Entering Law School: What You Need to Know
Every good Boy Scout knows to be prepared, and so should every aspiring law school candidate. You should start preparing for the LSAT in your last year of college, or soon after you graduate. Look into the deadlines for law school applications, and know that the sooner you apply the better. Applications roll into law school admissions offices in waves, the last and biggest of which crests around the deadline date. The sooner you can get your application in front of an admissions officer, the better your chances of getting in. Register with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and for the LSAT online or by mail. Be prepared to demonstrate your aptitude, both on the standardized tests and your application, and also by way of a personal interview, which is sometimes required by a law school.
In the end, the process is similar to what you did to get into college. Although, the competition is generally more intense at this level, and fewer applicants make the cut.
Let's take a closer look at some specifics.
The LSAT is a comprehensive exam not unlike the SAT or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), but unique in that it is designed specifically to assess your readiness for the rigors of law school. There are five 35-minute sections to the test, four of which count toward your final score: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and two logical reasoning sections. To pass, you must demonstrate proficiency in each category. There is also a writing sample that isn't factored into your score but is sent to each of the schools you apply to. The test is scored on a scale of 120-180.
The LSAT is administered by the Law School Admissions Counicl (LSAC). It is offered four times a year in every state, usually at major universities. You apply to take the test through the LSAC, and the LSAC submits your scores to the law schools you apply to.
In a way, the Law School Admissions Council is the great and powerful Oz of the world of law school. It acts as a clearinghouse for the entire application process and its central nature helps ensure a standardized, fair and streamlined set of procedures:
- You first send your official transcripts and letters of recommendation to the LSAC, which forwards them along to the schools you're applying to.
- The LSAC determines where the LSAT will be held in your state.
- Your LSAT scores are sent to the LSAC first and then to you.
ABA Accreditation Where you go to law school is determined in part by your performance on the LSAT and by the quality of your undergraduate work (your GPA). When making the selection, you should look for American Bar Association (ABA) accredited schools. Only a student who attends and passes an ABA accredited school is permitted to sit for the Bar Exam in his or her respective jurisdiction. This function of the ABA, like the LSAC, allows for a unified national body of lawyers, with level standards and without the fragmentation that might occur if no governing body existed.
You made it through the acronyms. You feel prepared for the process of getting into law school. Now, how will you pay for it all?