The law school

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(A reference book for students

interested in knowing more about

how to prepare for and apply to law school)



300 Garland Hall


Carolyn Mae Krause

LaTonia J. Sanders

Administrative Coordinators
Lena Harding

Administrative Secretary

F:\SHARED|Wpfiles|Preaw|Law Tower\LawOptionMANUAL06


I. Introduction 1

II. Pre-law Preparation 2

A. Academic Record 2

B. Work/Internship Experience 3

C. Extracurricular Activities 3

III. A Suggested Calendar 4

IV. The Application Process 5

A. The Law School Admission Test 6

B. Preparing for the LSAT 7

  1. Law School Recommendations 7

Starting a Pre-law File 7

Pre-law File Checklist 8

D. The Art of Gathering Recommendations 9

E. The Essay 9

V. The Acceptance 10

A. Choosing a Law School 10

B. Early Decision 12

C. Deferred Admission 12

D. Delayed Application 12

E. Financial Aid 13

F. Bar Requirements 13

G. Joint Degree Programs 13

H. Placement After Law School 14


Whether you have decided to apply to law school or are just considering law school as one of many possible options upon graduation, this booklet should be of use to you. What follows is a discussion of the ways in which you can prepare yourself for law school, the mechanics of applying and what you can expect once you are there.
It is possible that you have only a vague desire to attend law school but have heard that a law degree is good preparation for almost any career. On the other hand, your personal ambitions may be more refined, yet you still may be incorrectly assuming that law school is a necessary stepping stone to your goals. There is a wide range of fields such as public policy, urban and regional planning, criminal justice, international relations, social work and others that are law-related, but for which a legal education may not be necessary or the most appropriate training.
Why Law School? Before choosing law as a career, it is important to decide why you are choosing to be a lawyer as well as to know what a lawyer actually does. If you have had a legal internship, you probably have considered both of these issues.
You may realize that the practice of law involves a great deal of research and detail. Many lawyers think of it as fitting pieces into a gigantic puzzle. A legal practice today is a business as well as a profession. It involves billing in six minute increments, soliciting clients, working successfully with support staff, associates and partners, marketing yourself and your firm, and continually keeping abreast of the changes in the field.
You may not realize that the profession usually demands very long hours. If you want to have ample time for leisure and family, law may not be the best choice for you. You do not, of course, have to work 70 hour weeks, but if you do not, you may not climb the partnership ladder. Know what is important to you. Being a lawyer involves much more than a large paycheck, and depending on what field and practice setting you choose, it may not even include that. This booklet is a starting place for learning more. We hope it will help you make an informed decision about law as a career as well as give you nitty-gritty information about the application process. For additional resources and discussion of your personal situation, see Ana L. Droscoski, J.D.
The Law School Experience. It is difficult to generalize about the law school experience since each school has its own identity. However, most law schools have a fairly standardized first-year program that usually covers the study of torts, contracts, property, criminal law, and civil procedure. Within the first year, there is little room for elective coursework, and most courses continue for the full academic year.
During the second and third years of law school, the vast majority of the coursework is elective and generally lasts a semester or a quarter, depending on the school’s system. It is during the second and third years that clinical and internship experience may become available, and electives may determine for you your future line of work.

Law school is not a place to specialize in the same way that you choose a major. However, many students develop areas of specialization by taking a preponderance of courses in one field, such as International Law or Environmental Law. For the most part law schools prepare you to think like a lawyer and leave the preparation for the practice of law to on-the-job experience. Because law schools have come under attack for being “too academic,” many have started clinical programs designed to give students “hands on” experience. You will want to investigate the clinical possibilities at the law schools that interest you.

In order to become better acquainted with life as a law student, plan to visit law schools, attend classes and talk to as many students as possible. The Johns Hopkins University Pre-Law Society and Office of Pre-Professional Programs & Advising sponsor the annual Law School Fair that is attended by admissions officers from throughout the country. Discussing your plans and interests with these admissions representatives can be very helpful to your decision making. Ana L. Droscoski, J.D. can often give you names of Johns Hopkins graduates attending a law school you are planning to visit.

