The requirements for law school admissions are in many ways similar to the requirements for admission to undergraduate programs. But applying to law school requires some important additional steps. I remember when I applied to law school I was surprised at how much time it took to gather all of the materials I needed! This article covers what you need to know about the requirements for law school admissions.
First Things First
The information in this article applies primarily to applications to ABA-approved law schools. Applications to non-ABA-approved law schools often have similar requirements, but may not require LSAT scores or registration with the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. However, attending a non-ABA-approved law school severely limits your options post-graduation, and many jurisdictions require degrees from ABA-approved law schools prior to bar admission.
All ABA-approved law schools require a bachelor’s degree for admission to their JD programs. Your bachelor’s degree must be from an accredited college or university. But, unlike many graduate programs, law schools do not require a specific undergraduate major. So, whether you majored in business or history or English or zoology, your undergraduate degree qualifies you for admission to law school.
LSAT and Credential Assembly Service Registration
You’ll need to take the LSAT — law school’s equivalent of the GRE or GMAT — for admission to law school. And your score on the LSAT is one of the biggest factors affecting your chances of law school admission!
If you want to report your LSAT score to law schools, you’ll also need to register for the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service. This service, in addition to reporting your LSAT score, will also receive your college transcripts (showing your undergraduate degree and grade point average, as well as any graduate credits you have earned).
Law School Applications
You’ll be able to apply directly to law schools through your Credential Assembly Service account. Each school will require you to complete its own application, but just like the Common App for undergraduate programs, the Credential Assembly Service helps standardize the process and save you time. Each law school you apply to will charge its own application fee, in addition to the fee charged by LSAC to send a law school report to each school.
Character and Fitness Information
In order to be admitted to law school, you will likely need to submit what’s called “Character and Fitness” information. This information includes detailed personal questions about your background, including any crimes or other misconduct you have committed. It is vital that you take the time to complete this information fully and honestly. Leaving out important information or being dishonest about your background can result in your dismissal from law school!
Many law schools will request a resume with your application. Your resume should list your academic accomplishments and awards. You should also highlight your work experience and any community service or other leadership activities. If you’ve been out of college for more than year or two, your resume could be a critical component of your application, showcasing professional achievements that will help you stand out from recent college graduates.
Personal Statement and Essay
One of the most time-consuming requirements for law school admissions is composing the required personal statement and/or essay. You might be able to use the same personal statement or essay for more than one law school, but some law schools’ requirements are unique and require a special essay. Your personal statement will likely focus on your interest in studying law and your possible future career plans. Your essay will showcase your writing ability and might offer you an opportunity to emphasize unique aspects of your background, special service projects in which you’ve been involved, or ways you have demonstrated leadership.
Letters of Recommendation
You’ll likely need two letters of recommendation to accompany your law school applications. You’ll send requests for these letters through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, which will receive the letters and send them to the law schools. Most law schools request that you include at least one letter from a professor with whom you have recently worked. Depending on your background, your other letter can be from another professor, a supervisor at work, or someone who is familiar with your record of community service.
Completing the requirements for law school admissions takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll need proof of your undergraduate degree, your score on the LSAT, an application for each law school you seek to attend, answers to law schools’ character and fitness questions, a resume, a personal statement and essay, and letters of recommendation. Make sure to start the process early so you have plenty of time to collect and prepare your materials!