How to Get into Law School (What I Wish I knew Before Applying)

So you want to know how to get into law school?  Curious what your chances of getting into law school are?
Are you getting annoyed with all the attorneys you know joking and telling you not to do it?

I got annoyed with that, but what was so much worse was all the garbage advice out there on how to actually give yourself the best chance of getting in to a good law school…or the advice I found was focused on secrets to getting you in to Harvard or Yale (speak 17 languages, have a PHD in biochemistry, and have spent 33 years in the peace corp – that just wasn’t that helpful to me).

My Best Tips to get into Law School

So here it is, real advice that you can actually use that I WISH I would have known before starting that will help you know your chance of getting into law school. 

Your LSAT and GPA will help your chances of getting into law school significantly

When it comes to your odds of getting into law school your LSAT and GPA are really important to help your chances.  I get so annoyed with the way many law schools say that LSAT and GPA are only a factor taken into account.

They try to emphasize that they are looking for complete candidates rather than those with the highest LSAT scores only; while they are looking for complete candidates, it is only partially true.

Let me explain, law schools use LSAT scores and GPAs as the gatekeepers.  The applicants with the highest are admitted to the next stage of approvals first.  Then if applicants have other desired qualities or no red flags they are admitted.  As the scores of their applicants go down, it becomes harder and harder to get through the initial screening.  Once an application makes it beyond the initial screening admissions departments will look for the more complete candidates as tiebreakers.

Law schools care tremendously about rankings, and high GPAs and LSATs help their rankings. No matter how many languages you speak or sea-turtles you’ve saved, if you don’t have the GPA and LSAT, your application faces an uphill battle.

Takeaways for getting into law school – make sure your GPA is high, even if you end up majoring in something much easier.  Take a LSAT prep course.  The LSAT is a stupid test, but it is a formula that can be learned.
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How to get into Law School.

Get a scholarship/Keep career options open

Law school is extremely expensive and jobs coming out of law school are not what they used to be.  By not having mountains of debt you can take the job that looks way more fun and fulfilling, but doesn’t pay as much. I know so many attorneys that are miserable because they had to take the higher paying job that crushes their soul.  Do NOT let this be you.

How are scholarships rewarded?…largely on the basis of LSAT and GPA first of course.  Doing the prep work to raise your GPS and LSAT on the front end will save you thousands on the back end.

Apply to a lot of schools because you won’t get in to some you should, and will get in to some you shouldn’t

I was lucky enough to have a pretty good GPA and LSAT score when I applied to law schools.  I did my research and applied to schools where my scores were likely to get me in, as well as a couple of reach schools.  What really surprised me was that some of the schools that were slam dunks turned me down (jerks) and some of the schools that I thought were a super long shot let me in and even offered scholarships.

Thankfully I applied to 10 schools and had plenty of good options to choose from.

Takeaways – applications are expensive, but they are worth it, especially if you can land a scholarship.

Go to a law school where you want to ultimately work

How to choose a law school.

Many people chase a law school with the highest possible ranking not realizing that the local lower ranked school where they ultimately want to work will give them a better chance at landing a job. 

Ivy League schools place candidates in jobs worldwide, but for the rest of the schools the locations they place best are almost always nearby.  Not only will it help you land the job you want, but can save you big bucks on in-state tuition and hopefully help get you a scholarship.

Takeaway – go to school where you ultimately want to work.  You’ll make the most connections and have the most ins when you begin interviewing for jobs.

Let the schools you are interested in know it

By freak happenstance I was near a law school I was considering on vacation, so I decided to take a tour.  While there an admissions councilor asked for my name so that she could mark my application.  She said that they gave extra advantage to prospective students that took a tour, and that they were more likely to get accepted and offered a scholarships since they were viewed as “extra interested” in the school.

Takeaway – if a tour is possible take it not just to see the campus, but for the opportunity to schmooze an admissions councilor for increased likelihood of acceptance and scholarship.

Take advantage of anything you can to get!

Do NOT go to a Tier 4 law school

I know this sounds harsh, but going to one of these schools places you at an inordinate amount of risk.  Yes, they can produce some good attorneys, but most others often have a poor reputation in practice.

These schools are often more expensive, have high dropout rates, low bar passage rates, and little help in career placement.

My previous firm and present company automatically toss out resumes from these applicants.  Once again I know there are quality exceptions that came through these schools, but with so much downside and competition for jobs it just isn’t worth the risk.

Takeaway – if these schools are the only ones letting you in, wait and apply again to other schools next year.

There are so many attorneys that hate their jobs but feel trapped due to student loan payments or lack of other options.  I loved law school and where I ended up working.  If you are smart about your law school selection you will not end up one of the miserable ones.

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