You’ve invested in LSAT prep, spent an embarrassing amount on fancy lattes to get you through study sessions, registered for the LSAT … and your next step is sending off your applications, right? Unfortunately, no. There’s one more step: registering for the CAS.
CAS? Who even is she? Or it? A law school? Not quite — CAS actually stands for “Credential Assembly Service.” That’s basically just a fancy way of saying, “It’s how LSAC will send your information to schools.” CAS is how LSAC makes applying to law school “easier” for students. They will summarize your grades, compile your letters of recommendation, and send everything in one big report to each law school you apply to. You don’t have to do anything (except pay a kingly ransom)!
Here’s the rundown on the most important things you need to know about CAS and what it includes:
1. Academic transcript: You will need to request transcripts with your grades from every higher education course you took before getting your undergraduate degree. Each institution you attended or took classes at will need to send these transcripts to LSAC. This includes grades from dual-enrollment community college courses (even if you took these classes in high school), transfer institutions, study abroad programs, and summer school. LSAC will then calculate these grades into an “LSAC” GPA. If you have any concerns about how LSAC will weigh each grade in their calculation, it’s broken down pretty nicely on their website. (Fun fact: if you were lucky enough to attend an institution with “A+” grades, that’s weighted at a 4.33, much to the chagrin of everyone who didn’t attend an A+-granting institution)
2. Letters of Recommendation: Does anyone remember applying to college? If not, here’s a refresher: you generally “waived” your right to view your letters of recommendation and they were sent directly to College Board (wow, throwback). The same applies to law school admissions — this time with LSAC. You may be thinking, “But how can I send LSAC my letters of recommendation without looking at them?” Thanks to CAS, all you will need to do is enter in your recommenders’ information such as their names and email addresses, and LSAC will send them instructions on how to send in their glowing recommendations. Worry free and easy!
3. Cost: LSAC released a few different “bundle” packages that include CAS. However, if you’re purchasing CAS on its own it’ll cost you $195 (plus a report for each school — more on that below). Evidently, sending law schools electronic reports of scores, letters, and transcripts is more expensive than you’d think!
4. Do I actually have to buy this? The short answer is yes. The majority of law schools do require applicants apply with CAS. So, in order to apply to most law schools, you will need to purchase CAS.
5. What does this not include? Mainly, application fees — most schools have an application fee of their own and LSAC charges an additional $45 “CAS fee” for each school you apply to. Essentially, this $195 fee simply includes transcript summarization and letter of recommendation compilation. (Unfortunate fact: This means that the CAS fee does not also include a puppy to provide emotional support during this stressful time. We know, sad.)
Long story short, you will need to purchase CAS for $195 in order to apply to any law school. It’s probably in your best interest to do so sooner rather than later. This way, you can submit your transcripts and letters of recommendation as soon as possible. Although this can be a stressful and expensive process, think of the upside: CAS makes the application process easier for you! We love easier. Imagine having to summarize your own transcript for every school you apply to — that would be a nightmare. So, make sure those transcripts are ready to be sent and your recommenders are writing letters that explain just how great you are. Soon enough, you’ll be a law school applicant!