One of the biggest concerns of students applying to law school is what law schools look for in an applicant. Getting into a good law school is not easy, and it can also play a large part in determining a person's career as a lawyer. Law schools are very competitive in nature and require applicants to meet certain requirements. Often, knowing what's important and what's not so important can be beneficial to law students. Here are some things that are important to law schools.
See our ranking of the 30 Best Value Schools for Pre-Law.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is used to evaluate the student's analytical, logical reasoning and reading skills, all of which are needed to be successful in law school. It's also used heavily to guarantee consistency across admission sites and test dates. Law schools also rely heavily on the LSAT because it offers a better idea of how the student will perform in law school than does the undergraduate GPA, which is also highly regarded. The LSAT score is without a doubt, the most important factor in determining a student's readiness for law school, according to U.S. News & World Report. The nationwide average score is 153; scores ranged from 120 to 180. Aspiring law students are advised to start preparing for the LSAT at least two to three months prior to actually taking the test.
A student's undergraduate GPA (grade point average) summarizes how a student performed academically in college. The law school admissions committee views it as an important factor in how a student performs in school as well as the student's determination and motivation throughout the school years. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) takes the applicant's undergraduate GPA and the LSAT score combines them together and comes to an average number, which is compared to the school's other applicants. Applicants may still be admitted with a lower-than-average GPA if the LSAT score is very high. It's been said that a high LSAT score can compensate for a lower GPA, but a higher GPA may not necessarily compensate for a low LSAT.
Law schools generally require a 2-3 page personal statement from the applicant so they can learn things about the applicant that they don't get from the application. It's also an important part of the application process because it gives the student the opportunity to let the committee know what the student can bring to the program and to the classroom. This is not something the applicant should try to put together quickly all at one time. Most successful applicants state it took them a month or two to write their personal statements because they added things when they came to mind.
Letters of Recommendation
Some law schools require two to three letters of recommendation, and some may require more. Letters of recommendation provide credibility to the student's application because they show how third parties evaluate an applicant's professional and academic performance. Letters from professors are often regarded highly. Applicants are advised to get letters from professors of classes where the student performed highly as well as professors who are vocal in their praise. A person "of few words" may not be the best choice for letters of recommendation because admissions committee members generally look for high praise and enthusiasm from the recommendations.
Becoming a lawyer is a major accomplishment and one that is only possible after years of education, training, certifications, and licensure. It would also not be possible had the student not been accepted in law school. Knowing what law schools look for in applicants when applying to law school can make all the difference to students.