One of the best features of pre-legal education is that it contains absolutely no requirements or restrictions. You can major in literally any field and take any course or program offered, and subsequently be admitted to a fine law school and become a topnotch lawyer. The key factor is to challenge yourself to do well. Many pre-law students major in political science, international studies, history or English. This is only advisable if you like one of these areas of study. Those who major in the traditional pre-law areas will neither be helped nor hindered in the admissions process. What counts, of course, is how well you perform in your chosen field of study.
A strong academic record is very important in the law school application process. Johns Hopkins University is well known as a rigorous, academically challenging institution. It is important to demonstrate your capacity for success within a competitive institution. Once again the old adage to “do what you enjoy, and you will do well” appears to hold true. Although a heavy course load does make an impression on admissions officers, it is still more important to take an average number of courses (+/- 15 credits) and do your best. Completing your degree requirements, a semester or a year early, or double majoring, is not in itself seen as a benefit.
In evaluating a candidate's undergraduate academic performance and resultant undergraduate cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.), law schools look very carefully at the trends in a student's academic record. A student who has earned high grades in a large number of analytic and advanced courses but whose G.P.A. has been lowered by a few low grades in less demanding or introductory courses taken during the freshman year may be regarded as a stronger candidate than the student who has earned a high G.P.A. by taking numerous introductory courses during the junior and senior years.
Law schools will tend to forgive a weak freshman year and/or the ravages of the sophomore slump, provided the student shows real strength in the last two years. Law school admissions committees, however, will be concerned about a candidate who shows real strength in the first year and then shows a decline in G.P.A. each successive year.

You may be tempted to take “law-related” courses. While such courses offer students an opportunity to test their academic interest in law, law schools urge undergraduates not to take these courses in such numbers that they prevent them from taking a broad range of courses in the liberal arts. Many admissions officers also advise against taking too many courses on a pass/fail basis. Although there are exceptions, courses taken pass/fail represent one less opportunity to accurately evaluate a student's academic performance. Many times a pass in a pass/fail course is looked at as a “C.”

Students frequently ask what effect, if any, study abroad for a semester or year will have on their admission to law school. Some resources indicate that although foreign study itself will not contribute significantly to a candidate’s acceptance or rejection, law schools are interested in recruiting students with diverse and enriched educational backgrounds. Students are cautioned, however, to apply to reputable, academically strong study-abroad programs. It is also important to realize that study abroad grades will be calculated into the Law School Data Assembly Service G.P.A., even though those same grades may not appear on the Hopkins transcript.
Although a law-related work experience or internship is not a requirement for law school admission, such “field experience” offers students an opportunity to test their interest in law. This type of position may involve real responsibility in a legal environment: interviewing clients and gathering salient facts, legal research, writing memoranda, counseling, and negotiation.
Employment in a job not law related may play a role in an admissions committee’s decision if such work shows significant entrepreneurial ability or involves situations where employers have given the applicant real responsibility in a company's operations. If a student has found it necessary to work in order to pay for college tuition or expenses, it is important to bring it to the attention of the admissions committee. Demonstrating maturity in accepting responsibility for college expenses and learning to balance employment and academic commitments can have a positive impact on an admissions officer.
Law schools neither require nor are impressed by long lists of extracurricular activities. However, admissions committees are looking for significant leadership ability and activity, and a commitment to something other than a high undergraduate G.P.A. Whatever the activity, it needs to indicate meaningful community involvement, leadership, and responsibility in order to have a significant impact on the admissions process.

Note of caution: We wish to warn pre-law students not to make choices concerning courses or majors, work or internship experiences, and extracurricular activities simply to impress law school admissions committees and thereby improve one’s chance of admission. It is impossible to second-guess admissions committees. There is disparity among law schools about the comparative weight put on a candidate’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Remember: Do what you feel comfortable and happy about doing. If you are interested in what you are doing, you will be successful.

