Law School Application Advice: Fall Checklist
The new school year is just beginning and you have a lot on your plate! Navigating new classes, professors, a social life and preparing your law school application is a lot to handle at once. But here is a law school application fall checklist to keep you organized in the first few months back to school!
Law School Application Advice: Fall Checklist
1. Sign up for the September, November or January LSAT!
Taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is one of the first steps in preparing your law school application. The LSAT now happens six times a year throughout the country. Test dates are available in September, November, January, March, June, and July.
If you plan to apply to law school this year for entry next fall, you must sign up the September, November, January or March LSAT exam. At the time of writing, the September LSAT deadline has already passed but November and January are still open! If you wait until June or July to take the exam for the first time, you’ll likely miss a lot of the application deadlines. That being said, if you can avoid it, sign up for a test earlier than March as well.
2. Get Letters of Recommendation.
Preparing your law school application means more than just studying for the LSAT and focusing on receiving good grades. It also requires an evaluation from a professor or supervisor on what he/she may think of your talents, abilities, character and work ethic. The admissions committee will evaluate all of this when you submit your application. Though most letters tend to be generic but positive, you want to avoid a professor saying anything negative about you at all costs. The ultimate goal is to have an enthusiastic, demonstrative, and tailored letter from a professor to the admissions committee.
If you don’t have a reliable professor (or professors) that you feel comfortable asking to write you a letter of recommendation yet, it’s not too late. Since it’s the beginning of the semester, make it a point to focus on getting to know one or two professors for this purpose.
Increase your class engagement, go to office hours, make an effort to do well in their class, and share your law school ambitions with them.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to ask for a letter before the professor has a chance to get to know you or see how you perform in his/her class. Wait until midterms or later, or at least after a significant amount of work has been done in the class to provide the professor with enough information to write a positive letter.
3. Pay attention to early decision deadlines.
Many schools offer early decision programs that are binding on applicants. This means that if you are admitted to their program, you commit to enrolling in the fall.
As the name implies, these deadlines are much earlier than regular application deadlines. The deadlines are usually in October or November. If you have a dream school that you would absolutely attend if given the chance, make sure you get your application submitted before that deadline! Once the deadline passes, you’ll be in the larger pool of general applications that can be much more competitive.
4. Attend a law fair this fall.
Law fairs are hosted throughout the country in the fall. Take advantage of attending a nearby fair and talking directly to admissions representatives about their law school programs and what they look for in successful applicants. This is a great and easy way to get tips on how to prepare your law school application from the people making admissions decisions.
Check out these 10 tips for attending a law fair.
5. Order official transcripts (even if the semester isn’t finished)!
Final transcripts are a required component for all law school applications. You do not need to wait until the end of fall semester of your senior year to apply to law school. Law school applications typically open in September and employ rolling admissions. The sooner you can prepare your law school application and apply, the better!
Even though your fall grades aren’t finalized yet, order your official transcripts now. It may take days or weeks for your school’s registrar’s office to process your request and send out your transcripts. You don’t want processing delays to hold up your application being reviewed. You also don’t want to put your request in at the end of the semester when everyone else is doing the same. The increased demand and the holiday break create the possibility of delays in obtaining your transcripts in a timely manner.
Note that even if you are admitted without your final year of grades, you will still need to submit your final transcripts upon graduation.
6. Do your own research on schools.
In preparing your application for law school, the time, effort, and application fees can add up quickly. Make informed decisions about where you are applying. What is the likelihood of you gaining admission? Is their cost of attendance (not just tuition) something that you’re willing to take on? Could you realistically move to a state where you don’t know anyone? Would you like to practice in that area of the country after graduation or will that school serve as a jumping off point to new, desirable markets?
If you are absolutely set on going to law school next year, try to apply to at least three schools. One should be your “dream school,” another should be a school that you’ll likely gain admission to, and the third should be a “safety” school that you feel confident will offer you admission.
It takes time to figure out what those schools are for each person. Make informed and strategic decisions when applying to law school. Don’t dig yourself into the ground applying to schools across the country without knowing what you may be signing yourself up for!
Looking for pre-law services?
Our admissions experts offer exceptional assistance to students as they prepare for the law school application process. You can read about our various pre-law options here.
New: We are excited to offer a FREE on-demand law school prep course, designed by a #1 law student. Please sign up for our free law school prep course here!