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Pre-Law Study and Application Process Information
6. Useful Links
The below topics are in Things to Consider when Applying to Law School (Different Document)
2. Law School Curriculum
3. Choosing a Law School
4. Applying to Law School
5. The Personal Statement
6. Letters of Recommendation
The University of Wyoming has several advisors to assist students who are considering law school. Pre-law advisors are available to discuss your interest in law, help you select useful courses, and assist you in the application process. Resource materials, the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD) informational brochure, fee waiver application, the LSAC/American Bar Association Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools) are available to peruse or pick up in Ross Hall 09 or from one of the other pre-law advisors.
You may have been planning to be a lawyer since you were very young or just now you are getting curious about what may be ahead for you after you earn that bachelor’s degree. In looking at the possibilities, only you will be able to make the final decision and a major decision it is to invest three years and perhaps $80,000 in a future career. Your time and money are valuable so you don’t want to use it only to learn that law is not for you.
Taking time during your undergraduate years to learn about the realistic life and work of a lawyer, carefully analyzing the time, effort, and expenses of law school, and the career options open to you will be time well spent. There are many books that talk about life as a lawyer that can help you ask yourself some questions about your motivation for studying law. Check the selected bibliography below for examples.
Joining the pre-law club, sitting in on law school classes, attending any pre-law open houses or other functions and speakers at the UW Law School, visiting other law schools and law school forums will actively engage you in the process of your decision-making.
By taking advantage of the information available in print or online and talking with law professors and legal professionals, you will also discover that your career choices are broader than “practicing law” in the strict sense. You may find that your law degree opens doors into other careers such as government, business, politics, teaching, publishing, and journalism, among others.
What can you do with a law degree? Anything you want to! The career choices are virtually limitless. Here are some legal specialties and practice areas as defined by the National Association for Law School Placement www.nalp.org.
- Admiralty and Maritime Law
- Antitrust Law
- Appellate Practice
- Banking and Commercial Finance Practice
- Bankruptcy Law
- Civil Litigation
- Corporate Practice
- Criminal Law
- Entertainment and Sports Law
- Environmental Law
- Family Law
- Government Contracts Practice
- Government Practice
- Health Care Law
- Immigration Law
- Insurance Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- International Law
- Labor and Employment Law
- Legislative Practice
- Military Judge Advocates/JAG
- Municipal Finance Practice
- Public Interest Law (i.e. Civil Liberties, Children’s Rights, Disability Benefits, Human Rights, Elder Law, Veteran’s Rights, etc.)
- Real Estate Law
- Securities Law
- Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice
- Tax Law
- Telecommunications Law
- Tort Law: Personal Injury and Insurance Defense Litigation
- Trusts and Estates Law
In addition to having a wide variety of areas in which to use a law degree, you have just as many choices in the type of employer you could work for. The following is a brief list of the options available to you.
- In-House Counsel
- Consulting Firms
- Insurance/Banking/Financial Services
- Legal Publishing Firms
- Entrepreneurial Opportunities
- Federal (Administrative Agency, Justice Dept./U.S. Attorney, Federal Public Defender, Legislative Branch, Judicial Clerkships)
- State (Attorney General, Legislative Branch, Judicial Clerkship)
- Local (City/County Prosecutor, Municipal Attorney, Local Public Defender)
- Hospitals/Health Care Organizations
- Education/University/Law School
- Labor Unions/Trade and Professional Organizations
- Legal Services
- Public Interest Law Center/Law Firm
- Social Action Organization
- Issue/Policy Organization
- Public Interest Litigation Organization
- Large Firm
- Small Firm
- Solo Practice
For more information on legal careers, career resources, employers, and legal resources visit the website for the UW College of Law Career Services Office at http://www.uwyo.edu/law/career/index.html.
As at most universities, pre-law students at the University of Wyoming are majoring in a variety of disciplines in any of the colleges - Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Health Sciences. Most law school deans and faculty, the Law School Admissions Council, the American Bar Association, and most universities have no officially prescribed pre-law major or concentration. Law schools look for and accept students from all majors and a variety of backgrounds. Any student who anticipates applying to law schools is considered a pre-law student. However, there are guidelines in approaching your undergraduate study to prepare you for the challenges of a legal education and the profession.
Selecting courses and majors
First, choose a major that interests you and that may lead to an alternate career if you later decide that law school is not for you. Pre-law students at UW pursue study in fields as varied as criminal justice, biology, business, engineering, English, finance, music, philosophy, and political science. If you are in doubt as to a major, counselors in UW’s Center for Advising and Career Services (222 Knight Hall, 766-2398) http://www.uwyo.edu/CACS/ can help you explore your interests, strengths, and options. When applying to law schools it will be important to have a strong academic performance record so choosing a major that really interests you will be most beneficial as well as providing you with alternate career choices.
