Pre-Law

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Bryn Athyn College has developed a Pre-Law Track which 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 skills and context useful in preparation for entering law school.  Students may take these courses voluntarily to supplement their degree requirements or use as elective credits. The track is designed to improve writing, research, and analysis skills to the highest degree possible. Because all 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.

Program Focus

Law schools want students who can think critically, write well, have some understanding of the human experience, and who value faithfully serving others while 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 difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for a legal education.

ABA Recommendations

The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular undergraduate majors or courses to prepare for a legal education. Indeed, according to the ABA, there is no true pre-law curriculum. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to study subjects that are considered to be 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 and mathematics, engineering, or education. Generally, a broad-based education that is challenging and that stresses analytical and verbal communication skills will be useful.

Political Science

  • PSci101 Introduction to Politics and Governance
  • PSci201 American Government and Politics
  • PSci/Phil 220 Political Thought

Business

  • Bus351 Business Law

Communications

  • Comm105/205 Public Speaking

Any Writing-Intensive Courses

Philosophy

  • Phil101 Critical Thinking
  • Phil102 Introduction to Philosophy
  • Phil111 Introduction to Moral Philosophy
  • Phil/PSci220 Political Thought

General preparation Law Schools put a lot of emphasis on your LSAT score and GPA. Therefore:

  1. Begin preparation for the LSAT as soon as possible. Research the available study courses and materials for self study.
  2. Take challenging classes in your major as well as general electives.
  3. Dedicate yourself to achievement in whatever class you take.
  4. See each class assignment as an opportunity to hone your skills and move one step closer to you goal: academic achievement and entrance into the law school of your choice!
  5. 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 look good for law schools. Make sure it is a major that allows you to also pursue other paths besides law school in case you decide not to apply for law school.
  • Begin researching the various careers in law through the internet, interviewing and shadowing attorneys, visiting law schools, and through workshops.
  • 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 letter 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 advisorand 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 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 councilors.
  • Every year there are Law School Forums where various law schools from all across the United States attend. It is a good way to talk with law school representatives in one location. This is a free event and you can visit the LSAC.org website to find the dates and locations and registration information.
  • If you cannot make it to a law school forum, the “Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools” is also a good resource to start researching schools:
  • Start thinking about faculty and other professionals that 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 you 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-overview.  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 at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/, http://www.finaid.org/ and www.accessgroup.org.

Fourth Year Students

  • Meet with a pre-law advisor again to discuss your law school questions.
  • Request all your official transcripts to 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 and 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.  You can get exposure to the practice of law, the 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 you build your professional development and 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.
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. Prep courses include but are not limited to the following: Blackstone: http://www.blackstone-lsat.com/ Blue Print: http://www.blueprintprep.com/ Cambridge: http://www.cambridgelsat.com/ Exam Focus: http://www.examfocus.com/ Kaplan: http://www.kaptest.com/LSAT/Home/index.html PrincetonReview http://www.princetonreview.com/UniversityofSouthFlorida.aspx Test Masters http://www.testmasters.net/lsat/Course/Florida-LSAT-Prep-Courses.aspx Velocity Test Prep: http://www.velocitylsat.com/
Applications to law schools are completed through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website: http://www.lsac.org/. You will need to set up and an account on the LSAC website. As soon as you set up your account profile with your information and you will be able to fill out applications to law schools electronically. Most law schools have a rolling admissions system where they begin accepting applications in early October till either February or March for the upcoming Fall terms. There are a few law schools that still accept students in the Summer or Spring sessions, (please check the law schools your are interested in for their preferred application dates and options). The sooner you apply the better since there is less competition with 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 can 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 with your application, then do not attach one. Giving more information that they do not want will not impress them. However, if an item on their 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 to apply to law schools 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 gone all gone to 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 admission committee for review. For more information about the CAS please refer to: http://www.lsac.org/jd/applying-to-law-school/casTranscriptsYou will need to send all official transcripts directly from every undergraduate, graduate, and professional school you have attended to CAS. Courses that you took at another institution for example for your AA that is showing in your bachelor’s degree transcript (dual enrollment or community college courses), for example, will also need official transcripts to be sent to CAS. Please contact the registrar’s offices to have them send your official transcripts.Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)The LSAT is a standardized test that must be taken in order to be considered for law school admissions 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 it takes about half a day. The range of the LSAT standardized test is between 120 to 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/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 and experiences as well as your 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 this can 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/ http://www.top-law-schools.com/personal-statement-examples.html http://careercenter.georgetown.edu/graduate-law-school/law-school-application/law-school-personal-statement-tips.html Academic Resume 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 (LOR). Make sure you read each law schools application to determine how many letters are required and who qualifies as good recommenders. Usually it is recommended that you have two academics (Tenured professors) and one employer letter.  When you ask a professor or employer for an 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 a stronger letter of support.  It is best to ask professors that you have connected with and done well in their class. Once you know who will write positive LORs for you, then 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). Full Disclosure Applicants need to hold themselves to a high ethical code and avoid falsifying any information on their law school application. 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 your application. Wait Lists If you find out that you were put on the wait list for a law school, this is not a bad situation. 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. Seat Deposits 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 order 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.