Applying to Law Schools - Process and Timeline

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Each student's approach to law school and process to get there is different; there is no "right way" to do it.  Many students will not take a traditional route, whether graduating in less than four years or taking time off between college and law school.  Be sure to speak with a Pre-Law Advisor to build a timeline that fits for you and do not limit yourself to the information in this section of the website.  Throughout your college career ask yourself, what should you be doing; acdemically? professionally? logistically?

The timeline below is based on a traditional four-year college degree plan followed immediately by law school.  Use the links in the right-hand menu for further information about researching law schools, the application and LSAT, and more.

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Timeline of Steps to Take

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The primary goal in your first year should be to focus on your academics and the transition to college - a strong start to your college career is important.

Additional steps to take this year:

  • Explore majors of interest
  • Design a degree plan that will challenge you academically (click here for information on academic pathways to law).
  • Identify your academic strengths and areas you want to improve.
  • Introduce yourself to your professors and get to know them so they get to know you.
  • Get into the habit of making well-informed decisions and meeting deadlines.
  • Ask your academic advisor to add "LAW-PRO" as an Academic Plan so you can be added to the Pre-Law email listserv.
  • Introduce yourself to the pre-law advisor in your college (click here for the list of pre-law advisors).
  • Read about the practice of law - the real practice of law, not what you see on tv or in movies.
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In your second year you should focus on settling in to your major.  Start to think specifically, not abstractly, about the practice of law and whether law school is right for you.  It's a significant investment of time, energy, and (eventually) money - be sure it's what you want to do!

Additional steps to take this year:

  • Continue your academic progress.
  • Continue getting to know your professors - later on you might ask one of them for a letter of recommendation.
  • Observe, engage, and otherwise explore the legal profession (click here for a partial list of ideas).
  • Attend the Ohio State Law Fair in the fall.
  • Meet with your pre-law advisor to discuss the idea of law school and how best to prepare yourself to be a competitive applicant.
  • Get involved at Ohio State and/or in your community - take on roles that will provide you with leadership responsibilities.
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By now you've established yourself academically; continue pushing yourself by taking challenging courses.  If your degree plan allows it, take courses that will hone the skills necessary to do well on the LSAT.  This is also the year when you will begin to undertake the official steps required to be a law school candidate.

Tasks to complete this year:

Autumn Semester

  • Take a practice LSAT to familiarize yourself with the test and the different types of questions (click here for additional information on the LSAT).
  • Attend the Ohio State Law Fair in October.
  • Meet with your pre-law advisor to discuss the law school application process.

Spring Semester

  • Create your Law School Admission Council (LSAC) account.
  • Register for LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
  • Register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) if you plan to take it between June-September (click here for additional information on the LSAT).
  • Contact professors to ask for letters of recommendation.
  • Build a preliminary list of schools you might apply to.
  • Meet with your pre-law advisor to discuss the law school application process and your list.

Additional steps to take this year:

  • Familiarize yourself with the LSAC.org website.
  • Prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) - how and how much will depend on your personal study habits and when you plan to take the test.
  • Continue getting to know your professors.
  • Determine what criteria you will use to decide where to apply and research schools based on your criteria.
  • Attend prospective student days at law schools or arrange an individual visit.
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If it didn't feel real before, it should now.  It's not too late to start the process if you haven't already; be sure to use your summer wisely so that you're not rushing to do everything in the autumn.

Tasks to complete this summer:

  • Complete any tasks you did not finish in the spring.
  • Register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) if you plan to take it between September-November (click here for additional information on the LSAT).
  • Order all college transcript(s)* to be sent directly to LSAC from each institution you have attended (if you are taking summer courses at Ohio State or elsewhere, wait to submit that institution's transcript until all grades have posted).
  • Request letters of recommendation.
  • Update your resume and upload it to CAS.

*If you took courses at any other college or university at any time for any reason, including college courses taken while in high school, those transcripts must be ordered and sent directly to LSAC - transfer credit awarded by Ohio State will not be sufficient for purposes of applying to law school.  THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL.

Additional steps to take in the summer:

  • Start working on your personal statement.
  • Attend prospective student days at law schools or arrange individual visits.
  • Confirm you are on track to graduate.
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Do no get senioritis!  In addition to completing your law school application and related tasks, you should continue to push yourself to excel in your final year of college.  Law Schools require a final transcript to prove you have graduated from college and they will not be impressed if your grades suddenly decline sharply.

Tasks to complete this year:

Autumn Semester

  • Complete any tasks you did not finish over the summer.
  • Write and upload your personal statement.
  • Register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) if you plan to take it between January-April (click here for additional information on the LSAT).
  • Finalize the list of law schools you will apply to.
  • Meet with your pre-law advisor to discuss your law school list.
  • Double-check that your CAS file is complete and submit your applications to law schools.

Spring Semester

  • File your financial aid application in January or as soon as possible.
  • If you receive offers of acceptance from multiple law schools, decide which school to attend.
  • Pay your seat deposit on time - the deadline varies by law school.
  • Be sure to inform your Pre-Law Advisor of your decision!
  • Complete your graduation requirements!

Additional steps to take this year:

  • Attend prospective student days at law schools or arrange individual visits; ask to sit in on a class and/or take a tour of the facilities.
  • Consider how to plan your finances to pay for law school.
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You're on the law school's clock now!  Be sure to take care of everything they tell you to do before the semester starts, including reading any homework for the first day of class - you will hit the ground running on day 1!

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Use the links below or in the right-hand menu for further information related to the law school application process