It takes years for aspiring attorneys to practice law, including completing undergraduate and graduate degrees, passing the bar examination, and fulfilling licensing requirements. Practicing lawyers have invested years of commitment in getting optimal LSAT scores, applying to specific law schools, and fulfilling legal education requirements.
The multistep law school admissions process at becoming a lawyer requires intense planning that might begin in high school or years after earning an undergraduate degree. Different law schools will have varying admission requirements based on the applicant’s academic performance and undergraduate GPA.
Potential candidates intending to work in the legal profession will need to demonstrate their intellectual skills in their Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) that must be completed before applying to any law school. The LSAT test assesses the test taker’s logical reasoning, critical thinking, comprehension, and analytical skills.
Obtaining maximum test results usually requires hours of preparation, studying, and practice. However, even with a good bachelor’s degree GPA (higher than 3.0) and optimal LSAT score does not guarantee the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) will make an offer to attend.
Getting a Bachelor’s Degree
Any aspiring attorney looking for an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law degree, including a Juris Doctor degree, must first obtain a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university. Some law colleges do offer course studies to students without an undergraduate degree.
However, most State Bar Association’s will not certify or license any graduated law student without a previous four-year degree at an accredited college. Many high school and college students aiming for a law degree gravitate toward beneficial pre-law majors that could include political science, philosophy, business, and history.
A student getting an undergraduate degree will rarely be accepted to a law program in the same institution, but it does happen.
Law School Admissions Test
Even though the admission processes at national law schools differ, all ABA-accredited law schools require potential student candidates to complete an LSAT (Law School Admission Test) submitted with their GRE (Graduate Records Examination) when applying. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) regulates admissions tests in the United States, Canada, and other countries.
Doing well on admissions tests can mean the difference between being admitted to a law school or college of your choice and not being accepted. Many LSAT prep courses are available at universities, law colleges, and online that provide the valuable insight you’ll need through an intense learning environment.
Some students eager to pass the LSAT will hire a private tutor, take prerequisite courses, and study lawbooks to maximize their chances of being accepted into graduate programs. Others hone their writing skills, review legal documents, and attend certificate programs before applying to a law school.
LSAT Prep courses typically provide access to LSAT textbooks, flashcards, practice tests, questions and answers, and expert instruction. Others use self-study materials or private tutors to help ensure they score high on the LSAT.
The law school application process weighs the LSAT score heavily because it provides valuable insight into the applicant’s interpersonal skills required during the first year of studies for a Juris Doctor degree.
Applying to Law Schools
Most potential law school students want to attend the top law school to ensure they receive the best education. According to US News, the leading law school rankings include Yale, Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, Columbia University, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania.
However, many law school candidates have no other option than to attend a law school near their home or work. Choosing a school in the local community could limit options and restrict the student’s level of education. The candidate has a better chance of being accepted by applying to multiple schools within their community or across the nation.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum cost of earning a law degree is approximately $150,000 (2019 statistics). Many students qualify for scholarships, and others can get financial assistance through Pell grants, grant money, and student loans.
When factoring in the cost of going to school, the student should consider all expenses, including the total price of tuition, books, room, and board. Sometimes, the school offers work opportunities to law students to help offset some of their expenses.
While each educational institution has different application law school requirements, all will require LSAT and GPA scores. In addition, the admissions board will review the applicant’s letters of recommendation and student’s statement before deciding to accept them for study and coursework in the next school year.
Letters of Recommendation
Supplying letters of recommendation is a crucial part of the application process to attend most law schools as a student. The admission board is interested in seeing the applicant’s academic performance and how the law student interacts with people.
The admission board wants to know if the student has made meaningful connections or impressed their undergraduate professors. Letters of recommendation prove to be a valuable factor in their decision to offer the student an acceptance letter when their LSAT or GPA scores are borderline.
Providing a Personal Statement
Providing the admissions board a personal statement is a part of the law school application when pursuing a career in legal practice. Most top law schools are looking for precise standards when reviewing the potential student’s statement.
The law school applicant should provide an informative, engaging personal story that outlines their life using no more than 1400 words double spaced. Check the application that might show a different page limit or word count.
