Over 70,000 people applied to law schools accredited by the American Bar Association this year. It was the largest pool of applicants within the past 10 years.
While part of the reason for this sudden increase in applications might be due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also cannot deny that the famous deaths of George Floyd and of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could have sparked some of this change.
The issues surrounding us today may also make you interested in going to law school. Is it difficult to become a lawyer? How hard is it to get into law school?
If you’re curious about applying to law schools and whether or not you would even be able to get in, keep reading below.
What Do You Need Before Applying to Law School?
Not just anyone is going to be able to apply and get accepted into a law school. If you’re serious about it, you have to plan well beforehand to make sure that it’s not only the right path for you but that you’re prepared when the applications are open.
You will need to complete your undergraduate degree, get letters of recommendation, and take admissions tests before you apply. All of these are going to be requirements for any reputable law school.
If you’re serious about getting into law school, it’s best to start planning for it years before you actually want to attend. This way, you can make sure that you are giving your attention to the right areas and prioritizing things that will maximize your chances of being admitted.
The Best Undergraduate Programs to Consider
As we stated before, law schools are going to require that you’ve already completed (or are about to achieve) a 4-year college degree. When thinking about how to get into law school, you first need to think about which bachelor’s degree you want to complete.
There aren’t any specific prerequisite degrees for a person that wants to become a lawyer, but your GPA must be stellar and the school you choose must be reputable. Make sure that the school you’re selecting for your undergraduate degree is accredited, regardless of the degree you choose to pursue.
If you’re planning to get your degree outside of the US, there are other things that you’ll want to consider. Get in touch with any of the prospective law schools that you’re interested in so that you can understand their specific requirements before you start the program.
The specific program you choose for your undergraduate degree isn’t a big indicator of how likely you are to get into law school. The best thing to do, however, is to choose a major that you think is interesting and that will help you develop logic, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. These are all areas that you’ll need to be strong in if you want to succeed in law school.
Remember that law draws from history, sociology, economics, psychology, mathematics, and much more. Choose a major that will help you do well and learn how to become a stronger student.
Taking the Admissions Tests
It used to be true that to have any chance of getting into law school, you had to take the LSAT.
The LSAT, which literally stands for Law School Admissions Test, is still an important test that many law schools do require. However, there are a lot of American Bar Association-approved schools that will now accept the GRE in place of the LSAT.
If you choose to take the LSAT, you’ll be sitting for a 175-question exam that is designed to test your comprehension, analytical, and reasoning skills. It also has a writing portion that test-takers will need to complete within the time frame.
The scores range from 120 to 180, and no previous knowledge of law or legal aspects is needed.
If you choose to take the GRE, you need to learn about the test specifically designed for law school. The GRE is available for people that plan to get degrees in a lot of different areas, so look at the list of law schools that will accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT first to make sure your program is on the list.
When considering different law schools, feel free to get in touch with their admissions offices if you’re concerned or confused about the requirements for their program.
Getting Solid Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation aren’t quite as important as your GPA or even the test scores, but they are still part of the overall equation. Law schools will require you to submit at least a few of these letters so that they can make sure you’re serious about your professional future.
If you’re in college now, you’ll want to start building some relationships with your professors and colleagues. It’s difficult for someone to write about you in a letter if they don’t know you well. Talk to your professors during their office hours or ask questions to start a discussion with them about your current work and what your future plans are.
Remember that you want the professor to be able to talk about your character strengths and what types of qualities you have. If you feel like the letter won’t reflect that, it may be best to ask someone else for the recommendation.
If you’re not currently in college, you still have plenty of options for getting letters of recommendation. Consider asking a boss or a professional work colleague, especially if they know you well and can speak to your positive traits and skills.
It’s more important that you get letters of recommendation that speak volumes about you as a person than letters written by someone well-known within the field. Keep that in mind as you’re choosing who will write these letters for you.
Developing Your Own Personal Statement
While it’s not a requirement for all law schools, many schools will ask you to write out your own personal statement. This is usually open-ended, but the school might also ask you a prompt that you’ll need to answer within that document. You want to tailor your statement so that it speaks to your excitement about the program and why you’re a good fit for candidacy.
You’ll also have the chance to show off your writing skills within this statement. You want to be certain that it has no errors and is a clear indication of what your story really is. Don’t shy away from talking about your accomplishments, things you’ve overcome, or even areas that you’ve had to improve in recent years.
This should be obvious, but you should never have someone else write your personal statement. Not only is it dishonest and unethical, but it also isn’t showing the school the real you. If your plan is to truly become a lawyer, it’s not great to start off on an unprincipled foot.
Selecting the Best School for Your Needs
Now that you know what you need to do to prepare, you also have to consider which law schools you’ll apply to when the time comes. A few of the major factors to think about include specializations, price, and modality.
If you look online, you can usually find information about the demographics of those entering the program. You can see the typical GPAs or LSAT and GRE scores for entering classes, but you can also look at how many people they actually admit versus how many apply.
You might be thinking that you’ll apply to a lot of different schools, and then you’ll just attend the highest-ranked one that admits you. While this strategy can work, it’s not always a good idea.
Tuition is a huge circumstance to consider. While you want to go to schools that are highly regarded and well-known if possible, you cannot downplay the importance of being able to afford your program and survive while there.
Second of all, what if the program that admitted you isn’t able to offer you certain areas of law? If you’re really interested in education law, for example, you need to go to a school that has that area as one of its strong suits. This will help you become a better lawyer overall, and it will give you the skills you need to succeed in that specialization.
Lastly, if you decide to go to that highest-ranked school you got into, are you going to be able to keep up with the other important things in your life? Not all programs offer modality options, so you may have to go full-time. If you have family or military responsibilities, as an example, a program that offers part-time or hybrid options could be a better fit.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Law School?
As you can probably tell from reading this, getting into law school isn’t super easy and it’s not something that any person could do. It takes time, effort, and determination to get accepted.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it! If you want to become a lawyer, the best thing you can do is start to plan well before you’d attend law school. You want to make sure that you join organizations (such as the Order of the Coif), start networking with other professionals in the field, and gain the necessary knowledge to be a strong law student.
Remember that even once you get into law school, you still have to actually go to the classes and do the work. If you’re not prepared for the real courses and generally being a law student, you may struggle to get into law school for that specific reason.
Be sure that it is something you’re actually interested in doing, and even if you’ve put in the work to get there, you can still change your mind later. Getting a strong GPA, after all, is a great thing for any type of job you might want after college.
How Long Is Law School Before You Graduate?
Once you’re in law school, a traditional program will last about three years. If you’re in an accelerated program, you can expect to take about two years. Part-time students can expect to complete their J.D. program in at least four years (if not longer).
The first year is usually one of the toughest, especially because of the stress and challenges that you’ll face in the new learning environment. Remember that law school will take some time for you to get through, but while you’re there, it is essentially your job.
The chances of you becoming a lawyer and being good at your job will increase if you put all of your efforts into being a disciplined student throughout your time in law school.
Becoming a Lawyer Is a Rewarding Journey
How hard is it to get into law school? It’s not easy, but with the right amount of preparation and motivation, you can become a law student.
If you’re a current high school or college student considering law school, now is the time to start planning how you’ll get there. Think about ways you can improve your GPA or become more involved with your professional network. It will take time, but it’s worth it in the end.
Even if you’re someone that graduated years ago, you can still become a law student by taking the necessary steps. Don’t let your age hold you back.
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