The road to your J.D. or LL.M. can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track, here's a calendar of what law applicants should be doing, and when.
Don't Forget: The final deadlines for Fall 2018
admission to most law schools have passed by now. Schools will begin taking
applications for Fall 2019 in September. Because most law schools have a rolling
admissions policy, we generally advise applicants to try to apply early in the
application cycle. (We stress generally since some applicants
might benefit from taking the time to compile an alternate transcript, retake the LSAT, etc.) For details, see what Senior Consultant Heike Spahn has to
rolling admissions and application timing.
"Many applicants believe that their LSAT score is the determining factor as to whether they will be admitted.
But if the rest of your application is weak, a strong LSAT score rarely carries you through."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Heike Spahn. Heike was formerly Associate Director of Admissions and Dean of Financial Aid at the
University of Chicago Law School.
Pick a date to take the LSAT.
(A list of test dates is available at www.lsac.org.)
Remember that spring is a good time to take the test. You'll be able to use your scores
in your school selection process, and you'll leave yourself plenty of
time to re-take the test in the fall if you're unhappy with your first set of
scores. Don't forget
that that the December test is the last one that many schools will accept test
According to a piece of admissions 'advice' that has been making
the rounds recently, there's no longer any penalty for taking the LSAT multiple
times because of a change in the way that law schools report multiple test
scores to the ABA. Don't fall for it. It's an urban legend. For reliable
information, see what Senior Consultant Heike Spahn has to say about "Putting
Multiple LSAT Scores in Context."
Are you unsure if you need a LSAT prep course? Call us at
1.800.809.0800 to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!
Begin researching your school choices. If your top priority
is to begin a J.D. program next fall, be realistic about your admissions chances
at the top schools and consider some 'safety' schools as well. Remember, though, that the
name of the school on your law degree matters. The more prestigious the school you
attend, the more career options you'll have later on.
Plan to apply only to as many schools as you can submit
well-prepared applications for. You'll get better results by applying to 5
stretch schools with applications that reflect 100 percent of your best effort
than you will by applying to 10 schools with applications that each reflect 50
percent of your best effort. And don't apply to any school that you wouldn't be
genuinely happy to attend. You'll be wasting your time and money if you do.
Nothing biases a
law school admissions committee against a candidate more than a palpable lack of
enthusiasm for their school.
Visit schools. Try to meet with admissions staff and students, and see if you can sit in on a class. Begin networking with current students, faculty, and alumni from your targeted schools.
Think about which schools you feel most attracted to, and why, and how you can
work those reasons into your applications.
about how you can prepare a personal statement that articulates your story themes and 'wow' factors. Good ideas and
deep introspections cannot be rushed!
law school admissions committees will be taking a hard, critical look at
your profile. You must do the same thing first. Only by understanding your candidacy from their perspective can
your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, frame your fit, and employ the 'wow'
factors that differentiate you from the
many other highly qualified applicants in your demographic.
Your weaknesses. Sometimes it is best not to bring
attention to a weakness. Other times, it must be mitigated. Weaknesses can be
mitigated in the personal statement, addendum, or letters of reference.
Your strengths. You need to become a self promoter
without coming across as arrogant. You also need to prioritize your strengths as
you will not likely be able to highlight all of them in adequate detail within
Your story themes and 'wow' factors. What are the
most important points you need to make about your background, values, beliefs,
experiences, and reasons for pursuing law school? Have you adequately
prioritized these points? If you attempt to convey too many different points,
you risk coming across as disparate and not covering any points in adequate
detail to successfully set apart your application. What makes you unique in a
way that is going to make any admissions officer just really want to recruit you
to their school?
Your fit. Why are you a match made in heaven for the
specific law school being targeted? Why will you be a better fit and contribute
more to the program and community than the other applicants? Does your
application convincingly argue that, if admitted, you will gladly attend the
If you're applying to law schools next year, you need to
take a critical inventory of your candidacy. Will you clear the academic
qualifications hurdles at the schools you are targeting? Would you benefit from
an alternative transcript? Can you find some additional extracurricular
activities that will not cast a perception of expediency to the admissions
of recommendation, in my experience, do not get enough
attention in the admissions process. While the academic record, LSAT and personal statement typically carry more weight in a competitive process, I can't emphasize enough how much difference strong letters can make."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Amy Johnson, former
Director of Admissions at
Tulane University Law School.
Familiarize yourself with the application process by visiting the LSAT and LSDAS websites and looking over the application materials used by your
targeted law schools this year. Start organizing documents and notes that you'll
want to refer to when you begin working on your applications.
Request copies of your transcripts for your own reference.
Admissions committees won't be looking at just your overall GPAs – they'll
also look at what classes you took and how you did in each one. Ask yourself
whether your transcripts have gaps such as a pattern of drops or withdrawals, or
lower-than-average scores in writing-intensive or quantitative courses. Think
about whether you might benefit by building an alternative transcript.
Start thinking about who you want to ask to write your
letters of recommendation. Would you benefit from adding an additional, optional recommendation
to your file? Would an additional letter help to substantiate a story theme or 'wow' factor, highlight your strengths, or, possibly, mitigate a weakness?
Don't forget that you'll want to coach your recommenders on which points they need to make in
their letters to best compliment your story. Writing up the points that you want
them to discuss is a good starting point. Help your recommenders to focus on the
points you need them to make. Remember, a 1- to 2-page, succinct recommendation is almost always better than a 3- or more page, rambling letter
Our Law School Admissions
Timeline page will be updated on May 1.
Do you have questions about any of the items you see here? Please call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and
email us if you do. Our consultants can help you with school selection, application strategies, application preparation, and all other aspects of the law school admissions process.
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