Choosing to attend a law school and become a lawyer poses few restriction on your undergraduate timetable. The following timetables are useful. Note slight variations (e.g. when to begin preparing for the LSAT).
The University of Virginia gives information about the PRELAW APPLICATION PROCESS including information about the law school application timeline and seven general tips to help avoid being rejected as a result of poor planning, carelessness, or lack of follow through.
Before or during the first semester in which you are considering prelaw, you should make an appointment with the prelaw advisor to introduce yourself and to discuss the few necessary steps your education would take if law school was in your future.
Before or during the first semester in which you are considering prelaw, you should inform your academic advisor that you are thinking about law school as a career and listen to her/his advice about the best way to work on the skills necessary for this pursuit.
Read and view some BOOKS, FILMS, AND VIDEOS about law as a career in order to assure yourself that your interest in the law is based on fact not fantasy.
You should join and become involved with the pre-law student club or society, if any, at your college.
By the end of the sophomore year, you should have a major to your liking.
Before or during the summer between your junior and senior year, familiarize yourself with law schools to which you may want to apply. Be prepared to revise this list if your LSAT score is lower or higher than you expected.
LEARNING FROM SEMESTERS PAST
Euripides said (in Aegeus), A bad beginning makes a bad ending.
Make sure that, from the first day of the first semester in your first college course (this may occur in high school), you get off to a good start academically.
As has been pointed out, ''There is no better advice than to work hard and get the best education you can. Train your mind for rigorous academic work."
Establish and then maintain good study habits and a highly competitive grade point average.
Every semester, mark on your calendar each of the important drop dates; usually these are: The last day to drop without a grade of 'W' and The last day to drop without a grade of 'F' or one of its equivalents. Before each drop date, be realistic of your prospects; note that expecting to make the greatest comeback since Lazarus is usually not being realistic.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. GeorGeorge Santayana (1863, Madrid, Spain - 1952 , Rome, Italy).
Never change a winning game; always change a losing one. Bill Tilden (1893, Philadelphia, PA - 1953, Los Angeles, CA.
Improve your grades by determining what was academically successful for you during the preceding semester. For example, if you found out that reading ahead improves your test performance, read ahead in your classes. If you found out that going over your lecture notes shortly after class improves your performance, read over your lecture notes shortly after class. If you found that you did not have enough time for course work during the preceding semester, it may be wise for your to take fewer credits the next semester or to cutback on extraneous activities.
Improve your grades by determining what was NOT academically successful for you during the preceding semester. For example, if you found out that studying until 5:00 in the morning on the day of the test leads to a low test grade, attempt to get a good nights sleep the night before a test. If you found that you cannot do a good job of writing a ten page paper the night before it is due, allow sufficient time to write your papers. If you found out that not studying lead to low grades, find sufficient time to study.
Learning from previous semesters, determine an optimum distribution of time among academic activities (going to class and studying), social activities (recreation, dating, etc.), and life-essential activities (sleeping, eating, etc.). Poor time management can cause academic, physical, and psychological problems for the student. (Arizona State University Pre-Law).
From your first semester, start to think about whom you may want to ask for letters of recommendation and keep in touch with them. Consider taking more courses with them.
At the end of every semester, evaluate your interest in law school and your chances of being admitted to a law school that meets your approval. Be prepared to alter your career goals.
Many professors do not change their tests from semester to semester. Some of your friends may have copy of old exams. For
PART-TIME AND SUMMER EMPLOYMENT
The University of Chicago Pre-LawInfoCenter and Seton Hall University Prelaw give a partiall answer to the question, What can I do to enhance my chances of getting into law school? Look for part-time or summer employment, not necessarily in the legal field, that may do some of the following: provide contacts that may help with law school admission, develop your ability to work independently, develop your skills to work with a team, provide you with a respectable employment history, strengthen your writing, communication, and organizational skills. Volunteer work with community or non-profit organizations may improve your people skills and may make your application more attractive to a law school admissions committee.
