You should apply to law school the year before you plan to begin your legal studies. If you plan to go straight from undergraduate studies to law school, then you should apply to law school in the fall of your senior year. About one-third of law students enter law school directly from their undergraduate studies. This means that about two-thirds of law students take some time off between college and law school. 

There are many reasons to take time off between college and law school. These may include:

  • Uncertainty about whether law school is the right next step for you. You may want to explore legal fields and gain some professional experience before applying to law school.
  • Concerns that your current GPA is low and is likely to be higher after your senior year. If you apply to law school after you graduate, your transcript will include your entire undergraduate record. This can be particularly helpful if your GPA improves over time.
  • Limited time to prepare for the LSAT or devote to the application process. Studying for the LSAT and preparing law school applications take time. If you are juggling a full course load, extracurricular activities, and work or an internship, you may not have sufficient time to prioritize the application process.
  • Desire to take time off from your studies before beginning law school. Many students want a little time to recharge before beginning the intense law school experience. Others would like to participate in a service or international experience (e.g., AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Fulbright, or teaching English abroad) before law school.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most law school applications include:

  • Application
  • LSAT or GRE score
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation (generally 2-3)
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Additional required/optional writing prompts unique to that particular school
  • Application fee

Most law schools require you to apply through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which combines application documents (including transcripts and letters of recommendation) with your LSAT scores and writing sample and submits a full report to each of the law schools to which you apply. 

The current CAS fee is $195. The account is active for five years. The CAS fee includes transcript summarization, creation of your law school report (each report costs an additional $45), processing of letters of recommendation, and electronic application processing. Fee waivers are available to students with high financial need.

You should register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at least six to eight weeks before your first law school application deadline.

Most law schools use rolling admissions. This means that applications open in the early fall and law schools accept and evaluate applications continually until a final deadline. To ensure the best opportunity for admission and merit aid, it is important to submit your applications early in the cycle—ideally by mid-November or mid-December at the very latest.

Preparing a strong law school application is time consuming. You should plan to take the LSAT the summer before you apply to law school and begin working on the application in the summer/early fall of the application year.

Law schools generally require two to three letters of recommendation. You should plan to secure at least two academic references from professors and a third letter from a professor or another source (e.g., advisor, internship supervisor, employer). The other source should not be a family member or friend. You should ask potential recommenders if they would be comfortable writing you a strong letter of recommendation. The content of the letter is more important than the status of the letter writer. The most effective letters are written by professors or supervisors who know you well enough to provide specific, objective descriptions of your academic, personal, and/or professional achievements.

You will need to reach out to potential letter writers at least a month before the letters need to be submitted. Share a copy of your transcript (unofficial), resume, and personal statement (a draft is fine) and provide a date for when you would like the letter to be submitted.

References submit their letters though the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). They will only need to submit their letters once—even if you plan to include these letters in every law school application. Through the CAS system, you can assign which letters each law school receives.

The personal statement and other writing prompts are the only parts of the application that you have absolute and complete control over. The personal statement provides an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to the admissions committee. Use it to tell a compelling and focused story that reveals something about you—your motivation, your goals, your drive. Use the statement as you would an interview to bring a focus on the best part of your character and your strengths.

Be sure that your personal statement addresses the school’s specific prompt and that it conforms to all the requirements set by the school (e.g., length, font size, and word count).

Ask an objective reader to give you feedback. Start sufficiently early so that you have time to revise your essay several times. The University Writing Center (UWC) has resources on writing personal statements. You can also schedule an appointment with a UWC writing consultant.

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