Application Timeline for Juniors
While it is ideal to follow the general parameters provided in the following timelines, this is not always possible. In a sense, it is never too late to begin preparation for applying to law school. While all applicants should meet with a HPPLC Prelaw Advisor to construct an individualized timeline, it is essential to do so for those who come to the decision to apply relatively late in their academic career.
Fall Semester of Junior Year
- For a summary of the top 5 priorities for juniors, click HERE. Meanwhile, read on......
- Attend Law Day in the early fall, and other prelaw events [to receive notice of such events, check to make sure you are signed up for the prelaw Email List. [Register for the prelaw listserve by clicking HERE].
- If you haven't already, consider opening a letters of recommendation (LOR) file with HPPLC. Read "Why Should You Use the HPPLC Recommendation Service?" Review the recommendation section of this website by clicking HERE.
- It is best if you have on file at least two LOR by the end of your junior year. Be sure to get to know your professors this year! Consult with a Prelaw Advisor to make sure your writers have the correct forms in advance.
- Take a strictly timed practice LSAT test. You don't need to prepare for it--the idea is to get a perspective on how much future preparation you will need in order to obtain a score that you'd be happy with. HPPLC has all past disclosed LSAT exams on file for you to borrow without charge. Just ask our receptionist.
- Think about when you will take the official exam. We recommend taking the exam in June or September/October--keep in mind it is best to submit application material by mid-November of your senior year, and it is wise to have a fall-back date. Note that the December exam is a reasonable fall-back IF you can submit your completed applications over winter break. However, the exam that is best for you to take is always the one for which you can be best prepared. If you have questions, consult a HPPLC Prelaw Advisor.
- Determine your weakest section of the LSAT and begin working on it NOW. For suggested LSAT preparation materials, see the HPPLC Prelaw Publication "LSAT and Logic Games Resources" available HERE.
- Especially if you are still exploring the idea of a career in law, consider a law-related job or internship for the spring or next summer. Investigate the listings available at the Career Development Center, and look at the websites for the departments of Political Science, Criminal Justice, and SPEA for law-related internships that are open to non-majors.
- Read "Law School Admissions--Questions and Answers for Juniors and Seniors," "Application Guide for Law School," and "What Law Schools Look for in an Applicant."
Spring Semester of Junior Year
- Decide when you will take the LSAT, and how you will prepare. As stated above, June after junior year is usually best--if you can be well-prepared by then. It is to your advantage to submit applications by Thanksgiving of your senior year. After January 1 the competition for seats at many schools starts to increase dramatically. Note that the February LSAT will be too late for most (but not all) schools. If you are planning on taking the December LSAT, be sure to submit your material over winter break (i.e., before your scores arrive!). If you have questions, consult your HPPLC Prelaw Advisor.
- Identify factors important to you in your choice of schools (small/large, rural/urban, location, specialties, joint degrees, etc.). It usually takes substantial research to decide where to apply. Start early. Note that law schools do NOT necessarily expect you to know what area of law you would like to specialize in. If you have an idea, great--but if not, no problem.
- Develop a rough list of the schools you think you want to explore further. Spend some time reviewing their websites and look up information about them in the latest edition of the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, available in bookstores, libraries, and HPPLC. Check the online version HERE. Spend some time exploring this cumbersome site-although often frustrating to navigate, it contains excellent information.
- Get a list of 8-12 or more schools: at least 2 safety (where your GPA and LSAT are above the median numbers for a given school), 2 reach (where your numbers are around the 25% or below), and several where you would be solidly competitive (between the two above). See the LSAC's UGPA search to find out how law schools treated last year's applicants with your combination of numbers.
- If you can, start to prepare seriously for the LSAT. We suggest that you budget 3-4 months for preparation. Consider an LSAT prep course if you feel you would benefit from one (HPPLC sponsors a low-cost prep class). Note that many applicants will do fine preparing on their own. Consult with a Prelaw Advisor if you have questions or concerns.
- If you can be very well-prepared, take the LSAT in June (register for it in April).
Summer between Junior and Senior Years
- If you did not take the LSAT in June, prepare for the September/October LSAT.
- Visit schools. Try to meet individually with admissions officials. Follow-up with thank-you notes. Record your impressions.
- Find old applications online and look at the prompts for personal statements. Start working on your statement during the summer. Expect this process to take at least 3-4 weeks and several rewrites. CLICK HERE to get started. Then take a look at HPPLC Prelaw Publications Writing an Effective Personal Statement for Law School; and The Personal Statement. Again, good personal statements aren't written--they are re-written. And re-written. And re-written again!