? Do you know what really matters when it comes to law school admissions?

 

Are you looking to stand out to the admissions committee?

 

If you’re serious about this law school thing (and if you are, I’m really glad!), you’ve got some work cut out for you. But as a practicing attorney, I can tell you it’s totally worth it.

 

Join me in exploring how you can set yourself up for a solid law school application when the time comes.

 

 

10 Ways to Prepare for Law School Admissions

 

1. Learn to Study

 

This cannot be emphasized enough. A law school schedule is rigorous. It will likely be the time in your life where you study the most. Your toughest college classes probably won’t compare.

 

Even if you were naturally gifted and coasted your way through college without much studying, please recognize that law school is a different ballpark. In order to succeed in law school you need to study.

 

Use the time you have right now to develop good study habits. Those study habits will make a world of difference both in law school and in getting accepted to law school with a high LSAT score.

 

Need help learning how to study? Learning How to Learn is a free online course offered on Coursera by McMaster University and the University of California San Diego. The course will teach you mental tools to help you master the tough subjects you’re studying.

 

2. Take Undergraduate Classes that Challenge You

 

Have you ever heard you need a specific undergraduate major to get into law school?

 

If so, I just want to clear the air and explain what a huge myth that is! You are not required to be a pre-law, political science, or humanities major to get into law school. Sure, if you’re interested in those majors, then go for it. But if you want a different major, that’s totally cool, too.

 

Instead of focusing merely on your major, law school admissions committees are looking for something different. They want your college transcript to show challenging courses that will develop the skills you need for law school.

 

While it might seem great to take a bunch of easy courses to earn high grades without much effort, this could actually work against you.

 

Try to take courses that challenge you – both to help you grow personally and to build a transcript that shows you’re capable of challenging work. These kinds of courses will help you develop the writing and critical thinking skills that are essential for an aspiring attorney.

 

3. Maintain a High GPA

 

Remember that winning equation I talked about earlier? The one most law school applicants are told? A strong GPA + a high LSAT score = admission to law school.

 

Well, even though those aren’t the only things that matter, there’s still some truth to the focus on a strong GPA.

While taking challenging courses is important, it’s also crucial to do well in the classes you choose to take. This is where those study skills come in handy.

 

Seek to put forth your best effort in your classes. Take them seriously. Do the assigned reading and non-graded assignments so you can better prepare for the papers and exams. Have some structure to your study routine.

 

It might not seem super fun to put in extra effort, but it will pay off when your high GPA helps you get into the law school of your dreams.

 

4. Build and Maintain Relationships with Professors

 

Building and maintaining relationships with your professors is essential if you want to succeed in pursuing a path to law school. This is important both for getting the most out of your undergraduate education and obtaining strong letters of recommendation.

 

Your professors are amazing people from whom you can learn a lot. Take advantage of the time you have under their teaching. Go to office hours to begin building those relationships. You never know just how much you’ll enjoy getting to know them better.

 

Please remember that college professors will not be able to write strong law school letters of recommendation if they don’t know you. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many students don’t think about this during college. You need to take initiative in building relationships, even if you’re an introvert.

 

5. Participate in Extracurricular Activities

 

Your freshman year of college is a great time to explore a variety of extracurricular activities to find what interests you. Once you determine the extracurricular activities you enjoy, narrow your focus. While there’s no hard rule for a number of activities that looks the bests on law school applications, I don’t suggest overexerting yourself in this area.

 

It’s better to pick fewer activities where you can be highly committed than many activities where you show little commitment. There will be a place on your law school application where you specify the amount of hours per week you spend on each extracurricular activity.

 

Law school admissions committees are looking for true commitment to organizations that matter to you. If you’re an upperclassman who hasn’t participated in extracurricular activities, be careful with joining too many activities now.

 

It could look a little fishy if you spontaneously decide to try seven new activities during your senior year when you previously participated in none. Only join the activities you genuinely enjoy where you can make a meaningful contribution.

 

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6. Build Your Resume with Jobs or Internships

 

Take advantage of your summers during college. Now is the perfect time to find jobs or internships that will help you gain valuable skills for your future career.

 

There are loads of summer internship opportunities out there for college students, both paid and unpaid. Try to seek out positions that will help you get experience in organizations you support.

 

Many college students need to make some income during the summer to pay for tuition. If that’s you, don’t worry! It may be hard to find a paid internship. But even so, there’s the possibility that you can work an unpaid internship part-time as well as a part-time job.

 

Get creative. Seek out ways to earn an income while gaining experience that will help you in the future.

 

7. Study Early for the LSAT

 

As we covered earlier, study skills are crucial for the undergraduate student thinking about applying to law school. Learning to study during college won’t only come in handy for law school but will be an asset when the time comes to study for the LSAT.

 

I highly suggest studying for the LSAT as early as possible. When studying for the LSAT, you need a plan. I can’t emphasize this enough! Randomly flipping through an LSAT prep book and doing a few example questions won’t be enough to give you that edge you need for a high score.

 

If you have the funds and the time, a LSAT prep class could be a big help. It will provide structure to your study schedule.

 

You can succeed at LSAT test prep without a class, though. You just need that plan I mentioned above. It’s also beneficial to do several practice exams under actual test day conditions. This will help you be at ease on test day.

