Legally Blonde, John Grisham, and My Cousin Vinny, create an image of attorneys and law students that isn’t necessarily faithful to the real-life experience. For those of you seriously considering applying to schools so that you can begin your journey for the coveted J.D., here is some advice from some who have already began or completed their trek through law school.
Shadow a Judge or Attorney
Law school is a completely different experience from practicing law. What you learn in school may not be what you expect your career to look like after graduation. Before spending the additional three years chasing the degree, shadow someone who works in the legal field you might be interested in. You would be surprised how many people go to law school, earn a J.D., and end up not practicing law.
Start taking the LSAT as early as possible
The LSAT is one of the most notorious steps in the law school admission process. The earlier you take the test in your undergraduate career, the more familiar you will be with the test and how you approach various types of questions. Experience and practice are key to an impressive score.
Take an LSAT prep course
Being intimidated by the LSAT is expected and so is the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to begin your preparation. While LSAT prep courses can be expensive, a course can give you a structured study schedule, materials to study, and a community of people preparing for the same stage as you. Depending on how you study and your deadline, there are hundreds of options so find one that is right for you.
Start thinking of those who will write your letter of recommendation
Finding people to take the time to write you a glowing letter of recommendation can be a challenge. It can be even more of a challenge to find people you trust. If you wait until the last minute to do this, your recommenders will be unimpressed and pressed for time. Undergrad is the time to form good relationships with professors, bosses, coaches, pastors, guidance counselors, etc. These are the people to ask for a letter from.
Use the LSAT website to narrow down the schools where you plan to apply
Between paying for the LSAT, mailing transcripts, application fees, and any other costs
that could possibly be thrown your way, the application process can add up quickly. You can reduce the financial burden as well as the amount of time you spend applying by narrowing down the schools where you plan to apply. The LSAC website has a valuable tool that calculates your likelihood of getting into a school based on your GPA and LSAT score. You can calculate this on the LSAC website here.
Emphasize your writing abilities
Law school relies heavily on your reading, writing, and analytical abilities. One way you can show the admission council your ability to succeed is by emphasizing your writing abilities through your resume, personal statement, and writing samples.
Law school is very expensive, even if you have a scholarship and money management skills can only be profitable. The taxing class schedule makes is practically impossible for law students to work during the school year. To minimize student loans, save as much money as you can prior to beginning your first semester.
Be open-minded to different schools
When applying and choosing a school, pay close attention to which schools are ABA approved, have high bar exam pass rates, and the percentage of employed graduates. All law schools are required to disclose this information and it can usually be found on their website. It is critical to look at this information before applying, but it is imperative to do this prior to choosing the school where you plan to attend. Do your research, but also be open-minded to opportunities that are not your plan A.