Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for admission to law school and when do I apply?
B.A. or B.S., no particular courses or majors are preferred. If you want to attend law school right after college, you should apply during the fall of your senior year. Although application deadlines are often spring dates, early applicants have a distinct advantage. Plan to have everything in the mail before Christmas.
What do law schools generally ask for from applicants?
First, a high GPA and a strong score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). (Keep in mind that taking easy courses to earn a high GPA at the expense of gaining a diverse and rigorous education and sharpening your analytical and writing skills will work to your disadvantage in scoring well on the LSAT and being prepared for the rigors of legal study.) Beyond the GPA, they look for a program of studies that develops basic skills and insights in written and oral comprehension and expression; the ability to think deductively, inductively, and by analogy; and, creative power in thinking.
Subjective factors such as faculty recommendations, extracurricular interests, and work experience are also considered by many law schools, but they are less important and typically do not compensate for mediocre academic performance.
Which courses should I take to develop these basic skills?
As we already mentioned, no specific courses are required; however, keep in mind that the spoken and written word are the principal tools of the legal profession. If you intend to study law, you need to develop an excellent knowledge and grasp of the English language as well as a clear and concise style of expression. Seek out courses, in whatever departments, that require substantial writing and provide a thorough critique of that writing. A sound liberal arts education is often best for most pre-law students.
Courses in political science, history, economics, statistics, and anthropology can help you understand the structure of society and the problems of social ordering with which the law is concerned. Studying philosophy, literature, fine arts, foreign languages, and other cultures will make you familiar with traditions, thought, and trends which have influenced, or tend to influence, legal developments nationally and internationally. The examination of human behavior in sociology and psychology will help you to understand the types and effects of human behavior. Studying logic (Philosophy 201) and the sciences can help you analyze, understand, and rationally organize your thoughts. And in some fields of law practice it is useful for a student to have a fundamental knowledge of technology, engineering, computers, and accounting.
As a pre-law student, what criteria should I use in selecting a major?
The best guide is your own interest and inclination. Major in a field that interests you and that you will enjoy. You will earn better grades in subjects you like! (See previous question for more information about courses.)
How important are extracurricular activities?
This varies from law school to law school but they are not a major consideration in admission to most law schools. However, reasonable participation in activities can help you develop valuable leadership, communication, social, and logical skills.
When should I take the LSAT? Should I take it twice?
The LSAT should be taken either in June after your junior year or in the September/October test dates of your senior year in order to get your results back in time to determine an appropriate range of schools to which to apply. When you eventually apply to law schools, all of your test scores are reported. Since most schools average the scores or deduct points from the second score if it's higher, you should plan to take the test only once. If you feel that you are not a skilled test-taker, a Kaplan/Princeton Review course might reduce your anxiety and give you tips. While LSAC claims that commercial courses produce no substantial improvement in scores, the Kaplan course, for one, claims a 5–7 point performance higher than the mean for its students. Improvements are much more likely in the middle range of scores than at the upper end.
Where can I get more information about pre-law studies and law schools?
Pre-law advising is available on the Douglass and College Avenue Campuses. The College Avenue advising takes place in Milledoler Hall where there are also reference books and pamphlets with information about the legal profession and law schools. There are also catalogs of most of the law schools to which Rutgers students ordinarily apply. The best single source of information is probably the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools put out by Law Services.
When should I request letters of recommendation from my professors?
Our pre-law advisors recommend that you wait until second semester junior year or first semester senior year to request letters of recommendation. However, if you have requested a letter from a professor prior to your junior year, you have two options for filing it in the interim before applying to law schools.
Rutgers Career Services has a partnership with Interfolio.com, an online credentials service. Interfolio maintains letters of reference for current students and alumni for use in applying to graduate school, teaching positions or other employment opportunities. For more information, visit the
Interfolio page at Career Services.
Your other option is to register early for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at the Law School Admission Council. The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) is the clearinghouse for LSAT scores, transcripts, and recommendations. Please note that there are fees for this service, but there are also fee waivers for qualified applicants. For more information, click
Whom should I contact for a Dean's Recommendation or Dean's Certification?
