How to Prepare for Law School

If you are anything like most pre-law students, you are probably wondering how to best prepare for law school. In this article, Law School Coach will take you through the whole process of preparing for law school. Obviously, if you are a pre-law student graduating from college this semester, you will not be able to take every step.

Most students are surprised to learn that there is no official pre-law curriculum. Students who are successful in law school, and who later become great lawyers, come from diverse educational and personal backgrounds. Law schools value diversity because the exchange of ideas and points of view determines the quality of your legal education. While some colleges offer pre-law curriculum, these programs are considered a less effective way to prepare for law school than taking a diverse course load.

Requirements for Law School

To be admitted to an accredited law school requires three things:
  1. A Bachelor’s Degree;
  2. Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) Score; and
  3. To Apply and be Accepted
The two most important considerations for law school admission—by far—are your undergraduate GPA, and your LSAT score. Top law schools require a great academic record and an excellent LSAT score. While there are certainly other considerations, discussed at length in the Law School Coach Law School Admissions Process section, these two items are the best predictor of whether you will go to law school, where, and what you will need to do to prepare for law school. To get an idea of the LSAT score you will need for your predicted GPA, by school, you can get a copy of the 2011 Official Guide to Law School. This book is a great resource, you can get a discount by clicking on the link above.

Law school admissions committee’s are going to separate the law school applications into three piles: the presumptive “Yes” pile; the presumptive “No” pile; and the “Maybe” pile. Assuming a complete application, your LSAT/GPA combination is going to determine which pile you are placed in.

Pre-Law School Undergraduate Work

Because your pre-law school GPA is so pivotal to your law school aspirations, it is best that you pursue not only an area of study that interests and challenges you, but also one that fits your skill-level. If you are a stellar student, get whatever degree you want, you probably don’t need any courses to prepare for law school. If you are a student that doesn’t normally make high grades, however, you should consider pursuing a pre-law school curriculum that has easier courses. A 4.0 GPA coupled with a great LSAT score is going to put you in the “Yes” pile. But, if you have a great GPA and a mediocre LSAT score, you will be in the “Maybe” pile, and the admission committee will analyze your course load. When this happens, the pre-law school student with a 3.5 GPA—B.S. in biochemistry, will probably fare better than a pre-law school student with a 3.7 GPA—B.A. in history.

You should do your best to stand out in your classes and develop relationships with the faculty.  You will eventually need two letters of recommendation from your professors.  Having these relationships will not only help you in the class short term, it will give you a pool of potential recommenders later.

If you are an average pre-law student you should consider preparing for law school with courses that help to develop the core skills that are thought to provide a sound foundation for pre-law school students. The skills to develop to prepare for law school are:
  • Language
    • Writing
    • Oral Communication/Listening
    • Critical Reading
  • Understanding Societal Values/Institutions
    • Awareness of Social Concerns
    • Understanding History's Influence on Society
    • Understanding Politics
  • Logic/Reasoning
    • Analytical/Problem Solving
    • Research
    • Basic Mathematics
Becoming a lawyer will change you. Law school teaches a different kind of thought process. When you leave law school, you will be more confident and approach questions in a totally different manner. You will learn to see the grey areas in black and white situations. And, you will undoubtedly improve your communication skills and judgment. These traits have the power to improve all aspects of your life.

Be Ready for the LSAT

In preparing for law school, doing your best on the LSAT is one of the most important things you can do. Your LSAT score accounts for more than half of the law school admission decision. Be ready. Law School Coach has an entire article on LSAT Preparation—read it! Being ready is one of the most important pre-law school activities.

Character Counts

Law schools, and the different jurisdictions that license lawyers, will also consider your character. If you have been convicted of murder or money laundering, it’s unlikely that you will be accepted into law school even if your other pre-law school qualifications are stellar, because you probably won’t be allowed to practice law. Preparing for law school means keeping your nose clean. Any offenses on your record, including academic offenses, will be considered in your law school application.

Additionally, schools are going to consider your professional, leadership, and volunteer experience. Being involved in activities, especially in leadership positions, makes you a more attractive pre-law school student. You should also consider working at a job or internship that will expose you to lawyers. This experience, in addition to looking good, is a very valuable way to prepare for law school. From it, you will have a better idea of whether you would enjoy being a lawyer, and you will probably make some good contacts.

And, make sure whatever internet presence you have (Facebook, blogs, etc…) doesn’t give the admissions committee a reason to question your character
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Top 3 Things to Prepare for Law School:

  1. Take the right classes. Find a major you like and excel in it. Make sure they are the right mix of pre-law school classes for you. Consider taking classes that allow you to develop the skills that will prepare you for law school. Of these skills, writing is the most important.

  2. Be ready for the LSAT. Make sure to have a thorough understanding of the test, and study for it. Because of its importance, you should seriously consider enrolling in a prep course. This test is more than half (up to 90%) of the law school admissions decision.

  3. Don't disqualify yourself. Stay out of trouble, law schools consider character. Also, make sure to submit a complete law school application, and adhere to all of the deadlines.

For more tips, be sure to check out the Law School Coach Guide to Law School Admissions