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How to Apply to Law School: A (Nearly) Complete Checklist

By William Peacock, Esq. on October 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So, you've decided to, or are in the process of, applying to law school. Congratulations. Though many will provide lots of reasons why you should not pursue a legal career, we're sure you've already weighed the relevant factors and are now pursuing your dream.

If you need a guide, or would like to make sure you haven't missed a step, here is a link-ridden guide to (nearly) everything you need to know about applying. And if you have any questions, tweet us @FindLawLP.

Register for the LSAC, LSAT, and CAS

Start by registering with the Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC) and their corresponding services, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and Credential Assembly Service (CAS). The CAS allows you to submit all of your application materials to one place, for all of your applications.

Be sure to apply for one of the rarely-granted fee waivers as well.

Prep. for the LSAT

Should you take an expensive commercial prep course? Start by taking a practice test. If you score highly on your first test (mid-150s or higher), the payoff from the class might not beat self-studying, especially if you are the self-motivated (not-ADD) type.

Gather Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation

Transcripts take weeks to process, so it is best to start early. Have all of your previous schools send transcripts to the CAS, and since recommenders will need time to draft lies the detials about your merits, give them at least a month's notice as well. Make sure you have a resume and copy of your transcripts handy, as many recommenders will want those to help prepare their letters.

Work on Personal Statements and Required Addendums

Start generic, avoid clichés, proofread heavily, and be yourself are just some of our tips for your personal statement. Write a generic personal statement, then tailor it to each school's prompt.

If you had a terrible undergraduate record, bombed the LSAT on your first try, or were previously convicted of a crime, you'll have to draft addendums to your applications explaining the misfortune and/or missteps. Avoid a whiny, excuse-laden tone. Take responsibility and demonstrate how you have taken active steps to avoid recurrence of your past mistakes.

Evaluate Your LSAT Score (and Retake)

Your score just arrived. At this point, it's evaluation time. Decide whether you should retake the test, whether your score is good enough for scholarships, and whether you should go to law school at all.

Pick Your Schools

Okay, so you got a good (enough) score. Now, it's time to take that score and draft the big list of schools that you'll apply to, remembering to add a few schools from that list of free applications.

More is more. Apply to a lot of schools to (a) ensure admission (b) gather scholarship offers and (c) give yourself the opportunity to negotiate better scholarship offers.

Also, it's rolling admissions. Especially for your reach schools, or if you are a splitter (high GPA, low LSAT, or vice-versa), you'll want to apply early to get in with the first batch.

Letters of Continuing Interest

Did you get wait-listed? Consider visiting the schools for tours and writing letters to the schools' admissions offices, expressing continued interest and why that school is a perfect match for you.

Scholarship Negotiation, Geography, and Placing Your Deposit

This is a beast of a topic, so we'll have more on this later, but your priorities when picking a school and placing your deposit should be (a) price and in a distant second, (b) geography.

Stay tuned, as later in the admissions cycle, we'll have more tips on making your final decision.

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