Op-Ed Piece Getting into Law School
Baltimore Scholars are required to work with their faculty advisor on a summer writing assignment that culminates in an article worthy of publication in the Maryland legal publication, The Daily Record.
Shayla D. Refearn, 2012 Baltimore Scholar, Coppin State University
Getting into Law School
Getting into law school is highly competitive yet doable. Thousands of law school applications are submitted each year. Only a small portion of applicants are admitted. You may ask, what is the difference between those who are accepted to law school and those who are not?
The answer is simple. If you wish to increase your chances of getting into law school you must pay close attention to those things that are most important to law school admission offices. The LSAT score, GPA, and the personal statement are the most important factors considered for law school admission. First, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the most important factor in determining admissions. This test is a requirement. The LSAT is a half day standardized test consisting of five thirty-five minute sections of multiple choice questions. The categories of questions are: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and a writing sample. [LSAC, “About the LSAT” at 6-7] The LSAT is graded on a scale of 120-180 with 120 being the lowest score and 180 being the highest score. The test is offered four times a year and should be taken as early as possible to allow timely submission of law school applications and retake if necessary.
The LSAT requires a great deal of preparation and demands skill and strategy over pure intelligence. This test will probably be the most difficult test you will ever take. You should acquire preparation material to assist with preparing to take a test of this magnitude. When preparing for the test, remember three words: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Online sources such as the Princeton Review can be very helpful also, you may want to consider www.LSAC.org for additional information on LSAT preparation, registration and fees, and the application process for law school. Doing well on the LSAT is critically important, take it seriously, work hard and do your best.
After the LSAT score, admissions offices strongly consider previous academic performance or GPA. While a strong GPA alone is not enough to get into law school, a strong GPA coupled with a solid LSAT score is essential. Earning a high GPA isn’t enough. As the Fordham Law School statistics indicate, even those with a 3.5 GPA or better who don’t do well on the LSAT have only about a four-percent chance of admission. [Professor Daniel R. Pinello, “Advice for Getting Into Law School” at 11]
While in undergraduate school take demanding courses that focus on critical thinking, logic and writing. These courses will help you build the skills necessary for success on the LSAT. Admissions committees assume that a person’s past academic performance predicts future performance, but they carefully consider the context of the GPA. [Florida Academic University, “Law School Admission” at 17] Admission offices will pay attention to the courses you have taken and the difficulty of your major. Avoid taking easy courses just to maintain a high GPA.
Finally, a well written personal statement is important when applying to law school. The personal statement can serve two purposes: 1) it demonstrates your writing ability and 2) it allows the reader, in most cases the admissions council, to get an understanding of what you will bring to the law school community. In writing the personal statement, you have the freedom to write about anything you wish or the application may require you to respond to a specific question.
Regardless of what is requested, the personal statement should be well written, concise, and free of misspellings and grammatical errors. Instead of restating your resume or transcript, talk about defining moments in your life or what inspired you to pursue law. In doing so, you can distinguish yourself from other applicants. There is no single “best” personal statement; effective personal statements vary greatly stylistically and substantively. [Florida Academic University, “Law School Admission” at 20] Make every word count.
In summary, completing the application process and applying for law school can be difficult. A well devised plan is absolutely essential. Remember the three factors considered for law school admissions, the LSAT score, GPA and personal statement. If you follow these instructions, you are well on your way to successful admissions.