Law schools consider a variety of factors in making final decisions on who will be admitted; however, the applicant’s cumulative grade point average and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score are two very important indicators.
All students applying to Law School will utilize the resources found on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website. Everything you want to know about the application process, Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), deadlines, preparation and the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) may be found via LSAC.
Be sure to discuss preparation for the LSAT with your prelaw advisor!
Think like an Admissions Committee
There are seven factors that the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is now urging law schools to consider in reviewing an application. Understanding these factors – essentially, how admissions committees think – may help strengthen your applications.
Factor 1 - Academic
- LSAT score(s)
- Undergraduate GPA
- Any advanced work and/or other degrees
- Difficulty of course work (Rigor of curriculum by major, by reputation of school)
- Relevance of course work to law school
- Grade trends
- Course loads
- College(s) attended and your ranking within your class
- Is English your first language?
- Quality of high school and prior academic experience
- Other test scores
- Number of hours worked and other responsibilities during college
Factor 2 - Demographic and Diversity
- Ethnic/racial background
- Geographic residence
- Socio-economic status (SES)
- Multi-cultural experiences
Factor 3 - Work Experience
- Level of responsibility achieved
- Full-time or part-time work
- Number of years worked
- Type of industry or business
- Evidence of follow-through ability
- Law-related experience or knowledge
- Military status
Factor 4 - Leadership and Extracurricular
- Undergraduate leadership activities
- Community leadership and accomplishments
- Volunteer activities
- Academic leadership and organizations
- High school accomplishments
- Athletic activities
- Travel; foreign living and service
Factor 5 - Accomplishments
- Special skills and talents
- Debate, music, drama, writing, artistic accomplishments
- Overcoming/persevering in the face of adversity
- Significant personal accomplishments of any kind
- Overcoming substantial discrimination
- Helping in overcoming discrimination against others
- Serving under-served communities or peoples
Factor 6 - Evidence Supporting Character and Fitness; Personal Qualities
- Problem-solving skills
- Perseverance, tenacity
- Unique perspectives
Factor 7 - Skills and Abilities
- Communications skills
- Planning Ability
- Analytical skills
- Advocacy skills
Determining The Right Law School
Law schools vary greatly in their ability to educate and position you to compete for jobs.
The first step to finding the right program is to determine which schools will most effectively facilitate achieving your goals.
Law School Search by LSAT and GPA
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers this free tool to find schools in which the middle 50% of students are within your LSAT and GPA range. Visit LSAC's GPA and LSAT Score Search webpage.
Build a target list
Build your target list, categorizing schools into 3 groups:
- Comfort zone
- Stretch schools
- Fall-back schools
Narrow down the list using the following factors:
- Do you need/want a national, regional or local law school?
- Cost; legal residency issues for in-state tuition
- School reputation
- Quality of teaching
- Style and culture of the law school
- Racial and gender diversity within faculty and student body
- Religious affiliation
- Size of first-year class
- Student satisfaction with the law school
- Part-time enrollment option (if needed)
- Breadth of curriculum
- Specialized areas of faculty expertise
- Learning opportunities with faculty
- Faculty accessibility
- Law library strengths and services
- Quality of legal writing instruction
- Commitment to innovative technology
- Public interest programs
- Interdisciplinary programs
- International study opportunities
- Employment/internship options during school
- Breadth and support of law school alumni network
- Loan repayment assistance for low-income lawyers
Improving Your Personal Statement
Tips to keep in mind when writing your statement:
Personalize your statement
Include in your statement:
- An event or issue that is important to you
- Your accomplishments and passions
- Overcoming obstacles in your personal life or academic life, but do not make it the main focus of your personal statement
- Someone in your life who has been a positive influence in encouraging you to help people or help the community through the legal profession
- A course you may have taken that sparked an interest in the law
- Your individual skills which will help you to succeed in law school
- Leadership in positions that you have held in college or the community
- Community services or volunteer programs that you have participated in.
Personal Statement Do's and Don'ts
- Draft an outline about what you want to say
- Have a strong opening sentence or paragraph
- Tie your story together from beginning to end
- Give examples of your personal experiences, struggles, and/or achievements
- Self-edit your personal statement, then have your pre-law advisor, parents, or grandparents review your statement
- Use slang or colloquialisms
- Begin your statement with “I always wanted to be a lawyer,” or “when I was [age], my parents told me that I should be a lawyer because…” (The former is not original enough and doesn’t immediately immerse your reader in a story, and the latter shows how your parents want you to be a lawyer, not why you want to be one!)
- Use a passive voice. An active voice “I did, I saw, I was” is more effective in keeping your reader engaged in your story.
- Rely on spell check. Spell checking programs do not highlight the wrong word if it’s correctly spelled. Be careful for homophones like their/there/they’re, and your/you’re. Also watch out for usage of its and it’s. Be careful with possessive contractions.
- Rewrite your resume in narrative format (don’t be redundant!)
- Focus on your weaknesses or give excuses for poor LSAT scores or your GPA
- If you’re using the same statement for more than one school, if you mention the school in your statement make sure you don’t send it to the wrong school (instant rejection!)
Purdue University: Writing the Personal Statement
Financing Your Law Degree
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers an excellent website on Financing Law School, including a video tutorial, determining eligibility, financial aid options and items to consider as you apply.
Scholarships and Grants
- A scholarship or grant is an award that does not have to be repaid. It may be given on the basis of need, or merit, or both. Most scholarships are conferred by individual law schools.
- Some organizations may also have scholarships to offer. Among them are local bar associations; fraternities, sororities, and other social clubs; religious or business organizations; and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The availability of scholarships and grants is limited, but worth researching. Law school admission and financial aid offices can provide information about the resources available.
- Be aware that many scholarships and grants are merit-based and may require recipient maintains a certain level of academic performance. A number of companies offer tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees and to their employees’ dependents as well.
Federal Direct Loan Program
- (Subsidized) William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan. Up to $8,500 a year is available to students who meet the need criteria. Interest is paid by the federal government while you are enrolled in school at least half time.You must begin repaying the loan six months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half time. The interest rate for the subsidized William D. Ford Federal Direct loan is 6.8 percent. You can obtain an application from any lender that participates in the federal loan program, or from any law school.
- (Unsubsidized) William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan. In combination with the subsidized loan, a student may borrow up to a combined total of $20,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The amount the student receives in the subsidized loan is deducted from the $20,500 in order to determine eligibility for the unsubsidized loan (for example, if the student is only eligible for $3,000 in subsidized loans, he or she could receive $17,500 in unsubsidized loans). The interest rate for the unsubsidized William D. Ford Federal Direct loan is 6.8 percent. Interest starts accruing as soon as you receive the funds.
- Graduate PLUS Loans for Law Students. Students with an absence of bad credit may be eligible to secure a Graduate PLUS loan. The Graduate PLUS is federally guaranteed and the interest rate is subsidized. Interest accrues while the student is in school, and repayment begins immediately. The interest rate is 7.9 percent. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. Forbearance is available while the student is in school. Many students who have good credit are choosing Graduate PLUS instead of private loans.
- Federal Perkins Loan. This loan is available to students at some schools. Each student’s award is determined by the school based on information obtained from the FAFSA. The maximum annual loan is $8,000.
- Private Loans. There are a number of private loan programs available to credit-worthy borrowers. Some lenders make available postgraduate loans for bar-review study. Eligibility for these bar loans is based on the borrower’s credit history and the lending institution’s willingness to lend. The terms and conditions of these programs vary greatly. Pay careful attention to the explanations found in loan application brochures and consumer information. You can also contact the individual programs or visit their websites for further details.
Winning Law School Scholarships
LSAT, GPA, a persuasive Personal Statement which shows personal accomplishments, and diversity factors are the focus of admissions committees in making scholarship decisions.
LSAT / GPA
Law schools get excited by an applicant with an LSAT score above the 75th percentile of its currently enrolled students. Achieving excellence on the LSAT is enormously important to earning an admission offer with a proposed tuition discount (a scholarship or grant). If you can combine a 75th percentile LSAT with an undergraduate GPA above the 75th percentile of their currently enrolled students, then your target law schools will become extremely interested.
The Subjective Application Components:
- A compelling story in your personal statement
- Well structured, complete, interesting resume
- Recommendations from individuals who will be respected by law school admissions officials, who know you well, and whose letter do not sound like all the others
- Early submission in the application cycle
Diversity factors such as race, first-generation college graduate status, immigrant status, military service, a background of heroically overcoming challenges, or conquering of a challenge related to a disability play a role in making scholarship decisions. Law schools do genuinely want to provide opportunities to a wide group of applicants. Show them that you can add something exceptional to the mix of students they are seeking. Position yourself so that they think they can win you away from a higher-ranked competitor if their financial offer is attractive enough. Law school admission officials love to beat their competition.
Who wins top law school scholarship offers?
- An applicant with 3.8 GPA from a respected public university - known to have low grade inflation - and a 168 LSAT earned a $90,000 scholarship offer (a $30,000 tuition reduction each year for three years) from a Top-15 private law school.
