Frequently Asked Questions
What should I major in if I am contemplating attending law school?
There are no specific majors which law schools tend to prefer. In preparing for law school, choose a major that interests you. Law schools do not care what you major in as long as it has rigorous coursework. You are more likely to get good grades in a major that you enjoy than in a major that you think will look better for law school. Good grades are important, so pick a major which you’ll enjoy and in which you’ll excel.
What courses should I take to prepare me for law school?
See our Recommended Courses.
On what does a law school focus for admission purposes?
Your undergraduate grade point average and your Law School Admissions Test score are the two primary factors used to determine law school admission.
Do admission panels look at trends in my grades?
Law schools tend to focus on your cumulative GPA. An isolated failing grade, particularly if your other grades are good, is an unfortunate circumstance but not a tragedy in itself. You should first and foremost reflect on the circumstances that caused the failing grade and take steps to avert them in the future. It is crucial that you do this, for a pattern of low and failing grades can jeopardize your chance for admission to law school.
How important are extracurricular activities for law school admissions?
Although activities are not as important as GPA or LSAT score, law schools do look for well-rounded applicants, and one way to become well-rounded is to get involved in campus or community activities. Holding positions of leadership is more important than membership in a large number of organizations.
How should I go about obtaining letters of recommendation?
You should plan to get at least two academic references from professors, and the third letter should be from either a professor or another source (employer, advisor, clergy, etc.). The actual content of the letter is much more important than the status of the letter-writer to the law school admissions committee. You should choose references who know you well and can speak in specific detail about your ability and accomplishments. Be sure to provide your recommender with information about yourself, like a transcript, a resume, and your personal statement.
What are Dean’s Letters/Certifications?
A Dean’s Certificate is a form that some schools require in order to verify you are or were in good standing at your academic institution(s). 15 ABA-Approved law schools require a Dean’s Letter (also known as a Dean’s Recommendation, Dean’s Certification, or College Questionnaire) as part of the application process. Many of these schools are located in the Northeast. Contact the Career Center for more information.
When should I take the LSAT?
Since law schools have a rolling admission acceptance policy, it is to your benefit to get your application in as soon as law schools start accepting them (usually around October 1st for fall applicants and May 15th for spring applicants). View the Application Process/Timeline.
How do I learn more about individual law schools?
Check out our Law Schools page.
Does it hurt my chances of getting into law school if I take time off after college?
Absolutely not! In fact, the average age of students attending law school is 26. Some schools even prefer you to take time off and get real world experience; just be sure you do something constructive during your time off.
2 Years to Law School
Start thinking LSAT. Talk to WC’s pre-law advisors about how to prepare for this difficult, high-stakes exam.
Enroll in an LSAT test-prep course. WC sometimes offers a test-prep course on campus; talk to pre-law advisors for information, or check the Events page for dates of upcoming prep courses and/or practice exams.
Obtain the Official LSAT Registration Booklet. This book is usually published every March. You can get one at any law school, by calling LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) at 215.968.1001, by visiting LSAC.org, or talking with one of WC’s pre-law advisors. The LSAT is given only four times per year.
Research schools. Use the resources at the Career Center (books, contact to alumni attorneys, etc). During the spring, visit the schools you are most interested in possibly attending. Visit our Law Schools page.
Register for the LSAT. Don’t miss the deadline. There is a fee to take the test; if you register late, the fee is higher. Visit our LSAT page.
Write a bio. Prepare a brief profile about yourself for your recommenders to use when they write letters of recommendations for you.
Contact potential recommenders. Most law school applications require three letters of recommendation. Try to pick recommenders who have an in-depth personal perspective of you versus someone who will only be able to provide a generic recommendation.
Take the LSAT. It’s essential that you’re well-prepared to ace the LSAT the first time because most law schools will average multiple scores. If you don’t feel thoroughly prepared for the June exam, wait to take the exam in October.
Finalize your school list. Once you know your LSAT score, it will be easier to narrow your list. Mix top-tier with second- and third-tier schools.
