The four-year plan will guide you through important activities and deadlines you should prepare for in the process of applying to law school, starting from your first year at Rutgers through your senior year.
First & Sophomore Years
- Be serious about your studies. Take courses that will enhance your writing, reading comprehension, and analytical skills. Your grades are a very important part of your law school application, so it is important to focus on academics and do well.
- Expand your knowledge. Develop your logical reasoning ability and increase your awareness of human institutions, social values, and the world at large. You should also develop a realistic view of legal careers. Look for opportunities to obtain law-related experience. Talk to lawyers about their work.
- Pursue your interests in the classroom and beyond. Find the right balance between academic coursework and extracurricular activities. Choose a major that represents your own academic interests, and pursue your interests outside of class—but not at the expense of your grades.
- Create a plan. Learn more about the law school application process and attend LSAC Forums. Begin to consider how you will finance a legal education.
- Make this your best year academically. Your acceptance to law school will depend greatly on your academic record. If you hope to go on immediately to law school after graduation, your junior year and first-semester senior year grades will be what schools look at most closely.
- Prepare for the LSAT. Usually, it is not a good idea to take the LSAT prior to June, but you should start reviewing old copies of the tests and exploring the option of enrolling in a commercial test preparation course. Sample tests are available in the LSAT registration packets (available upstairs in Milledoler Hall) or in LSAT prep books.
- Continue to explore and learn about the legal profession. Learn as much as you can about the legal profession and the specific area of law you wish to pursue. Read articles, pamphlets, and books. Talk with and observe lawyers. Take part in law-related activities on campus.
- Start investigating law schools. Think about where you want to spend three intensive years of study. There are a number of variables to consider: location, size, prestige, cost, special programs, student body, chances of admission, etc. Visit prospective law schools during your travels, and remember that reading and talking to others can help. You can also take advantage of pre-law programs and the pre-law society. Do not write to law schools for catalogs and application forms until you return to school in August. Their printing deadlines for current-year materials are late summer.
- Give some thought to letters of recommendation. Most law schools require two faculty letters, and the most persuasive ones are often written by faculty who know you well and for whom you have done your best work. Consider taking another course from such professors, and get to know faculty.
Summer Between Junior & Senior Years
- Register for the LSAT and LSDAS. Pick up an LSAT/LSDAS Registration Packet in Milledoler Hall. Read the packet thoroughly to make sure you understand all phases of the application process. This is the single most important step. Plan to take the LSAT in June or October so that you will get your scores back in time to select an appropriate range of law schools to apply to.
- Develop a list of schools to apply to. Read the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, if you have not already. Begin to develop a list of 8 to 15 law schools you are interested in applying to. This list will need to be refined once you receive your LSAT score because you should be choosing schools which, given your GPA and LSAT scores, offer a reasonable chance of your gaining admission. A few schools on the list should be “reaches,” but most should be in the “more likely” range. It is also a good idea to have one or two “safe” schools. Most applicants wind up sending applications to 6 to 10 schools.
- Keep track of all application details. Develop a system to effectively keep track of all registration and application materials and details. Create duplicate copies of all forms, applications, and correspondence for your own records.
- Request applications. You can request applications from law schools using the postcards in the LSAT/LSDAS packet or start looking at online applications. The LSACD (provided by the LSAC) is a great way to apply to lots of schools with minimal typing.
- Meet with an advisor. Make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to discuss your plans and go over the application process.
- Gather application materials. Pull together ideas for a personal statement or essay, and begin drafting and revising. You will also need to conclude arrangements for your letters of recommendations and request that the registrar send your transcript to LSDAS using the transcript matching forms in your LSAT/LSDAS packet.
- Apply for financial aid. Obtain financial aid applications from the financial aid office if you intend to apply for aid. Investigate other financial aid possibilities.
- Submit your applications. Finalize and send your applications with the Law School Matching Forms in LSAT/LSDAS Packet to law schools before Thanksgiving, if possible.
- Follow up. Double-check everything. By mid-January, make sure the law schools received your applications, your LSDAS reports, and all letters of recommendation.
- Secure your spot. Once admitted, send a deposit to reserve your space in the entering class. Arrange with the registrar for a final copy of your transcript to be sent to the law school you will attend.
- Let us know your decision. After hearing from all law schools, but before graduation, let us know your results and decision, and let your recommenders know of your application results.