Hey all! Here’s some unsolicited advice I wish I had when I was applying to law school to reduce my stress & maximize time usage.
Step 1: September 2 years prior to enrollment (really, that far in advance? yes, if possible):
Research all of the schools you’d like to apply to, taking location, rank, GPA, LSAT, GRE, academic & extracurriculars into account. Narrow your list down to 2-4 schools in safety, match & reach categories so you have some solid scholarship potential lined up.
Research student experiences, especially of those belonging to self-identifying groups like you. Reddit & instagram have “Black at X school” pages, minority threads, etc.
Start compiling detailed notes on all the work you’ve done, your accomplishments, professors & supervisors in your corner, what you’re looking for in a law school, what makes you unique and craft your story of why you’re applying to law school.
Research scholarships that you’d be eligible for and put together a calendar for when you need to have each piece of the application ready for early submission.
Research LSAT prep courses & free/cheap practice materials. Set a goal budget & prep plan based on your lifestyle & ability to save & time available.
Step 2: Fall of 2 years prior to enrollment:
Start that LSAT prep. Longer courses are less weekly time commitments. There are plenty of free practice resources, but solo training will probably take longer for the same results. Aim to be ready to take your first LSAT in the spring or summer.
Check-in on admissions calendars to see what recruiting events they have announced so far. Check routinely, attend as many as possible, prep some questions unique to you and your goals/interest in a legal career that’ll make you a memorable applicant. Use your school research to ensure you’re not asking questions easily googlable.
Step 3: Spring/Summer of the year prior to enrollment:
Take the LSAT as early as you can, with at least a few months of preparation. If you’re disabled like me, give yourself twice as long to prep at a minimum. Register to retake it prior to November so you can apply early, if needed.
Begin requesting letters of recommendation from old professors & supervisors for all the applications (admissions and scholarships) they’d be a good fit for. Have a current resume and statement of purpose ready to send to them that highlight all the things you want in your letter. Ask if you can provide them with a draft to finalize.
Start working on your personal statement. Rewrite it at least 10 times with friends and family reading each draft & providing feedback. Have 1, 2, 3 and 4 page versions ready.
Step 4: August of the year prior to enrollment:
Verify application open dates. Most start in early September. As soon as they open, start saving all the instructions as PDFs to your computer. Be sure to check for different deadlines for admission and scholarships. Some rules are tricky.
See what additional documents you’ll need. Foreign transcript? Police/court records? Disability verification? Send out requests for these documents immediately.
Request fee waivers. Most schools don’t need a reason to grant one and you’ll still have to pay for the CAS report fee ($45/application currently). Save all the coins you can.
Start drafting the supplemental statements required. Whatever you couldn’t squeeze into your personal statement can probably find its way into one of these.
Follow up on recommendation requests if needed. Have your draft letters ready to go.
Step 5: September-November of the year prior to enrollment:
Start submitting those applications! The sooner the better. Verify you’re not applying to a binding decision process, of course.
Step 6: December of the year prior - year of enrollment:
Sit back and enjoy the tears of everyone like me who are just now scrambling to complete this thorough process that you’ve taken care of already. Watch with anticipation as the decisions come in (hopefully, schools have been known to take 5-8 months…) Pat yourself on the back for your hard work! Save all of your scholarship offers for reference when negotiating scholarships with your top picks. Submit scholarship reconsideration requests at least a month prior to seat deposit deadlines to allow time to review, but also close enough that scholarship money has opened up from declined offers. Update your LSData profile for other neurotics to learn from!
TLDR: Start prep early and you’ll be a lot less stressed out. Extensively research cost, location, employment opportunities, network strength and cultural fit. Get in good with admissions reps who will champion you. Applying early can also make you more competitive for admission & scholarships when the surge of applications come in around winter time.