Law schools generally begin accepting applications early in the fall semester, and deadlines for application for full consideration are typically sometime in March or early April. However, law schools operate under rolling admissions, meaning that as soon as they start reviewing applications (typically early- to mid-November) they’ll start admitting students. Generally, then, the earlier you apply, the better. We recommend that students aim for having all application materials submitted by Thanksgiving.
Students will have to register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which all law schools use to manage the application process. You will submit all applications electronically through the CAS. Registering for the CAS costs $185, as of Fall 2017.
In addition to the LSAT, law schools require a number of supporting materials be submitted:
- Transcripts You must submit to the CAS a transcript from every college or university you have earned credit from. Even if you took only one course from your local community college while you were in high school, you must submit a transcript.
- Personal statement After the LSAT, this might be the most important single part of the application. You should view it as your chance to tell the admissions committee something about yourself: what interests you, what motivates you, what challenges you’ve overcome, what makes you tick…Often, students write about experiences they’ve had that help the committee understand what they hope to get out of attending law school or how law school fits into their long-term goals and aspirations. These statements are short, typically only two double-spaced pages, so every word counts. This is often very difficult to write. You should talk to pre-law advisors early about your personal statement and plan on writing many drafts and getting feedback along the way.
- Letters of recommendation Students should solicit 2-3 letters of recommendation from people who can speak to their ability to succeed in law school. For most undergraduates, this means professors, preferably professors who have gotten to know them well, either through teaching them multiple times, doing research with them, or working closely with them in some kind of extra- or co-curricular activity. You may also submit letters from supervisors or others who can attest to your ability to solve problems, think logically, and write and read well. As a general rule, letters that merely attest to your good character or from high-profile people who don’t know you well are not helpful to admissions committees and should be avoided.
- Resume You will want to draw up a resume that highlights the experiences that law schools may find interesting. Since the personal statement is likely to go in-depth about one or two experiences you’ve had, the resume is a good chance to provide the admissions committee with an overview of the scope of your undergraduate experiences.
Additionally, students sometimes submit addenda, or supplemental material, to help put in context unusual features of their record. Students who have had minor run-ins with the law (not uncommon) will need to provide short statements that take responsibility for their actions and make clear that those problems are in the past. Students who need to explain a bad semester of grades (again, not uncommon) can also do so via a brief supplemental statement. You should plan on consulting with a pre-law advisor as you write these.