Our Pre-Law Track is open to students of all majors who plan to attend law school. The Pre-Law Track is not a major or a minor, but rather a formalized list of suggested courses to take in advance of law school. These suggested courses are intended to provide students with a background in the knowledge and skills useful in preparation for entering law school. These courses may supplement their degree requirements, or be used as elective credits. The track is designed to improve writing, research, and analysis skills to the highest degree possible. Because students are encouraged to begin preparations for entrance to law school early in their college career, the Bryn Athyn College Pre-Law Track includes an active advisory program.
Prepare for Law School
Law schools want students who can think critically and write well. They want students who have an understanding of the human experience, and who value faithfully serving others and promoting justice. To be a strong candidate for law school, we recommend selecting a major that you’re genuinely interested in and that develops your intellectual skills—particularly your skills in writing, research, problem solving, and analysis.
Taking a diverse range of courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for further legal education. The small classes at Bryn Athyn College allow professors to focus on individuals and their particular talents. This environment of individual attention, free discussion, and challenging debate will help prepare you for law school.
The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular undergraduate majors or courses to prepare students for further legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to study subjects that are considered traditional in preparation for law school, such as political science, philosophy, history, English, or business. However, you can also focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, science, mathematics, and education.
In general, the ABA recommends a broad-based education that is challenging and that stresses analytical and communication skills. Bryn Athyn College’s emphasis on the liberal arts and core skills (writing, public presentation, information literacy, and quantitative reasoning) assure you solid preparation for law school.
- PSci101: Introduction to Politics and Governance
- PSci210: American Government and Politics
- PSci/Phil 220: Political Thought
- PSci260: Law and American Society
- Bus351: Business Law
- Comm105/205: Public Speaking
Any Writing-Intensive Courses
- Writ213: Advanced Rhetoric and Composition
- Anth320: Genocide (focus on human rights)
- Hist311: Vengeance and Justice in Medieval Europe (concepts of justice)
- Phil101: Critical Thinking
- Phil102: Introduction to Philosophy
- Phil111: Introduction to Moral Philosophy
- Phil/PSci220: Political Thought
Law Schools put a lot of emphasis on your LSAT score and GPA. Therefore:
- Begin preparation for the LSAT as soon as possible. Research the available study courses and materials for self study.
- Take challenging classes in your major as well as general electives.
- Dedicate yourself to achievement in whatever class you take.
- See each class assignment as an opportunity to hone your skills and move one step closer to your goal: academic achievement and entrance into the law school of your choice.
- Confer with your major academic advisor to ensure on-time progress toward graduation.
First and Second Year Students
- Select a major that you enjoy and not one that you think will impress a law school. Make sure it is a major that allows you to also pursue other paths in case you decide not to apply for law school.
- Begin researching the various careers in law through the internet, workshops, interviewing and shadowing attorneys, and visiting law schools.
- Get to know your professors. Go to their office hours and participate in class discussions. Build relationships with professors so that you can ask for meaningful letters of recommendation for law school.
- Get involved! Join student organizations, study abroad, do research with faculty, and/or volunteer in your community. You should get involved in leadership activities and organizations that you are interested in, and not necessarily just law-related organizations.
- Take some of the pre-law track suggested courses.
- Set up an appointment with the pre-law advisor and begin discussing a plan to prepare you for law school and the timeline for the application process.
Third Year Students
- Keep on exploring the various careers in law to know your options.
- Maintain a high GPA! A competitive GPA for law school is a 3.40 and above.
- Try to gain a leadership position within the organizations that you are participating in.
- Continue to meet with the pre-law advisor to remain on track and begin targeting specific law schools.
- Begin preparing for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) by taking a full-length practice test. Once you have taken a practice exam and received a score, you will be able to gauge how much preparation you will need for the real exam. It is highly recommended that students take a LSAT prep course and learn the strategies for success on the LSAT.
- Begin visiting law schools that you are interested in attending. Set up on-campus tours and meetings with admission counsellors.
- Every year there are Law School Forums that various law schools from all across the United States attend. It is a good way to talk with numerous law school representatives in one location. This is a free event, and you can visit LSAC.org to find dates, locations, and registration information.
- If you cannot make it to a law school forum, the “Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schoolsopens in a new window” is also a good resource for researching schools.
- Start thinking about faculty and other professionals who you want to ask for letters of recommendation for law schools.
Summer Before Fourth Year
- Keep on studying for the LSAT. Ideally, students should prepare for the June exam. However, if you are not prepared, then sign up for the September exam.
- Register for the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. Make sure you do this at least six weeks before you plan to submit your first law school application. This will give you time to make sure your profile is complete.
