Pre-Law Minor Information
No, it is not necessary to know in what area of law you will practice before you go to law school. As a matter of fact, if you are unsure, just enjoy the process of selecting and applying to law schools—the process itself may help shape your choice. Also, once you begin your law school program, you may take certain classes, have internships/ clerkships and/ or meet fellow students and professors who will shape your thoughts on the area in which you wish to practice. That process of discovery regarding your interests and skills is part of the enjoyment of law school. Further, there is no concentration in law school. One who graduates from law school may practice in any area of law. While there is no concentration or specialized degree one can get from law school, once you are enrolled, you can and should take classes in line with your interests and practice aspirations. It should be noted that employment more than anything shapes the area of law in which one will specialize. Thus, an advisable strategy is to take the classes in areas in which you are interested and make the best grades you possibly can in those classes. Those good grades will probably increase your chances of being hired by a firm that practices in your desired area of law. It should be noted that there are legal master's degree programs that are specialized wherein lawyers can continue their study after law school in areas such as bankruptcy and taxes. A discussion of these programs is beyond the scope of this forum.
The American Bar Association-approved Clayton State Legal Studies Program exposes students to many of the concepts they will encounter in law school so that when they get to law school, they will already have a base of understanding. So taking classes offered in that program or making Legal Studies your major minor is advisable, though majors in history or philosophy or even English are also good preparation for law school. Also, a meeting with your Clayton State University Academic advisor is always of paramount importance. The classes you take should interest you and satisfy your major. Also, if you have time and the ability, choose classes that are surely going to increase your GPA. A high GPA is very important for admission into law school. See your academic advisor to chart the best path in line with your interests, the goals of your academic program as well as preparing to be a successful law student.
This will depend on your school. Before you even think of applying to law school you should have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The weight given to LSAT versus GPA will depend on the school but each is very, very important.
As a threshold consideration, your LSAT score is not an indicator of likelihood of success in law school but taking the exam is necessary nonetheless. Taking the LSAT is costly. It is important to maximize your likelihood of success. We recommend LSAT preparation courses. The most popular programs are offered through Princeton Review and Kaplan. Also, LSAT review courses may be offered out of the continuing education departments at most colleges and universities. I would suggest taking preparation courses as many times as necessary in order to feel comfortable before sitting for the LSAT. You cannot drop a low LSAT score. That means your school of choice will see the score from every attempt that you make as well as an average score. Schools may vary as to how they assess the highest score amongst multiple attempts. Please note that one is not permitted take the LSAT more than three times in a two year period.
The required or target LSAT score will vary from law school to law school. You should check with each one. Know the requirements of your top three choices and shoot for the top score. If your score is out of line with your desired school’s requirements and you are quite sure you can do better (perhaps illness hampered your previous performance), only then would we encourage you to re-take the exam.
For more information visit LSAC.org
Let the instructions from the law school you are applying be controlling with regard to what topics to address. The most common themes are to demonstrate leadership skills and the ability to overcome adversity. Be sure your personal statement is responsive to the request from school to which you are applying.
Be professional in your personal statement. Do not write how you speak. Visit the Clayton State University Writers' Studio for help. Edit carefully. This personal statement gives a unique opportunity to make an impression on the admissions committee. Make sure your entire application package but especially your personal statement is free from grammar, punctuation, typographical or any error of any kind.
Also be mindful of your presence on the Internet. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that a law school will check out your social media presence. Clean up your social media pages or better yet, do not post questionable content. Nothing you ever post on the internet ever fully goes away. Also, let your friends and relatives know that you are applying to law schools and to act (post on your page) accordingly.
The cost of laws school will vary. Please see the individual institutions in which you are interested for specific information. You should NOT work full time and go to law school. Law school is universally expensive. There are many options for helping to pay for this valuable education including loans and scholarships.
