Many political science students consider (however vaguely) attending law school at some point. Our program can be excellent preparation for law school. However, a lot of the process depends on you— developing your academic program so that it best suits you and your goals, creating experiences in and out of the classroom that will prepare you for law school and beyond, and of course, GPA and LSAT.
This information is intended to help you through the process of considering and applying for Law School. If you have specific questions, please feel free to make an appointment with an advisor to discuss your options.
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Pre Law Info for Freshmen and Sophomores
Even though you won’t begin the actual application process until after your junior year of college, it’s never too early to start preparing yourself for law school. Here are some things to keep in mind during your freshmen and sophomore years at MSU:
- Shoot for a GPA of at least 3.0 (cumulative). This will keep your options open when applying. Remember, your GPA is easily influenced in your first few semesters, and is much harder to change as time goes on— make every attempt to start strong!
- Law school consists of a lot of reading and writing papers. You’ll be best prepared if you enroll in classes in your undergraduate program that focus on reading, writing and critical thinking.
- Consider adding an additional major, second degree, or specialization to diversify your academic program. Visit the academic advisor for the department of the additional major you are considering to see what the requirements are. See the academics page for a list of academic specializations and contact information.
- Your post-graduation plans—whether that means law school, grad school, or full time work—will be greatly impacted by the activities you engage in outside the classroom. Jobs, internships, volunteer experience, student organizations and leadership experience not only prepare you for the future, but are usually a really fun way to spend your time! Consider getting involved in a student group, working on campus, studying abroad— take advantage of what MSU has to offer!
- Law schools expect you to produce letters of recommendation, vouching for your academic aptitude and overall motivation. This means you need to be talking to your professors! Visit office hours, even if it’s just to introduce yourself (most of your classes are probably big enough that your professor doesn’t know your name off the top of his or her head). Get to know your professors— the earlier you start, the easier it will be to come up with people to write stellar letters of recommendation when you need them!
- Consider getting an internship or a part-time job in a law office. This will help you get a better picture of the field, and help you determine what you really want to do with a law degree.
Pre Law Info for Juniors and Seniors
- This is an important year for anyone planning on attending law school. Since most students send their law school applications off in the fall of their senior year, your junior year grades will be the last ones recorded on your transcript.
- You will need letters of recommendation for your law school applications— it is imperative that at least one of these letters come from a faculty member (not a TA, not a PhD student). If no one comes to mind, start talking to your professors today! Send emails, visit office hours— develop a relationship that will allow them to write a thoughtful letter that clearly indicates how well they know you.
- LSAT time!! The LSAT is offered in February, June, October and December. If you are planning on starting law school in the fall, the best times to take the LSAT are June and October in the year previous. Be sure that whenever you decide to take the test, you are able to prepare adequately. If you retake the LSAT, schools will average your scores—so make every effort to do well the first time around! You can find more information on the LSAT here.
Senior Year— Time to Apply!
If possible, it is best to apply to 6 to 8 different law schools, fairly evenly spread through three categories:
- Sure thing (average LSAT is 2-3 points below your score, and average GPA is 0.2 below your GPA)
- Very Likely (average LSAT is your score, and average GPA is your GPA)
- Long Shot (average LSAT is 2-3 points above your score, and average GPA is 0.2 above your GPA)
The personal statement is often the most dreaded part of the application process. What am I supposed to write about myself for that long? Some basic tips and guidelines can help you write a personal statement that is memorable, creative, and most importantly, reflective of who you are.
- The purpose of a personal statement is to introduce yourself, explain why you want to go to graduate school, and why you feel this is the right school for you.
- Tell the admissions committee who you are as if you were speaking
- Select a theme or central idea, and STICK TO IT!
- Use specific examples to back up your statements. For example, saying, “I am a team player” will not be worth much if you do not give an example of a time when you were a team player.
- Pay attention to what the school has asked you to cover in your statement – writing one blanket statement and sending it to every school won’t work! Make it obvious to the school that you take this process seriously.
- Be yourself, and be honest!
- Include a résumé, so that your statement can be left to show communication skills and creativity – give information about you that is not included in any other part of the application.
- Give your statement to others to proofread.
- Don’t wait until the last minute!
Letters of Recommendation
- At least one letter should come from someone able to assess your academic performance, e.g. your professors! This means that you need to cultivate relationships with faculty, attend office hours even if you don’t have questions, and get involved outside the classroom.
- A good letter will cover your writing abilities, analytical skills, and intellectual development, both individually and in comparison to your peers.
- It may be helpful for you to provide a résumé, personal statement and even a transcript to the person writing a letter for you. This ensures that they have the information necessary to put together a thoughtful and informative letter.
- Be sure to have faculty and professionals who know you well write these letters for you – generic statements are fairly obvious to admissions committees.
Take time when putting together your application materials. Personal statements, résumés, and letters of recommendation can be the deciding factors in your admission to a program!
Official transcripts must be ordered through the Registrar’s Office—you can do this in person at 150 Administration Building, or online.
Selecting a Law School
When choosing a law school, it is important to consider several factors. Of course, most of us want to attend the best possible school we can get into, but there are many other aspects to consider aside from a school’s prestige. For example, you may want to consider location (both nationally and urban v. rural), cost, placement of alumni, size, curriculum, law clinics/journals, or areas of specialty.
How do I gather this information?
- One easy way is to visit law school forums and/or law school websites and collect as much information as possible from brochures and catalogs.
- If your resources allow, visit as many of your potential schools as possible. There is virtually no replacement to actually walking around on campus and meeting people when it comes to getting an accurate feel for the atmosphere of a particular school.
- Contact representatives of the school, faculty, and current students if possible. Ask as many questions as you—about the good and the bad. Recent alumni can also be an excellent source of information about a school.
- Consider why it is you want to attend law school— is there a specific career path you hope to follow? Look for schools that can help you along that path— areas of specialty, faculty research, and geographic location can all have an impact in this area.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is designed to help predict performance in the first year of law school.
The test has five multiple choice sections, as well as a brief writing sample on a given (broad) topic. One section is reading comprehension, one section is analytical reasoning, and two sections are logical reasoning. The fifth section covers one of those three topics, but is not scored as a way to test new questions.
Only correct answers are counted, which means: if you can’t answer something, go on; and it’s okay to guess.
The score range is from 120 to 180, with an average score being in the lower 150s.
The LSAT is offered four times a year: February, June, October and December; at approved testing sites throughout the country. The closest ones for most MSU students are in the Student Services Building on campus, or at Cooley Law School in Lansing.
Much, much more information on the LSAT can be found at LSAC Online.
The LSAT is not a content test—meaning that you cannot memorize information, and that knowing more about a certain topic will not necessarily help you perform better on the test. The LSAT tests your critical thinking, comprehension, analytical and logical skills.
The best way to study for the LSAT is to take as many practice tests as possible. You can find books that contain previously administered tests, explanations, and other helpful study topics.
Some students choose to enroll in a study course, such as Kaplan or Princeton Review. These can be effective for certain types of learners, but also tend to be fairly expensive. You should choose a study method that best meets your needs as a learner, and that you can reasonably afford. Here are some options to investigate if you’re considering taking a prep class (please note that MSU does not endorse any of these courses):
- Get Prepped: www.getprepped.com
- Home LSAT: www.home-lsat.com
- Kaplan: www.kaplan.com
- PowerScore: www.powerscore.com
- Princeton Review: www.review.com
- Test Masters: www.TestMasters180.com
If you have more questions, please feel free to make an appointment to speak with an advisor.