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Your Education in Law

Welcome! At the UW, "pre-law" is not a major, minor or series of courses. Law school requires no prerequisite courses nor do law schools prefer any particular majors. Pre-law refers to anyone who is considering going to law school after they complete their undergraduate degree.

Exploring the Legal Profession

Student often ask us, "Should I be a lawyer?" Only you can decide if becoming a lawyer is right for you. Take time to try the recommendations on this page. Watch the Exploring Law School information presentation. Educate yourself thoroughly on the legal field before you enter it.

Explore majors that interest you.

There are NO preferred majors for law school. Law schools are looking for a diverse class of bright, motivated and accomplished students. Pick a major that matches your interests and strengths. Again, there are NO preferred majors for law school.

No matter what you major in, take courses that involve a lot of reading, writing and research.

If long hours of reading, writing and research don't appeal to you, law is probably not the right profession. Beyond the required English composition and W courses, take as many courses as you can to improve your reading comprehension and writing skills.

Attend a pre-law club meeting.

The Pre-Law Society at the University of Washington is a great way to learn about the legal field from guest speakers (attorneys, law students, admissions reps); to receive helpful resources (personal statement workshops, LSAT workshops, etc.); and to meet other students exploring the field of law. Students are encouraged to attend a few meetings to decide if they'd like to join. To get on the list to hear about future meetings, email lawyer2b@uw.edu.

Attend an actual law school class.

From September through June, you can attend an actual law school class right here at UW. This is a good way to experience what law school is really like. Check out the UW School of Law's schedule for class times and locations.

Try a legal internship.

There are many places that hire interns, including the City Attorney's Office, King County Public Defender, King County Public Prosecutor, the ACLU and private law firms. See the Online Resources section on this page for more info. Also, we recommend that you utilize the UW Career Center for help with your resume, interviewing and more.

Pay attention to your grading options.

Most students drop one or two classes during their time in college. Having one or two W's throughout your time in college is okay. The CAS (Credential Assembly Service) does not include the "W" in your GPA calculation. But watch out for a non-satisfactory, "NS," or a no-credit, "NC." At the UW they protect your GPA, but the CAS will convert a NS or a NC to "0.0."

Assess Your Values

Think the world doesn't need another lawyer? Think again. Check out DiscoverLaw.org to learn how you can make a difference.

Something Else

Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before you Decide to Go to Law School by Ed Tom.

Preparing for Law School

These are some things you can do now to get ready.

Plan for letters of recommendation.

Cultivate relationships with professors early and often. Chat with your professor during office hours about topics from class; about his/her research; about how he/she made it through graduate school; and anything else you're curious about. Aside from enriching your studies, getting to know your professors during office hours and at departmental events, can result in a letter that goes beyond the general, to one that makes a striking impression on admissions committees.

Most law schools ask for 2-3 letters of recommendation. If you're in school when applying, your strongest letters will likely come from professors and teaching assistants (TAs). You could also get two academic letters and one from a work supervisor. If you've graduated and have been working for 2-3 years or more, your letters will likely come from supervisors, professional colleagues or mentors.

You will apply to law school one year before you go.

If you want to go to law school right after graduating from the UW, you will prep for the LSAT the summer after your third year (junior year), take the test in late September/early October, and apply to law school in October and November.

If you want to take a year off after graduation, you will prep for the LSAT the summer after graduation, take the test in late September/early October and apply to schools in October and November.

If you've graduated and have been working for a while, it's the same timeline as above, but you have more flexibility. Depending on your work schedule, you could take the LSAT more than a year ahead in December or the year you intend to apply in February, June or September/early October. Similar to everyone else, you will apply to law school in October and November.

Sign up for the LSAT at LSAC.org EARLY.

The LSAT is available at multiple sites in Western and Eastern Washington. Seattle testing sites for the late September/early October test fill up as early as May! The LSAT costs $160.

Study for the LSAT as if you're taking a 15-credit class load.

If you can discipline yourself to study as if you're taking a 15-credit course load, then buy at least two different kinds of prep books, and 20 to 40 formerly-administered tests, and study on your own. We recommend prep books from different prep companies so that you can get different techniques and perspectives on how to approach the LSAT. You will then choose the method that works best for you.

Once you are familiar with the different sections of the test, we recommend taking as many timed practice tests as possible. Get yourself a kitchen timer and take the test at home or at a study room in the library. Try to imitate the LSAT test-taking environment. We know students who've taken anywhere from 20-40 timed practice tests and have seen their scores increase 10-30 points over time. Most importantly: make sure you analyze your results and figure out how you got your correct answers right AND how to redo the questions you got wrong.

If you need the discipline of a class and prefer in-person and/or online instruction, consider taking a prep course (check the Yellow Pages or do a Google search). Even if you take a prep course, you will still need to prep on your own outside of class (see above) to get a competitive score.

Still unsure about law school?

Consider taking time off after you graduate from college. Many lawyers looking back on their lives recommend taking time off after college to work, travel, and do something other than school. During this time, you might discover that law school is not right for you or you might confirm that it is truly a good match. Work experience and maturity can be very beneficial to your law school application. Again, read over Ed Tom's Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Go to Law School.

How to Apply

Careful reading is important.

Law schools admit that they put tricky, sometimes redundant, questions on the application form just to see if you are paying attention.