 

8. Take the LSAT

 

Now that you’ve studied for the big exam, it’s time to sit for the LSAT. If you start studying early, you can take the exam early. It can be helpful to have the LSAT out of the way before you dive deep into the other parts of your law school admissions requirements.

 

The LSAT is now being offered six times per year. This is new for 2018. The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) decided to add January, March, and July test dates to the schedule in addition to the traditional months of June, September, and November.

 

This gives law school applicants more opportunities to take the exam. LSAC now allows individuals to take the LSAT as many times as they would like (although, I advocate for being prepared as much as possible the first time so you don’t need to retake it).

 

9. Pursue What Matters to You

 

You only have one life to live, so make it count!

 

While there is tons of advice out there about the types of things you should be involved in for the sake of building a resume, you’ve got to focus on what you actually care about. What do you like? What do you care about? Why do you want to go to law school? 

 

Think about these things. Have answers to these questions, even if it’s just so you can remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

 

Don’t do something just because you think it will “look good” on your resume. That’s inauthentic and will keep you from being enthusiastic about your commitments.

 

If you’re truly passionate about your pursuits, your personality will shine through during the law school admissions process.

 

10. Carefully Consider the Choices You Make

 

Like anything in life, the choices you make now will affect your future. College is a time when you will learn about yourself, others, and the world around you. You’ll try new things, build relationships, and have experiences that are far different than ones in high school.

 

But with great change comes great opportunity – for both good and bad.

 

I’m going to put this bluntly: don’t make stupid choices.

 

It’s all fun and games to participate in a fraternity prank, but what happens when you get in trouble and have a criminal record? It might feel great to stay up late partying and skip a class or two, but how will that affect your grades?

 

I’m not saying to avoid fun in college. I’m telling you to embrace all the amazing opportunities in college, but do it wisely.

 

Think before you act. You don’t want small lapses in judgment to hold you back from achieving your dream of being an attorney. Consider your choices.

 

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“Help! I’m a senior in college and just decided I’d like to go to law school! Can you help me navigate law school admissions?”

 

Hey there, senior! I’m glad you’re here.

 

While many of the tips I share above are geared toward what you should do as an underclassman, they can still apply to you.

 

Here are my suggestions for how to take the content above and use if for your current situation.

 

1. Finish Strong

 

As a senior, your course decisions have likely already been made. So now is the time to finish strong.

 

Work as hard as you can in your current classes. Don’t use this time to coast. No matter what your GPA was before this semester, seek to better it.

 

2. Start Studying for the LSAT

 

Even if you aren’t able to take the LSAT in time to apply to be a 1L next year, now is the time to prep for the LSAT.

 

Is there a LSAT prep class offered on campus or in the area? Do you know others who are also studying for the LSAT?

 

Find a way to be held accountable for your studying.

 

In the midst of an already busy senior year, this may be a lot to take on, but it’s important to get a jump on it if you want to apply for law school as soon as possible.

 

3. Keep Up Relationships with Professors

 

Think about the relationships you have with professors.

 

Do they know you? Are there any professors you feel could give a strong recommendation?

 

Continue to nurture those relationships. If you haven’t gotten to know your professors, now would be a good time to focus more on those relationships.

 

4. Evaluate Your Extracurricular Activities

 

Have you participated in extracurricular activities throughout your time in college? Do you need to start participating in an activity?

 

This is not the time to add a handful of activities just to fill your resume, but you can strategically plan how to get involved in a few things during the rest of your senior year.

 

5. Make Plans for a Gap Year

 

If you’re a senior in college and just decided to go to law school, it may not be possible to go straight to law school next year. That’s totally okay!

 

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, only about one-third of students go directly to law school from undergrad.

 

There are loads of options for what you can do between college and law school. You can do volunteer service domestically or abroad, work a full time job in your area of study, or do some traveling.

 

Think about what interests you and what could help you gain skills. If you need more experience to put on your resume, a gap year could help you do that.

 

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“Oh man…I’m out of college and didn’t even think about law school applications until now. I just decided I want to be an attorney. What should I do?”

 

First of all, don’t panic!

 

This article is meant to give advice for those who are early in their undergraduate careers. If you are out of college and have decided you want to go to law school, there are ways to make your application reflect your passion.

 

Here at Law School Solutions, we provide resources to help you submit your strongest application. Be sure to check out more of our blog posts that provide advice on each area of the law school application.

 

If needed, you can consider submitting an addendum if you find it necessary to explain shortcomings on your application.

 

Conclusion

 

The path to law school is not an easy one. It takes a lot of hard, intentional work to prepare for what will be 3 years of even more hard, intentional work.

 

While there’s no singular path that will prepare you for your law school application, there are common threads among the applicants I’ve helped get into law school.

 

Successful law school applicants know how to study hard. It pays off for both their GPA and LSAT score. They are intentional about their commitments. They don’t do things for the sake of “resume building,” but choose to pursue what matters to them. They are authentic and recognize the value of relationships.

 

I believe if you have a strong desire to go to law school, we can find a way to get you there!

 

Next Steps for Law School Admissions

 

I’m so glad you’re investing time in learning about the law school admissions process. You’re headed in the right direction.

 

For even more support as you prepare for your law school application, download your free copy of my Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cheat Sheet for a Successful Law School Application Resume. I’d love to be there for you on each step of the journey!

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