Once you have made your decision that law school is indeed something you will want to pursue, you will need to begin the complex sequence of events that make up the law school application process.
The first step is taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all 200 law schools that are members of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world.
Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier-in June or October-is often advised.
There are a number of ways to prepare, but you may want to begin with taking a sample test under simulated conditions. When you are ready, you can also purchase previously administered tests for practice, which is probably the best way to get ready for the actual test as well as to maximize your score.
Once you begin the application process in earnest-which usually begins with registering to take the test-you will need to register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). Almost all ABA-approved law schools and several non-ABA-approved schools require that their applicants register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS).
The LSDAS prepares and provides a report for each law school to which you apply. The report contains information that is important in the law school admission process. Your report will include:
An undergraduate academic summary
Copies of all undergraduate, graduate and law school transcripts
LSAT scores and writing sample copies
Copies of Letters of Recommendation if processed by LSAC
Your LSDAS period will extend for five years from your registration date. If you register for a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) at any time during your LSDAS period, the LSDAS period will be extended five years from your latest LSAT registration.
You may want to register for this service at the same time that you register for the test to simplify the paperwork, but you don't have to. The important thing is to understand that this service will coordinate your academic and biographical information, as well as your test score, for the law schools to which you apply.
Now that you've started the application process, it is time to think seriously about choosing a law school. You should begin the process with an honest appraisal of your strengths and preferences. You should consider the size, composition, and background of the student body; the location, size, and nature of the surrounding community; the particular strengths or interests of the faculty; the degree to which clinical experience or classroom learning is emphasized; the nature of any special programs offered; the number and type of student organizations; the range of library holdings; and whether a school is public or private. You may wish to consider a school with a strong minority recruitment, retention, and mentoring program, or one with an active student union for students of your particular ethnic background.
At any rate, you should actually select more than one law school where you think you could succeed. Today, the average applicant applies to four or more schools.
You really cannot spend too much time or effort gathering and studying information on law schools. Select the law schools to which you will apply only after reviewing the admission material available from each law school on your list of possibilities.
Write to law schools for their bulletins, catalogs, or other materials that include complete and current information. A complete list with addresses for all LSAC-member schools in the U.S. and Canada is included in this booklet.
Consult your college prelaw advisor. Undergraduate institutions with prelaw advisors or career counselors encourage students and alumni to contact them for assistance-even if you have been out of school for a number of years.
Visit law schools. You can learn a great deal by talking with students and faculty members, and by visiting classes. Talk to alumni of the schools, preferably a recent graduate or one who is active in alumni affairs.
To find out more information about the LSAT, the LSDAS, and choosing a law school, visit the Law School Admission Council at www.LSAC.org