We can’t all be Elle Woods when it comes to getting into law school, but Legally Blonde may not be as far from the truth as you think. Law school doesn’t have to be carefully planned out from your freshman year of high school or college. Breaking up the application and decision process into smaller chunks can help to sort out the more complicated bits. Here are some steps to take for getting into law school, according to law students and a law admissions counselor.
Read on for eight expert tips that will help you get into law school.
1. Choose A Major You Actually Want To Be In
Being considered for law school isn’t all about how many law related jobs you’ve had in the past or how many times your mock trial team went to nationals. Generally, law schools have no major-based requirements, meaning your major really could be fashion merchandising like Elle and law school would still be in reach. Still, political science or philosophy majors account for the average law student.
“Passion in your activities matters more than doing the correct ones,” University of Iowa law admissions counselor Amy Best said.
Being a well-rounded student with several interests never looks bad on an application, so don’t be afraid to apply even if you haven’t taken tons of philosophy classes.
2. Join Clubs That Can Help You With Law School
While it’s always good to go for clubs you’re passionate about, there are a few out there that can help you see what it feels like to become a lawyer.
Serena Qamhieh, a first-year law student at the University of Iowa, said that high school debate was one of the most important factors for her in deciding to go to law school.
“It’s not law school, I want to make that clear, but it does give you some sense of what it means to be able to think of arguments and how to construct a good argument,” Qamhieh said. “I would recommend doing something like debate.”
Anything that gets you comfortable with speaking in front of people judging you will be helpful. Speech competitions can help boost your confidence while working on oratory skills. Mock trial can give you resources for applying to law school as well as give you a solid grasp of the rules of evidence.
3. Study for the LSATs
Everyone has a different experience with the LSATs, but the good news is there are plenty of resources to help, from Khan Academy to PowerScore. Both can be found online for free. Khan Academy offers a series of online tests that tracks your score as you move through the practice plan and goal you set up. PowerScore provides a set of textbooks, a blog, chat forums, tutors and more all to help you get your dream score.
“I think I spent overall a strong three months and then a less strong set of months before the summer time studying for the LSATs,” Qamhieh said.
Each school requires a different range of numbers to get in, with Ivy Leagues ranking among the highest requirements of a 174 out a possible 180. Getting your dream score won’t come easy, but taking the time to study will be worth it in the end.
4. Keep A Good GPA
Even if you didn’t get your target score, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get into your dream school. A good GPA can make up for a lot. Tutors and office hours are a great resource, but keeping up your grades doesn’t always have to involve more serious one-on-ones.
Forming a study group can be a more relaxed option and be good for more than just schoolwork. If you want to form lasting habits that will improve your GPA, try to carve out a specific time to study.
Out of 50 law schools, the lowest GPA was 3.34 and a 3.9 was the highest. While LSATs and extracurriculars are important, a good GPA can carry you a long way.
5. Don’t Let The Application Stump You
Any law school application will most likely require an LSAT score, a transcript, two to four letters of recommendation, a personal statement, an interview and a resume. Out of all of those, the personal statement is what Bryony Whitaker, second year law student at the University of Iowa, struggled with the most out of an already difficult application.
As an international student from the UK, Whitaker said that she has wanted to be a lawyer since she was 13, but she knew she didn’t want to practice in the UK. She looked at programs across the world before deciding that the UI’s was the best fit for her. She said that the application as a whole was very difficult with the interview being the most difficult part.
“Everyone thinks a bit different from country to country,” Whitaker said. “I’d never written a personal essay. The LSATs and the application had an entirely different set of questions and different way of asking questions than I was used to.”
For a good personal statement, Best recommends writing for yourself instead of an admissions counsel. At the end of the day, authenticity pulls a lot of weight. That, and editing. Overall, take your time and be true to yourself throughout your application.
6. With Law School Comes the First Taste of Being A Lawyer
At its core, law school is a lot of reading, sometimes hundreds of pages worth a day. Don’t let that scare you. Law school is an opportunity to get out there and do what you’ve been preparing for.
“I honestly really appreciate the opportunity to learn things that I genuinely care about,” Qamhieh said. “When I was an undergrad, I was learning poly-sci and learning philosophy. I had this intention to go to law school, but it wasn’t until law school that I could do classes related to crime.”
Opportunities to express your inner lawyer can be found outside the classroom. Whitaker participates in international competitions where she gets to experience different ways of speaking and practicing law in an exciting atmosphere.
7. Law School Won’t Be Great All the Time
There is a downside to living your law school dreams: rankings. Even competitive people may find these rankings to be mean spirited and foster the nastier side of competitions among students. Having your test rank being posted for all your classmates to see might not be the most ideal way to go through school.
“What they’re doing is they’re saying, ‘Look, when grades come out for this specific course, we’re going to rank those grades.’ It’s not necessarily true that you’re going to get scores that you got on the test. It might go up or go down based off who gets better or worse score than you,” Qamhieh said.
Law school encourages competition among its students, even if it leads to a detrimental degree of competition.
8. Make Sure This Is What You Really Want To Do
Maybe you’re already vicariously being a lawyer by watching any of the several variations of Law and Order or practicing for a big political career, but it never hurt anyone to slow down. Law school puts people to the test, pushing them to see if they really want to be lawyers. If you aren’t sure, try taking some time to talk to real lawyers, getting involved with some law related jobs or clubs and talking to an advisor.
Whitaker has seen two people drop out of law school when they realized that their plans for the future involved being a lawyer or going through law school as a means to an end, like kickstarting a political career.
“Think about whether you really, really want to be a lawyer,” Whitaker said. “You have to really enjoy the study of law to get through law school.”
Going to law school is a big decision but one with a lot of benefits on the other side. Talking to a current law student or reaffirming your interest in law comes highly recommended.