Getting into Law School
When: Tues, October 6, 2009, 3-4:30 pm
Where: 106 West Village G
Learn from the experts what admissions officers look for in candidates, options for financing your degree and tips on making your best case for admission. Panelists will be: Director of Admissions from two area law schools, NU pre-law advisor. Anyone in the process of applying to law school or interested in the possibility of doing so in the future should attend this workshop. Refreshments provided.
**A certificate for a FREE Kaplan Test Prep course will be raffled off at this presentation**
Pay attention to each question. Law schools will be asking questions to see that your answers are specific to their specific school. Some may ask for two personal statements (personal statement and diversity statement). In any personal statement, write about things that make you really unique. Don't write about things that make you appear common. Do you have a unique set of experiences that you can bring to the classroom? What makes you unique to the particular school you are applying to? Don't write about what your theory of the law is or what you learned in a criminal justice class... it's seen as regurgitating information. Also, be sure not to send the wrong statement to the wrong school. With students applying to a handful of law schools, it's not uncommon for this to occur.
A diversity statement is another "soft factor" that law school admissions committees consider. If you're conservative and going to a liberal law school, you may consider discussing that in your diversity statement. When an application says "optional," it means it's 75% required and 25% optional. Anything you submit to the law school must be proofread by many people. Be aware that any communication you have with the school is added to your file (emails, logs of telephone calls).
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Make time to see them and don't simply ask in an email. Go to their office hours and tell them why you want to go to law school. Sit down and spend time with the person writing a letter of recommendation for you. See if they're enthusiastic about you and someone that knows you. Writers need to be able to remember more details about you and have more data to write to the law schools.
Admissions committees don't simply look at a writer's credentials. The goal is to choose someone who can tell stories about you ("When he/she came to office hours, we talked about... I learned ____ about him/her"). Underclassmen, heed the advice of the pre-law advisors to get to know your professors and visit them in office hours to build relationships now.
A good question to ask a potential writer is: "Will you write me a strong letter of recommendation?"
Practice, practice, practice. You need at least several months to prepare for the exam. You want to do as best as you can the first time, however, many schools will look at the highest score. The goal is to answer as many questions correctly for each timed section. The LSAT tests the skills you need in law school. The most popular test date is September of senior year, although, it's better to take later, even if it's for the next academic year, so you are better prepared.
Grade trends are examined. This is a hard factor to compare your application against other candidates. One student asked if going to graduate school to earn a higher GPA would overshadow a less-than-impressive undergraduate cumulative GPA, but the panelists responded that it would not because a high GPA is often required in graduate schools.
This is a brief explanation of anything you think that may be up for negative interpretation in your application. Make it short, withhold excused, and be to the point. This is where students often disclose disciplinary/criminal issues. Being forthright is important because the American Bar Association will want to know why you didn't disclose this information.
ADVICE FROM THE PRE-LAW ADVISORS
Do some complex readings, whether it's The New Yorker, scholarly journals, or The Atlantic Monthly. Expand the your scope of reading, vocabulary, and keep up on current events. Law school will demand an exhaustive amount of comprehensive reading assignments for those 3 years, so prepare yourself beforehand.
If a "gap year" is good for YOU, don't rush into law school; it's not going anywhere. It's not a bad idea for college graduates to take a year off to pay down your credit card debt since your credit history and credit score play an important role in determining the amount of loans you may receive.
"Work backwards." Figure out what kinds of jobs you want to do, then figure out the best path to get there. Call an attorney or professional in the area and ask for their advice. They were once students too. Narrow down schools based on the degree program. This will help you determine which law school's degree will get you to where you want to be. See what law schools provide for students such as clinical programs, externships, textbooks for "rent," etc.