What is LSAC and how does it work?
• LSAC is the Law School Admission Council. It is self-described as “a non-profit corporation that provides unique, state of the art admissions products and services to ease the admissions process for law schools and their applicants worldwide.” Virtually all ABA-approved law schools use LSAC’s services, and in most cases, you will rely on LSAC as the vehicle for submitting many of your law school application materials, including your LSAT score(s), transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
• First you must create an account with LSAC. When you do, you will be assigned a unique identification number that you will use on each document you submit throughout the application process. There is no fee for registering with LSAC.
• LSAC administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). When you are ready to register for the LSAT, you must pay the test fee of $175.00. (There is an extra charge for late registration.)
• Then, when you are ready to submit application materials, you must register for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which centralizes the collection of applicants’ transcripts, LSAT scores, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. When you register with the CAS, a file is created for you, and you can check on the status of your CAS file online at any time. The cost to register for the CAS is $160.00. Check the LSAC.org website for information about how to request a waiver of the CAS fee.
• LSAC has a “common application” that you must complete for inclusion in your CAS file. LSAC also has links to the individual online applications of most law schools, and you can submit those through LSAC as well. In short, LSAC is the entire universe when it comes to applying to law school.
• Most law schools have a separate application fee; check the schools’ individual websites or the LSAC.org site for this information. Occasionally, law schools will offer to waive their application fees for certain applicants. If you would like to apply to a particular school, but you cannot afford its application fee, you can call that school’s admissions office to request a fee waiver. Of course, the school’s decision about whether or not to waive the fee is completely within the school’s discretion.
What am I required to submit as part of my application?
• You should check the website of each school to which you’re applying, to be very sure that you meet all of its application requirements. Most law schools require the following:
o An official transcript from each institution you’ve attended (so that they can see your current GPA);
o One or more LSAT scores;
o Letters of Recommendation (LORs);
o A personal statement and/or responses to essay questions; and
o The individual application form for each school to which you’re applying.
Is a resume required?
• Most law schools do not require you to submit a resume, but they give you the option to do so.
• It certainly cannot hurt you to submit a resume, but don’t rely on it as a primary means of conveying information about yourself. If there is an item on your resume that you really want the admissions officers to know about, you should make sure that you mention it in your personal statement (or that one of your recommenders mentions it).
• Wake Forest’s Office of Personal and Career Development offers individual resume reviews, and you should take advantage of this opportunity before you submit your resume to law schools. Click here for more information on the services offered by OPCD.
When do I apply?
• Every school has its own application deadline (most schools’ deadlines are in the March/April timeframe). Again, check the individual website of each school to which you’re applying for the most up-to-date information. (The LSAC.org site also lists this information, but checking there is no substitute for going to each school’s own website.)
• Most schools begin receiving applications around October 1. Many schools have a rolling admissions process, so ideally you should be ready to submit your applications by early October.
• Some schools offer an early admission option; check the individual schools’ websites for more information about this option.
Should I take a year off after undergrad before I apply to law school?
• While the “gap year” is in vogue for applicants to other graduate school programs, it is not expected of law school applicants. The majority of law school students come straight from undergrad, and the majority of those do just fine.
• If, however, you feel that you need to take a break before beginning law school, or if some other great opportunity becomes available to you, there is no detriment to taking one or more years off before you apply to law school. The bottom line is that you should not waste a year doing something that is not meaningful just because someone told you that you should take a “gap year” before law school.