Law School Application Toolkit
Deciding when to go to law school is a personal decision based on readiness, GPA, ultimate career goals, passions, and financial considerations. Law schools and legal employers typically prefer students with a year or two of work experience. Once you decide to attend law school, Careers in Law offers each student and College alum the opportunity to meet with an adviser, either in person or virtually, to strategize about target schools and to review law school application materials. In addition, each year the program arranges for on-campus and virtual visits with law school representatives.
Each law school application generally will include the following components:
- LSAT or GRE score
- Undergraduate GPA
- Official transcript(s): Undergraduate and Graduate
- At least two letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Supplemental essays
- Each school’s application form
Below you will find guidelines for each component. Please contact Gaby Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or Melissa Ross at email@example.com if you have questions or would like assistance preparing your materials.
Law School Application Timeline
Take a look at the law school application timeline for a general overview of the law school application process and suggested timing for each step.
Law School Application Tracker
Download our law school application tracker template to help keep you organized through the application process
Rising Attorneys Program
The Careers in Law team is proud to offer the Rising Attorneys Program, dedicated to promoting the success of future law students with a special focus on those from low-income families and underrepresented populations. The program is open to rising third- and fourth-year students and recent alumni planning to apply to law school within the next five years who can commit to taking the LSAT in fall of 2022. The program is open to all who meet the above criteria; those from underrepresented backgrounds and/or low-income families are particularly encouraged to participate. Applications will open during the spring quarter.
Law School Application Components
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test administered approximately ten times each year. All American Bar Association-approved law schools require applicants to take either the LSAT or the GRE as part of their admission process. Most applicants take the LSAT rather than the GRE. Law schools admit a very small percentage of students with the GRE.
Comprehensive information on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and applying to law school can be found at www.lsac.org. (LSAC serves as a clearinghouse for law school applications). The website offers much free test prep and a free course through Khan Academy. If you meet certain criteria, you may qualify for an LSAC fee waiver. If you think you may qualify, it is best to apply for the waiver before you start studying for the LSAT. If you are denied, you should try to appeal. Many applicants who are initially denied a waiver are approved upon appeal. In addition to the benefits offered by LSAC, those with a fee waiver are often eligible for application waivers when applying to law schools, as well as discounted LSAT prep from companies such as 7Sage, LSAT Demon, LSATMax, Blueprint, LSAT Wizard, LSAT Lab, and Magoosh.
Allow at least three months to prepare for the LSAT. It is recommended that you spend between 180 and 200 hours total to prepare for the test. You can prepare either on your own or by taking a class (either online or in-person). You should take many practice exams. Take the LSAT or GRE at least one year before you plan to start law school, and pick the test date that will allow you the most time to prepare for the exam. Check with your CIL adviser about the latest changes to the testing requirements.
UChicago partners with Blueprint to provide discounted access to Blueprint’s LSAT prep courses. Find out more about Blueprint’s approach to LSAT preparation here and reach out to Steven Balla at firstname.lastname@example.org for the current discount and instructions on how to register for a course at the discounted rate.
Law schools consider undergraduate GPA in evaluating your application and recognize that the University of Chicago offers a rigorous curriculum with no grade inflation. The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) provides law schools an analysis of your GPA and LSAT score as it compares to other University of Chicago students. Because law schools don’t prefer certain majors, you should pursue the major that interests you most to help you perform as well as possible.
You should review a copy of your unofficial transcript well before the application deadline to check for inaccuracies. You can view your unofficial transcript through your my.UChicago portal. If an error is discovered, contact the Office of the University Registrar. The portal also allows electronic submission of your transcript to LSAC through Parchment. You should submit your transcript at least three weeks before you plan to submit your applications, as it can take a while for LSAC to process them.
Since law schools generally do not interview applicants, the personal statement provides an opportunity for applicants to express themselves. Law schools want to know why you want to attend law school but are also interested in the motivation, values, and experiences that collectively make the applicant someone a committee member would like to have in class, or as a colleague. Focus on what motivates you and experiences and people you have learned from. Careers in Law advisers will work with law school applicants to write compelling personal statements.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Law schools generally ask for at least two academic letters of recommendation and often will allow additional recommendations which should be employment-based. If the applicant has been out of undergraduate school for three or more years, law schools will generally expect only one letter from a professor. The most useful faculty recommendations compare applicants to their peers and address writing abilities, analytical skills, and intellectual development with specificity. The field of study or rank of the author have no bearing on the letter; pick recommenders who know you and your work well, preferably faculty from whom you have taken more than one class.
Even if you plan on taking time off before law school, it can be a good idea to ask for a letter at the end of your fourth year when you are still fresh in the mind of the writer. Through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) on LSAC.org, you can store letters for five years.
You should give recommenders at least four weeks’ notice before the letters are due. For more guidance on how to approach a professor for a recommendation, please speak with a Careers in Law adviser.
Your resume allows law schools the opportunity to see how you spend your time outside the classroom. Law schools often permit resumes to exceed one page (always check each school’s application requirements). While law schools do not require law-related internships, they can be a plus on your resume. Internships and/or full-time work experience in any career is helpful. Your resume should focus on your time since matriculating to the College: you should not include high school information or experiences from that time.
Top Law Schools for UChicago Graduates