Freshman and Sophomore Years
Section II on Pre-law Preparation primarily relates to freshmen and sophomores. Keep in mind the general advice to do what you enjoy, since most of us are successful when we truly enjoy what we are doing. Beyond that, it will be beneficial to participate in Pre-law Society activities where you will be able to get to know other students interested in the law. The Office of Pre-Professional Programs & Advising is available to you for advice and counseling. You may also want to begin reading books about law and lawyers as you have time (see pages 16-22). It is also important to ask questions about the profession to anyone you know — faculty members, parents, friend’s parents, employers, etc. It is not too early to begin gathering information.
*See Timeline and Check Sheet for Law Professions Applicants, for more comprehensive recommendations throughout each of your four years at Hopkins, as well as the application process. Available in the office tower, or online at
Junior Year
- Discuss plans with Ana L. Droscoski, J.D.

- Study LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book or the LSAC website at

- Attend the Pre-law meeting for juniors in the spring

- Register for LSATs well in advance of deadline date (June test date recommended). This will also register you with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS)

- Request recommendation letters from faculty

- Become comfortable with the application process and expectations for applicant

Summer After Junior Year
- Take LSATs in June, if they were not taken previously

- Start researching law schools which interest you; check out websites

- Visit law school campuses

- Discuss legal careers with friends and acquaintances who are attorneys

- Read suggested pre-law book(s)

- Begin thinking about personal statement essay on application

- Review transcript and, if accurate, submit to LSDAS

Fall - Senior Year

- Complete pre-law file as soon as possible

- Discuss law school matching with Ana L. Droscoski, J.D.

- Try to mail all applications by the first week in November

- Early decision applications need to be mailed by the first week in October. Always check individual school deadlines

Early research about the programs and requirements of individual law schools will simplify the application process for you. Law schools will consider LSAT scores, your G.P.A., honors, internships, job experiences, recommendations, your personal essay, and other information in deciding whether to admit you. Since each school weighs these factors differently, utilize the Official Guide to U. S. Law Schools (or another compilation) and confer with an advisor. Ideally you will identify several schools which are close matches to your qualifications as well as a few which are “reaches” and a few where you feel relatively sure you will be admitted. A good rule of thumb is to identify two or three “safe” schools, where your numbers indicate 70% or more of the applicants are admitted and two or three “good match” schools where 50% or more of the applicants are admitted.
Spring - Senior Year
- Check to make sure the law schools you have applied to have the materials they need

- Visit schools where you have been admitted or wait-listed

- Start making decisions about where to attend

- Let other schools know your plans

- If you are wait-listed at a school of your choice, consider forwarding new information to the admissions office, i.e., fall semester grades, thesis, other recommendations, etc. to indicate your very strong interest in the school

- Keep in touch with the Pre-Professional Programs & Advising Office

Do It Early/Assume Nothing. Our conversations with law school representatives lead us to believe that it is in your best interest to apply as early as possible to law school. Even though stated application deadlines fall anywhere between January 1 and May 1, it is advisable to get your application completed and in by the first week in November. This will insure a careful and thorough reading of it before admissions officers are faced with the thousands of applications that they have had to deal with in recent years. Many law schools have rolling admissions procedures, allowing those applicants who apply early a better opportunity; October 1 is not too early for competitive schools with rolling admissions.
The law school application process is long and complicated. There are many opportunities for mistakes to be made. Start early to allow for delays and assume nothing. If you don't hear from LSDAS or a law school to which you have applied, call and verify that your application or registration has been received. You are in charge of your own destiny. The Office of Pre-Professional Programs & Advising, your faculty, parents and friends will offer support, encouragement and information, but you, and only you, can complete the application process.
What is it?
As the LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book explains, “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 reason critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and argument of others.” The Law School Admission Test continues to be regarded by law schools as the single best predictor of first-year law school performance. It is a half-day standardized test with five 35 minute sections of multiple choice questions. Four of the five sections are scored; the fifth is used to pretest new items. A 30-minute writing sample is administered, but is not scored, although it is sent to all law schools to which you apply.
The LSAT: How to Register and When to Take It. Registration forms for the test are found in the LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book, as well as on the website. The book is available in the Pre-Professional Programs & Advising Office and contains important information concerning the LSAT, the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), sample test questions, publications available to help you with the application process, financial aid information and other resources. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK VERY CAREFULLY.
It is best to register online, otherwise, registration for the examination must be postmarked almost five weeks in advance of the test date. It is important to register early to insure you obtain the test center of your choice, especially if you want to take the LSAT at Hopkins. An additional week is provided for late registration, with a late fee. On the day of the test be sure to take your LSAT admission ticket and a form of identification that includes your signature and descriptive information; a photo driver’s license should be acceptable.
It is a good idea to take the LSAT in the summer between your junior and senior year. This gives you plenty of time to get the results back and develop a clear picture of where to apply. It also lets you know whether you should take the test again. Retake the LSAT only if you feel there was some definite reason why you did poorly the first time (you didn't feel well, you forgot to guess, etc.) and you feel that you can improve your score substantially. Data indicates that the average retest affects the score three points either way. Although you should attempt to get the best LSAT score you can, and in certain instances, retesting might be important, LSDAS will average multiple test scores.
Individual law schools react differently to a retake of the LSAT; most will average the scores, some will take the most recent, some will take the highest. Before you decide to retake the test, analyze where you made your mistakes and identify a strategy to improve.

