Prelaw adviser at Marietta College – Dr. Mark Schaefer
Assistant Professor, Political Science, 376-4801, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Director of Career Services, along with the Prelaw Adviser, can assist students in tailoring an individual approach to the law school application process.
These Marietta College staff members communicate with law schools and have access to information such as application, acceptance and articulation rates at specific law schools which may be useful when planning an application strategy.
The Director of Career Services also writes the Dean’s recommendation letters, which are required by many law schools. Individual faculty members also write specific letters of recommendation for students they have known.
Advisers can help students decide where to apply to law school. Advisers also assist students with the application process, including reading drafts of the student’s personal statement. Since the personal statement is a critical component of any application, it must be written with great care.
Throughout the school year, the College sponsors group meetings, workshops, panel discussions, and host lectures of interest to prelaw students.
These activities are designed to give students a better understanding of law school and the practice of law. These meetings provide a forum where prelaw students can meet each other, and get answers to their question about law school, the application process, and the profession itself.
Like most colleges, Marietta College does not have a "prelaw curriculum.” Most law schools dislike prelaw majors or prescribed prelaw curricula. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for law school is to study something that interests you so that you are motivated to achieve high levels of academic performance. It is this demonstrated commitment to learning that is the most important factor in the law school admissions process.
Two areas to pay particular attention in your curriculum are:
- Effectiveness in written and oral communication skills
- Analytical and critical thinking
Choosing electives that will strengthen your aptitude in these areas will greatly assist you when you are a student of law. Demonstrating competence in these fields will make you an appealing candidate for admission at law schools.
The 2008-2009 Officers of the Pre-Law Society are:
The group has a listserv with their members who receive frequent emails concerning prelaw activities, information and events. In order to sign up for the listserv, please contact one of the officers or the Prelaw Adviser.
Deciding on Law School
Will a certain major enhance your chances?
There are three basic areas in which prelaw students need to develop proficiency:
- human institutions & values
- creative power in thinking
- How will grades affect admissions?
- How will extracurriculars, community service, law-related internships and employment affect application process?
The basic criteria for applying to law school are:
- LSAT score
- College records
- Quality of undergraduate institution
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
Apply before Dec. 1st of the year prior to your intended start in law school. For example, if the student intends to go to law school in fall 2010, then by Nov 15, 2009, all of the materials should be in to the law schools. Do NOT wait until the printed deadline! Track and follow-up all submissions.
Establish a list of target schools based on preferences in location, the type and size of the school and your chances for admission. Investigate the median GPA and LSAT scores of recently admitted students at these law schools.
Most law schools applications today have common applications online which streamlines the process a bit. Pay attention to detail and follow all directions completely and carefully.
Personal Statement or Essay
Do’s & Don’t’s
- Do outline before writing.
- Do several drafts and get an objective viewpoint on topic, content, organization.
- Do stick to the word or page limit, if there is one.
- Do keep to 2 pages double-spaced, if there isn’t a limit.
- Don’t be apologetic.
- Don’t make excuses for low GPA or LSAT.
- Don’t make it so generic that it could belong to anyone seeking law school admission.
Letters of Recommendation
- Typically, 3 are required. At least 2 should be faculty/academic in nature.
- Readers will be looking for letters that reveal positive information about the applicant’s intellectual and analytical abilities, research skills, writing aptitude, commitment to the study of law, responsibility, leadership & ethical integrity.
- Recommenders need to be specific about information, citing examples whenever possible.
- A letter of recommendation is the proper forum for addressing shortcomings in the application.
- Give the recommenders plenty of time to prepare the letters.
- Give the recommenders a deadline and follow-up.
Some schools, especially those in New England, require this. It allows the law school an opportunity to gain information on your disciplinary record—both academic and social while in undergrad.This information is usually collected again as applicant tries to gain entry to the state’s bar association in order to practice law officially.
Every student who applies to law school must take the LSAT. Unlike the SAT, it does NOT test any subject matter that you presumably have studied. Instead, the LSAT tests cognitive, reading, and analytical skills, abilities that attorneys must use on a regular basis.
LSAT – multiple choice exam composed of 5 sections
- Writing Sample
- Logical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- Analytic Reasoning/Logic Games
- Experimental Section (not counted in your score, but you never know which section this is!)
Students have 35 minutes to complete each section, except for the writing sample which is 30 minutes.
Plan to take the LSAT only once! If taken more than once, most law schools will average the scores and may not even look at other scores beyond first one!
- Scoring on LSAT is based on number of questions answered correctly.
- There is NO penalty for wrong answers.
- Never leave answers unmarked.
- The number answered correctly is raw score.
- Raw score is then scaled against other test-takers’ raw scores and then calculated into a LSAT score ranging from 120 – 180 with a mean of 150.
- This score is also assigned a percentile ranking based on the scores earned over the immediate three preceding years.
