The Very Beginning!
Make Sure Law School is Really for You
Be sure that this is something you are very serious about and that law school is indeed what you really want to do. As silly as this may sound to you if you’re reading it for the first time, trust us, far too many applicants skip this crucial first step and often waste lots of money — not to mention three years of their lives — on an education they never really wanted or needed.
Analyze Your Positioning
- Look at your candidacy the way the admissions committee will. Consider the following:
- Do you have good grades? (Can you succinctly explain any mitigating circumstances if you don’t?)
- Do you have good extracurricular involvement? (You may need to get involved in some activities before submitting your applications.)
Sit for the LSAT*
The sooner you take this test and put it in the rear-view mirror, the sooner you can start focusing on the rest of your application. Your LSAT score may also give you an idea of the range of schools at which you will be competitive.
*The number of law schools that accept the GRE is quickly growing, but in the summer of 2018, the ABA essentially re-affirmed the LSAT’s dominance by not voting to allow law schools to accept the GRE or any other alternate graduate-level standardized tests!
End of Summer
Finalize Your Positioning
Repeat any classes you needed for your alternate transcript, gain any leadership experience you may have needed from extracurricular activities, etc.
Select the Law Schools to which You Plan to Apply
After you determine what exactly you are looking for in your law school education, do your research and determine what makes each school unique. The schools you most closely match are also the ones where your chances will be highest. (See the bottom of our home page if you missed this discussion.)
The summer is also a good time to plan some autumn campus visits.
Introspect on Your Admissions ‘Story’
Before the applications are even released, you should have a pretty good idea of your answers to why you want to go to law school, why you want to attend each law school you are targeting, what you have to offer in terms of diversity, etc. The summer is the time to really think about where you have come from and where you are going. The fall is the time to complete your applications, not begin the brainstorming process for your story. (Since the brainstorming can’t be rushed, we hope you see why we advocate so hard for the importance of a law school application timeline.) Finally, your story will help chart the topic selection process for those all-important personal statements.
Work on your Applications
Most law schools favor early applicants since it shows sincerity in the program. (Apply late and they may think they are your back up school.) It is often advised that you work through one application to completion before starting the next application. This ensures that at least some of your applications will be submitted early in case you run into unforeseen problems with your schedule. Final note on applications: your letters of reference are often a critical time path.
Why do this now when I can wait to see where I was accepted? An admissions officer at Cornell Law School states, “I like to see applicants who take the time to visit our campus and reflect that in their applications. If they are willing to visit us and they show sincerity in their personal statement, there is an excellent chance that they will attend our school if admitted.”
Don’t think Cornell is the only school that cares about yield or campus visits.
Sit tight. If you really did everything you could, including and adhering to a strong and cohesive law school application timeline, you should be fine right now. With any luck, you should be choosing between multiple admissions offers and making plans for the next three years of your life!