Making Your Last Year of College Count

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Calling all college seniors! It’s now mid-August and the final year of school is approaching, especially for those on semester schedules. And this raises the age-old question: what’s life like after college? To all the prospective lawyers out there, you’ll know the answer already … more college (in the form of law school)!

So what needs to be done to get there? Plenty, and now is the time to get started, especially if you’re looking to apply this admissions cycle (fall/winter).

1. Create an LSAC Account

First off, head over to LSAC and create an account. Once there, you’ll see that there are a bunch of requirements, all of which you’re going to want to be done with as soon as possible.

2. Talk to an Advisor

As soon as you get back to school, you should seek out the pre-law advisor and make an appointment with them. Let them help you get an idea of what schools you might want to attend and what their requirements are, and what your chances are for admission. It also doesn’t hurt to gather some research of your own, looking at law school rankings or going straight to the data with tools like Law School Transparency.

3. Gather Your Application Materials

Next, get your personal statement, transcripts and letters of recommendation together, and send those out to LSAC and their Credential Assembly Service. Once you’ve got some prospective schools to apply to, look out for fee waivers to help lower the cost.

Getting all of the basics out of the way now allows more time and energy to be spent preparing for the LSAT if you haven’t taken it already. And of course, more time to enjoy your last year of college!

4. Visit Schools, if You Can

Now will also be the time to visit potential schools and speak to their admissions offices and students. Try and speak to people in a candid setting so as to get the best idea of what life at that school is really like — I was specifically warned off one school by several students there.

5. Get Some Legal Experience

Your final year in college is also a good time to start learning about what the legal profession is really like. If you have a chance to work at a law firm or courthouse part-time, take the opportunity and see if it’s something you’re truly passionate about.

Note: You Can “Save” Your Application Progress or Defer Admission, So Also Consider Taking Time Off

But what if, like I was, you’re a bit burned out by the whole school experience and want to take some time off? Maybe you’d like to do some traveling or just save up some money working. Applying now allows you to still defer admission for a year if your school allows for deferrals, guaranteeing you a spot in next year’s class.

It’s also possible to simply create a finished application and save it with LSAC so that you’re already prepared to apply when you do feel ready for three more years of school. LSAT scores are good for five years, so even if you’re planning on taking a year or more off before going to law school, it’s still best to get your application materials together and uploaded to LSAC now rather than later. Nobody wants to have to try and track down a retired professor for a letter of recommendation!

Taking some time off also presents an excellent opportunity to get to know more about the law and the legal profession (including whether you really, truly want to be a lawyer) when you won’t be balancing it with school responsibilities. Most legal non-profits are always willing to take on volunteers, and many firms will hire interns for low-level positions. And if you’re so inclined, you can always go to a local courthouse and observe what goes on and speak with practicing attorneys and judges. This can give you a head start on the specialization that attorneys must inevitably do, learning which aspects of law you find intriguing and which ones you definitely want to avoid (looking at you family law). Working or volunteering in the legal field also helps with the networking needed for law school internships and hopefully gainful employment after passing the bar.

So carpe annum and do all the prep work now so that it can pay off later!

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