Things to Avoid As an Undergrad Preparing for Law School
So you want to be a lawyer—congratulations! The law is a noble, challenging, and rewarding area of study. While you’re still in the process of earning your bachelor’s degree, you should already be preparing for entering into the study of law. There are many resources about how to prepare—this is to tell you what you shouldn’t be doing if you hope to go to law school.
Not Learning How to Study
Everyone knows someone who didn’t really need to study in college. This person was naturally smart and was able to coast by on the knowledge they already knew and some luck. One thing is for certain—this person should not be planning to attend law school. If you don’t know how to study, you need to learn while in your undergraduate program, because the ability to study will make all the difference in law school.
Choosing a Humanities Major When You’re Not Passionate About the Subject
There is a myth that only a degree in the humanities will prepare you for law school. This is categorically untrue, so stop believing it! Law school admissions are competitive, so you should find some way to stand out as an applicant. One way you could do that is to come from a non-traditional field of study to enter the law. Many law schools are now looking especially at graduates of STEM programs, as they generally possess the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in law.
Choosing Only Easy Classes so Your GPA Stays High
Yes, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and each individual law school look at your grades as part of your application, so a high GPA is important. However, they also look at the degree of difficulty of the courses on your transcript, and they take those into account as well. Don’t sell yourself short in college—do the work and challenge yourself, and you’ll likely be rewarded.
Not Preparing Enough for the LSAT, or Waiting Too Long to Take It
The LSAT is another important factor in law school admissions, and it is offered four times each year. Unfortunately, the LSAT is different from any other standardized admission test that you’ll see, because the knowledge you’re learning in your undergraduate education likely won’t help you prepare for it. You have to commit to studying for the LSAT for at least three months in order to learn how to think in the way that will allow you to succeed on the exam. And don’t wait too long to take it! You should aim to have your applications in by the fall of your senior year of undergrad, so keep that in mind as you prepare as well.
Not Getting Involved in College
Grades are important for your law school application, as is your LSAT score. Also important, though, is having some extracurriculars on your resume. Play a sport, join a society, volunteer, or gain an internship. These things will show what you are interested in and what you are passionate about, which makes you look like a well-rounded applicant.
Getting in Trouble
While it should be self-explanatory that you should avoid indiscretions while preparing for law school, it is still worth mentioning. Having any legal citations, or even any disciplinary sanctions through your undergraduate institution, could affect your chances of getting into law school. Have you already gotten in trouble? Don't count yourself out, but keep your record clean for the remainder of your schooling.
Not Building Relationships With Professors
Another crucial aspect of law school applications are the letters of recommendation from professors. This is why it’s a really good idea to start forming relationships with professors early on in your college career. A professor can’t write a glowing letter of recommendation if they don’t know anything about you, after all.
Not Considering the Cost of Law School
Law school is expensive—it is an unfortunate fact. While you are still completing your undergraduate education, you should start thinking about how you are going to finance your legal education. If you already have large student loans, you could consider working for a couple of years in between in order to make payments on some of them.
The general rule of thumb is to never rack up more student loans than your starting salary the first year out of school. This may not be feasible for everyone, but it is something that you should think about before applying to law school.
Choosing to go to law school is a brave and rewarding choice to make, so you should make sure that you are preparing yourself in the right ways. If you can avoid these eight things and are on track with your law school application process, you should do just fine.