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Pre-Law

applying to law school.

Students should begin the process of applying to law school at least a year in advance of the time of their desired enrollment. Consequently, those who intend to enroll immediately after the completion of their undergraduate degree should begin the application process near the end of their junior year and should take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in June after that year or in October of their senior year. Information on how to apply for the LSAT is available from the College’s pre-law advisors, as well as from the LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) site. 

1. Timeline
2. Selecting a Law School
3. Grades and Transcripts
4. Personal Statement
5. Recommendation Letters

Timeline :
During the first years of college, students should select courses that will help develop skills in writing, critical thinking, reading and analysis, and quantitative reasoning. It is important to read about the law school admissions process and the format of the LSAT, think about reasons for pursuing a law career, and develop a "Plan B" career option. Students should take a sample LSAT before the junior year, to allow time to identify and work on any weaknesses.

Prepare for the LSAT during the junior year or earlier, and plan to take the test in June following the junior year or October of the senior year. Use the LSAC guide to ABA approved law schools (online at LSAC’s site) to search for law schools which match the desired criteria, and narrow down a final list. Students who qualify for financial aid may wish to seek fee waivers where possible; students are sometimes offered fee waivers by certain schools on the basis of LSAT scores. Contact the law schools directly to obtain all necessary information and application forms.

Draft applications before the senior year begins. Contact those who will write letters of recommendation, providing them with copies of a resume and any other information they will need. Mail applications the earlier the better, preferably in the fall of the senior year. Students may update their files later with fall semester grades.


Selecting a Law School:
LSAC provides extensive information about the over 180 ABA approved Law Schools in the U.S. Students should think about where they want to go to school and what size of school is preferred. Applicants may examine available information about average GPAs and LSAT scores to compare themselves to the typical students at various law schools. However, please use these numbers with caution and only as a rough guideline, as many factors can affect the competitiveness of an application. Students sometimes apply to a range of schools: a few very competitive schools, a few with more generous acceptance rates, and some in between.

Students usually find it very helpful to visit the schools in which they are interested. UNO students can visit local schools (Creighton Law School and the University of Nebraska Law School are both excellent places to study law) to learn more about the law school experience. Both Nebraska and Creighton offer special course sessions for visiting students to observe; interested visitors should contact their admissions offices for reservations.


Grades and Transcripts:
Student transcripts will be sent to LSAC, where grades will be converted to a standardizing system and assigned a GPA. This GPA may or may not be the same as the UNO GPA, depending on a number of factors. Grades of 'W' from UNO are not, at present, penalized in the conversion system. However, students should avoid having withdrawals on the transcript because law school admissions committees can still take note of them. Courses which are re-taken at UNO will be counted twice: both the original grade (e.g. D or F) and the new grade (whatever it may be) will both be included in the new calculation of GPA, which will probably reduce the overall GPA compared to the number which appears on the UNO transcript. Students may wish to explain any large number or unusual pattern of law grades or withdrawals, on a separate page attached to the application.


Personal Statement:
This statement offers an opportunity to demonstrate writing ability to the admissions committee. Students also can present more information about themselves than would otherwise be available on the application. Students can explain anything about their education, experience, and background that is unique or indicates future success as a law student. Use specific examples to illustrate claims, rather than making general assertions of interest that the committee probably hears from everyone. Write clearly and concisely.

Students may briefly explain any discrepancies or problem areas on the application or transcript. However, if these problems require more than a very brief mention, a separate page should be attached to provide a full explanation. It is imperative that applicants honestly disclose any possible criminal history, including things like driving under the influence or incidents addressed by campus security. If a student is admitted to law school without fully disclosing this kind of history, he or she may be refused admittance to the bar exam and thus would be unable to practice law.

Plan to revise the personal statement repeatedly before submitting it, paying close attention to page and word limits. Make sure that someone else proofreads both the statement and the entire application packet. Every part of the application should be free from errors and neatly organized.


Recommendation Letters:
Most students will benefit from placing three letters of recommendation in their files, even if some schools only request two. At least two of those letters should be written by professors who have seen the student’s best work, and can communicate detailed information about academic performance. The third letter may be another professor, or an employer or supervisor who knows the student’s work well. Through LSAC’s application process, applicants may designate certain letters as "targeted" to particular law schools. Students are advised not to seek recommendations from e.g. a lawyer they happen to know, unless that person has been an employer or teacher or would be familiar with skills relevant to academic performance. Remember that law school admissions committees are comprised of law professors who need to determine how well students will succeed in the extremely academically challenging environment of law school.

As early as possible in the fall of the senior year, ask prospective letter writers if they can write a strong letter for the law school application. Provide them with an academic resume, a copy or draft of the personal statement if feasible, and any other information pertinent to recollecting the student’s academic performance (for example, a successful paper written for their class, or the name of the course and the term in which it was taken). Make sure the recommenders understand where to send the letter. Follow up in the spring with recommenders to let them know the results of the application.