By Kyle Yager, Sports Editor
Deciding what to do after undergrad is a daunting and difficult task. It comes down to making a decision that heavily impacts the rest of your life, without really knowing.
I decided that law school was my next move.
After going through the process of researching, applying, and getting accepted, I’ve realized I would have benefitted from talking to more people with more knowledge of the process. Because of that, I will explain the process, and give some advice, and I’m hoping there’s one of you reading this that will gain something from my detail.
So, first when deciding on law school, you need to sign up for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Credit Assembly Service (CAS) online at lsac.org. This will set you back a couple hundred bucks.
The LSAT is necessary for admission to most law schools, and the CAS is crucial in compiling your applications for law school, and is required by most.
My recommendation for the LSAT is to pinpoint when you want to enroll and sign up for an LSAT well in advance, that way you won’t be worried on how long they take to release scores and if you don’t do as good as you anticipated, you have time to take it again.
The LSAT is a long, grueling test, and studying is key. Whether you take a course or prefer self-study methods, studying is essential to do well. It’s a test focused on logic and analytics, and preparing is key for conditioning your mind to find answers quickly and effectively.
As you lead up to taking the exam, and after, you should be researching schools. You need to decide what kind of area you intend to live in, and where you’d want to reside after school. Also having an idea of what area of law you want to practice is helpful in deciding, but not necessary.
Once you receive your score, you’ll have more of an idea of where you’re aiming. To maximize options and potential, you should apply to several law schools. You never know how a climate is in a given year, and you don’t want to be caught with your pants down.
To each his own, but my advice would be to apply to a few reach schools where your lsat and gpa are on the lower end or admission percentage is small. Also, apply to schools that you’re very interested in and you seem to have a good shot of getting in, and then have one or two fall back schools in case you don’t get in anywhere else (just to be safe).
Now that you have your list of schools, you can start crafting your application. A key is your letter(s) of recommendation. Like everything in this process, you want to be ahead of the game on this.
Professors, employers, or whatever other type of person you ask will take an ambiguous amount of time to complete their respective letters. You don’t want to be completely ready to apply but stuck waiting for someone else to finish their part of you application. This is your path, and you don’t want to be held back by someone else. Also I’d recommend asking several people, as you can have up to four letters per school.
I hope you’re ready to write a lot. A personal statement is required for each school you apply. This is a unique piece about some big accomplishment, hardship, or just what makes you stand out as a candidate for that school’s program. It needs to be somewhat personalized for each school, so be prepared to tweak one sort of template several times, or just write several statements. Parameters for the statement also differ per school, so be aware.
I really hope you’re ready to write. Other then the personal statement, most schools have one or two additional essays. Lots of schools have a “Why (insert school name)” essay, which has you write specifically what makes you want to attend their school. There’s also a lot of supplemental information writing requests. They basically give you more freedom to formally sell yourself to the school.
The applications themselves also are long. The good thing is, with using the CAS, as you fill it out it will save your answers on one application and transfer them to the next application you fill it out, thus, saving you time.
Once you start sending in applications, send ones to schools you think will take longer to consider you first. The timeframe on decision responses is extremely ambiguous, but you can try to plan for that slightly.
As responses trickle back, and schools accept you, you’ll notice there’s a pretty strict timeframe for decisions. Schools will give you, for example, three weeks to put down a first seat deposit. If you don’t, they revoke admission. The issue here is you’ll be forced to make decisions on certain schools while you still haven’t heard anything from other schools. This is what makes the process stressful. One ends up either putting down multiple deposits (which they do notify schools of other schools you’ve also deposited at) or letting schools fall with hopes of getting in the school(s) that one prefers.
After you really narrow down to a few schools, you should go visit them. A lot of schools will stipend travel and lodging, so be aware or reach out about that. You can set up tours, sit in on actual law classes, and meet with faculty or students to get some incite from people currently involved in the program.
Then all that’s left is choosing a school. Congratulations once you’ve made it this far. Get involved with your law school’s Facebook group, get to know your fellow L1’s, and figure out where you’re going to live near the school.
As you complete the process and enroll, it may feel quite relieving. As it should, you’ve completed a difficult and strenuous process to get to the next phase.
The only problem is, now you’re in law school. The stress is just beginning, and you’re about to grind through the hardest three years of your life. It will be challenging, but rewarding.
It comes down to a lot of things in life. The greater the risk the greater the reward. Embrace law school, ingrain yourself into the community, do the work, and succeed. Good luck.
In the words of the late, great, Abraham Lincoln: “The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every calling, is diligence.”