In order to not start out your legal career drowning in debt, start looking for scholarships immediately after you know that you will go to law school. An abundance of scholarships are available. The internet has made searching for scholarship very easy. Make it a priority. Just look for scholarships in your spare time—even just minutes a day – you will be surprised at what is out there. Also, the institutions to which you are applying may be able to offer scholarships. Don’t be shy about inquiring as to the possibilities
Be mindful of the cap on taking out federal loans and responsible in taking out the loans. Start saving money as soon as you are sure you will go to law school. Use as much of your own money as possible to pay for law school. Loans can seem like an easy way to pay for law school but those loan balances and interest add up quickly and the day for repayment will come sooner rather than later.
For more on financing a law school education check out the following link: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/paying
Yes. Almost every law school will require that letters of recommendation be submitted as part of the application. Remember that the admission committee will not meet with applicants personally so the letters of recommendation along with the personal statement give them insight into who you really are.
Your Clayton State University professors are the best prospects for providing recommendation letters. Cultivate a positive relationship with your professors—especially those who teach classes in your major and in whose class you have excelled. Employers are great prospects to provide recommendation letters as well.
Help the person you would like to provide a recommendation write a stellar recommendation letter for you. Provide the person you have selected with all the relevant information so that he may tailor the recommendation letter to the law school. Provide and fill out LSAC form which must accompany the recommendation letter. Provide the addressed envelope with a stamp. You may even want to forward to him or her a shell of a recommendation letter to get him started. Also, once you have asked someone to submit a recommendation letter on your behalf, do not be shy about following up. If your person is worth having write a recommendation letter for you, he or she is probably very busy. Also, do not rely on one person. Have a stable of people you will ask—have backups for your backups.
Ask for recommendation letters strategically—perhaps get a recommendation letter from an alumnus for the law school to which you are applying.
Again each law school is different. No matter the application deadline, get yours in early so that you can be one of the first accepted.
Law school applications become available between the end of August and the beginning of October. Most schools state deadlines somewhere between February 1 and June 1. However, most law schools start admitting students shortly after applications becomes available (in October and November). It is important to note that many schools use rolling admissions—beginning to accept students as soon as the admissions period begins. If you wait to submit your applications on the deadline (usually in the Spring), many schools may have already admitted enough people to fill their classes and may already have a long waiting list. As a result, unless your application is really stellar (with a GPA and LSAT scores on the high end for that school's admission's standards), it will probably be much more difficult to be competitive for admission late in the application cycle.
Each year, US News and World report provides a ranking of every ABA accredited law school in the United States. Please find the link here: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools
There are five ABA accredited law schools in Georgia: Mercer, Emory, Georgia, Georgia State, and John Marshall. A “good” law school is relative. It is important to go to the best law school you can get in to. Another consideration is to go to law school in the state (general geographic area) in which you will practice. Doing so is important for networking and job prospects. It is a fact that almost from the first day of law school, your primary goal (second only to getting good grades) is getting a job. Go to a law school that is highly ranked. At the end of the day, all other things being equal, go to the law school that has the highest ranking. Also, some law schools have reputations for producing lawyers better in some disciplines than others. For instance, some law schools produce better litigators (lawyers who frequently appear in court). If you aspire to be a litigator, give special attention to applying to those law schools.
Know that your first semester grades are VERY important. From that you will get your jobs and your reputation is set. Be prepared to work very hard your first semester. The higher your grades, the more job opportunities will be available to you.
While it is not necessary to have work experience, we strongly encourage at least some exposure to the work world—especially a legal office. Take advantage of the internships offered here at Clayton State University. The Legal Studies program offers a class where students can intern for school credit.
Life experience is underrated. A portion of success in law school and in practicing law is due in no small part to life experience. Also, seek out and pursue a relationship with mentors. Their value for success in law school and in practicing law cannot be over stated.
The Law School Admission Game - Levine
Law School Confidential - Miller
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams - Fischl, Paul
Grammar, Punctuation, and Style: A Quick Guide for Lawyers and Other Writers - Cupples, Temple-Smith
Pre-Law Student Perspectives
- What is your advice for undergraduates who think they want to go to law school?
- Was there anything that surprised you about law school when you started as a first year?
- What do you like about law school?
- What has been the most challenging part of law school?
- How has the Clayton State University Legal Studies program helped prepare you for law school?