Ms. JD’s Pre-Law Prep Guide: Leave No Stone Unturned - Your Pre-Law School Checklist

Editor's Note: Each week, at Ms. JD and Levo League, Ms. JD Board Member Courtney Gabbara and Bridget Sheehan will take you step-by-step through the law school application process.

We know that we have given you a lot of information over the past several weeks.  That’s why this week, we are going to give you a step by step checklist on what you need to do to prepare for the application process.

Step 1: Go directly to the source. Make sure you have taken advantage of several of these strategies to ensure you have really understand the realities of the legal profession.

Step 2: Weigh the pros and cons of going to law school by asking yourself these three essential questions to ensure the you are making the right decision.

Step 3: Have a plan for the LSAT. Figure out test dates, locations, and registration deadlines.

○        When deciding when to take the LSAT, don’t forget to consider the application deadlines set by each school that you are applying to. 

○        Write down the last LSAT exam that the schools that you’re applying to will accept. For example, some law schools may not accept a February LSAT score for the fall semester, but will accept it for the following school year.

○        Ask yourself if the date you take the LSAT will influence your qualifications for scholarship. Some schools have scholarship priority deadlines that are earlier in the spring semester. Waiting to take the LSAT can mean a lower chance of scholarship aid.

Step 4: Come up with a plan to research law schools that you are interested in, whether it be by state or program.  Then put together your final list of applications!

○        Attend law school fairs and forums (i.e. recruitment events). This is an easy way to gather a lot of information about various schools directly.  It also gives you an opportunity to put a “face to the name” by meeting one of the law school’s recruiters or admissions advisors.

○        Informational phone interviews and one on one meetings with admissions staff members are always encouraged.

○        After you have done your homework, come up with a list of schools that you are interested in and compare your options.  Go back to your list of pros and cons about going to law school and consider whether any of those are factors you want to consider in deciding which schools are right for you.  (e.g. if finances are a factor, consider a school’s scholarships and financial aid!)

Step 5: Sign up for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. This service will provide you with a secure place to gather all of your law school application documents (CAS registration is typically required for most law schools).

○        You should sign up and pay the fee for the Credential Assembly Service at least four to six weeks before your first law school application deadline.

Step 6: Establish a LSAT study schedule; consider taking a LSAT prep course. On average, students should be spending at least 50 hours studying for the LSAT (more detailed blog specifically focused on the LSAT and prep to come!).

Step 7: Start to think about who you will ask for letters of recommendation (“LOR”).  Students tend to forget that their LOR must also be in before an admissions office considers their application complete!

Step 8: Take the LSAT!

Step 9: Once the LSAT is over, focus on drafting your personal statement and conveying yourself effectively on paper. 

○        Hint: the personal statement should be considered a substitute for an on-campus interview.

Step 10: Begin the application process!

This list is by no means exclusive. However, it should guide you through the pre-application process and help ensure that you are properly setting aside enough time dedicated to researching potential schools, LSAT prep, and getting your application materials together. Much more detail will be provided in our upcoming blogs, which will focus specifically on your application materials and LSAT prep.

Bridget Sheehan and Courtney Gabbara are both Assistant Directors of Admission at Michigan State University College of Law and recent graduates of the Law College. Having met in law school through Moot Court, both women have found a long lasting friendship based on their future career interests, laughter, and love of nachos. Bridget graduated from Saint Xavier University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and has actively pursued her interests in family and criminal law. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois and enjoys college football, specifically Notre Dame (Go Irish!), reading, and country music.  Courtney earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University and has been a Ms. JD Board Member since April of 2011.  Her hobbies include scrapbooking, running Warrior Dash, and cooking.

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