It is imperative that you are well prepared for the test. The real question is: “How do I prepare for the test?” Preparation will help you improve your score as well as develop a relaxed and confident attitude toward taking the test. The best way to improve your score on the LSAT is to familiarize yourself with the test using old test questions and reviewing as frequently as you think necessary. Put yourself in a simulated test setting, time and score yourself. Then analyze your mistakes and develop strategies to improve.
Preparatory courses such as TestMasters, Kaplan, Princeton Review, or specialized courses on local campuses are another option. You must be the judge of what kind of course best suits your study habits and personality. Many students prefer the regimen of a course rather than depending on their own self-discipline to practice the test. There are prep books for sale on the LSAC website. In addition, several publishers offer books on preparing for the LSAT. Barrons has been recommended by several students, but check the bookstore for other publications. The key point to remember is the importance of the test score. Admissions officers often give equal, if not more, weight to the LSAT score than to your GPA.
The Law School Data Assembly Service. The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) is a subscription service which provides a standardized summary of your academic work. Once you have registered with the LSDAS you need to have an official copy of your transcript sent to LSDAS from the Registrar’s Office of every college or university you have attended. A profile report will be sent by LSDAS to all the law schools to which you apply. LSDAS calculates your G.P.A. slightly differently from your JHU transcript. Use the LSDAS grade conversion table in the Registration and Information book to know how your GPA will be affected. You should forward subsequent transcripts to LSDAS when they become available.
LSDAS has initiated a Letters of Recommendation service. Many law schools require receipt of recommendations through Law Services and that you use the Letters of Recommendation Service. Check with individual schools to which you apply. The Office of Pre-professional Programs and Advising recommends that you opt to utilize the Letters or Recommendation service and acquire a total of three letters of recommendation. *See Letters of Recommendation Guidelines: Law School Applicants for further comprehensive information, available in the office tower or online at /prepro.

You may now check the status of your LSAC file on line. Simply log onto their website at Click on “online services,” then select the option “LSAC file status.”

Starting a Pre-law File. There is no magic starting date for establishing a pre-law file; but as with everything else that has been discussed up to this point, the earlier the better. Ideally, a file should be started your freshmen year. If you are uncertain as to whether to pursue a legal career, make an appointment with an advisor. Once you have decided law school is for you, obtain a copy of the LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book, read it and set your schedule to meet admissions deadlines.
As previously discussed, a Letter of Recommendation service is offered by LSDAS. LSDAS will mail your recommendation letters directly to law schools. If you elect to use this service, it is important to follow the rules set out in the LSAT/LSDAS Information and Registration book. The Information book states that, “When using this service, the letter from each recommender must be sent by him or her directly to LSAC along with the Letter of Recommendation Form.” The following warning is also included, “Only if this form is fully completed and returned with the letter will LSAC be able to assure matching the letter to your file. You must complete the upper portion of this form and provide it to each recommender. The recommender completes the bottom portion and sends it to LSAC along with his or her letter of recommendation.” You should submit three letters to be forwarded on your behalf to the law schools which you apply. You are also encouraged to have your letters sent as soon as possible after you have subscribed to LSDAS.
Pre-law File Checklist:
1. Letters of Recommendation - Request recommendation letters from faculty members, employers, etc. Most law schools require at least two general letters of recommendation. Although LSAC will hold up to 4 general letters, we recommend you obtain 3, preferably from faculty members. Provide each person writing a recommendation with the information and items required by LSDAS and this office. Most schools are now participating in the LSDAS Letter of Recommendation (LOR) process. LOR requires a Letter of Recommendation Form to be completed by each recommender and mailed directly to LSDAS with each recommendation letter. A copy of the letter of recommendation and a completed Law Professions Recommendation Waiver Form should be forwarded to this office. Be sure to use the Recommendation Guidelines and Law Professions Recommendation Waiver Form which can be found in the pre-law section of the tower in the Pre-Professional Programs & Advising Office library or on our website at
2. Fill in and return the Law Professions Questionnaire form

