Law School Application Advice
The following information is meant to be used as a starting point if you are thinking about attending law school. It should be used to supplement your own research about law schools as well as the information posted on UW-Madison’s law school website. Law school is a major commitment, but your history degree serves as a great background for your law career. Specifically, the skills you have gained as a critical thinker, researcher, and advanced writer will help you not only during your application process but also during law school.
Choosing which law schools you should apply to and then which law school you want to attend is a completely personal decision with many different factors for you to consider. Knowing what you want after you finish law school may help in the decision process. For example, are you comfortable taking a big firm job to pay off huge loans, or would you rather attend a less expensive school since you intend to work in the public sector after graduation? Make a list of potential law schools and weigh the pros and cons of attendance at each school. This should help you narrow your decision.
- Most law schools release their applications in August and September and allow you to submit your application soon after.
- Like the personal statement, your application deserves great care and detail.
- Your applications should contain full information with no mistakes.
Registering for the LSAC
- The LSAC is the clearinghouse for the LSAT and law school applications. In order to apply to law school or to take the LSAT you must register on the LSAC website .
- Send your transcripts at the end of your junior year to LSAC as well as all letters of recommendation; they then disseminate this information to the schools you apply to.
- Start thinking about the LSAT early in your junior year and plan how you will study (take a class/tutor/work alone).
- Take the LSAT as early as you can, probably in June after your junior year (remember to register at lsac.org). Many law schools have changed their policies on multiple LSAT scores, so taking it early allows time to retake the test if you so choose.
- Check with schools individually to confirm their policies on multiple LSAT scores. In addition, the earlier you have a score, the earlier you can start looking at the range of law schools you can apply to, as the LSAT is an especially significant factor in law school admissions. LSAC.org provides detailed information on the LSAT score and GPA range for each law school.
The Personal Statement
One of the few aspects of your application that is completely under your control is the personal statement, which almost all law schools require. While many schools have slightly different questions, it is good to have a general framework from which you can tailor your statement to match a specific school.
- Prepare your thoughts: brainstorm interesting stories, personal philosophies, and individual attributes that a law school may be interested in hearing. The summer before your junior year is a perfect time to begin collecting and organizing ideas for the personal statement. The UW Writing Center is also an excellent resource for this endeavor.
- The personal statement is not your resume; it is your chance to tell an admissions committee who you are outside of the numbers and jobs on your resume.
Letters of Recommendation
- Choose which individuals and professors you would like to have recommend you and then ask them as soon as you can. A good recommender is someone who can speak to your intellectual capabilities as well as your ability and desire to work hard.
- Provide your recommenders with all the information you intend on putting in your law school applications. Moreover, you need to provide them with the signed LSAC (should you choose to waive your right to view the letter) form and a stamped envelope so that they can send the letter to the correct location.
- If you choose to have specific letters sent to specific individuals, make sure to read the directions on the LSAC site very carefully.
- Follow-up with your recommenders to ensure the letters are completed and sent by the deadline.
Whether you have heard back with an acceptance from a law school or not, you should still submit a FAFSA to all schools. Just like your applications, the earlier you submit the FAFSA the better. Some aid has limited quantities so once it is given out late applicants miss out. Make a list of all the financial aid deadlines for all your schools so that you don’t forget to send any required information, as some schools require more than just the FAFSA.
Click on the link below to view the L&S Advising services Law School Preparation and Application Timeline:
This timeline and the above suggestions are all targeted toward those individuals planning on going straight from undergrad to law school. Those individuals who take time off from school can tailor this timeline to their own circumstances.
Finally, if you are considering law school, please consider setting up an appointment with The College of Letter and Science’s Pre-Law Advisor: