Law School Preparation and Application Timeline

Prepare for Law School

  • Select a major that interests you. Law schools do not require or prefer a particular major.
  • Focus on academics. Your GPA is one of the most important factors for admission to law school.
  • Select a challenging course load with a focus on the following skills recommended by the American Bar Association (americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.html):
    • Analytic/Problem-Solving Skills
    • Critical Reading
    • Writing Skills
    • Oral Communication/Listening Abilities
    • General Research Skills
    • Task Organization/Management Skills
    • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
      Meet with your academic adviser for help with this selection.

  • Learn about law school
    • Review the Law School Admission Council's website at www.lsac.org
    • Schedule a classroom visit at a law school
    • Subscribe to the Pre-Law Advising listserv
    • Attend Pre-Law Advising events and panel discussions regarding law school
    • Talk with current law students
    • Consider a summer exploratory program hosted by a law school
    • Select a law-related course
    • Educate yourself regarding the cost of law school and sources of financial aid
  • Explore the practice of law
    • Conduct informational interviews with practicing attorneys
    • Shadow an attorney for a day
    • Consider a mentorship program, including the College of the Liberal Arts' Alumni Mentor Program
    • Secure a legal internship
    • Observe a court session
    • Attend Pre-Law Advising panels focused on legal practice issues
  • Select co-curricular activities that focus on public service and promotion of justice. Ensure that your grades are not negatively impacted by over-involvement in co-curricular activities.
  • Attend a Pre-Law Orientation Session during your first or second year.

Junior Year

(If you plan to attend law school immediately following graduation from Penn State.)

Fall Semester

  • Continue to focus on academics. The initial transcripts you submit to law schools will contain grades through your junior year, but you will be required to supplement with senior grades.
  • Attend Graduate and Professional School Day at Penn State or another law school fair.
  • Develop strong relationships with your professors to support future letters of recommendation.
  • Meet with your pre-law adviser.
  • Take a strictly timed practice LSAT exam without preparing to estimate how much you need to prepare.
  • Register for an online account at lsac.org.

Spring Semester

  • Decide when you will sit for the LSAT and register via LSAC. June or October is preferred.
  • Adequately prepare for the LSAT. Try to take it just once since all scores are reported to law schools.
  • Begin researching law schools. Develop a tentative list.

Summer

  • Take the LSAT in June. Only take the LSAT if you are prepared and satisfied with practice exam scores.
  • Continue researching law schools and narrow your list.
  • Begin to draft your personal statement.

Senior Year

Fall Semester

  • Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at lsac.org/jd/applying-to-law-school/cas.
  • Take the LSAT in October, if necessary.
  • Contact professors for letters of recommendation. Obtain a minimum of three letters of recommendation with at least two from professors.
  • Finalize your personal statement. Consider attending a personal statement workshop.
  • Complete your list of schools. Review their applications.
  • Request copies of your transcripts and ask that your schools send them directly to LSAC.
  • Apply to law schools. Many schools have rolling admission, so plan to apply by Thanksgiving and no later than January 1.

Spring Semester

  • Send updated transcripts with fall grades to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
  • Fill out FAFSA by the end of February at fafsa.ed.gov.
  • Pay your seat deposit.