With over 200 law schools in the U.S. and hundreds more internationally, there is much to say about law school. This page is designed to give you a brief overview of law school preparation and the application process; for more detailed information, please review the Law School Guide.
If you are currently a student, the most important steps you can take during your undergraduate career to prepare for law school are:
- Get to know faculty
- Be active in groups that interest you
- Develop solid study habits
You might also consider joining the Pre-Law Society and develop your research and writing skills. To explore if a legal career is right for you and review additional steps, please see Suggestions by Class Year in the Law School Guide.
Once you have carefully considered your decision to apply to law school, it is important that you become familiar with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website. It is there you will register to take the entrance exam, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) as well as register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which is in addition to registering for the LSAT and requires another fee.
Do well in classes you enjoy. Applicants from all majors are accepted. There are skills valued by law schools that you can develop in any liberal arts curriculum.
Develop strong relationships with faculty members. Accessibility to faculty is one of the many advantages of a Brandeis education, and getting to know them will make obtaining strong letters of recommendation much easier.
Maintain a strong credit history. Most people finance law school through loans. You must have a credit worthy history to qualify for any loan. See the Law School Guide for financing information.
Stay out of trouble! A Dean’s Certification is required by some schools. The Certification is a statement of an applicant’s academic and disciplinary record, or lack thereof. Any disciplinary or legal action must be disclosed on a law school application, so it is best not to have any.
There are many factors to consider while researching the over 200 accredited law schools in the U.S. but some handy and credible references are:
- ABA Official Guide to Law Schools: This annual publication provides a description of each law school and important data such as bar passage rates, employment statistics, and admissions information.
- NAPLA/SAPLA Book of Lists: Used in conjunction with the ABA Guide, this resource lists schools by specialty (e.g. environmental law) in academics and clinical programs. Near the end of the site is information on scholarships by school.
- Brandeis Law School Locator: Accessible via B.hired > Resources, this is a Brandeis-only guide for determining those schools that numerically fall within your range of LSAT scores and GPA. The data pool for this resource is quite small, but will give you an idea of how Brandeis applicants have fared at different schools, based only on their numbers. Other law school locators include Boston College and NAPLA.
- Brandeis Alumni Survey of Law Schools: Accessible via B.hired > Resources, these survey results contain advice from Brandeis alumni who have recently gone through the law school application process.
For an overview of LSAT content, preparation tips, registration instructions and answers to frequently asked questions, please watch the LSAT Preparation online workshop.
Preparation for the LSAT is the most time-consuming, and perhaps most important, aspect of the application process. How you choose to prepare for the LSAT depends upon your learning style and financial situation. You can self study, take a course, hire a tutor or use some combination of these options. Study books and previous exams can be borrowed from the Hiatt Career Center. Courses tend to cost over $1,000. No matter what your preparation strategy, you are encouraged in the strongest terms possible to take as many timed practice exams as you can, without burning yourself out. Hiatt recommends at least ten.
The LSAC has recently published the Official LSAT Handbook, available on their website for $9.95. Since this is written by those who administer the exam, and explains the structure of the questions, it is a wise investment.
While the Hiatt Career Center does not endorse any particular method or company for LSAT preparation, the Law School Guide lists some of the better-known companies that offer courses, publication or tutoring.
Truly, the only time to take the LSAT is when you feel completely ready—when there is nothing more you can do to prepare. You will need to register for the exam, which is given four times per year, about three months in advance. The Hiatt Career Center now sponsors an on-campus administration of the exam, but spots fill up quickly.
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you will take time off between Brandeis and law school. There is no right or wrong answer to this. The average age of a first year law student is 28. Whatever your decision, you may find Hiatt’s suggested timeline helpful.
Applications are not available for most law schools until mid-September. Ideally you will submit your applications between Halloween and Thanksgiving, although schools do accept applications until their deadline, generally mid to late winter. The elements of the application are explained in detail in the Law School Guide and the Nuts & Bolts of a Law School Application Online Workshop.
Tuition alone for most private law schools is approximately $50,000 per year (see Section VIII of Law School Guide). State schools cost slightly less. Housing, books and living expenses must be factored in as well. Most people take out loans to pay for school. What scholarship funds are available are generally based upon LSAT scores.