By Leandra Cilindrello, Guest Writer
As a student at FDU, law school feels like a far off, seemingly unattainable dream. But with the right mentors and enough self discipline, it’s a definite possibility. This is a Law School Prep Checklist, coming from a student who will be attending law school next fall, but who started off very clueless.
To begin, I must give credit where it’s due. If you have an interest in law school, the best starting point is Professor Fierro’s Law School Prep Program. Professor Fierro has an impressive background and can give clueless students a helpful starting point. You can find flyers for this program around FDU, most likely in the criminal justice wing in Robison Hall.
Admissions for law school rely heavily on two things: undergraduate GPA and more importantly, the LSAT. The LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is a highly skilled standardized test testing if you can think the way law schools want you to think. The questions are tough, meant to confuse you, and are downright scary. The highest you can score on this test is 180, and if you score around 160 or higher, you’re likely going to be receiving a lot of acceptance letters. A score below a 160 is where things get complicated.
JUNIOR YEAR OF UNDERGRAD:
● Open an account with LSAC (the Law School Admissions Council). This is where you will find all of your information for registering for the LSAT, uploading recommendation letters, uploading transcripts, and applying to schools.
● Once your account is set up, you can register for the LSAT. To do this, there is a fee of $180 per test (add $90 if you’re considered “late” and you must pay the late fee). Test centers are located at universities near you, and you can take them where you please.
● Start doing research on what schools you’re interested in, and what range you need to be in for your LSAT scores.
SENIOR YEAR OF UNDERGRAD:
● Prepare for the LSAT. There are different ways to go about this. Taking an LSAT prep course is a good place to start, if you have the money for it. These classes can range anywhere from $800 to $2,600.
● If you decide to do this, READ REVIEWS! The last thing you want to do is invest in one of these courses and see no improvement in your score.
● I didn’t take a course. Instead, I went on Google, started reading reviews on what the best books for studying for the LSAT were, and studied at home myself.
● I was also lucky enough to speak with Professor Reynolds in the Criminal Justice Department who guided me through my legal studies (Pre-Law) minor. He suggested I take Professor Bai’s Legal and Analytical Reasoning course. In class, we utilized the LSAT For Dummies book and learned our way through practice problems. After that, I took my books and studied as hard as I could.
● You walk into the test center, where you’re allowed no more than a clear bag filled with your car keys, No. 2 wooden pencils only, erasers, tissues, a small snack, a government issued ID, and your LSAT admissions ticket, which you print via LSAC the day before. Nothing else may enter that building with you (besides your nerves, of course).
● Print your ticket the day before; you don’t want to be scramblimg the night before because your printer ran out of ink.
● You sit down and you are handed a test consisting of five sections: A variation between Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.
● You also have an optional writing sample.
● During the test, try to keep your focus and do the best you can.
● WEAR A WATCH! This was the best thing I did. There is only ONE warning when there are five minutes left. If you have your watch, you can keep track of how much time you have left.
● Think of your first LSAT as your practice test. You can only know what you need to study more on once you’ve actually taken it.
● USE YOUR TIME WISELY. If you’re stuck on a question, circle it and come back to it. Leaving one question blank will be better than spending your time trying to answer it and not being able to do the last five questions.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS:
● Once you are satisfied with your LSAT scores, it’s time to start applying.
● Log into your LSAC account and purchase the CAS (Credential Assembly Service) for $175.
● Here, your uploaded Letters of Recommendation, Undergraduate Transcripts, and LSAT scores get bundled up and sent to the law schools you choose to apply to.
● You must add schools to you list on LSAC, and that’s where you can access the actual application.
● Applications are pretty standard, most ask for a resume to be sent along with a Personal Statement (why do you want to go to law school?) and other optional areas such a an essay to explain any hardships.
● Applications usually cost $65, but many schools offer free applications as well.
● Don’t limit yourself: Law school is only three years. If you have to move away from home for a little to accomplish this impressive task, then do it! Apply to those schools that are far; a degree is a degree no matter where it comes from.
● Once you finish your application and LSAC sends out your CAS file, you simply wait for a response and hope for the best.
Law School sounds like a distant dream that is out of reach, but it can easily become a reality with the right people to guide you. Find that one professor or mentor who is willing to help you, but more importantly, believes in you. It makes all the difference knowing you have someone in your corner.