3. Sign and return your Warning Statement

4. Updated Resume
5. Updated Transcript
6. Submit a copy of your personal statement when it is complete, if you would like it reviewed. Personal statements can only be reviewed once by the office.
Have your LSAT scores reported directly to Johns Hopkins (check item 17 on the LSAT registration form) or bring in your scores after you receive them. It will also be helpful to bring in your LSDAS Master Law School Report that shows your transcript information. Space is provided on the Law Professions Questionnaire to list the schools to which you are applying. This list is a discussion point with the Pre-law Advisor.
You will be responsible for completing online (or mailing) your applications to law schools and ensuring that your recommendations are forwarded to Law Services.
If a school you are applying to requires a “Dean's Statement” form, it will need to be processed by the Office of Pre-Professional Programs & Advising. Submission of a completed Law Professions Questionnaire, a current resume, a current transcript, and completed Dean’s Report are required to prepare the “Dean's Statement.”
For many students, it is a rude awakening to reach their junior or senior year and suddenly discover, “I don't know any professors.” Throughout the campus community, you hear the echoed refrain: “Who am I going to ask for a recommendation?” Only you can answer this question, but there are steps you can take to make the search less painful.
One thing you can do is to look back over your record and pick out courses where you did well and had some interaction with the professor. Law schools are looking for recommendations from people who have observed you in classroom situations and can comment on your intellectual abilities. How well do you express yourself? How do you approach problem solving? What about your integrity? What is the quality of your written work? A recommendation that can cover the points in detail, citing specific examples, will be appreciated by admissions committees.
Choose someone who knows your work. It makes much more sense to ask for a recommendation from an assistant professor or legislative assistant who knows you well than a department chair or Congressman who doesn’t know you.
Remember the admonition, “Don’t assume anything.” This is the time to keep it in mind. For instance, don't assume that a recommender has enough information about you just from classroom encounters. Supply the writer with a list of your activities, a paper from the class, a copy of your resume and a copy of your transcript. Make an appointment with the recommender to discuss your interest in law school.
Be fair to your recommenders. They are busy too. When you talk to them be clear about your deadlines. Request recommendations by early to mid-spring semester junior year, so that they have spring semester, and the entire summer if necessary, to complete the recommendations by early fall.

How much do recommendations actually count in the admissions process? The answer is a multiple choice ranging from quite heavily to not at all. If the numbers are not there, some schools don’t even bother to read the recommendations. Other schools make a point of reading everything you submit and pay close attention to recommendations, particularly when you fall into the middle range of applicants. The point is, you never know how they will be viewed, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Law schools have only two ways to look at you as a person instead of just another set of statistics: your personal essay and your recommendations.
The essay is the sleeper of the whole admissions process. All too often, candidates waste this golden opportunity to communicate directly with the decision makers at law schools. Both form and substance are important; your personal statement will be judged for clarity of expression and general writing ability as well as for its content. There are a few general mistakes to avoid:

