1. Who are USC Pre-Law services and events open to? Can anyone attend?
USC Pre-Law services and events are available exclusively to current USC students as well as USC alumni. There is no requirement in terms of major or minor to partake in Pre-Law services.
2. What are the important components of the law school application?
i. LSAT- The LSAT is a standardized test that is administered four times a year. The test helps law schools make sound admission decisions by providing a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that are essential for success in law school. The test consists of logical reasoning, logic games, reading comprehension, and a writing section.
ii. Credential Assembly Services Transcripts - CAS assembles data derived from candidates' transcripts and LSATs. CAS places grades from institutions with varying grade point systems on the same scale to allow the law schools to evaluate all students on a more or less equivalent basis. The Service combines information from all transcripts you send, so credits that may not be computed in your current undergraduate GPA will be calculated in the CAS report of your GPA. Applicants are required to submit transcripts from all post-secondary institutions (including any community college courses).
iii. Letters of Recommendation/Evaluations - LSAC now has a letter of recommendation and evaluation service offered as a convenience to recommendation writers and law schools. Applicants can request letters of recommendations/evaluations from professors, employers, etc. and have their recommendations/evaluations stored in their LSAC account for when they are ready to apply to law school. Applicants should expect to have at least two recommendations for most schools.
iv. Personal Statement – Because most law schools don’t conduct in-person interviews, the personal statement is what law schools use to determine an applicant’s personality, writing skills, passions, and goals. It is an applicant’s one (and maybe only) opportunity to share with the law school who you are as a person and what contributions you would make to their student body.
v. Resume – Although resumes are not always explicitly required by a law school, it’s a good idea to include one with your application. Resumes should be professional and include your education, work experience (including internship/volunteer experience), and extracurricular activities.
3. How many times a year is the LSAT offered? How do I sign up?
The LSAT is offered four times a year and students register for the test on the Law School Admission Council’s website -- www. LSAC.org. Prospective applicants should sign up for the LSAT test early (preferably 3 months in advance) in order to get their preferred testing site. The testing dates are in February, June, October and December.
4. What is the LSAC?
The Law School Admissions Council is the entity responsible for administering the LSAT and operating the CAS, a service which compiles information on a law school applicant’s undergraduate and LSAT performance into a standard report (see CAS report). Applicants may also use the LSAC website to apply to most law schools.
5. If I’m interested in going to law school, does it matter what I major in?
Law schools are interested in admitting a diverse group of students each year and that includes students of different backgrounds, life experiences, and academic achievement. It does not matter what a student majors in during their undergraduate studies. There are no prerequisite classes for law school. Instead, undergraduate students should consider majors they find interesting or believe would help them professionally down the road in finding a job.
6. Should I take an LSAT prep course?
Enrolling in a test preparation course is up to the applicant and should be based on the applicant’s needs. If an applicant benefits from being assigned homework and attending a structured class, then they may want to consider signing up for one. On the other hand, if the student has the self-discipline to set up their own routine and follow through, then they may want to utilize a study guide and/or practice LSATs. There are lots of free tests offered throughout the year from test prep companies that will help you determine how much work you will need to put in. An excellent resource for free tests and general information about the test is available here: http://www.examfocus.com/lsat/. We recommend taking a free test before investing in an LSAT prep course, in order to determine how far you are from your goals.
7. What is a Dean’s Letter or Certificate & how do I get one?
Only a few law schools require the completion of a Dean’s Certificate with their application. Dean’s certificates are to be completed by the Vice President for Student Affairs Office located in Student Union 201 (Phone: 213.740.2421). Please note that the Vice President’s office does not write letters; they only complete the forms provided by the law schools in the application.
8. If I plan to take at least 1 year off between college and law school, how should I approach professors about letters of recommendations?
If you know you want to go to law school down the road, it is beneficial to get a letter of recommendation from your professor or employer now while they still know you and can comment on your performance in a class or the quality of your work. You can request letters of recommendations from professors and employers upon conclusion of your class or job and have those letters stored in the LSAC database for when you are ready to apply to law school.
9. What is the difference between early decision and early action?
Some schools offer early decision or early action options to applicants. Early decision is a binding commitment to a school that if the applicant is accepted, he/she must attend. Because it is a binding commitment, applicants can ethically only choose one school to apply to early decision. On the other hand, early action is not a binding commitment. Applicants who apply under early action are signaling to a school that they are extremely interested in attending and wish to be considered prior to review of the regular (non-early action) applicant pool. Students who apply early decision or early action will generally hear back from those schools early in the application cycle.
10. I’ve heard that law schools have “rolling admissions.” What does this mean?
More accurately, law schools operate on a “rolling notification” system. Law schools review applications in the order they come in and notify the applicant of their decision within a few weeks from submission. Typically, applicants who apply earlier will hear back from schools earlier unless their applications get passed onto another committee for further review. This process is the reason that Pre-Law recommends applicants apply earlier, rather than later, in the admissions cycle.
11. Is it ok to take a class Pass/No Pass? How does that factor into my GPA?
It is ok to take a class as a P/NP in college. However, law schools want to see that applicants are willing and able to challenge themselves. More than a few P/NP classes may suggest that you took the easier way out. Also, applicants should be aware that the CAS does not calculate a “pass” into your GPA. However, a “no pass” will automatically translate into an “F” in the CAS calculation of your GPA.
12. If I am a graduating senior applying in my senior year, will the admissions committee see my fall grades from senior year?
This depends upon when you apply. If you are a strong student and you apply early (e.g. October), law schools may review your application before seeing your fall grades. If you have not heard from your schools by the end of the fall semester, you will need to send a supplemental transcript to CAS which will be forwarded to the schools.