The law school admissions process officially begins in late August or September when the current cycle's applications become available. However, you can (and should) begin to think about the various application components in the spring or summer before. In addition to individual law school applications, a complete application typically includes a two-page personal statement, an updated law school resume, 1-3 letters of recommendation, a Dean's Letter/Certification (only required by some law schools) and a Law School Report with your official academic transcript(s) and LSAT score(s).
All steps, ideally, should be completed by late-October/early-November or shortly thereafter, allowing you to submit and complete the applications well before the Spring deadlines. While this will not guarantee your admission to a particular law school, nor early notification of your status, applying early will increase the likelihood of your admission in a rolling admissions process.
Where to Apply
To develop a reasonable list of law schools to which to apply, it is essential that you accumulate information on the type of school you believe would be a good fit and a realistic idea about where you are likely to be admitted. Relying on general notions of prestige or reputation is, unfortunately, not enough and can also sometimes lead you astray. If you select only the most highly ranked, most selective law schools for your list, not only may you not receive any offers of admissions, but they may actually turn out to be a poor fit to your personal needs and professional goals. As a general rule, we usually recommend developing a list of at least 10-12 potential law schools as a starting point.
Law School Admission Council (LSAC)
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is the umbrella organization for the law school admissions process. It administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and coordinates the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), and it is a user-friendly and online system. We suggest that you become familiar with its services and procedures by visiting the LSAC website.
CAS organizes and summarizes information about your qualifications into Law School Reports that will be used by the law schools in their review process. All US law schools require applicants to register for CAS, which streamlines the process by allowing applicants to have all transcripts (undergradute and graduate), letters of recommendation, and evaluations sent only once to LSAC. Once they arrive and are successfully processed, your credentials are summarized and combined with your LSAT scores into a Report that LSAC sends to the schools to which you have applied.
Application Fees and Fee Waivers
There are a number of costs associated with applying to law school, including CAS registration fees and LSAT exam fees. In addition, most law schools have application fees that range between $50-100, which you must pay in order to complete your applications.
Students for whom application fees represent a financial hardship may apply for an LSAC application fee waiver. Using the LSAC Website, you may complete the online fee waiver application (which becomes available in September). You will be required to provide a copy of your financial aid status statement (available at the Financial Aid Office in the Franklin Building). If you are an alumna/us, then you will need to provide last year's tax information.
Keep in mind that it will take some time to complete the necessary financial information for the waiver, and that LSAC will require at least six weeks to process your application. The service applies stringent criteria, so it is important to be realistic about your chances of receiving a fee waiver.
Additionally, many law schools may extend individual application fee waivers to attract strong candidates, regardless of demonstrated financial need. In order to be eligible for these fee waivers, applicants must subscribe to the Candidate Referral Service (CRS) with LSAC when they register for the LSAT.