Keep track of deadlines. Don’t assume all deadlines are the same. Many law schools’ regular deadlines are early February and some have earlier deadlines in the late fall.
Send your undergraduate transcripts to LSDAS. Remember to send your College transcripts from every undergraduate institution you’ve attended. There is sometimes a small fee for transcripts.
Update your resume. Most law schools require that you submit a current resume. Contact the Career Center for help with resume writing.
Start your applications. Begin with the essays. Use the resources at the Career Center for advice on essay writing.
1 Year to Law School
Register for the September/October LSAT. If you didn’t take the exam in June, or need to retake the LSAT, now is the time.
Revise your personal statements. Have a pre-law advisor critique and proofread your essays.
Keep in touch with your recommenders. Check in to make sure your recommenders won’t have any problems with their deadlines for submitting their recommendations.
Inquire about interviews. Some law schools allow you to interview prior to the application deadlines; others may require it once they’ve received your application.
Complete and send early-decision applications. Be sure to keep a photocopy of all completed applications.
Send thank-you notes to your recommenders. You may have to call on these recommenders again, so don’t overlook them!
Keep working. If you didn’t make the early deadlines, keep working to perfect your applications and personal statements.
Send all applications. Check one last time for errors, and make photocopies of all applications before dropping them in the mail.
Relax. Take a deep breath—all the work is behind you. Wait for the acceptance letters to start arriving!
Wait for acceptances. Your acceptances should arrive during this time.
If you are considering a career in law, please contact one of our pre-law advisors. They are your best resource for planning your future law career.
BC’s Law School Locator is an invaluable tool. Use it to identify schools where your grades and test scores are competitive for admission.
Law School Companion
Your resource for helpful free law school information and the new home of ARISTOTLE: The Premier Pre-law and First Year Law School Preparatory Tool and Bar Exam Review - www.lawschoolcompanion.com. Find out why Rob Miller, Author of “Law School Confidential: The Complete Law School Survival Guide, By Students for Students” stated, “Going through this course before you get to law school will put you miles ahead of your classmates,” and included Aristotle in the chapter of his book entitled “10 Things You Must Do Before Classes Begin!”
Washington College Miller Library
An extensive online library of legal resources, including Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, can be accessed through Washington College’s Miller Library.
There’s lots of information about planning a legal career at www.lexis.com’s Career Center.
Law School Podcaster
There is a new, free resource to help applicants with the law school admissions process - Law School Podcaster. The goal of the new law school podcast is to deliver relevant information through regular audio segments for those planning to apply to law school. Topics cover everything a law school applicant wants to know, including a detailed behind-the-scenes view of the admissions process, post-law school job opportunities and current market trends. To learn more, visit www.lawschoolpodcaster.com.
Criminal Justice Degree
Visit www.CriminalJusticeDegree.com, a non-profit site created to promote better understanding of the field of criminal justice as well as provide an unbiased source where students can see the many accredited schools which offer criminal justice degrees.
Visit www.ILRG.com, a categorized index of more than 4000 select web sites in 238 nations, islands, and territories, as well as thousands of locally stored web pages, legal forms, and downloadable files. This site was established in 1995 to serve as a comprehensive resource of the information available on the Internet concerning law and the legal profession, with an emphasis on the United States of America. Designed for everyone, lay persons and legal scholars alike, it is quality controlled to include only the most substantive legal resources online.
Visit NALP.org. The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) is a non-profit educational association established in 1971 to meet the needs of all participants in the legal employment process (career planning, recruitment and hiring, and professional development of law students and lawyers) for information, coordination and standards. NALP’s membership includes virtually every ABA-approved law school in the US, Canadian law schools and hundreds of legal employers from both the public and private sectors. NALP is dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers.
Visit www.accessgroup.org. For more than 25 years, Access Group has served as an advocate for students and schools to ensure continued access to higher education. As a premier originator and servicer of private education loans, and a third party servicer, we have a deep understanding of the specific demands of the industry; our reputation as trusted advisors and industry leaders translates into services that are flexible and customer focused.
