Applying to Law School


Applying to law school is a personal decision and journey. You must assess and evaluate your personal and professional goals and determine when the best time for you to begin the process of applying to law school. 

  • Continue to assess and evaluate your personal and professional goals.
  • Obtain letters of recommendation
  • Prepare your personal statement and have several people review it.
  • Prepare your resume, which could be longer than 1 page. 


Obtaining Letters of Recommendation

  • A person who knows you well can write a more substantial and helpful letter than someone who hardly knows you. Choosing between a person who taught you in a small class versus someone with a famous name or title but cannot write a personal letter, choose the former. Letters from graduate student instructors are acceptable.
  • When asking for the letter, make sure that you make an appointment to meet with the person you ask. Don’t ask for a reference over email. Bring your resume, transcript, and tests/papers from classes taken with the faculty member, and be prepared to talk about your future goals and past achievements. If an individual agrees to write on your behalf, present him/her with a Law School Reference Form from LSAC.
  • Make sure that you allow the person the option of saying NO. You want to have strong letters, and if a person is somewhat uncomfortable writing for you or doesn’t have enough time, the result will likely be short and weak. It is much better to have someone be honest with you when finding another person to write your recommendation who will be more enthusiastic.
  • Give those writing recommendations plenty of advanced notice and time to write a good letter of recommendation (a month or even two), but also give them a deadline. Make sure that they know your application timeline.
  • Write a thank-you note following your initial request for the letter, thanking the individual for agreeing to write the letter.
  • Inform your writers when you have decided where you will be attending school and thank them again for their assistance and support.
  • Refer to LSAC’s page on Letters of Recommendation for information on how to request and submit letters of recommendation to your CAS account.


LSAT – Law School Admissions Test

  1. What is the LSAT?
  2. When is the LSAT offered during the year?
  3. When is the best time to take the LSAT?
  4. Should I take a commercial LSAT preparation course?
  5. What companies in the New York City area offer an LSAT preparation course?
  6. What should I do if I am sick or lose my concentration during the LSAT?
  7. Does LSAC offer accommodations for persons with disabilities taking the LSAT?

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT exam is explicitly designed to assess critical reading, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and persuasive writing skills essential for law school success. The LSAT exam is the gold standard used by all ABA-accredited law schools and Canadian common-law law schools. In 2016, law schools began to accept the GRE score instead of the LSAT score. You should check with the law school admission office to ensure that the school will accept GRE scores.  

When is the LSAT offered during the year?

The LSAT exam is offered nine times a year:  January, March, April, June, July, August, September, October, and November.  Due to COVID-19, LSAC has created an LSAT Flex Exam that students can take at home. Make sure you have good internet connectivity and a quiet room to take the exam. You can request LSAC to find a location to take the exam if you do not have good connectivity and a quiet place to take the exam.

When is the best time to take the LSAT? 

The best time to take the LSAT is when you are prepared! Preparing for the LSAT takes PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Taking the LSAT in June is ideal because you will have your scores in time to apply “early action” to programs, and if you need to cancel your June score, you still have time to take the October exam and have your applications completed at the schools by mid-November. 

However, do not plan to take the June exam as a “practice test.” Ideally, you only want to take this test ONCE! However, if you need to take the exam a second time, make sure you modify your study plans to perform better.  Do not take the exam more than twice.  Many law schools average LSAT scores. Furthermore, law schools will question multiple score cancellations.

Should I take a commercial LSAT preparation course?

This is a matter of personal choice. Some applicants prepare alone or with a group by buying LSAT prep tests through, LSAT books on the market, or an online LSAT prep course without an instructor. Others determine that they need a class structure to help discipline themselves prepare for the exam or need help with a particular exam section. Many applicants also find that the insight and strategies for taking the exam they learn from the course are constructive. Whether you decide to take an LSAT prep course online with or without an instructor, the key to doing your best is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE under simulated LSAT conditions.

What companies offer online instructors/ tutors/videos?

What companies offer only online LSAT prep without an instructor/tutors/videos? 

* Many test companies offer scholarships for applicants with financial need. Inquire with each company.

What should I do if I am sick or lose my concentration during the LSAT? 

Applicants may cancel their scores at the test site or via written requests received by LSAC within six (6) calendar days of the test. See the LSAC website at

Does LSAC offer accommodations for persons with disabilities taking the LSAT? 

Yes, LSAC will provide accommodations for individuals who have documented disabilities. Please refer to the LSAT and CAS Registration and Information Book or the LSAC website at


Law school is a costly investment, so it is essential to consider how best to pay for the next three years of school. It is crucial to consider merit, need-based scholarships, and living costs when selecting which law school to attend. If you decide to practice public interest law, make sure your law school has a loan forgiveness program to help absorb your law school debt. Federally backed loans are the best because you have the option to select Income-Driven Repayment based on your earnings and family size. Most private lenders do not offer income-driven repayment, so federal student loans are often the best law school loans.

Financial Aid

Law school is expensive, and most of your legal education can be financed through loans. It is not uncommon for students to come out of law school with $100,000 or more in loans. Apply early for financial aid. Get started preparing your Federal income tax return early in January of your application year, and then complete the  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Resources on Financial Aid for Law School


Most law schools request personal statements that provide the opportunity to go beyond the objective aspects of the application to discuss who you are and what is important to you.  

