Pre Law Preparation
For UC Davis Students
Deciding Whether Law School is Right for You
It is important to know what you want to do with a law degree. To assist you in making your decision, take time to learn about the profession, the nature of it and the working conditions. If possible, it is a good idea to do an internship to see what the day to day routineness of the job is like.
Basic Law School Preparation and Choosing a Major
According to the American Bar association (ABA), there is no one major or set of courses that best prepares a student for law school, however it is important to develop certain skills. The ABA has identified some of the skills and qualifications necessary to be successful in law school. Based on this information the pre-law advisor has created a limited list of classes from the current UC Davis catalog that develop these skills and background. There are no required classes, these are just suggestions and there may many others not on the list that may be helpful.
Pre-Law Preparation at UC Davis
The Pre-Law Advising office created a simple" Recommended Timeline" handout to follow. Because the majority of law schools have some type of rolling admissions process it is important to turn your application in as early as possible. It can make the difference of being accepted or not. Plan to take the LSAT no later than October and plan on turning you application in no later than Thanksgiving. You must register for the LSAT and the LSDAS service online at LSAC.
Finding the right law school for you should not just depend on the criteria used in rankings such as with the very popular US News and World Report annual report ranking law schools. You also must develop your own, what is important to you many not be important to someone else. To help, Pre-Law Advising has created a list of criteria you might want to consider.
The following Web sites offer different views on how to select a law school. You will notice that they do not all agree. Be sure to read the "Law School Admissions Council",the Deans' of many law schools speak out about the rankings and provide their opinions on how to select the right school.
- Law School Admissions Council(LSAC)
- Internet Legal Resource Guide
- Discussion of Findings
- US News and World Report
The LSAT score and the GPA are the primary factors considered in being admitted to Law School. The advisor at Boston College has created a matrix showing the law schools that one has at least a 50% chance of acceptance based on GPA and LSAT ranges. The LSAC has also created a "predictor" based on GPA and LSAT of what your chances are of gaining admission to the various law schools. This, however, is not to say that other characteristics of an applicant are not considered which is why the personal statement and the recommendation letters are so important. There are even law school admissions directors who read the personal statement first.
LSAT Test Preparations
It is necessary to prepare for the LSAT but how you prepare is very individual. Some people prefer to work at their own rate, are very disciplined and only need reference material and tests, while others need a course. We have provided a list of courses as well as reference materials in a handout on "Preparing for the LSAT". What ever method you choose one of the keys to being prepared is to take as many timed practice tests as possible.
The Pre-Law Adviser and Law Student Adviser are happy to read and critique your personal statement. In general Law schools do not interview applicants for admission, so you should think of the personal statement as a substitute for it. This involves doing a thorough self-assessment, think about what you want the law schools to know about you, what motivates you, what are your strengths, special talents, etc.? Have you overcome any obstacles in your life, what significant experiences have you had? It helps to personalize your statement by providing some examples. To help look at the handout "Writing the Personal Statement"
Check out these links:
- American Bar Association - Council on Legal Education Opportunity(CLEO)
- American Bar ASsociation - Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
Other Law-Related Careers such as Paralegal and Court Reporting
If you would like to work in the legal profession but not as a lawyer there are alternative careers, such as being a paralegal or court reporter. Visit the following Web sites for more information:
- The National Association of Legal Assistants
- American Association for Paralegal Education
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- National Court Reporters Association
UC Davis Pre Law Student Organizations