Applying to Law School
Reading is underrated.
Take time to read. Many questions we receive are answered on this web site or the LSAC.org web site. Reading is important for law school applications. 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. It costs $155 and your online file is good for five years.
We recommend walking through LSAC's Applying to Law School site to get a good idea of what it takes to apply to law school.
Attend the Annual Law Fair
The Law Fair at the UW 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 packet 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 the statements included in this packet are single-spaced to save paper. You should double-space your 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 the Pre-Law Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. 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.