Register for the Credential Assembly Services (CAS) 2 months before you're ready to apply.

The LSAC's CAS online service is what you use to apply to law schools. Your transcripts, LSAT scores and letters of recommendation are sent there. Your online file is good for five years.

Attend the Annual Law Fair

The Annual UW Law Fair provides a unique opportunity for students and alumni to explore their options by meeting admissions representatives from 80 law schools. The law fair takes place every November. NOTE: the reps are often the same people on the admissions committee! Come prepared. Make a good impression. Visit the Career Center's law fair site for more info.

Pick professors and/or supervisors you want to ask for a letter of recommendation.

You want to have at least two to three letters of recommendation from professors and/or teaching assistants. If you've been working for several years and no longer have relationships with faculty, ask current/past supervisors, professional colleagues and mentors instead. It's best to ask in person if you can.

Your recommenders will send letters of recommendation directly to the CAS. Make sure to print out the form from CAS that your recommender will enclose with your letter to make sure it gets into your file. Letters can also be uploaded directly to the website.

Give your recommender the form from CAS, your unofficial transcript, your resume and your personal statement (if it's finished). Give your writers at least a month to write the letter. Always follow up with a handwritten thank you card.

Write a memorable personal statement and additional addenda if needed.

The personal statement is a very, very important part of the application. Since the majority of law schools don't have interviews, committees rely on this statement as an interview-in-an-essay and will read it to see what kind of person you are.

We highly recommend reading our personal statement document for writing tips and statement samples from real UW pre-law students. You might need to write a diversity statement or other addenda. Also, check out some Do's and Don'ts for writing a solid personal statement.

Please note that these worksheets are single-spaced to save paper. You should double-space your final personal statement and addenda.

Don't rush this process. Many students need to write 3-6 drafts to craft a strong, concise and memorable personal statement.

Finalize your list of law schools after you've received your LSAT score.

Consider applying to 7-10 schools: 2 stretch, 3-6 realistic and 1-2 safety schools.

It's not all about numbers but comparing your numbers with the school's median GPA and LSAT will help you develop your list.

REALISTIC schools are ones where your GPA and LSAT are at the school's median for last year's entering class.

SAFETY schools are those where you are at, or close to, the school's 75th percentile.

STRETCH schools are ones where you are at, or a little above, the 25th percentile.

Your numbers may not exactly match what is listed for the school's 25th percentile, median and 75th percentile. You should thoroughly research the LSAC's Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools in order to make an informed decision about which schools are a good match for you.

It's not all about ranking either. Location, environment, class size, tuition, demographics, commitment to diversity, student-professor ratio, bar passage rates, and career placement resources are all important aspects to choosing a school that's right for you. Take time to read through the law school's web sites, attend info sessions at the schools, and contact their admissions offices if you have questions. It's okay to call or email admissions offices—that is what they are there for.

If you've done a lot of research, have created a draft list of schools but still have questions, you can email our pre-law advisers. Remember to include your full name and student ID # in your email.

Apply to law schools by the end of November, if possible.

You will apply to most of your schools using the LSAC's CAS online service. The process is very detail-oriented. If you're applying to seven schools, budget at least seven days for application time and only apply to one school per day. Take your time to check over your entire application for accuracy and thoroughness. Don't rush through the process.

Apply for financial aid in January.

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The law schools to which you apply will determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. The amount offered by each law school will vary, and each student's financial need will be assessed individually because costs vary from school to school.

Call, write, e-mail, or visit the website of the financial aid office of the law schools to which you are applying. Some schools may require you to submit information in addition to the FAFSA. You'd be surprised how many applicants receive scholarships. Many do. We've seen applicants get $2500/semester to full tuition for all 3 years!

Before you accept, visit your top choices in person.

This is very important. You don't really know what a place is like until you visit. Don't believe all that you see on the school web sites.

Make sure you get a chance to talk to law students, professors and career services staff at each school. See if you can sit in on a few classes. Ask the career office for a list of alumni you can contact. List the pros and cons of each school. This is a very important decision that can greatly affect your future career so take the time to find the right match for you.

Pre-Law Advising

Pre-law advisers assist UW students and alumni in making informed decisions about law school. Advisers are available in our office and the Office of Minority Affairs.

The advisers in our office would like you to view an online information presentation before scheduling an appointment. If you are thinking about law school and want to know more about the whole process, Exploring Law School is for you. Before watching it, review the related worksheet. Afterwards, thoughtfully answer these questions and submit them to us in the form of a Word document.

If you are getting ready to apply or are actually in the process of applying to law schools, view Law School Applications 101, read the questions in the related worksheet and submit your answers to us in the form of a Word document.

After you submit your reflection document, you are invited to call, come in, or use the online scheduler to make an appointment.

If you have questions after viewing either session you can email us directly at plawhelp@uw.edu (be sure to include your name and Student ID number). Students at UW Bothell should contact Jo Lacher, CUSP Academic Adviser at 435-352-3807. Students at UW Tacoma should contact Heather Hucks, Academic Adviser, at 253-692-4857.

Due to the volume of undergraduate students served, we are unable to meet with non-UW Seattle students or graduate students. 

Online Resources

Note: our office does not officially endorse any of the following resources. We do think they may be helpful for you to review.

Professional Development

Internships

Personal Statements

Financial Aid

For Underrepresented Students