Pre Law Advising
Is law school right for you?
This is a tough but critical question. Many Notre Dame students enjoy the challenge of law school, but it’s more difficult knowing if you will enjoy the practice of law, across its more than 260 practice areas! If you are thinking of a career in law, you can further explore and test your interest by reading the American Bar Association’s Preparing for Law School and the Law School Admissions Council's Thinking About Law School.
If you are aren’t sure about your interest in actually practicing law, you could:
- Find a Notre Dame alum who currently practices law through IrishCompass (the Notre Dame Alumni Student network) and conduct an information interview with her/him.
- Further clarify what it is you believe you want to do in your career and explore other graduate programs that may be tailor made for the career you want
- Explore dual or joint degrees between law and another field
- Talk to a pre law advisor!
Law schools accept students from all majors and backgrounds, which means that your first focus as an undergraduate is choosing a major that you love and will enjoy studying. Your goal as an undergrad is to prepare yourself to succeed not only in law school, but for whatever career you may choose whether it’s law or another field. In addition to GPA and LSAT scores (and now GRE scores for some law schools), critical and analytical thinking skills, succinct and cohesive writing skills, and adept research skills are additional assets of the competitive law school applicant. Seek these opportunities out within any major/college you select. Work toward the strongest possible academic record you can achieve. Notre Dame students and graduates from all four colleges and the Architecture School applying to law school have a very high rate of acceptance. In 2013-14, the most recent year for which we have data, graduating seniors had a 91% acceptance rate.
Applying to Law School
Unlike applications to college, law school applications across the nation do not open on a specific designated date. Some schools start accepting applications in August, others open applications in September or October. Applying early in the cycle is always preferable. See the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) excellent list of steps for applying to law school. Generally, you want to give yourself a year’s timeline in order to be ready to submit applications in November.
Because the LSAT is integral to the law school application process, if you are considering attending law school in the fall following graduation, you should start your preparation for the LSAT no later than spring of your junior year. The method of preparation you select will depend upon your unique personal circumstances, but you should not take the test without adequate preparation using either LSAC materials or reputable test preparation companies. Expect to devote no less than eight weeks to prepare. Plan to take it once; but take it early enough that you can take it a second time if something should go amiss with the first testing. LSAC advice on preparing for the LSAT.
- LSAC advice
- Kaplan Free LSAT practice tests
- A number of law schools now accept the GRE; the Economist examines why.
Although GPA and LSAT/GRE scores are critical, don’t assume the personal statement can just be thrown together! It could be the very document that wins you the admission over another candidate!
- Consider “tweaking” the statement for each school. It will be more compelling to the readers if the statement reflects something specific to that school.
- Work in “review by others” and “rewrite” into your application timeline
- Admissions Deans Personal Statement Advice
- Princeton Review Tips
Make it easy for your selected recommenders! Share your list of schools, why you are selecting those schools, your personal statement, and resume with them. Let them know which of your qualities you hope they will be able to speak to in their letter.
Financing Your Legal Education
Because the cost of a legal education can exceed $150,000, the expense of a law school education is a concern to anyone wishing to attend. All prospective law students must make the effort to understand clearly the entire cost of your law degree including tuition, housing, transportation, textbooks and other associated expenses. Here are some resources to help you think about the associated expenses and how to minimize your cost and debt for law school:
- Law school affordability and access
- Financial Aid: An Overview
- Access Group
- Paying for Law School
- Law School Scholarship Finder
- Federal Student Aid