Preparing for Law School
Be professional. Be prepared.
When students contact us, they often ask questions that are answered on this web site. Please take the time to thoroughly read through this site. We've worked hard to clearly describe the application process on this web site. If you have questions that aren't answered by this site, write them down and bring them to an advising appointment after viewing an online presentation.
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.