Undergraduates

 

So you want to be a lawyer? 

So you’re a college student who’s considering, applying to, or choosing among law schools.  No matter where you are in this process, the information below should help with your decision.
 

Considering


Summary: Going to law school is a big decision. Below we have content on what to think about if you’re considering applying to law school. Take our assessment to get a gauge of whether law school is right for you right now and learn what you can do to make sure the decision to apply to law school is the right one for you. If you’re a freshman in college: What are you doing here? No, seriously, we love your passion but, for now, focus on your grades, have fun, and enjoy your first year of college. Do NOT worry about law school. Feel free, though, to take our assessment to get a sense of what you can do to make the most well-informed decision when the time is right. If you’re a sophomore, you’re probably choosing a major soon. Don’t stress too much about this decision as law schools admit students with a variety of majors. Your GPA is one of the primary factors that law schools consider, though, so you want to pick a major that you can do well in academically. That said, don’t spend years in college taking classes that don’t interest you solely because you think you can get better grades. If you are considering law school, you may want to enter your school’s pre-law track if offered or take classes that will expose you to legal topics. Now let’s turn to some data. Some of this data may have you thinking again as to whether law school is right for you. That’s okay. Law school is a big commitment, and you should carefully consider the benefits and costs of law school.
After reviewing this data, take our assessment about whether law school is right for you right now. Opportunities

  • Most law firms have GPA cutoffs and will not interview a candidate unless they meet the minimum GPA requirement.
  • 60% of associates at large firms reported that their grades were more important than their law school’s prestige in achieving their first position.
  • Lawyers who leave law school with the lowest grades intuitively feel the least secure about their jobs.
Compensation
  • Private practice salaries for new law school graduates vary greatly, ranging from a low of $50,000 to a high of $200,000—a difference of $150,000.
  • Among new graduates, fewer than 1-in-4 say their legal education was worth the financial cost.
Debt
  • The average cumulative debt among law school graduates approaches $160,000.
  • More than 28% of conditional scholarship recipients failed to maintain the requisite GPA and had their scholarship award reduced or eliminated entirely.





Applying


Use the timeline below to orient your plans for applying to law school. Junior: Summary: It’s time to seriously start thinking about when you’ll take the LSAT and how you will prepare for it. You can even take the LSAT during your Junior year, but most likely, this is the year you will start preparing to take the exam in the summer or fall of your senior year. Check out our calendar below for a month-by-month schedule. August (before Junior year)-March: continue focusing on classes; gather information to help you decide whether to apply, e.g., take the Is Law School Right for you Right Now Assessment; get a very general overview of which types of schools (or which schools more specifically) you would like to apply to/attend. April: Begin studying for the LSAT. LSAT scores play an oversized role in admission decisions. Review your scores to our assessment and try to improve in those areas where you scored lower. May: Continue LSAT prep; start thinking about when you want to take the LSAT (you want 2-3 months of dedicated studying prior to test day), and register for that date early to ensure that the date doesn’t fill up. June: Ramp up your LSAT prep with more focus and diligence now that you are done with the school year. Create an LSAC account and request transcripts through their CAS service (unless you are taking a summer class). July: Aim to take your LSAT now or use July as more preparation for an August test date. It makes sense to take the LSAT early enough that you can re-take it if need be. Seniors: Summary: Take the LSAT and ask for recommendation letters early on in the year. Your LSAT score and GPA will guide you in determining which schools are reaches, targets, and safeties. Use your stats to compile a list of schools that you actually want to attend. Aim to have all of your applications submitted by December. If you’d like to discuss how to strategically decide where to apply and how to make your application as strong as possible, we’re here to help. You can work with us directly, or use us to point you in the best direction for your own personal needs. August: In addition to studying/taking the LSAT, create a list of schools you will apply to: include safety, target, and reach schools. Keep in mind the question, “If this is the only school I get into, would I still attend?” during this process. Only apply to schools where the answer is yes! September: Contact writers of your recommendation letters; draft your personal statement; prepare/update your resume; review the specific application requirements of each law school you are applying to. If planning to retake the LSAT, begin preparing. Take in either October or November. October: Complete general application materials. Begin to work on supplemental essays and questions for specific schools. Prioritize those you most want to attend. Retake LSAT if applicable. November: Continue completing applications for specific schools. Retake LSAT if applicable. December: Complete all applications by this time for best odds. Keep in mind, applications are generally accepted until February. December-April: wait and receive offers of acceptance/waitlist/rejection. Visit schools you are accepted to, and begin grant and scholarship negotiations. May-August: Congratulations on being a law student! Prepare for your first year of law school!





Choosing


One of the most consequential decisions you will make throughout the law school application process is the decision of which law school to actually attend. There are a number of different considerations: ranking, cost, desired location (recognizing that most law schools are better able to place students in jobs in the same general geographic area), proximity to family/friends, and any strengths in areas of interest.

  1. Ranking: A law school’s ranking is correlated with better job prospects and starting salaries. However, it is important to keep this in perspective. Ranking should not be a determining factor between a #35 and #36 school.
  2. Desired location: you should think ahead now about not only where you will want to live for the next 3 years while you are at law school, but also where you may want to live after law school when you begin to practice law. You can use your law school experience as a 3 year trial run to see if you like a certain place or a certain type of place (big city, small town, etc). If you know where you would like to practice law, it makes sense to choose a law school relatively near that location (in the same state or at least region of the country) so that you can better network with potential employers, coworkers, and colleagues prior to actually beginning your career.
  3. Type of Law: If you don’t know what type of law you want to practice, don’t worry about this consideration as most law schools offer a wide variety of courses. However, if you know exactly what type of law you want to practice, this consideration can help you choose between a school that is stronger in that area and one that is weaker.