Pre-Law FAQ

    Note: For more specific questions, please refer to the main page to send an email.

 


Q: how do i choose a law school?

A: In choosing which law school to attend, one is making an important decision with a lot of financial risk, and a decision of this kind should be made on the basis of sound information. Here are some important steps:

  • Attend a Law School Fair; the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers a law school fair every year in the Bay Area, with about 150 Law schools participating. SJSU also sponsors smaller Law School Fairs. At these fairs, you can talk face to face with law school representatives.
  • Visit the LSAC website to access detailed program information
  • Visit the law schools you are interested in, and sit in on a class. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to be there. Talk to other students there to get first hand information about what it is like to be at the school.


Q: Deciding where to apply

A: In deciding what schools to apply to one must consider in combination their GPA and LSAT score. The first step is to look at the entering class profile for a school and compare one's own GPA and     LSAT score to those of the entering class. Based on this information, one should create three different lists of schools. Dream schools are schools where one's own GPA and LSAT score does not match that of the entering class. Dream schools are a stretch. Core schools are schools where one's GPA and LSAT score is competitive. Safety schools are schools where one's GPA and LSAT score is higher than that of the entering class. As a consequence, it is likely that one will be admitted to the program.

Two excellent sources for comparing schools:

  • Find the Best Law School
    This tool allows you to do a side-by-side comparison of law school's acceptance rates, LSAT and GPA scores, tuition, and more.
  • Boston College On-line School Locator
    This tool lists the 25th and 75th percentile LSAT scores and GPA ranges of first year classes at accredited law schools, entering in the fall of 2008

Other considerations one should take account of:

  • Diversity of student body and faculty
  • Financial considerations
  • Location
  • Availability of classes in your area of interest
  • Career services and placement rates
  • Campus facilities
  • Faculty
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Academic programs
     

Q: What should i major in as a preparation for law school?     

A: By far the most important thing one should do as an undergraduate is to invest in a good education that will provide the foundation for multiple options. While many students start out wanting to go to law school, many often decide not to by the end of their college career. As a consequence, it is wise to major in a discipline(s) that one enjoys, is good at, and provides one with various skills that are desirable in the contemporary work force.
     
The American Bar Association and Law schools in general do not recommend any specific major. Rather, law schools are looking for highly qualified students who have excellent skills in specific areas. The skills that law schools are looking for come from a number of different disciplines, and are taught in many majors. In general, law schools are looking for students that have exceptional writing skills, logical and analytical reasoning skills, and communication skills.

The American Bar Association lists the following as Core Skills and Values:

  • Analytic/Problem Solving Skills
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing Skills
  • Oral Communication/Listening Abilities
  • General Research Skills
  • Task Organization / Management Skills
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice

   

Q: What kind of courses should i take in preparation for the LSAT?       

A: All Pre-Law students will have to take the LSAT at some point. Most students will want to take an LSAT prep course as a way of preparing for the LSAT. However, one can improve their ability to perform well on the LSAT by taking courses at SJSU that cover content relevant to LSAT performance. The courses that are most relevant to LSAT performance are courses in Logic and Critical Reasoning, as well as writing intensive courses that are required one to identify, analyze and construct arguments.
    

 Q: how important is a good GPA?          

A: A high GPA is extremely important since GPA is one of the top two factors (the other being your LSAT score) in determining admission to law school. Law schools look at your cumulative GPA and your year-to-year GPA.

     

Q: Who should I get letters of recommendation form?      

A: Letters of recommendation should come from people who can say something detailed about your academic abilities and you as a person. A good letter of recommendation comes from a person who actually has evaluated your academic work on a number of occasions and has gotten a chance to know you. One simple approach for getting a good letter of recommendation is to inform the instructor of the course at the beginning of the course that you are interested in asking for a letter of recommendation. By letting the instructor know ahead of time, they will be able to pay attention to your work in more detail. In addition, you should participate actively in class so that the instructor can get a good sense of your written and verbal abilities.

One approach you should not take for getting a letter of recommendation is to simply wait till the course is over, check your grade, and then email the course instructor for a letter of  recommendation. This approach is often too informal and leads to a letter that does not say much of value other than the performance of the student in the class.

Here is a list of important things one should provide for their letter writer:

  1. Provide them with the name and grade of the class(es) you took with them.
  2. Provide them with your personal statement or a bio.
  3. Provide them with a list of your accomplishments.
  4. Remind them of any special assignments you did in their course.
  5. Provide them with a copy of a good paper you wrote in their class.

In general, one should make it their responsibility to provide the letter writer with documents they need to write a good letter.  Letter writers are often writing many letters for many students, and as a consequence they can only do a good job if they have two things: (i) time to do the letter, (ii) adequate documents to facilitate good letter writing.

   
Q: What should I Include in my personal Statement?        

A: A personal statement should be a well thought out piece of writing that is rigorously evaluated and re-written until it is polished. There are many good writing guides for personal statements. There is no particular content that a good personal statement must have.

Please see TOP LAW SCHOOLS for some initial tips reagarding Personal Statements.