1. Do not write an essay on social conditions;

2. Do not tell the work you will do when you get a law degree, unless your past experiences have been a motivating force in your decision to go to law school;
3. Do not use the creative writing approach (i.e., sending a videotape of yourself or writing your essay in verse);
4. Do not write a travelogue of where you’ve been and what you’ve done, (unless you can show how you learned something from it about yourself);
5. Do not write assertiveness essays (I’ve always been successful, therefore have confidence in me).
For a better personal statement, DO:
1. Do give examples of how you think, critically, systematically and analytically;
2. Do tell something interesting about your insight into yourself;
3. Do be fairly modest (not apologetic), describing adversity, interruption, failure. Be personal, write something about yourself, not designed to impress. Show your insights.
4. If your LSAT and G.P.A. don't match up, explain it (without bitterness, anger or defensiveness). This explanation is better handled in a separate addendum entitled “explanation of LSAT score” or “explanation of G.P.A.”

*Notes from “How to Write a Personal Statement” - a lecture by Professor Robert Condlin, University of Maryland School of Law.

Choosing where to go to law school can be even more difficult than deciding where to apply. Many students feel that the hardest part of the admissions process is selecting a school to attend once acceptances have been received. There are many factors to consider when it comes time to making a choice. For instance:
Consider the geographical area of the schools — will you be happy in a large city for the next three years? Do you want a school which emphasizes the law of the state in which it is located? Is the law school connected to a university? Are there opportunities to work in the area? Will you want to work in this area after law school? Your network of friends and professors as well as your placement office will provide you with referrals in the area after graduation.
Consider the cost — how expensive is the school? How easy is it to procure a loan? How much financial aid is available?
Consider the law school faculty — their backgrounds, both educational and extracurricular. Are they big names or will they teach? Check the catalog course schedule and find out how often the courses you are interested in are offered.
What is the student-faculty ratio? How accessible are the professors?
Consider the student body — how large is it? Are they all from the same general area? What schools do they represent? How competitive are they? What size is the law library?
Consider the law school placement office — how active is the office on behalf of students? What percent of graduates are placed in jobs? Where do they go? How many recruiters visit the school each year? Are they accessible to each student, or only to the top 10% of the class? Long term, this aspect of the law school is extremely important.
Consider the housing — are you on-campus or off-campus? How much assistance will the school provide in obtaining housing?
Consider the curriculum — do you have the opportunity to take electives in areas that interest you? Are there clinical programs? Are there joint degree programs available? Can you take courses in other areas of the university?

For some of these questions there are no easy answers. The first place to look is the law school website. Although the websites become repetitious after awhile, they do provide a great deal of specific and useful information about faculty and staff, the law school curriculum, financial aid and admissions procedures. A much more condensed version of the same material can be found in The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools available through Law Services Publications 215.968.1001, by using the order form in the LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book, ordering on-line at or purchase in your local bookstore. There are also several one-year old versions in our office library for your perusal.
While both of these sources are excellent, often, they do not go far enough to satisfy the curiosity of most students. They do not give a feel for the all-important “atmosphere” which can make a difference in the student’s law school experience. This kind of nitty-gritty material must come from people who have actually attended a particular school. Where possible, it is important to visit the campus and talk to students. Especially once you have your acceptances and are making final, matriculation decisions. Ask to sit in on a class. Once you have been accepted, a law school should accommodate your questions. If their attitude is warm and hospitable during this period it is probably a fair indication that it will be a warm, hospitable environment for you as a student. If it isn’t you may not want to go there. During the fall, many law school admissions officials visit the Hopkins campus. The annual Law School Fair hosts over 60 admissions representatives. These representatives are extremely valuable as a means to learn more about a given institution. Also consider contacting Hopkins friends and acquaintances that attend law schools you are interested in. They may be your best resource. Ana L. Droscoski, Esq. also should be regarded as a resource, having had personal experience as well as contact with both pre-law and current law students and admissions representatives.
Several law schools encourage applicants to apply early. In many cases the deadlines for Early Decision or Early Action are in October. As opposed to undergraduate early decision rules, many law schools do not view an early application as binding, if the applicant gains acceptance. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, the Early Decision application to Columbia University School of Law. If you apply to that program, you are making a commitment to attend Columbia upon acceptance. Applying early benefits the applicant in many ways, the most important is the opportunity to get a thorough reading of the application while admissions personnel are fresh. Generally, it is of more concern that applicants complete the application process by the first week in November rather than meet Early Decision/Action deadlines. Please review the application material carefully for other requirements if you are interested in the early decision option. Several schools do not allow the September/October LSAT for early decision applications.
If you are admitted to law school and suddenly discover that you have won a fellowship to study abroad for a year or you have gotten a job offer you can't refuse, can you defer admission? That depends on the policy of each school to which you apply. The general rule is that law schools like students to apply for the year when they plan to matriculate. However, they are also interested in having students who have varied experiences. If you wish to request a deferral after acceptance, write to the school and explain why the other opportunity seems most appropriate. The admissions committee will either grant your deferral request or require that you reapply in the future.