The applicant should share personal aspects of their daily life that might not be apparent in the resume, transcripts, or letters of recommendation. Consider personal stories that detail:
- A challenge where you faced or overcame a personal hardship
- A unique hobby or personal achievement revealing the real you like competing in sports or writing poems/stories
- How you became aware of your unique characteristics or personal values that strengthened your self-esteem or confidence level
- Your involvement in a passion or pursuit or project that contributed to your personal goals, growth, and maturity
- No specific event should take up any more than one-third of the essay, with the remainder reflecting on how you were changed or shaped by the incident
Law School Interview
Participating in a law school interview will depend on the educational institution. However, potential candidate students will likely not be admitted to Harvard, Yale, or Concord law school without receiving an interview.
Typically, the school invites the candidate and provides the opportunity to make a strong impression on the admissions board. Once the interview is complete, the candidate is one step closer to the admissions decision.
Candidates that do not receive an invitation for a law school interview are likely out of the running, even if they’ve submitted acceptable GPA and LSAT scores, a well-crafted resume, and a detailed personal statement.
The candidate should ask themselves common questions to prepare for a law school interview based on their specific interests and why they want a career practicing law.
The admissions committee can better understand why studying the law is vital for the candidate’s legal career. These questions could include:
- What are your career goals?
- Why do you want to become a lawyer?
- What field of law interests you most, like criminal justice, intellectual property, family law, health law, or corporate law?
- What contributions can you make to your classroom?
- What are your weaknesses and strengths?
- What unique challenges did you experience in your undergraduate program, internship, or from college professors?
- How do you spend your free time?
- Why is studying law so important to you?
- What makes you hesitant about school or participating in the legal industry?
- What have been your biggest challenges to date?
- What would you tell the admissions committee is your most meaningful extracurricular activity?
- What type of law student do you expect to be?
Early Admissions Decisions
Many schools provide early decision (ED) opportunities to let potential law students know if they have been accepted into the college or university. College statistics show that early decision applications are more successful than regular decision applications based on numerous factors, including timing, the student’s GPA, and LSAT score.
Only a few schools favor early decision opportunities applications over regular decision applications, and figures fluctuate between years. International law school applicants typically fair slightly worse during the admission process compared to domestic applicants.
Most admission boards tend to favor the applicant’s GPA over their undergraduate major or institution. In addition, the applicant’s resumes, essays, and letters of recommendation serve a quantitative component of approximately 20% of all school admission outcomes.
How to Get into Law School FAQs
What is the average GPA to get into law school?
Every individual applying to school for a law degree must have a 3.0 or higher GPA (grade point average). However, the top-rank law schools in the United States require a GPA median of 3.9 or higher, followed by second-tier and third-tier law schools that require 3.8 and 3.7 GPAs, respectively.
The top law schools in the United States include:
- Yale Law School
- Harvard Law School
- Stanford Law School
- University of Chicago Law School
- Columbia Law School
- NYU (New York University) Law School
What are the law school requirements?
All individuals applying for law school must fulfill specific obligations, including earning a bachelor’s degree in any field with a 3.0 GPA or higher, passing an LSAT (Law School Admission Test), and submitting letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
Additionally, the potential student candidate must pay for their education directly or through financial assistance, including Pell grants, student loans, grant money, and scholarships.
Can I get into law school with a 3.0 GPA?
The major universities, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, and Columbia, require a grade point average of at least 3.7 or higher. However, many other law schools will accept students with a 3.0 GPA acquired during their undergraduate studies.
In the past, many law schools had accepted some applicants with a grade point average under 3.0 when their other strengths, including a strong work experience and optimal LSAT score, interested the admissions board.
Is it hard to get accepted to law school?
Getting into law school is not an easy task, but not insurmountable, and requires a high level of commitment to goals. All applicants must submit an acceptable LSAT (law school admission test) score with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applying to the top rank schools in the United States by Yale, Harvard, and Stanford requires a GPA of 3.8 or higher.
Timing can help maximize the chance of being accepted to law school. Statistics in 2019 reveal that applicants with a lower GPA applying in mid-December or earlier have a higher acceptance rate of 50%. The same statistics show that the number drops to 39% when the individual waits until February to apply.
The Final Step
Aspiring lawyers spend years in the classroom studying complicated legal matters before deciding what type of law they want to practice. Some deal with legal issues working for government agencies, including the District Attorney’s Office or court system, and others become an associate or partner of a law firm.