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, UCIL offers each student and College alum the opportunity to meet with an adviser, either in person or by phone, to strategize about target schools and to review law school application materials. In addition, each year the program arranges for on-campus visits with law school representatives. Each law school application generally will include the following components:
- LSAT or GRE score
- Official transcript
- 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 Bill Chamberlain at email@example.com if you have questions or would like assistance preparing your materials.
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a half-day, standardized test administered about once per month and plays a large role in law school admissions. All American Bar Association-approved law schools require applicants to take either the LSAT or the GRE as part of their admission process. The LSAT is the exam that most applicants take. Law Schools have not published statistics about their admissions based on 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.
Allow at least three months to prepare for the LSAT. 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 want to start law school and pick the test date that will allow you the most time to prepare for the exam. Check with your career adviser about the latest changes to the testing requirement.
Law schools consider GPA in evaluating your application and recognize that the University of Chicago offers a rigorous curriculum with no grade inflation. The Law School Credential Assembly Service (LSCAS) 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 have a preference for certain majors, you should pursue the major that interests you most since that will 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 myUChicago portal. If an error is discovered, contact the Office of the University Registrar at (773) 702-7891. The portal also allows electronic submission of your transcript to LSAC.
Since law schools generally do not interview applicants, the personal statement serves as the introduction to the candidate. It provides an opportunity for applicants to express themselves and sets a tone for the rest of the application. 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 an interesting person of the type a committee member would like to have in class, or as a colleague. UCIL 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 can be academic or 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. The field of study or rank of the author have no bearing on the letter; pick recommenders who know you and your work well.
Ask for a letter when you are still fresh in the mind of the writer. Through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) on LSAC.org, the applicant 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 UCIL 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. Real-life exposure to any career is helpful.
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