Timeline and infographic from LSAC for Applying to Law School
Sample recommended timelines:
- You should start preparing to apply for law school one year prior to when you plan on applying to law school.
- Start contemplating whether you would benefit from taking some gap years. Gap years can be beneficial if you would like more time to gain exposure and experience, save money, take a break, build character/maturity, and/or make sure law school is the right path for you.
- Fun Fact: The average age of an incoming 1L law student is 24. This means that an average student takes between 2-3 years off before going to law school.
- Research and evaluate law schools, their admission process, and the field(s) of laws that a law school may specialize in.
- Reflect on which law schools may be the best fit for you based on interest(s)/program(s), location, demographic and ranking.
- Use to the LSAC UGPA/LSAT Search tool to determine LSAT score and GPA needed to be competitive for the schools you are interested in. Or, where you stand with your current GPA and LSAT score.
Get exposure & experience (legal and non-legal)
- Look over ‘Gaining Experience as a Pre-Law Student ‘ Handout to get started.
- Career Conversations: Talk/shadow with attorneys, other legal professionals, and current law students about their work, path, and journey to where they are now.
- Internships/Volunteer: This is a great way to get first hand experience in the field you are interested in and what practicing law looks like in a firm. It is not necessary to complete a legal internship, but this can help with giving yourself a better understanding of the work and work environment. We encourage students to do internships in various areas that are related to their interests.
- Jobs: Common jobs that students get to gain more experience include becoming a legal assistant, legal clerk, paralegal, and or jobs that are in law firms. We encourage students to also seek jobs that are not legal-related and can be more interest/passion-related. Finding a balance of both can be ideal. Here are some resources on legal work.
- Where to look: Handshake, UW Carlson Center Community Based Internships, Idealist, Indeed, and LinkedIn.
- Washington State Legislator- Offers Washington college students the opportunity to gain paid work experience while studying the state legislative process up close. Please contact Mark Weitzenkamp (Political Science Academic Advisor) for more information.
- Law Societies and Justice (LSJ) List of internship opportunities through Courts and Probation Services, Legal Services and Legal Associations, Criminal Justice, Prisons, and Law Enforcement, Immigration and New Americans, Government and Law, and Non-Governmental Organizations- Social Service and Rights
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
- Sign up for the LSAT early (at least 3 months in advance to ensure registration and preferred location)!
- It is recommended you treat studying for the LSAT as if it was a 5-credit class. We suggest you take a lighter load if you are planning to take classes and study for the LSAT at the same time.
- Determine if you would like to self-study or take a LSAT prep course. A list of LSAT prep courses can be found here.
- You should take the LSAT no later than the summer and/or fall of the year in which you intend to apply, a full year (or more) before you intend to begin law school (taking it in December is too late).
- Staring July 2018, some law schools accept GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores. Here is more information from ETS GRE.
Letters of Recommendations (LORs)
- Start thinking about 2-3 individuals you can ask that can speak of your experience and character (employer, supervisor, mentor, professor).
- Professors are generally preferred by law schools.
- Ask early and give your writer enough time to write a thoughtful letter.
- If you cannot think of anyone, take the opportunity to start networking, build relationships, participate in extra-curricular activities, and gain leadership experience. Getting a head start on this will benefit the quality of the relationship you build with this person, and often results in a stronger letter or recommendation.
- If you plan on taking gap years before applying, you are encouraged to ask ahead of time and make an effort to keep in contact with this person.
- Create a resume and continue adding and editing it as you gain more experiences. You can refer to the UW Career Guide, come in for a drop-in, and/or make an appointment with a Career Coach on Handshake for more support.
- Consider different ways and opportunities to make your resume stronger while you are at UW and after graduation (if you are taking gap years).
- This is the heart your application and how admission readers can get to know you and why you want to pursue law school.
- Start asking yourself: “What’s an important topic or event from my life that I can write about that will represent who I am in 2-3 pages?”
- Make sure you start on this early and allow enough time to ask for people to proof read when you are ready to apply.
Visit your top choices in person (if possible)
- This is very important. You don’t really know what a place is like until you visit. This can also help inform and confirm if you would like to ultimately pursue law school.
- Make sure you get a chance to talk to law students, professors and career services staff at each school. See if you can sit in on a few classes. Ask the career office for a list of alumni you can contact. List the pros and cons of each school. This is a very important decision that can greatly affect your future career so take the time to find the right match for you