There is no one, specific pre-law major. Indeed, you can attend law school with a major in music, engineering, math, business, political science … anything! In choosing a major, there are three guiding principles: (1) Major in something you love so you do well and get good grades. (2) Make sure you are using your undergraduate experience to develop your critical thinking, critical reading, and writing skills (either in your major or in advanced electives). (3) Think about your “Plan B”: If you decide not to pursue law school, what will you do? Is there a major that will lay the foundation for your alternative career?
It’s not essential, but it is recommended. You don’t need to know the law before you go to law school. However, if you are considering a career in law, you may actually enjoy law-related classes. Moreover, it’s good to have read at least one Supreme Court decision before you go to law school so that you are not floored by a new experience. Finally, law-related classes may help you determine whether you’re going to enjoy law school and either solidify or reverse your plan to attend law school.
The most important thing you can do is get good grades. You should also get to know your professors (so you can ask them for letters down the road). Finally, get involved. Don’t pursue extracurricular activities to the detriment of your grades, but if you can keep up with extra activities, they help you develop soft skills such as organization, communication, and leadership.
It’s entirely up to you. The only real advice I have is to be focused. If you have a passion for anime, be president of the anime club. Organize an event. Develop a social media platform. Extracurricular activities and organizations are an opportunity to develop and demonstrate soft skills. It is better to be committed to one or two groups than to be a “checkbook member” of a dozen organizations.
Choosing a law school is a complex and personal decision. Some factors to consider include:
(1) Geography: Sometimes, you can take advantage of in-school networking and alumni connections to develop job prospects. It certainly isn’t required that you stay in-state for law school, but sometimes it makes sense.
(2) Prestige: The more prestigious the law school (i.e., the more highly it is ranked), the more portable your degree is. Again, you shouldn’t automatically go to the highest-ranked school, but if you are aiming for a big law firm job, you may need to go to a school that has a little clout.
(3) Cost: For some law students, keeping debt load low is paramount. This is particularly true if you want to own your own firm in a smaller community.
(4) Special Programs: Certain schools have reputations for certain types of law, and if you have specialized interests, you may want to look at schools that cater to those interests. However, be cautious about relying solely on areas of expertise. You may attend a school with a great environmental law program and then decide that environmental law isn’t a good fit for you.
There’s no magic number, but “more than one” is almost always the answer. For most students, ten schools is going to be about right: a few that are “reach schools,” a few at which you are the typical students, and a few at which you would be a great catch (and where you are more likely to get scholarship money). Don’t apply to a school you wouldn’t consider attending.
There are a number of resources on the resources page. You can also talk to your pre-law advisor about options.
Ideally, you should plan to take the LSAT in June (about 1.25 years before you start law school) or in September/October (about 1 year before you start law school). The key is to have your scores in time to apply a good nine months before you plan to start. Give yourself at least six months to study so you don’t have to “cram.”
Right now, LSAT scores are good for five years.
The answer to this varies from law school to law school. I would recommend the December before you start law school as the last reasonable time to take the LSAT, but you can still make some application deadlines if you take the test in February.
Will courses and grades that I have taken at other schools show up on my LSAC summary of coursework? Will it be included in my overall GPA? Will law schools count graduate school coursework?
All college courses you took for a grade (including dual credit courses) will be included in the LSAC’s calculation of your GPA. (Note that AP courses are not assigned college grades, so they don’t count.) Once you acquire an undergraduate degree (BA, BS, BFA, etc.), additional college coursework will not be included in your undergraduate GPA. Thus, if you take post-baccalaureate classes or graduate classes, they will not be included in your GPA. However, law schools WILL see transcripts for those courses, so it is important to get good grades.
Access Group is a non-profit that provides a lot of information about financing law school. In addition, you should contact the financial aid offices of the law schools to which you are applying to find out about scholarships.
If you receive a scholarship offer, you should be sure to ask about the requirements for keeping the scholarship after your first year and about what percentage of funded students keep their scholarships.
Most students end up funding law school through a combination of federal student loans and merit scholarships.
The answer varies a lot based on area of practice, type of employer, and location. Some attorneys working for big law firms make $170,000 right out of law school. Those jobs, however, are not common. More new lawyers make between 40 and 80 thousand a year. Some make less, some make more.
If you have a school that you are dead set on attending, early admission may be a good choice for you. Be aware of rules related to early admission, though. You may be limiting your options, committing to a school before you know whether they will provide you with scholarship money or not.
Some law schools require interviews, and some will give interviews if you request one. If you tend to make a good impression in person, an interview might help you (especially if your credentials are only okay). If you get an interview, you should prepare for it. Think of answers to possible questions and come up with some questions to ask the interviewers. Dress professionally, and be as polite as possible. After the interview, consider sending a thank you note.
Probably not. While you can learn more about a particular school from an actual alum, it is unlikely that knowing someone will actually get you in the door.
I recommend you start getting your application materials together about a year before you plan to start. Give letter-writers a couple of months to get their letters in. Request transcripts early, with the understanding that you sometimes have to ask more than once. Start drafting your resume and personal statement several months before you start applying so you have plenty of time to revise and polish. Ultimately, aim to get your applications in no later than the January before you plan to start law school.
Absolutely! Whether you graduated last May or twenty years ago, we’re here to help.
Some schools allow you to pursue two advanced degrees at the same time (such as a JD and an MBA, or a JD and a Ph.D). These programs can save you time and money if getting both degrees is part of your life plan, but they are an investment. Look at people who are doing the kind of work you want to do: do they have multiple degrees? Do you have a burning passion to learn more about a particular field? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then a joint degree program may make sense.
On the resources page, you’ll find a link to the “Law School Book of Lists.” This wonderful (searchable) reference provides information about almost every joint degree program in the country.