The law school application consists of a few general components, explained below. After reading this, you should have a better sense of how to map out your undergraduate degree with timelines and priorities.
Please know that here is no defined pre-law major. You can choose ANY undergraduate and get into law school. However, your undergraduate transcript is still a critical part of your application. Admissions officers will review your transcript carefully and ensure you “have what it takes” to do well in their law school.
For this reason, getting good grades is essential. Your goal, right from the outset, should be aiming for a +3.5 GPA in whichever major you choose (keep in mind however, law schools are mindful that getting a high GPA in engineering and related majors is extremely difficult and will be mindful of that). Solid study skills and time management are important skill sets to learn early on in your college career.
Students are encouraged to enhance their major by taking challenging courses or pursuing an interdisciplinary education. While having a minor or double major isn’t necessary, you should plan on impressing admissions officers with the breadth of your academic achievements. Importantly, you should ensure that regardless of your academic path, you plan to take your coursework very seriously and get good grades!
Realistically, the LSAT is the most critical part of your application. The Law School Admission Council administers the LSAT and has excellent online resources to help students learn what to expect from the test.
Expect to spend significant time in preparation for the exam, with possibly up to 200 hours in preparation. Knowledge of the testing structure, time limits, and possessing strategies for the different types of questions will be integral to performing well on the exam. There are several ways to study, including paying for a professional LSAT course or studying on your own.
UB students are encouraged to visit the on-campus Kaplan Center (Suite 201, the Commons), Princeton Review or other professional testing agencies for practice tests. You should spend a significant amount of time going through previously-administered tests (first untimed, then later timed) to become very, very familiar with the exam.
The personal statement and resume provides an opportunity for admissions officers to get to know you a little better beyond just your transcript. You want to keep the personal statement brief (abide by the application essay length requirements) and ensure it’s very well written and engaging. Some law schools require (or encourage) you to include a resume with your application. This is different than an employment resume as law schools will take a more holistic approach to reviewing your resume.
Many law schools either require or strongly recommend at least 2 recommendation letters, and oftentimes at least one (if not more) from college instructors is recommended.
The LSAC provides a service to make the process of applying to law schools easier and more efficient. Law school candidates can use their Credential Assembly Services (CAS) to designate letters of recommendation to specific law schools based on each school’s requirements and preferences. Applicants must print out (or email) a customized form for each recommender as specified in their CAS account.
Approximately two dozen law school applications require a Dean’s Certification form that requests information about student academic probation, dishonesty and disciplinary issues.