- An applicant with a 3.8 GPA from a respected New England private college and a 162 LSAT earned a full-scholarship offer, plus a monthly stipend, free housing, and a tuition-free LL.M (a post-JD graduate law degree) from a private southern law school ranked in the 80s by US News & World Report.
- A minority applicant with a 3.6 GPA from a respected New York City-area university and a 167 LSAT earned a full-scholarship offer from a private New York City law school ranked in the 50s by US News & World Report.
- A minority applicant with a 16, an undergraduate degree from a Top-25 private university, and a 3.5 GPA, received offers and generous financial aid from two Top-5 law schools.
September - December
- (Freshman/Sophomores/Juniors) Meet with a Pre-law advisor, declare your interest, determine if law school is right for you, and start to think about what type of law would interest you.
- Join a Pre-law society, Phi Alpha Delta, Facebook pre-law groups (New England Pre-law Consortium), Poli-Sci/Philosophy/Government/Public Policy, Model UN, etc. and try out for Mock Trial or Debate Team.
February - June OR June - October
- Prepare for the LSAT.
- Take a free practice test to get a baseline. Decide on a target score, determine your prep strategy.
- Do not undertake this lightly, it is an extremely challenging test to score well on and requires 100-150 hours of prep in addition to starting early.
- Research law schools and application deadlines. Find the right law school for you by using LSAC’s searchable online database.
- Register for the LSAT and sign up for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
- You need not register for the CAS at the same time you register for the LSAT; however, you should register long before your first law school application deadline.
- Most law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. Taking the test in June or September/October allows for earlier submittal.
- Test date or location changes can be made through your LSAC.org account.
- Obtain your LSAT Admission Ticket.
- Ask registrars to send your official transcripts to LSAC. Request forms available at your LSAC.org account.
- Allow two weeks from the time of receipt to process your US or Canadian transcripts.
- Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate schools located outside the United States, its territories, or Canada require additional processing time.
- Contact your recommenders and evaluators to request your letters/evaluations.
- Letter of Recommendation forms and information about the Evaluation Service can be found on your LSAC.org account. Requirements will vary by school.
- Allow two weeks from the time of receipt to process your letters of recommendation.
June OR October
- Take the LSAT.
- Obtain your LSAT score by e-mail and view your answer sheet, score conversion table, and test book (for disclosed tests only) in your LSAC.org account.
- E-mail score reporting is free for LSAC online account holders.
- View your Academic Summary Report in your LSAC.org account once all US/Canadian undergraduate transcripts have been summarized.
June - November
- Work on your application. Personal statements will be the most challenging and time consuming. Resumes will require many edits by more than one person.
August - September
- Request catalogues, applications, and financial aid information from target schools.
July - November
- Approach recommenders and secure letters of recommendation. Have them submitted through CAS.
September - December
- Apply to law schools electronically right from your LSAC.org account (to US member law schools only). Schools will then request your CAS law school report from LSAC.
- Order LSAC Law School Reports online.
- Use your LSAC.org account to verify that your reports were sent to the law schools to which you applied. Check your file status through your LSAC.org account.
- Visit Law School campuses, attend information events and seminars
January - April
- File FAFSA and other financial aid applications, with or without offers from schools.
April - June
- Pay your seat deposit on time for your accepted school.
June - August
- Consider a 1L prep course to be prepared as possible.
LSAT Test Dates
The following is a list of Prelaw Advisors by academic department for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School:
*If your major is not listed, please contact Professor Eric Bellone in CAS or David Gallant in the Undergraduate Academic Advising Center for advising or referral.
College of Arts and Sciences
73 Tremont St., 10th floor
Professor Eric Bellone
Professor Graham Kelder
|English/CAS Dean's Office
Dr. Elif Armbruster
Office: 73 Tremont St., 8th floor
Dr. Robert Allison
Office: 73 Tremont St., 10th floor
Dr. Yvonne Wells
Office: 73 Tremont St., 8th floor
Dr. Donald Morton
Office: 73 Tremont St., 7th floor
Sawyer Business School
Six Year Program
A select number of outstanding Suffolk undergraduates may gain early admission to Suffolk University Law School at the end of junior year. Such students are able to earn the combined bachelor's degree and the Juris Doctor degree in six years instead of the customary seven. The bachelor's degree is awarded after the successful completion of the first full year of law study. Only Suffolk students with distinctly superior records and LSAT scores can expect to qualify for early admissions and combined degrees.
Students interested in applying to the Six-Year Bachelors/Law Degree should be planning their academic program accordingly beginning freshmen year.