Frequently Asked Questions
More information | Major/Minor selection | Recommended courses | Taking time off | Applying early | How many schools | Not getting in | Waitlist | Deferrals | LSAT Accommodations | LSAT Fees and Waivers | Patent Bar
W&L offers a variety of resources to students interested in pursuing legal careers.
- Opt-in to receive law related events, news, and internship and job postings - select all areas of interest to you
- Consult with Lorri Olan and your academic advisor
- Check out these helpful resources
- Visit Career and Professional Development
- Take a law-related class
- Do a law-related internship
- Connect with W&L alumni who attended law school
- Attend a law-related speaking event - regularly check Campus Notices
- Sit in on a law school class
- Participate in Mock Trial
Law schools accept students from all majors and minors. There is no set curriculum that you must pursue to enter the legal field.
The most important thing is to select classes that interest you. Superior academic performance is most likely achieved in classes that stimulate and interest you. In addition to impressive grades and a strong LSAT score, law school admissions officials also consider the rigor of your academic coursework, trends in grades, evidence of leadership, graduate study, work experience and other indicia of success.
Having said that, classes that require the following skills will be helpful preparation for law school :
- logical reasoning
- analytical skills
- reading comprehension
- debate/public speaking
- problem solving
No. According to some sources, the average age of entering law students is 26 because many students take time off between college and law school. For some students, especially those with lower grade point averages or LSAT scores, practical, "real world," experience gained after graduation not only enhances your chance of admission to a better law school but will likely make you more appealing to employers.
If you take time off, use your time wisely. Take advantage of work or study abroad opportunities that allow you to explore areas of interest and develop skills associated with effective lawyering, including cultural awareness and global perspective.
Some law schools permit admitted students to defer acceptance for a year for certain designated reasons, including a post-graduate fellowship or Teach for America. Maintaining open communication with law schools regarding any outstanding applications to other programs is a good idea. Deferrals are a great option for students who know they want to attend law school but need a year off to pursue other interests p or merely know that they want a break from academia. However, be sure you understand the implications of deferring admittance - sometimes financial assistance does not carry over.
Information on how to apply for accommodations for students with documented disabilities is available on the LSAC website.
The LSAC website contains fee information for the LSAT exam and the Credential Assembly Services - the process by which your law school applications are submitted.
Be careful about applying to schools early decision. By doing so, you agree to attend, without any knowledge about financial aid. It is a legally binding decision usually without all the necessary information to make an informed decision. Schools have differing policies regarding the ED process and what they offer to candidates at decision time. For example, some policies say you commit to attend regardless of finances. Others will award scholarships for ED candidates, but it is not full tuition and may actually prevent you from being considered for merit-based financial aid.
If funding packages are a serious consideration for you, do not apply ED. Instead, submit an application early in the regular cycle. Since most schools have rolling admission, an early application may get you reviewed ahead of the rush since, by some estimates, only 50% of the seats are filled by the application deadline.
While there is no rule of thumb, consider a reach school or two, two schools that are in your wheelhouse - for which you are a competitive candidate, and two safety schools. Applying to more schools can get expensive and might give you too many options to consider. You can only attend one school.
Don't lose hope. There are other options:
- Students may discover that they are just as happy (and perhaps more successful) at their second and third choice law schools.
- Attend another law school, and then apply to transfer to your top choice after your first year.
- Pursue other opportunities (employment or graduate study) and reapply to your top choice later. Changed circumstances, such as a smaller applicant pool, and/or the additional experience and qualifications you earned since your original application, may increase your chances of acceptance at your top choice law school.
- Some students decide to take the LSAT again and re-apply with hopefully stronger scores.
Confer with your Pre-Law Advisor about options and best next steps for you given your unique circumstances.
Again, don't lose hope. You have many options available to you as well:
- Meet with Lorri Olan or your academic advisor to assess ways to modify the list of schools to which you applied, to strengthen your application, and to develop a strategic plan for your future
- Consult with Career and Professional Development to seek employment, fellowship, and other graduate school opportunities
- Consider pursuing law-related work experience before you reapply
- As with those who do not get admitted to their top choice, some students decide to seek employment post graduation, take the LSAT again and re-apply with hopefully stronger scores.
If you have been placed on a waitlist, submit a letter to the admissions dean advising them of your continued interest in attending their school. If the school is your first choice, tell them. Provide an updated transcript; submit an additional letter of recommendation (one or two) only if you have not reached the schools accepted limit.
Some schools request a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI) in the spring/summer. If you remain interested, submit a LOCI as an attachment to an email. Highlight your interest in particular program or opportunities at the law school and, as applicable, connect that interest to things you have already done or have experience with - demonstrate why you and the school are a good fit. Update any accomplishments you have achieved since you were last in touch.
Deferrals are not automatically granted. It is a privilege offered to you by the law school. The policy for applying for deferrals varies greatly from school to school. Research this option thoroughly if you plan to ask for a deferral, and inquire whether any financial assistance offered can be deferred as well.
If you are interested in Patent Law, consider interning with the Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) and taking the patent bar exam during college or early on in your legal education. Having this credential makes you a competitive candidate. The Practising Law Institute has a Patent Office Exam Course.