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Office of Pre-Professional Advising

Current Pre-Law Students

Pre-Law Checklist

First and Second Year Students

  • Select a major that you enjoy and that challenges you and prepares you for alternative career paths if you decide not to pursue a career in law after graduation. Law schools have no preference on majors, so choose a major that is a good fit for you, not one that you think will look good for law school.
  • Begin to explore careers in law through various resources: reading, information interviews with attorneys, pre-law events held through the Office of Pre-Professional Advising, and internships in a legal environment.
  • Although there are no required courses for law school, it is important to take courses which develop the types of skills necessary in law school and in your legal career such as reading, writing, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning. 
  • Focus on your academic; undergraduate GPA is one of the top factors in law school admission.
  • Get to know your professors (e.g., utilize their office hours, participate in class discussions, and sit near the front in class). You will need academic letters of recommendation when you apply to law school and these professors will then be in a better position to write a strong letter or recommendation if they know you other than just your grade in their class.
  • Get involved in activities that interest you – student organizations, study abroad, research with faculty, leadership, community service, etc. While the University of South Carolina has a number of pre-law organizations (e.g., Phi Alpha Delta, Mock Trial, etc.) you should get involved in activities and organizations that interest you, not necessarily just pre-law related organizations and activities. 
  • Meet with the Pre-Law advisor in the Office of Pre-Professional Advising (Sumalt College). Call (803) 777-5581 to make a pre-law appointment, or come as a drop-in during our drop-in hours, Tuesdays from 10:00-1:00 and Wednesdays from 1:00-4:00.  Ask about beginning to explore law and whether it is a good fit for you, discuss the basic timeline for pre-law students, and keep yourself competitive for law schools. 

 

  • Continue to explore careers in law to confirm your interest in law. 
  • Continue to maintain a strong GPA and continue your involvement on campus and in the community, possibly through leadership opportunities within your organizations of interest.
  • Review the pre-law website, and watch for you listserv messages, for updates and announcements of upcoming events for pre-law students, particularly those related to the application process, personal statements, mock admission panels, etc.
  • Meet with the pre-law advisor again now that you have an established academic track record to begin talking about your GPA, target law schools for which you would be competitive based on the GPA alone, and ways to continue to enhance your undergraduate experience. 
  • Begin to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The largest key for success on the LSAT is preparation!  A good way to begin evaluating how much preparation you need is by taking a practice LSAT, preferably a full-length/timed test so that you can get a baseline score and become more familiar with the LSAT to determine your preparation strategy. Pre-law advisors can help you identify various resources and then you can decide which preparation strategy is best for your individual situation. 
  • Attend pre-law workshops to learn more about topics such as the overall law school admission process, what law school is really like from a law student’s perspective, what law schools are looking for to be a competitive applicant for their law school, what to include in your personal statement etc. Workshops will be advertised on the pre-law website and through the listserv.
  • Create your Law School Admission’s Council (LSAC) account. This is free to do, and, is something you absolutely must have. 
  • Register for one of the summer LSATs, and continue to prepare to take the LSAT.

 

Summer Before Fourth Year

  • Continue to study for the LSAT and take this summer if you are prepared.
  • Register and pay for the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at least four to six weeks before you plan to submit your first law school application. 
  • Begin working on your Personal Statement. All law schools require one…and, they take time to write (4-6 from the time you start).  We in the Office of Pre-Professional Advising are more than willing to review your Personal Statement as it gets close to being finished.

 

  • Attend additional pre-law workshops offered on campus related to the application process, writing personal statements, mock admission panels etc. These will be announced via the pre-law listserv and on the pre-law website.
  • Meet with the pre-law advisor again to discuss your law school questions and to help your develop a good application strategy based on your GPA and LSAT scores. 
  • Attend the annual Law School Fair in October to meet with law school admissions representatives on campus. 
  • Request that official transcripts be sent to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) from the registrar’s office of each institution you have attended. Even if you took a 1-hour class somewhere, you will need to have that transcript.
  • Confirm with recommenders who you have previously asked to write letters of recommendation and provide them with copies of your resume, personal statement and CAS recommender form. (You will have provided CAS their names and contact information on your CAS account.) Don’t forget to send thank-you notes to your recommenders!
  • Finalize your personal statement and remember to have it reviewed at OPPA.
  • Apply to your target law school(s) early. Apply as early as possible (October-November is a great time), since law schools have a rolling admissions process and your application may be more competitive if you apply early. (Once the law schools receive your completed applications, they will contact the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to have your law school report sent which will include your transcripts and letters of recommendation.)
  • Register for and take a fall LSAT if you did not take it in over the summer or if you plan to retake the LSAT to improve your score. (You may want to consult with a pre-law advisor before making your final decision on whether or not to retake the LSAT.)
  • Continue to research financial aid options. Complete the FAFSA for federal aid as soon as possible after January 1 of the year you plan to start law school.
  • Make decisions regarding law schools to which you are accepted and/or other career options.

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