Applying to law school is scary. LSAT, GPA, letters of recommendation, applications, school visits — it can make your head spin. There’s so much to keep up with, and what feels like so little time to get everything done. As someone who was just in your shoes, let my experience – and mistakes – help make your experience the easiest it can possibly be.

1) Take the LSAT early.

If you’re going to apply to law schools in the fall, consider taking the June LSAT. That way if you don’t get the score you want, you still have the September test to make it up. Waiting too long to take the test can push your application to the bottom of the pile while admissions committees look at already completed applications, leaving you stressed while you wait on a decision. Take it early, and save yourself the premature greying.

2) Don’t over study for the LSAT.

It’s an important test, but over studying can lead to a burn out. Sometimes that leads to doing even worse on the exam than if you hadn’t studied at all. Slow and steady wins the race, remember that. Sign up for your test date, pick your test prep, and start studying 3-5 months in advance, for an hour or two a day. Use your weekends to take practice exams. Take breaks when you need to. This exam is perhaps the most vital part of the law school application process. Take it seriously.

RELATED READ: 5 Things To Know Before Taking The LSAT

3) Select a reputable LSAT prep program.

Whether you’re going to take a class or self study for the LSAT, make sure you pick a program that has a great reputation of preparing test takers for the LSAT. Some programs use old exams or exam questions. Seeing what a real LSAT question will look like before you sit for the actual exam is more valuable than you realize. Also, when you’re picking your program, make sure it’s one that will work for you. If you know you’re not self motivated to study, opt for a weekly class. Be honest with yourself about your motivation and dedication to studying now. You won’t regret that honesty later.

4) Ask for letters of recommendation early, and pick the right people to do them.

The last thing you want is a professor who knows very little about you writing a recommendation letter to the school of your dreams. Make sure whoever writes your letters knows your abilities both inside and outside of the classroom. An ideal recommendation can speak for what a phenomenal candidate you are. Also, make sure you ask for the letter as soon as possible. Remember, faculty are people too. They have lives. Don’t ask them the night before your application is due, or they might not make the most kind comments.

5) Don’t put too much pressure on your GPA.

While your GPA is important, it’s not going to save you. Don’t kill yourself trying to have a perfect GPA while your LSAT prep gets left in the dust. Although a 4.0 might throw you over the edge if it’s a close race, usually your GPA is not the determining factor on whether or not you get into a certain law school. If you have the coveted 4.0, that’s awesome, but don’t think a 3.2 will absolutely ruin you. Unless your GPA is in serious distress, it probably won’t keep you from your dream school.

6) Write a personal statement that stands out.

Show the admissions committee why you are the perfect fit for their institution by giving them a glimpse of the person beyond the application. Try to steer away from topics like “I want to be an attorney for x, y, z reason” unless you have a moving, compelling, life changing story to tell. Be creative. Show them who you really are. They’ll appreciate a little deviation from the norm.

7) Vary your options.

Apply to your dream school, and pick a few others that really stand out from the crowd. Look at the LSAT and GPA averages. Understand how your scores line up with those who have been accepted before. Try to pick schools that you are confident you can get into. Also apply to a few that are a reach so you’ll be thrilled if you are admitted.

8) Visit every school you’re seriously considering.

This really helped me narrow down my choices. Feeling the culture of the school and being on campus can really help solidify if it’s the right fit for you. Go on a campus tour, sit in on a 1L class, talk to professors and students. Try sitting in a busy part of campus to see if it feels like home. While prestige is important, you don’t want to spend the next 3 years of your life somewhere you hate. Visit all of your options. Don’t overlook how important a school’s culture really is.

9) Understand the programs the school offers.

Just like undergrad, some law schools are better known for producing lawyers who specialize in certain fields. If you want to be a business law lawyer, look into schools that employ a significant number of students in that sector.

RELATED READ: First Day Of Law School: Legally Blonde vs. Reality

10) Explore scholarship opportunities.

They can make all the difference when it comes to picking a law school. There’s no denying that law school is insanely expensive, not to mention your limited ability to work because of the ABA requirements. When you apply to schools, understand the scholarships they offer and what they’re based off of. If the scholarships are determined by GPA and LSAT, know what you qualify for. If they have a competition for a full tuition scholarship, apply for it. I cannot emphasize enough how worth it it will be at the end of the entire process to have applied for and taken a shot at as many scholarships as possible.

11) The rank of your law school is not a final determinate

Despite what you may hear, the rank of your law school is not a final determinate on whether or not you get full time legal employment upon graduation. A full ride to a lower ranked school might be a better opportunity than going into $150,000 worth of debt for higher ranked school. This doesn’t mean you should throw away an acceptance to your dream school, but do weigh all of your options.

A mentor of mine, who is a successful attorney and law school dean, once said “once you take the Bar, you’re all equal. You’re all attorneys. After your first job, the school you attended won’t matter nearly as much as the contacts you’ve made.” Networking is a very important aspect of law school. Every institution will have career services and alumni networks you can take advantage of. At the end of the day, your employment rests on your abilities as an attorney and willingness to put yourself out there.

12) Rejection is not the end of the world.

Perhaps the most important part of this entire process is understanding that a rejection from any school is not the end of the world. It might be discouraging and frustrating, but you will truly end up where you’re meant to be when it’s all said and done. Take any rejections with a grain of salt. Get excited about the schools that see potential in you.

These are my best pieces of advice I would give off of my personal experience of applying to law school. My best piece of advice is start early, and truly understand what you’re getting into. The application process is only part of the battle, but it’s all worth it in the end to see the acceptance letter from the school of your dreams and J.D. at the end of your name.

Corrie L
FFL Cabinet Member
Corrie is a Cabinet Member at FFL. She is passionate about coffee, Jesus, and lipstick, and never wears white after Labor Day. If she isn't busy talking about law school or FFL, you can find her studying constitutional law or reviewing a contract. Her plan A is Super Mom turned Supreme Court Justice, and she hopes to one day be just like Sandra Day O"Connor.

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