Is it advisable to take one or more years off from school before entering law school?
Often students wish to delay entrance to law school for a year or two. They are tired of the academic grind and wish to work before they begin to study law. This will certainly not hurt you in the admissions process, and may well be a plus. Many law schools prefer an applicant with a year or two of employment, volunteer work, foreign travel, or even graduate work. Such applicants tend to be more mature and successful in their law study. You also will have the advantage of having your senior year grades counted in your LSDAS-computed G.P.A., and these grades are usually higher.
You should not be afraid of delaying your law school applications for one or two years because you desire to do something else worthwhile. You will probably be better off for it. Some feel that people who take time off after college are better prepared and perform better than their classmates just out of college. Keep in mind the average entering age for law school is almost 26 years old.
Money for law school is available, in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans. Most students finance their education through loans, either from the federal government or private sources. The amount of aid you receive and the form it takes is largely determined by the law schools; therefore, the law schools to which you are applying should be your primary source of information. Review the brochure Financial Aid for Law School: A Preliminary Guide, published by Law Services, for a broad summary of financial aid information. Additional resources are also listed in that publication. Or visit their website and their informational financial aid link:
Also, if you receive a monetary award, double check with the school to ensure that it is perpetual throughout your law school career. Some awards are made on an annual basis, and, as such, are subject to annual review – and possible decreases.
When applying for financial aid, file all the required financial aid forms and pay close attention to deadlines. Most schools will not look at a file until it is complete. A good deadline to consider is December 1. Be sure to check catalogs to find out exactly what is required by the schools to which you are applying for financial aid. In an effort to attract a balanced, competitive student body, many law schools may offer grants or financial assistance as an incentive for your attendance. It is important to weigh all your options when your letter of acceptance is received.
Another step in the decision-making process is determining the bar requirements for admission to the bar in the state in which you wish to practice. Some states require individuals to file a statement of intention to study law shortly after starting classes. To find out about registration requirements for particular states, write to the Supreme Court of the state in question, or to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Suite 1025, 333 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60601. Once you enroll in law school you will be advised about meeting standards for admission to the bar. Most law schools will readily give you information regarding their students' success in passing the bar examination.
Joint programs involve the simultaneous pursuit of two separate courses of graduate study under a combined degree arrangement. Law schools have developed structured programs within their own university or in conjunction with another college or university. Programs at the master’s level are numerous. A few select schools offer joint programs at the Ph.D. level as well. Generally, applications for joint degree programs must be made to each of the schools involved, and admission is based on acceptance by both schools. A student may be accepted at the start of law school or at the beginning of the second year. Normally about four years are required to complete the requirements for joint programs at the master’s level. Extensive listings of joint degree programs are available in The Book of Lists in the Pre-Professional Programs & Advising Office Library.
In choosing a law school it is wise to inquire about that school’s placement services. Many schools try to accommodate employers who wish to interview on campus, and several also offer individual and group counseling. Some placement offices also handle summer and part-time jobs. Also check: 1) the number and range of employers who interview students from private law firms, the public sector, and corporate or business organizations; 2) the number of judicial clerkships awarded to its students, and 3) a student’s accessibility to employers.

The Office of Pre-Professional Advising gratefully acknowledges the following institutions for information referred to in this booklet: the Northeast Association of Pre-law Advisors, the LSAT/LSDAS Registration Book, and The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.

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