THE FIRST TWO YEARS
The University of Texas Prelaw Services says that "As a freshman or sophomore, there is nothing related to law school admission that is required of you right now. However, these early years will form a foundation that you will build on in your junior and senior years. Focus on your grades so that you'll have a competitive GPA (always do as well as you can, even if you decide to attend a community college for summer courses). Also, get involved in some extracurricular activities. Join a group on campus that interests you, take a part-time job, and/or volunteer. If you become involved in a group as a freshman or sophomore, the chances for you to hold a leadership position as a junior or senior will greatly improve." Seton Hall University Prelaw recommends that, at the end of your first year of college, you should, "Assess your first years academic performance with both your faculty advisor and with the pre-law advisor. Look for areas of deficiency and work on them. Schedule courses and activities that allow you to address areas where you may have weaknesses. Increase your co-curricular involvement. Make a point of attempting to meet attorneys from all fields of practice and talking to them about the real life, and day-to-day practice of the law. Use internship, co-operative education opportunities to enhance your skills and perhaps even your knowledge about the law."
Arizona State University Pre-Law indicates that by "the end of the sophomore year, the pre-law student has (ideally) embarked on the pursuit of a major to his/her liking, established a highly competitive grade point average, begun networking with professors, and taken courses that will aid in obtaining the maximum possible score on the LSAT."
GETTING AN EARLY START ON THE LSAT
The LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION TEST (LSAT) is required for law school admission and is, along with GPA, one of the two major factors in determining law school admission. The LSAT should be taken shortly after the end of the junior year. But when should someone begin studying for a serious test like the LSAT? Our attitude, which is not the common one, is that it is never too early only too late. A good time to begin LSAT preparation may well be when the sophomore year ends; starting to prepare this early means that you can begin with just one or two problems per day. As your LSAT test date approaches, begin to block off ever increasing chunks of time to devote to preparing for the LSAT. This should put you ahead of those who put off studying for the LSAT until four to six weeks before their test date. The first place to obtain suitable LSAT problems is from the LSAT & LSDAS Registration and Information Book. This book, which contains 27 sample LSAT problems with solutions, is free. Your college prelaw office or testing center may have a copy; otherwise, call 215-968-1001. Some of the best investments of time and money that a prelaw student can make is to purchase Official LSAT PrepTests (215-968-1001).
THE JUNIOR YEAR TIMETABLE
Make your junior year your best year academically.
If you are planning to begin law school immediately after receiving your undergraduate degree, you should ideally take the LSAT at the end of your junior year.
Begin preparation for the LSAT at the end of your sophomore year..
The Rice University Prelaw Advising gives the following good advice: "Make this [the junior year] your best year academically. Your acceptance to law school will depend to a great extent on your academic record. If you hope to go on immediately to law school after graduation, your junior year grades will be the most recently completed and thus reported." Do not accomplish this by doing poorly in your freshman and sophomore year.
The University of Texas at Austin Pre-law Services advices juniors to "Continue to study and keep your grades up [or even better, improve them]. Look for opportunities to gain leadership roles in activities, keeping in mind that you don't necessarily have to be president to be a leader. Begin looking at law schools and what they require in the application process. Also, begin thinking about who would be able to write you good letters of recommendation. Be sure to keep in touch with these professors or employers."
Arizona State University Pre-Law mentions that "For the pre-law student, the third year of college is dominated by the specter of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Whether the LSAT is taken in June, at the end of that third year, or in September/October as the senior year begins, the junior year must be considered as the prime preparation period for the LSAT. Whereas the first two years of college have involved relatively long-range planning and preparation, the third year is the time for immediate and direct preparation."
THE SENIOR YEAR TIMETABLE
Important: You should sign up and pay for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at least four to six weeks before your first law school application deadline. It takes approximately two weeks to process a transcript or letter of recommendation from the time it is received.
Early in your senior year (before Thanksgiving and, preferably, even before Halloween), apply to law schools.
Arizona State University Pre-Law says "The final year of college, for the pre-law student, is characterized by the receipt of Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores, a realistic evaluation of acceptance possibilities based on LSAT and grade point average, and the submission of applications to selected law schools. By the end of the fall semester of the senior year, the preparation period has essentially ended, and it is time to reap the benefits of that preparation. ... For the pre-law student who has followed this advice, the final semester of the senior year should be one of relative relaxation, involving, in addition to the now-routine studies, only graduation preparation and tentative decision-making as law school acceptances arrive."