How do I apply to law school?
Which law school should I apply to?
It’s important to know about law schools so that you can target your application effectively. To help your search, consider these resources.
- Boston College Online Law School Locator. By listing the 25th to 75th percentile LSAT scores and GPA ranges of first-year classes at accredited law schools, this tool can help you gauge your chance of admission at a particular school.
- Find out where Sewanee graduates have been accepted and where they have chosen to attend. (Information to be added soon)LST Score Reports provides data regarding the acceptance rates and costs of law schools as well as the marketability of their graduates.
- The Law School Admissions Council consolidates the application process.
How do I apply to law school?
Your application to law school will be evaluated on the basis of four criteria: Grade Point Average, LSAT score, recommendations, and a personal statement. The first two criteria—GPA and LSAT result—weigh very heavily in the admissions process.
Law schools consider the GPA in terms of your entire undergraduate record. That is why choosing courses that you are interested in and committed to, and thus presumably will succeed in, is so important.
The LSAT is a challenging aptitude test that evaluates reading comprehension,
analytical reasoning, and logic. There is also an unscored writing sample, a copy of which is sent to each law school to which you apply. It is best to take the LSAT either in the early summer or the early fall. As for the scores, 180 is a perfect score, which can be achieved even with a couple of wrong answers. 170 will put you in the 97-98th percentile range, and 160 around the 80th percentile. 150 is considered an average score. To take the LSAT without a great amount of preparation is a recipe for disaster. One can prepare for the test in a number of ways (taking a course from a private firm such as Kaplan or Princeton Review or working one’s way through a prep book), but one essential is to take four or five practice tests under timed circumstances which mirror the actual test. If you do not score well on the LSAT, take it a second or even a third time. Law schools used to average the scores of multiple tests; now you are usually permitted to report your best score. Note, however, that schools sometimes still average for scholarships and you might have to secure a school’s permission to report a fourth score. Check with individual schools for their policies. Sewanee offers the LSAT three times a year (June, September, and December).
• Please see Career & Leadership Development's calendar for exact dates
The best choices for recommendations are Sewanee professors who know you well and who can write informed, insightful letters on your behalf. Recommendations from family friends, “important” individuals in government, business, or even the law who in point of fact do not know you well are not very helpful. Approach your Sewanee professors in the following way: in September, make an appointment to confer with the professor. At the appointment, discuss your goals in going to law school, submit a copy of your resume, perhaps fill him or her in on your recent activities and experiences, and in general try to put your best foot forward. Finally, keep your recommenders informed at every step of the way of the admissions process: where you have applied, where you have been accepted, etc. Because many professors will find themselves writing several recommendations for a number of students, you will likely find that giving your recommender a deadline, with the occasional reminder as it draws closer, will be appreciated.
How do I write a personal statement?
The personal statement is an opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees and differentiate your application from the scores of others the committee is reading. In general, you will want to stress the ways in which you would contribute something to the incoming law school class. It should be an essay, interesting in content and perfect in terms of grammar and mechanics. It should not be a resume in paragraph form, listing your achievements, activities, offices, etc. Moreover, it does not even have to go into any detail as to why you want to become a lawyer. Rather it should aim to engage the attention of an admissions committee and convince them that you are an individual they would like to join their law school community. By all means, though, if the essay asks you to answer a specific question, answer that question.
One way to improve the personal statement is to ask others to read and critique it. Professor Hatcher reads statements every year, but a friend or another professor could help as well. Career & Leadership Development sponsors a personal statement writing workshop each September. Please see their calendar for the exact date.