Timeline for Applying to Law School


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As most people are aware, preparing to pursue a career in law involves a total of eight years of education, starting with a bachelor's degree in a similar field. Therefore, it is advised that hopeful applicants to law school should begin preparing to apply at least a year ahead of time, during the junior and senior year of their bachelor's program. 

Discover the timeline below to find out the best methods for applying for and completing your law school degree, the first step into an exciting career in the field. 

Junior Year

First things first: do you want to go to law school? Around the beginning of the junior year of your bachelor degree, you should determine if a path into law is right for you. If so, you can begin researching law schools to apply to on the LSAC site and schedule your LSAT for either February or June of the following semester. 

During the following months, it's best to begin preparation for this all-important test. If you are taking the LSAT in February, immerse yourself in studying. Consider taking a preparation course or hiring a tutor. Review test prep books and take as many exams as you have access to. Registration for each exam must be completed at least 30 days before the tests — remember that seats do fill up at testing locations, so booking early is advised.

Developing relationships with professors in the field would also be advisable at this time. You will need them to write recommendation letters for your application. Cultivate relationships with these faculty, and they will have a positive response (and good things to say) when it is time for you to ask. You should also meet with a pre-law advisor or another faculty member who can provide you with information and feedback on your progress toward gaining admission into law school. 

In the spring (or summer, depending on when you schedule it), you will take your LSAT. Your score will be available three weeks after the exam. If your LSAT score is high enough for a good chance of admission, you don't have to worry with this again. However, if you feel you might do better, there are two more opportunities to retake the LSAT: once in June and again in October. 

Summer Between Junior and Senior Year

If you need to retake the LSAT, remember to register more than 30 days in advance for the June test. If you still don't believe the score is good enough to get you into your chosen law schools, you may retake it in October. In that case, spend the summer studying up and meeting with other professionals in the field to get insight on how best to take the test. 

At this time, it is essential that you register with the LSDAS and begin your Credential Assembly Service application, complete with having your higher education transcripts sent to LSDAS. You should also start finalizing your list of top choices of schools you'd like to apply for. Narrowing down your selection will prevent wasting money on applications to schools you don't want and help in understanding what you should be sending out in your resumes (each school is slightly different). 

Spend the summer gathering each school's application materials, downloading applications and requesting additional information and materials as needed. Draft your personal statement and review it with your advisor, other professors, friends and family and anyone else who will read it and give feedback. Edit this and draft your resume, again seeking feedback for both. 

Fall, Senior Year

As you enter your senior year, it is time to request recommendation letters from faculty who you have developed relationships with throughout your schooling. You'll typically want to send three of these letters along with each application. You will then need to provide the letter writer with a copy of your resume, transcript and a summary of aspects of your academic, professional and personal life accomplishments for them to consider. If needed, continue updating your resume and take the October LSAT for your final chance to garner the highest score. 

If you require financial aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which makes you eligible to apply for it. Triple-check your law school applications before finalizing them with the Credential Application Service. Then prepare and submit law school application forms to each school.

It is important now to confirm that each application was received and is complete. Typically you will receive an email or postcard. If you don't, make contact with the admissions office. During this time, also do not forget to submit completed financial aid applications.

Acceptance, Rejection or Wait-Listed

It is important to keep your LSAC profile up to date, so submit your updated transcript to the LSAC upon entering the final semester of your senior year. As soon as January, acceptance, rejection and wait-list letters begin to roll in. You will now need to evaluate acceptances and wait-list letters to determine which ones you will pursue further. If your application was rejected, evaluate your application and consider reasons why and how to improve, if you decide to reapply.

It is recommended that you visit law schools you've been accepted to, if possible. This way you can get a feel for not only the academic environment of the school's curriculum but also a feel for the community, landscape, location and campus of your preferred schools. If you've been accepted to multiple institutions, these could be the determining factors that help you choose which law school you'll ultimately go to. 

In any case, you should send thank you notes to faculty who have helped you. Let them know the outcome of your application and thank them for their help. Once you graduate college, send your final transcript to the school that you will attend. 

Then, enjoy your last summer before law school and good luck in your next higher institution of learning. 

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Your Citation
Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "Timeline for Applying to Law School." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, thoughtco.com/timeline-for-applying-to-law-school-1686259. Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. (2021, July 31). Timeline for Applying to Law School. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/timeline-for-applying-to-law-school-1686259 Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "Timeline for Applying to Law School." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/timeline-for-applying-to-law-school-1686259 (accessed March 22, 2023).

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