Krause Test Prep Fund
The Krause Test Prep Fund has been established to help students pay for test preparation courses for the LSAT and any pre-med/health related (MCAT, DAT, VAT) test preparation courses. Below are the requirements to be considered for this opportunity:
- This scholarship is only available for students in the Class of 2010.
- Interested applicants should submit a resume and letter of intent to the Career Center: email@example.com
- The letter of intent must include the name of the test preparation company, the course, location, cost, and intended dates/schedule.
- GPA and financial need will be factors in the selection process.
LSDAS- Law School Data Assembly Service
Required that applicants register in order to apply to law school. The service compiles and standardizes all academic work over the course of college career.
Each LSDAS report includes: student major, honors earned, study abroad info, GPA each year and cumulative GPA, grade distribution, last three LSAT scores, average LSAT score, Clark students’ average LSAT score and Clark’s students’ average GPA.
When & How to take the LSAT?
LSAT is administered four times/year, in June, early October, December and February. The Feb test date is usually too late for most law school application deadlines. Best time to take the LSAT is June or October.
Preparation for LSAT
- It is not wise to take the LSAT without preparation.
- Usually, at least once a year, Marietta College partners with a test preparation company to offer a free practice LSAT.
- Students can also make arrangements to take a free practice test by contacting the Prelaw Adviser.
- LSAT review course is strongly encouraged. Prices range from $800 - $1500.
First & Sophomore Years:
- Build a record of academic achievement.
- Become involved in campus community to hone leadership skills.
- Consider law related internships or summer employment.
- Make an appointment with a Prelaw Adviser
- Begin studying for LSAT. Take prep course in the spring or summer.
- Begin work on personal statement and letters of recommendation.
Summer before Senior Year:
- Prepare a list of schools. Visit some of the schools.
- Make an appointment with Prelaw Adviser.
- If you haven’t already taken LSAT, schedule to take it in fall.
- Take the LSDAS transcript card to the Student Records office.
This will ensure that the LSDAS has the candidate profile ready to go.
- Revise personal statement.
- Solicit letters of recommendation.
- Double check all updates from Law Services to verify that their information is correct.
- Fill out applications and follow up to make sure that all documents have been received by the schools.
Do grade options have an impact on my chances for admissions?
Yes! GPA is one of the most important selection criteria. If your grades suffered your freshman year, that’s okay as long as your transcript shows an upward progression and your overall GPA has recovered. On the other hand, law schools will react unfavorably to an applicant with a strong first year grade point average which drops each successive year due to poor performance in advanced courses. Law schools do not like to see several pass/fail or credit/no credit classes on an applicant's transcript because they are an obstacle in evaluating a student's academic performance. Taking an internship as pass/fail is generally fine.
How important are extracurricular activities?
It is the extent/depth of your involvement in extracurricular organizations, not just your membership, that is considered both by the law schools and by those who will write your letters of recommendation. Active participation, as demonstrated by long-term commitment in leadership roles, indicates maturity, motivation, and direction. A career in law requires that you work well with people and know how to balance various aspects of your life. A student whose record shows a balance of extracurricular involvement while maintaining a high level of academic achievement will be a strong applicant.
Do law schools care about law related activities, internships, and employment?
Meaningful involvement in law-related activities (internships, community service, etc.) can be of great value in two ways. It proves to the law schools that your desire to study law is well-considered, and it also serves as an excellent way for you to explore and assess the area and extent of your own interest in law. There are a few ways to achieve this end.
- Join the Prelaw Society. It is an easy way of being involved in a law-related activity on campus.
- Another way of demonstrating your interest in the law is via legal internships and/or employment. For example, the Washington Semester programs have hundreds of law-related internships available. Some students do law-related internships abroad as well. If you are interested in pursuing an internship, make an appointment with an adviser in the Career Center.
Law School Admission Councilhttp://www.lsac.org/
Boston College’s informative sitehttp://www.bc.edu/offices/careers/gradschool/law/brief.html
TestMasters The course provides students with eighty hours of live, in-class instruction, four proctored diagnostic exams, exposure to every authentic LSAT question released since 1991 (over 6,000 questions), and access to both our online resource center and live student helpline. In addition, every TestMasters instructor has scored in the 98th percentile or higher on an officially administered LSAT.
The Right Law School for You.A publication of Law School Admission Council/ Law School Admission Services, Box 2000, Newtown, PA.
The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.A publication of Law School Admission Council/ Law School Admission Services in cooperation with the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools.
Essays that Worked for Law Schools.Boykin Curry, ed. New Haven, CT: Mustard Publishing, 1988.
Getting into Law School.Amy Shapiro and Sandra W. Weckesser. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1979.
Inside the Law Schools.Sally F. Goldfarb. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1986.
Full Disclosure: Do You Really Want to be a Lawyer?Compiled by Susan J. Bell for the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.
Running from the Law: Why Good Lawyers are Getting Out of the Legal Profession.Deborah L. Arron. Seattle, WA: Niche Press, 1989.