  • Schools will be seeking information about your background, personal qualities, leadership skills, and motivation to learn what is unique about you and what distinguishes you from other candidates with similar GPAs and LSAT scores. 
  • Your goal, then, will be to write a concise, detailed statement establishing yourself as an individual.  An interesting and personal discussion about yourself, one that reveals your personality and character, will help you come alive to the admissions committee. 
  • Personal statements are typically two double-spaced pages, though you may find that some schools will give more latitude.  If schools don’t provide guidelines on length, it’s advisable to submit a statement approximately two pages in length.  A few schools will limit the number of words permitted, and you should abide by their guidelines. 
  • Proofread carefully, as any typographical or grammatical errors will detract from the favorable impression the statement might otherwise make.  Do not use large words in an attempt to impress readers; instead, use simple language correctly, and rely on well-organized, interesting content to make an impression.
  • Your statement should be serious, honest, and sincere. The tone should be confident and optimistic; any negative information you feel compelled or are required to discuss should be addressed in other parts of the application or an addendum.
  • Law schools will be looking for evidence that you can write a coherent statement.  Follow general guidelines for writing essays:  there should be introductory and concluding paragraphs; each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence; there should be a clear line of development through the statement.  Ideas should be supported with concrete examples.

Selecting Schools

Deciding Where To Apply

Determining where to apply to law school can be perplexing. Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on what you have to offer the law school. This can feed into unfounded anxiety about your  GPAs or LSAT scores and make the law school selection process a nightmare.

Think about what matters most to you in a law school.  Criteria: Consider the following factors and determine which are important to you: 

  • National/Regional Schools: Does the school attract applicants from across the country and abroad? Or do most students come from the region in which the school is located? Where do most students want to work following graduation—throughout the country or in the school’s region?
  • Faculty: What are the academic and experiential backgrounds of faculty? How accessible are they? What are the faculty-student ratio, the number of full-time vs. adjunct faculty, and the number of female and minority faculty?
  • Facilities and Resources: Is the school affiliated with a university? Do students have access to courses from a range of academic disciplines to supplement their legal curriculum? Is the library large enough to accommodate holdings and permit students to conduct research and study? How helpful is the library staff? How accessible are electronic databases such as Lexis and Westlaw? In general, do the facilities provide a comfortable learning environment?
  • Student Body: What is the size of the entering class? What does the admissions profile tell you about the quality of the student body? Where did students study as undergraduates, and what are their geographic backgrounds? Does the student body reflect a diversity of interests and personal/cultural backgrounds? What is the overall atmosphere—are students friendly or overly competitive? Is there much interaction with fellow students outside the classroom?
  • Special Programs: What coursework is available in specialized areas? Are there any joint degree programs of interest to you available? What are the opportunities for practical experience, including clinics, internships, etc.? What specialized institutes, journals, or organizations exist in your areas of interest? Does the school demonstrate a commitment to women and minorities through special programs?
  • Placement: What advising and resources are available to help you find a job? Is career counseling available? How many employers recruit at the law school and who are they? What percentage of the class has positions at graduation? In what types of jobs and geographic areas are they employed? What is the percentage of graduates holding judicial clerkships? What assistance is given to students not interested in working in law firms? What is the bar passage rate for recent graduates?
  • Student Life: Is housing provided for first-year students? If not, does the school offer assistance in locating off-campus housing? Is the school located in a safe area? Is the location rural or urban? What is the cost of living? What types of cultural opportunities are there? Does the school provide recreational facilities?
  • Costs: What are tuition, housing, and transportation costs? Is financial aid exclusively on a need-base, or are merit scholarships available?

Make lists of schools that are most appealing based on these criteria. Then you might begin to look at how schools are rated and ranked. Visit web sites and look at placement data. With some of these considerations, your list is guaranteed to produce attractive options well beyond the schools you could and could not get into.


The most often discussed issue by prospective law students, yet the most difficult to define is “reputation.” Several factors contribute to a school’s reputation, including faculty, facilities, career services, the parent university’s reputation, etc. Though many law school rankings are available, most factors evaluated are not quantifiable, and therefore you should not perceive the rankings as accurate or definitive. However, selectivity at law schools is one factor that can be quantified; you can gauge a school’s relative selectivity by comparing the number of applicants accepted to the overall number of applications.  The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools and the Official American Bar Association Guide to Approved Law Schools contain charts and tables of recent admissions cycles at most schools, reflecting selectivity level. 

Schools can be divided roughly into three groups:

  • Schools with national reputations which tend to appear in various “top ten” lists. They draw students from a national pool and offer geographic mobility to graduates.
  • Schools with good regional reputations are attended primarily by students from the region, who may want to remain in the area following graduation but may also seek positions throughout the country.
  • Local schools draw students primarily from the immediate area who want to practice there following graduation.

For a more detailed law school reputation, refer to The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.

Non-Traditional Alternatives

You should be aware that some law schools offer alternatives to fall admission into a full-time law program. Evening divisions and part-time programs make it possible for students to simultaneously work and study law, earning a J.D. in four years. A few schools on the quarter system allow students to enter mid-year. Summer entry or summer courses can accelerate the degree program from three to two-and-a-half calendar years. And finally, some law schools have created summer trial programs, which allow applicants who may need additional preparation to ready themselves for legal study in time for fall entrance.