I spent over three hours at the Law School Fair that took place on Friday, October 6th. I had meaningful conversations with almost 30 schools, and I acquired quite a bit of insider information regarding law school admissions and the overall experience of law school. In this article, I will be reviewing the information I learned that I wish I would have known sooner!
Firstly, your GPA and your LSAT score are two of the most heavily weighted factors in your applications. Law schools do care about your essays, extra curriculars, work experience, and well-roundedness, but your GPA and LSAT can overshadow these things. Additionally, many law school scholarships are merit-based, meaning the amount of money you receive to fund your education will be heavily reliant on your GPA and LSAT score. Law school can be extremely expensive, and some schools’ admissions processes can be highly selective when it comes to your quantifiable statistics. Do not be surprised by this! If you are planning on going to law school, invest your time in studying to achieve better grades. Start studying early for the LSAT to increase your chances of getting the highest score possible.
Many pre-law students, including myself, stress about scoring a legal internship because they think that it can improve their chances of getting accepted to law school. I was very surprised to find out that this is not the case. Every single school I spoke with revealed that they did not care if applicants had a legal internship or not. Each admissions officer told me that they do not really care what kind of experience applicants have as long as they did meaningful work that can be well-reflected upon. There is no need to get a legal internship or law-related part time job if you do not feel intrinsically motivated to do so. If you are on the fence about going to law school, it might be a good idea to get a legal internship to find out if you enjoy working in the legal field. However, you should feel free to explore all of your various interests without worrying that you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in the law school admissions process.
Prior to attending law day, I was under the impression that law school was going to cost far more than undergraduate school. While this is sometimes true, it is not applicable to every school or every situation. The yearly cost of tuition for law schools varies greatly due to differences in geographic location, available externship and clerkship opportunities in the area, ranking, and more. Some law schools I spoke with had a yearly tuition rate of $26,000. This is similar to the yearly tuition rate for in-state residents getting an undergraduate degree. On the other hand, some ivy league, private, or metropolitan law schools have tuition rates close to $100,000 a year.
Whether you go to the highest ranked, most expensive law school is not going to make or break your career. However, you should consider the opportunities you may receive in any specific law school and factor that into your financial decision-making processes. For example, if you want to work for the federal government or lobbyist organizations, you might want to consider paying more money to attend law school in Washington, DC or elsewhere on the east coast due to the relevant externship and networking opportunities that those schools may have to offer. If you want to practice criminal or civil law in the Midwest, a public Midwestern law school may be a better option for you. If you want to be in-house counsel for a company or work for a business law firm, consider a law school that will provide you with those externship opportunities.
If you are a pre-law student, you may have heard about the intense rigor of law school. Many law students online claim that they have “no life” outside of law school. I spoke with several current law students at Law Day, and I asked them if these claims were true. Almost every single student said that these rumors were completely false. Many people will try to scare pre-law students on social media by overexaggerating the rigor of law school. In reality, law school is like any other full-time job. It might require some after-hours work, but it is totally manageable.
If you want to attend law school, you should focus on achieving an excellent GPA, scoring well on the LSAT, and investing yourself in meaningful professional, educational, and volunteer experiences. Law schools want a diverse student body of self-assured, high-achieving students. The admissions process is not about who has the most prestigious internship or the most relevant experience—it is about your well-roundedness personally and professionally. You should also consider the often-large financial investment to get your JD. While law school can get expensive, consider it an investment in your future. Your education is invaluable. Nobody can ever take that away from you! Don’t be discouraged by the rigor and time commitment of law school. You have already made it this far—you’ve got this!