- Begin to write your personal statement. You can create a generic document and then work on formatting it according to the individual law school’s specifications. You will need to review each school’s website to determine what that law school wants to see in the personal statement. If there is something in your academic record that you would like to further explain, consider writing an addendum to your personal statement.
- Research financial aid options for law schools:http://www.lsac.org/jd/financing-law-school/financial-aid-overviewopens in a new window. It is important to note that scholarships are available at some law schools for very competitive applicants. However, most law students utilize student loans. Other useful financial aid information for law school can be found athttp://www.fafsa.ed.gov/opens in a new window, http://www.finaid.org/opens in a new window andwww.accessgroup.orgopens in a new window.
Fourth Year Students
- Meet with a pre-law advisor again to discuss your law school questions.
- Request that all your official transcripts be sent to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) from the registrar’s office of each institution you have attended.
- Set up appointments with your recommendation letter writers and give them a copy of your personal statement, the letter of recommendation form (found on your LSAC account), and any other material that will help them to write a more thorough letter. Give your recommenders a minimum of a month to write your letters, and remember to give them a deadline and send them thank you notes.
- Apply to your target law school(s) as soon as their applications are available. Apply as early as possible (most applications are open in October). Make sure to apply by December 31st to have a competitive advantage. This is also the scholarship deadline for most schools. Once the law schools receive your completed applications, they will contact the LSAC Credential Assembly Service to have your law school report sent to them (which will include your transcripts and letters of recommendation).
- It is recommended that you take the LSAT only once, but if you think you can get a better score, then the last LSAT opportunity would be the December exam. You can go ahead and apply before December 31st.
Obtaining internships in a legal environment can help you determine what type of law you are interested in. In addition, this could be an opportunity to get a professional recommendation. Through an internship, you can get exposure to the practice of law, legal employment opportunities, and the skills you need to develop. Having some prior familiarity with legal institutions and vocabulary will help you once you are in law school. Students are encouraged to take any opportunities to shadow and be mentored by practicing lawyers in order to begin creating a professional network. However, a law-related internship is not required for admission to law school. Instead, internships can help build your professional development, help you to begin thinking about and focusing on the specific career you want to pursue, and give you a more competitive advantage in the legal market after law school.
Here is an LSAT overview: http://www.gograd.org/lsat_guidebook/opens in a new window
There are several for-profit and non-profit LSAT preparation programs of varying length, intensity, and cost. While it is not required that students participate in such a course, it is recommended that they research the possibility. Participating in such a program will provide a structure to the LSAT preparation process.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has partnered with Khan Academy to produce a free LSAT preparation program:
- Khan Academy LSAT Prep: https://www.khanacademy.org/prep/lsatopens in a new window
Other prep courses include but are not limited to the following:
- Blackstone: http://www.blackstone-lsat.com/opens in a new window
- Blue Print: http://www.blueprintprep.com/opens in a new window
- Cambridge: http://www.cambridgelsat.com/opens in a new window
- Exam Focus: http://www.examfocus.com/opens in a new window
- Kaplan: http://www.kaptest.com/LSAT/opens in a new window
- Princeton Review http://www.princetonreview.com/opens in a new window
- Test Masters http://www.testmasters.net/lsat/opens in a new window
- Velocity Test Prep: http://www.velocitylsat.com/opens in a new window
Applications to law schools are completed through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website: http://www.lsac.org/opens in a new window. You will need to set up an account on the LSAC website. As soon as you set up your account profile with your information, you will be able to fill out applications to law schools electronically. Most law schools have a rolling admissions system in which they begin accepting applications for the upcoming fall term from early October until either February or March. There are a few law schools that still accept students in the summer or spring sessions. Please check the law schools you are interested in for their preferred application dates and options. The sooner you apply the better, since there is less competition for earlier applicants. It is recommended that students apply to at least 5 law schools in order to have more options. The applications will be a long process, so you are permitted to save your work and come back when needed. Make sure you carefully review any additional directions on each law school application. It is important to note that if, for example, a law school states that they do not want a resume attached to your application, then you should not attach one. Giving extra information that they have not requested will not impress them. However, if an item on the application says OPTIONAL, make sure to complete it. These are usually trick questions to check if a student is really eager to fully complete the application. Finally, when each law school application is complete, you can submit it directly to the law school and wait for their response.
Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Profile
The account you are setting up on the LSAC includes the Credential Assembly Service, which puts together your college/university transcripts, biographical information, and LSAT score(s). The CAS is utilized by law schools to evaluate your undergraduate performance and compare you with other students who have all attended different undergraduate institutions with various grading scales. You will be sending your letters of recommendation, evaluations, all official transcripts, and your LSAT score (automatically) to the CAS, which will organize your information and reevaluate your GPA. Law schools that you have applied to will be able to review your CAS profile in addition to your applications and personal statement. Once they can view these documents, they will forward your information to their admissions committee for review. For more information about the CAS, please refer to: http://www.lsac.org/jd/applying-to-law-school/casopens in a new window
You will need to send all official transcripts directly from every undergraduate, graduate, and professional school you have attended to the CAS. Courses that you took at another institution, for your AA for example, and that show on your bachelor’s degree transcript (dual enrollment or community college courses) will also need official transcripts to be sent to the CAS. Please contact the registrar’s offices to have them send your official transcripts.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test that must be taken in order to be considered for law school admission into all American Bar Association (ABA) approved schools in the United States and most schools in Canada. The exam is offered four times a year (February, June, September, and December) and takes about half a day. The range of the LSAT standardized test is between 120 and 180. A competitive or “good” score is 155 or above. Your LSAT score is the most important aspect of your admission to law school. The test questions consist of reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning and logic games, in addition to a writing sample. The LSAT is composed of five 35 minute multiple-choice sections. Of the five sections, one is experimental and will not be counted for scoring purposes. Although the writing portion is not scored, copies will be sent to each of the law schools that you are applying to. For more information about the LSAT test, please refer to: http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/about-the-lsat/opens in a new window. For test prep courses, please see the Test Prep section.
Personal Statement/Law School Admissions Essay
This is a 2 to 3 page summary of who you are, why you want to go to law school, what you have done to prepare, and why you are targeting a particular law school. Since law schools do not interview applicants, it is important to think about what you want the admissions committee to know about you and your achievements, experiences, and goals. Think of the things that are already listed in your application, such as internships, student organizations, courses, etc. and try to explain what you have learned about yourself through these experiences. You need to put time and effort into the personal statement, and it may take many drafts. It is recommended that you show people your drafts for review, including family, friends, professors, the Bryn Athyn College Writing Center, and your pre-law advisor. Here are a few links on tips for the personal statement:
- https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/opens in a new window
- http://www.top-law-schools.com/personal-statement-examples.htmlopens in a new window
- http://careercenter.georgetown.edu/graduate-law-school/law-school-application/law-school-personal-statement-tips.htmlopens in a new window
Many law schools ask for an academic resume to be included in your application. This can be attached electronically to your applications when you submit them online through the LSAC website.
Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
Most law schools ask for 3 letters of recommendation. Make sure you read each law school’s application to determine how many letters are required and who qualifies as a good recommender. Usually it is recommended that you have two academic letters (by tenured professors) and one employer letter. When you ask a professor or employer for a LOR, make an appointment to see them and take with you a draft of your personal statement and your academic resume or summary of academic achievements. This will allow your professors to learn more about you and write stronger letters of support. It is best to ask professors that you have connected with and in whose classes you have excelled. Once you know who will write a positive LOR for you, submit their information to CAS and they will be sent an email with directions to follow to submit their recommendation electronically. It is important to note that in CAS you will need to determine which letters should be sent to which law schools (especially if a law school only requests two letters; you can choose which to send).
Applicants need to hold themselves to a high ethical code and avoid falsifying any information on their law school applications. If a law school determines that you have attempted to do so, the consequences can include rescinding an acceptance to their school, or in the future, your law degree. Applicants need to give full disclosure on their application on anything from an alcohol violation as a first year to any misdemeanor or felony offenses. Many violations are not something that would prevent a student from being admitted to a law school. However, if an applicant fails to disclose a violation and the law school finds out, then they will most likely not consider that application.
It is not a bad thing to find out that you were put on the wait list for a law school. You can contact the law school and ask how far down you are on the wait list and when they will be making their final decisions. Most law schools have a ranking on their wait list. By finding out where you are on this list, you can determine your chances and weigh your options. However, please note that each law school may have their own policy about how much they tell an applicant about the details of their wait list.
Once you have been accepted to a law school, you will most likely be asked to pay a seat deposit to reserve your space in the incoming class. This deposit will later be credited to your first year tuition. By paying the seat deposit you are letting the law school know that you are accepting their admission offer and will be part of their incoming class. Most law schools request that the seat deposits be paid by April 1st. Try to rank your preferred law school choices while you are waiting on your acceptance letters so that you can make an informed decision. Before submitting your seat deposit, make sure you know if it is refundable, how much is refundable, and if there is a deadline date for a refund of your deposit. If you decide not to attend a particular school after you have submitted your seat deposit, that money may be forfeited to the school depending upon their policy.