One of the best online resources for students who want to learn about the process of applying to law school is maintained by the Boston College Career Center. The BC site helps you learn what law schools are looking for, what schools you should consider applying to, how to write a personal statement, and more.
American Bar Association
Learn more about the American Bar Association, the largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.
Equal Justice Works
Visit Equal Justice Works whose mission is to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice by providing leadership to ensure a sustainable pipeline of talented and trained lawyers involved in public service. Equal Justice Works provides a continuum of programs that begin with incoming law school students and extend into later careers in the profession. We provide the nation’s leading public interest law fellowship program and offer more postgraduate, full-time legal positions in public service than any other organization. For more than 20 years, Equal Justice Works has collaborated with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations to provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to vulnerable populations.
Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO)
In 1968, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) was founded as a non-profit project of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school. In 1998, Congress passed the Higher Education Amendments Act, creating the Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program, which they deemed be administered by CLEO. CLEO is committed to diversifying the legal profession by expanding legal education opportunities to minority, low-income and disadvantaged groups. Since its inception, more than 8,000 students have participated in CLEO’s pre-law and law school academic support programs, successfully matriculated through law school, passed the bar exam and joined the legal profession. CLEO alumni, many who had less than traditional academic indicators of success, yet were given an opportunity to attend law school, are represented in every area of society, including: private law firms and corporations, law schools, federal and state judiciaries, and legislatures across the country. The influence of CLEO alumni in the legal profession, in particular and throughout the country in general, is an indication of the important role CLEO has played in helping to provide a voice to underrepresented groups.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is dedicated to the idea that the legal profession must reflect the expanding diversity of our society. That’s why LSAC developed the DiscoverLaw.org campaign � to encourage racially and ethnically diverse students to discover career opportunities in law and choose a path in undergraduate school to help them succeed. With access to experts, inspiring stories about law school graduates, a list of the most frequently asked questions, and more, DiscoverLaw.org provides students with resources, tips, and tools on how to become a competitive law school applicant.
Since 1999, Interfolio.com has been the best way to collect, manage, and showcase academic and professional credentials for applications to positions in higher education, post-graduate study, and other opportunities. Interfolio offers individuals one central place to store their most important documents, while also providing the means to distribute these materials to any institution. Interfolio’s services offer a revolutionary way for people to present and market themselves professionally.
Stop by WC’s Career Center located in Caroline House for more information.
This is an extensive directory of law school academic programs, areas of emphasis without graduate degrees, joint degree programs, schools that award non-need-based scholarships, schools with evening divisions, study abroad programs, and much other useful information.
If you are interested in a particular law school, visit their website to obtain dates and information on Open Houses and Preview Days. Remember, it is perfectly acceptable for you to call the law school directly to obtain this information.
The LSAT is the Law School Admission Test and is administered by the Law School Admission Council. Visit the LSAC online for information, online registration, deadlines, and additional resources. It is a standardized test required by nearly all ABA-approved law schools. The test consists of five sections, four of which are scored. The sections include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. The unscored section is generally used to pretest new test questions. There is also a writing sample, which is not scored but is sent to all the law schools to which the student applies.
The LSAT is offered four times each year - June, October, December, and February. You should take the LSAT at least one year before they intend to enter law school. Hence, for most students, the optimal time to take the LSAT is either the June proceeding the junior year or the October during the senior year. For times, location and additional information, please visit www.lsac.org.
There are many services available to help you prepare for the LSAT. LSAC offers many resources, including sample exams. The WC Career Center also has helpful materials. You may want to visit www.lsattestquestions.com as it offers free LSAT practice questions with good answer explanations. Another site that offers free LSAT practice questions is www.studyguidezone.com.
In addition there are many commercial LSAT prep services. The Washington College Prelaw Program does not officially endorse any commercial services, but these are among the more popular LSAT prep sites: