PREPARING FOR LAW SCHOOL

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1 PREPARING FOR LAW SCHOOL Career Development Center York College of Pennsylvania Campbell Hall Room

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3 PREPARING FOR LAW SCHOOL Entering a career in the law requires serious thought and planning. Admission to law school is very competitive and preparation should not be taken lightly. This packet of information and other resources located in the Career Development Center are designed to answer many of the common questions pre-law students may have; they are NOT a substitute for meeting with a pre-law advisor to discuss individual needs and concerns. After reading the information here, plan to schedule an appointment with one of the members of the Pre-Law Advisory Committee to address your specific questions/concerns: Dr. Kwasi Sarfo, J.D., Esq.* HUM Ms. Renée Sefton CH Dr. Dennis Weiss HUM *Dr. Sarfo is the Pre-Law Coordinator for York College TABLE OF CONTENTS York College Pre-Law Resources, Services, Opportunities, and Recommendations 2 The Law School Admission Test 4 Frequently Asked Questions about Applying to Law School 6 Related Websites 8 NAPLA Law School Locator

4 York College Pre-Law Resources, Services, Opportunities, and Recommendations CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER PRE-LAW SERVICES/RESOURCES Assistance with the law school application process, including reviews of personal statements and resumes as well as guidance in the Credential Assembly Service ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools The Law School Buzz Book prelaw magazine Law school information sessions Periodic s regarding pre-law information, events, and opportunities; to register: 1. Go to 2. Click on For Students and Alumni 3. Click on Graduate and Law School Information 4. Click on Pre-Law Interest Group listserv registration and submit your information RECOMMENDED/RELATED CLASSES DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE Principles of Law (PS317) American Government (PS141/PS101, PS142) American Constitutional Thought (HIS371/PS371, HIS372/PS372) International Law (PS307) Environmental Law (PS327) Administrative Law (PS337) American Political Thought (PS361) Health Law and Policy (PS357) DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND HUMANITIES Critical Thinking (PHL222) Logic (PHL231) Philosophy of Law (PHL347) Interdisciplinary Writing/Communication (WRT225/FCO225) Rhetorical Theory (WRT305) Advanced Composition (WRT315) DEPARTMENT OF BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Criminal Law (CJA302) Judicial Process (CJA336) THE GRAHAM SCHOOL OF BUSINESS Legal Environment of Business (BUS260) Business and Commercial Law (BUS360) Employment Law (MGT420) DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION AND THE ARTS Rhetoric and Public Address (CM207) Argumentation and Debate (CM310) Persuasion (CM327) Media Law and Ethics (CM434) DEPARTMENT OF HOSPITALITY, RECREATION, AND SPORT MANAGEMENT Legal Aspects of Sport (SPM425) Students are not expected to take all the Recommended/Related Classes. Rather, they are encouraged to purposefully select the classes that will enhance the skills necessary for success in law school (see page 6) and are associated with their interests. Also, please note that some courses may have major restrictions and/or prerequisites; check the College Catalog for specific details. 2

5 PRE-LAW SOCIETY (STUDENT GROUP) The Pre-Law Society is open to all majors. It is dedicated to creating a support system for those students who are interested in a career in the legal field. Members learn about choosing a law school, taking the LSAT, and more. The Pre-Law Society provides a link between law school hopefuls and the advisors who can assist them in getting there. It is a great way to pursue independent studies and internships within the legal field. Contact Dr. Kwasi Sarfo (HUM 102, , for additional information. LEGAL STUDIES MINOR (18 CREDITS) PS317 and five courses from the following: BUS260 BUS360 CJA302 CJA304 CJA336 CJA341 HIS371/ PS371 HIS372/ PS372 PHL346 PHL347 PS307 PS327 PS337 PS357 PS367 No more than three courses may be taken from one discipline. SUGGESTED READING One L by Scott Turow provides significant and realistic insight into the actual law school experience and its demands; it is a must-read for anyone considering law school. Although based upon the author s experience at Harvard Law, attorneys agree that the book is relevant to the experience at all law schools. RECOMMENDED TIMELINE FOR PRE-LAW STUDENTS FRESHMAN & SOPHOMORE YEARS Take courses of interest as well as purposefully-selected General Education requirements Solidify a major (and seriously consider at least one minor) Learn how to write effectively and improve your ability to discuss, devise, and deduce arguments with evidence and proof via writing, communication, and philosophy classes Earn a high GPA JUNIOR YEAR: FALL Attend a law school information session through the Career Development Center JUNIOR YEAR: SPRING Register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) via practice tests, courses, and prep books o It is very important that you prepare intensively for this exam! Register for the LSAT by late April and take the exam in June Read the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools (available in Career Development Center) and consider the schools to which you want to apply Think about who might write your letters of recommendation JUNIOR YEAR: SUMMER Send transcript(s) to the CAS Decide on competitive, safe, and long-shot schools to which you will apply Draft a generic personal statement Visit the law schools that interest you or attend a Law School Recruitment Forum SENIOR YEAR: AUGUST/SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER Secure application materials Talk with potential references about your interests and choices Request letters of recommendation and/or evaluations 3

6 Register for the LSAT in mid-august to take (or re-take) the exam in October Create a resume for your law school applications and have it reviewed by Career Development SENIOR YEAR: OCTOBER/NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Complete and submit applications from November to early January; if you took the June LSAT, you should be able to submit earlier than this SENIOR YEAR: JANUARY Undergraduates should send 7 th semester grades to the CAS, which will then issue new reports to the law schools that request these grades Check on the status of your applications by logging-in to your CAS account SENIOR YEAR: FEBRUARY TO GRADUATION Acceptances and rejections begin to arrive; schools with rolling admissions policies may notify you earlier o As soon as you are admitted to the law school of your choice, notify all other law schools where you applied Keep your pre-law advisors informed; this helps us help you and other applicants both now and in the future THE LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION TEST The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. All American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many other law schools require applicants to take the LSAT as part of their admission process. It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier in June or October is often advised. Some schools place greater weight than others on the LSAT, but most law schools evaluate your full range of credentials. TEST FORMAT The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test taker's score. The un-scored section, commonly referred to as the variable section, typically is used to pretest new test questions or to pre-equate new test forms. The placement of this section will vary. A 35- minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) does not score the writing sample, but copies of the writing sample are sent to all law schools to which you apply. WHAT THE TEST MEASURES The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight, the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it, the ability to think critically, and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others. The LSAT s three multiple-choice question types are Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. TEST PREPARATION There are a number of providers of LSAT preparation materials that range from study books and software to courses and tutoring with a corresponding range of costs from $100 for books and software to over $4,000 for personal and customized tutoring. As the test taker, you need to evaluate your needs, establish goals, and 4

7 determine both a timeline and budget for meeting them. Preparation should be conducted over time and should include both indirect and direct methods. INDIRECT METHOD: VOCABULARY ENHANCEMENT All standardized tests are based upon vocabulary and critical thinking; thus, all test takers will benefit from increased focus on their verbal skills through reading. While college students may read a significant amount through their coursework, it is typically very specific to their academic program, so the breadth of their vocabulary does not always increase. To prepare for standardized tests, we recommend that test takers increase the scope of their reading. One common recommendation is to read either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal cover to cover once a week over a period of months prior to the test; while doing so, students should research unfamiliar terms and concepts. DIRECT METHOD: SPECIFIC LSAT TEST PREPARATION Direct test preparation can include information from varied sources and is specifically tailored to the LSAT. A good starting point to gauge the level of time and resources to devote to LSAT prep is the official LSAT exam released by the LSAC. After a test is 5 years old, the LSAC makes it available to the general public free of charge. Once a prospective law student has taken the practice exam under simulated test conditions and scored it, the type of prep that will be most beneficial should become clearer. This could range from the purchase of a LSAT prep book (available at most book stores) to private tutoring from a test prep specialist. To access the LSAC s free materials, including a former LSAT, go to Below are two of the leading national providers of law/graduate school test preparation programs. Please visit their websites for current options, locations, and pricing information. NOTE: There are other LSAT prep resources available; please research options in your geographic area. Kaplan ( provides various options including in-person and online courses, 24/7 video instruction, and private tutoring. The Princeton Review ( offers several choices that include in-person and online instruction, private tutoring, self-paced video lessons, and books. TAKING THE TEST On test day, it is important to arrive on time and relaxed at your chosen testing center. You should move swiftly and not spend too much time on any one question. If you believe that any factors present on test day (stress, illness, etc.) will adversely impact your test performance, you will be given the option at the end of the test to cancel your scores. If you elect to cancel your scores, law schools will see that you took the test and elected not to have it scored. If you do not cancel your scores and receive bad scores, most law schools will still average the low scores with subsequent attempts. REPEATING THE TEST Test takers frequently wonder whether they can improve their LSAT score by taking the test a second time. If you believe that your test score does not reflect your true ability (for example, if some circumstance such as illness or anxiety prevented you from performing as well as you might have expected), you should consider taking the test again. However, if your score is a fairly accurate indicator of your ability, it is unlikely that taking the test again will result in a substantially different score. You should also be aware that there is a chance your score will drop. Law schools must have access to your complete test record, not just your highest score. If there is no reason to believe that one score represents a truer estimate of an applicant's ability, schools are advised that the average score is probably the best estimate of ability especially if the tests were taken over a short period of time. NOTE: The LSAC does not automatically inform law schools of a candidate's registration for a retest. It is your responsibility to inform law schools directly about your registration for additional tests. 5

8 LIMITATIONS ON TEST TAKING You may not take the LSAT more than three times in any two-year period. This policy applies even if you cancel your score or if your score is not otherwise reported. LSAC reserves the right to cancel your registration, rescind your admission ticket, or take any other steps necessary to enforce this policy. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL Your application should tell the story of who you are, including the background and experiences both personal and educational that make you unique from other applicants. Admissions staff members want to know what you will offer in the classroom, what challenges/disadvantages you have overcome, and what experiences have shaped your perspective. Through your application, you should seek to set yourself apart by providing relevant information about what you can bring to the law school experience. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL? Take the LSAT but not until you're ready. It's important to take the test as early as possible before law school application deadlines. (These deadlines may vary, so you should contact individual schools to determine what their application deadlines are. Plan to take the LSAT in either June or October, ideally.) Allow yourself plenty of time to take practice tests under timed conditions. Think in terms of months not weeks. Also, you will create an account with the LSAC s Credential Assembly Service to compile all your application materials, which may include transcripts, letters of recommendation, evaluations, personal statements, LSAT scores, writing samples, resume, and law school applications. WHAT IS THE BEST PRE-LAW MAJOR? There is no particular major, course of study, or kind of bachelor's degree required for admission to law school, and it is not necessary to take law-related courses as an undergraduate. Virtually all law schools consider a variety of majors and look closely at an applicant's overall background before making an admission decision. The selection of certain undergraduate majors can make an individual more competitive for jobs in particular fields after law school (e.g., an Accounting major for a future tax attorney or a biological or physical science major for a future patent attorney.) However, keep in mind that law schools do not expect/require undergraduates to have a clear idea of the type of law they would like to pursue; thus, you should use your undergraduate education as an opportunity to explore and to work on your intellectual development. What matters most is that you do well in challenging courses that require you to synthesize information and to write. Your undergraduate education should include courses in which the following skills are taught and/or required: Analyzing/evaluating Problem solving Critical reading Writing Speaking Listening Researching Organizing For more detailed information about these skills and undergraduate preparation for law school, visit WHAT UNDERGRADUATE GRADE POINT AVERAGE (UGPA) IS REQUIRED FOR ADMISSION? As with LSAT scores, no single answer applies for all law schools. In general, you should strive for a strong UGPA from a progressively challenging course load. Your overall UGPA is as important to law schools as the kinds of courses in which you enrolled. Many law schools also examine your performance trend throughout undergraduate school. That means they may discount a slow start in a student's undergraduate career if he or she performs exceptionally well in the later school years. Similarly, admissions committees may see an undergraduate's strong start and mediocre finish as an indication of less potential to do well in law school. You may have an opportunity to comment in your personal statement about a decline or dramatic turnaround 6

9 in your performance as well as about any events in your personal life that may have affected your grades. However, be sure to follow the individual application instructions precisely. WHEN SHOULD I APPLY TO LAW SCHOOL? IS IT OKAY TO WAIT UNTIL THE DEADLINE TO APPLY? There are several reasons to complete your law school applications and take the LSAT as early as possible. First, you will have more time to fill in any gaps in your application file. Second, you might have more time to evaluate the schools that have accepted you or to apply to other schools that you had not previously considered. Third, you will reduce the chance that a problem or error in paperwork might delay the review of your application. Admissions offices are usually flooded with paperwork at the application deadline, so submitting materials in November and December is suggested. HOW SHOULD I DECIDE WHERE TO APPLY? Begin by gathering as much information as possible about a variety of law schools; it is imperative that you not limit your selection of schools initially. The following resources are likely to be helpful: Law School Recruitment Forums ( Graduate and professional school days on law school campuses ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools ( The NAPLA Law School Locator (see pages 9-10 of this packet) The law schools themselves Your undergraduate pre-law advisor The Law School Admission Council offers detailed information about factors to consider when choosing a law school: Once you collect all your information, you should apply to at least one school in each of the following categories: Your dream schools ones you would love to attend but that tend to admit students with LSAT scores and GPAs somewhat higher than your own Your realistic schools ones where your application will be in the mainstream of the applicant population Your safe schools ones that are most likely to admit you It is never too early to identify the schools that may interest you, but do not decide which ones to apply to until you assess yourself as an applicant and thoroughly research various law schools. Because admission is a highly selective process, it is imperative that you develop a realistic sense of how attractive you are to the schools to which you apply; this step will help you yield the best results from your law school selections. Some law schools may offer admission to students with low numerical qualifications AFTER successful completion of a course that is usually offered the summer before first-year classes begin, but admission is not guaranteed. HOW DO I REGISTER WITH LSAC? As a law school applicant, you will need to register with the Law School Admission Council before you take the LSAT and apply to individual law schools. Go to and click on the Future JD Students tab. WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT? The essay or personal statement, a required part of all law school applications, is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee about yourself. Be brief, factual, comprehensive, and organized. You are a storyteller here: This is your chance to become vivid and alive to the reader as well as to demonstrate your ability to write and present a prose sample in a professional manner. Any noteworthy personal experience may be an appropriate subject for your essay, but you must do more than simply state it: Describe your experience briefly and concretely and tell why it had value to you whether it is a job, your family, a significant 7

10 accomplishment, or your upbringing. If you have overcome a serious obstacle in your life to get where you are today, by all means let the admissions committee know about it. RELATED WEBSITES LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION COUNCIL Contains information on the LSAT, financing graduate school, Law School Recruitment Forums, and the Credential Assembly Service AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION Provides information on ABA Accredited Law Schools INTERNET LEGAL RESEARCH GROUP Offers a Law School Information Index with sources for ranking and analysis as well as links to law schools 8

11 9

12 Note: NAPLA Law School Locator information was retrieved directly from 10 Updated

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