For School of Arts and Sciences students, please click here. http://sasundergrad.rutgers.edu/forms/recommendations
For School of of Environmental and Biological Sciences students, please contact Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Robert M. Hills, 732-932-3000, ext. 512.
For School of Engineering students, please contact either Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Fred R. Bernath, or Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Lydia Q. Prendergast, at 732-445-2212. If you are a student in ANY other School in New Brunswick, and are seeking a law school Dean's Recommendation or Certification, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Education at 732-932-4001.
First & Sophomore Years
Take courses that will enhance your writing, reading comprehension and analytical skills.
Develop your logical reasoning ability and increase your awareness of human institutions, social values, and the world at large.
Develop a realistic view of legal careers. Look for opportunities to obtain law-related experience. Talk with lawyers about their work.
Choose a major that represents your own academic interests. Be serious about your studies.
Do well! Your grades are a very important part of your law school application.
Find the right balance between academic coursework and extracurricular activities. Pursue your interests outside of class, but not at the expense of your grades.
Begin to consider how you will finance a legal education.
Attend LSAC Forums.
Make this your best year academically. Your acceptance to law school will depend to a great extent on your academic record. If you hope to go on immediately to law school after graduation, your junior year and first semester senior year grades will be what law schools look at most closely.
Usually it is not a good idea to take the LSAT prior to June, but start reviewing old copies of the test and exploring the option of enrolling in a commercial test preparation course. Sample tests are available in the LSAT registration packets (available upstairs in Milledoler Hall) or in LSAT prep books (such as Barron's).
Do not write to law schools for catalogs and application forms until you return to school in August. Their printing deadlines for current year materials are late summer.
Continue to explore and learn about the legal profession by: reading articles, pamphlets, and books; talking with and observing lawyers; taking part in the law-related activities on campus.
Start investigating law schools. Think about where you want to spend three years of intensive study. There are a number of variables to consider: location, size, prestige, cost, special programs, student body, chances of admission, etc. Again, reading and talking with others can help. Take advantage of the pre-law programs and the pre-law society. Visit prospective law schools during your travels.
Give some thought to recommendations. Most law schools request two faculty letters, and the most persuasive ones are often written by faculty who know you well and for whom you have done your best work. Consider taking another course from such professors, and get to know faculty.
Summer Between Junior & Senior Years
Pick up an LSAT/LSDAS Registration Packet in Milledoler Hall. Read the packet thoroughly to make sure you understand all phases of the application process. This is the single most important step.
Register for the LSAT and LSDAS.
Read the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, if you have not already. Begin to develop a list of 8 to 15 law schools which, given your GPA and LSAT scores, offer a reasonable chance of your gaining admission. A few should be "reaches," but most should be in the "more likely" range. It's also a good idea to have one or two "safe" schools. Most applicants wind up sending applications to 6 to 10 schools.
Prepare for and take the LSAT in June or October so that you will get your scores back in time to select an appropriate range of law schools.
Develop a system for keeping track of all the registration and application details. Duplicate all forms, applications, and correspondence for your own records.
Request applications from law schools using the postcards in the LSAT/LSDAS packet, or start looking at online applications. The LSACD (provided by the LSAC) is a great way to apply to lots of schools with minimal typing.
Make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to discuss your plans.
Pull together ideas for a personal statement or essay. Begin drafting and revising.
Conclude arrangements for your letters of recommendation.
Use the transcript matching forms in your LSAT/LSDAS packet to request that the registrar send your transcript to LSDAS.
Obtain financial aid applications (available from the financial aid office) if you intend to apply for financial aid.
Investigate other financial aid possibilities.
Finalize and send your applications (with the Law School Matching Forms in the LSAT/LSDAS Packet) to law schools before Thanksgiving, if possible.
Double check everything. By mid-January, make sure the law schools received your applications, your LSDAS reports, and all letters of recommendation.
Once admitted, send a deposit to reserve your space in the entering class.
After hearing from all law schools, but before graduation, let us know your results and decision, and let your recommenders know of your application results.
Arrange with the registrar for a final copy of your transcript to be sent to the law school you will attend.