The process of applying to law school can actually be less daunting than applying for undergraduate admission. If you're enrolled in college, it may be helpful to tap the knowledge of your school's pre-law adviser. Some of the bigger universities maintain such a position. If you lack access to an adviser, don't worry; the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), which administers the LSAT, also serves as a central routing hub for most American law schools through its credential assembly service. The Council aggregates your personal data, like transcripts, LSAT score and an academic summary. This is combined into a law school report that schools can view when considering you as a candidate.
In addition, you'll also need a writing sample (usually a personal statement essay) around three to five pages in length, and letters of recommendation.
Just about every law school requires two or more letters of recommendation. These letters, written on the author's letterhead, essentially vouch for your character and potential. They should come from professors or other people who aren't friends or family; non-traditional students can get these from employers and colleagues [source: Duke Law].
The Princeton Review has some good tips on personal statements. If you read between the lines, all it really amounts to is creating a well-written, concise narrative that manages to set you apart from the pack. Use the personal statement to describe what makes you who you are and why those qualities make you a great candidate for law school. As the Princeton Review points out, it's "not the time to describe what your trip to Europe meant to you, describe your affinity for anime or try your hand at verse" [source: Princeton Review]. Plumb deeper and find those qualities that drove you to law school or a dream of holding a J.D. in the first place and lay them out in the most moving, clear language you can muster. And then scrap it and write it again.
Applying to law school is hard work, but pursuing a law degree is a noble pursuit -- whether you use it professionally or not -- and one that's worth the effort.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Bar Association. "Preparing for law school." Accessed April 29, 2010. http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html
- Corcos, Christine A. "What else you can do with a law degree." Lousiana State University. April 14, 2010. http://faculty.law.lsu.edu/ccorcos/Student%20Services/What%20Else%20You%20Can%20Do%20With%20a%20Law%20Degree.htm
- Duke University Law School. "JD program application instructions." Accessed April 28, 2010. http://www.law.duke.edu/admis/apply/jd/procedure#bar
- Internet Legal Research Group. "2009 raw data law school rankings: acceptance rate (ascending)." Spring 2008. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/why_you_can_blame_us_news_instead_of_the_aba_for_high_law_school_tuition
- Law School Admission Council. "Frequently asked questions - LSAT." Accessed April 29, 2010. http://www.lsac.org/aboutlsac/faqs-and-support-lsat.asp
- Law School Admission Council. "Preparing for law school." Accessed April 27, 2010. http://www.lsac.org/AboutLawSchool/Preparing-for-Law-School.asp
- The Princeton Review. "Tips for your personal statement." Accessed April 29, 2010. http://www.princetonreview.com/law/personal-statement.aspx
- U.S. News and World Report. "How to get in: Indiana University Maurer School of Law." April 15, 2010. http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-law-schools/2010/04/15/how-to-get-in-indiana-university-maurer-school-of-law.html
- Weiss, Debra Cassens. "GAO puts blame on US News rankings for high law school tuition." October 27, 2009. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/why_you_can_blame_us_news_instead_of_the_aba_for_high_law_school_tuition/