Second, during your undergraduate years, consider the skills required of successful law students and lawyers. They spend their time reading, writing, speaking, negotiating, and solving complex problems. They value the ability to analyze, to reason cogently, to think abstractly, and to write and speak precisely and effectively. Look for rigorous courses to increase your abilities in these areas such as seminars and other courses that require research, writing and discussion. Rigorous courses will also help you develop the reading, analytical, and logical skills that are needed to do well on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
Do balance your coursework. If you are studying political science or engineering, take also a selection of courses in the sciences, literature and fine arts. If majoring in the sciences or literature, go beyond the basic general requirements and take additional courses in the social sciences, fine arts and a foreign language. Whatever legal work you eventually do, you will deal with people who have diverse interests and backgrounds. The more you know about their worlds, the better you can serve them. A thoughtful selection of courses to fulfill the University Studies Program requirements at UW is a good way to broaden your education and develop skills.
You should also have a basic grasp of United States history and the structure and philosophy of our government. Courses in American history and literature, political science, American studies, economics, ethical theory, and political philosophy are valuable. You will learn the law more easily if you understand the context out of which it comes. Courses in logic or critical thinking in the Department of Philosophy may help your performance on the logical and analytical reasoning questions on the LSAT.
Generally, law schools will be looking for a candidate whose undergraduate academic performance is strong and reflects a personal, intellectual engagement with the course of study. A sound foundation in a specific major supported by a broad liberal arts education and a competitive grade point average should prepare you to do well on the Law School Admissions Test and the application process.
A note to Criminal Justice Majors
If you plan to major in Criminal Justice, this program has a pre-law concentration you may declare. Check the Department’s web page for more information, http://www.uwyo.edu/CJ/.
- Add more to your skills, knowledge, experience
- Take advantage of extracurricular opportunities to learn more about the law and refine your skills in leadership, organization, time management and communication.
- Look for internships or volunteer service in the community.
- Study abroad to learn about diverse cultures and international institutions and issues.
- Join campus organizations of interest to you, including the Pre-Law Club and the UW undergraduate chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Legal fraternity.
- Become actively involved in your classes by seeking opportunities to pursue some in-depth research activity in areas of interest to you. Your instructors and academic advisors can give you guidance.
- Make sure you get to know your professors – by the time you are a junior or senior several professors should know you and your academic interests and performance well enough to write meaningful letters of recommendation. Choosing classes that require discussion, research, or oral presentations are excellent ways to interact with instructors.
- Attend lectures by lawyers, judges, and government officials when they speak on campus.
The following is only a recommended schedule –it is based on a four-year undergraduate course of study and one that you may adjust to fit your individual timeframe.
1. Freshman and sophomore years:
- Talk with your advisor and instructors about your interests; visit the Center for Advising and Career Services to explore majors if you have not already decided.
- Assess your strengths and build up the less well-developed areas by thoughtful course selection.
- Look into extracurricular activities that interest you and get involved.
- Build relationships with your instructors so they can write meaningful letters of recommendation about your academic effort.
- Make a concerted effort to establish a solid academic program and earn as high a GPA
2. Junior Year:
- Seek opportunities to participate in or initiate research activities whether through course assignments or independent study, internships, volunteer work, etc. Cultivate your relationships with faculty who may direct you in independent study or research or internships in your area of interest.
- Go to the Law School Admissions Council website http://www.LSAC.org/, which is a great source for information and downloadable materials. Become familiar with the Law School Admissions Test and the Law School Data Assembly Service. This web site provides sample test questions, practice tests you can order, and other useful things to know about the application process.
- Consider participating in mock law school admission tests, setting up group study sessions or individual ones for yourself, or reviewing options for commercial test preparation courses. Familiarity with the question types and answer formats, the time limitations, and the rules and structure of the test will reduce your stress level.
- Research those law schools in which you are interested; request information and application materials. The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools is a useful source of information about each of the law schools. You may review a copy in A&S 152. It is available online at http://www.lsac.org/
- Law School Admission Tests are administered in June, September or October, December, and February. Application deadlines of each law school are important guides in deciding when to take the test. You may want to consider taking the LSAT in June following your junior year if you plan to apply to law schools in your senior year. This date is good for those students who may not have the pressures of other classes in the summer. You also then have the opportunity to take the test again should you decide to cancel your score or feel you may do better. At this time you may register for the Law School Data Assembly service that organizes for the law schools the data derived from candidate’s transcripts and LSAT score/s. The standard recommendation is to study six months for the LSAT.
- You may wish to visit some law schools high on your list or attend law school forums around the country where many law schools are represented.
- Maintain your good GPA. Consider retaking classes if it will help your law school application. When LSAC calculates a student's GPA, they include all classes, even those that were re-taken and a higher grade was earned. UW may reflect a higher GPA than the LSAAC calculated GPA because UW typically ignores the lower grade in the GPA calculation. Law schools differ on whether they look at the LSAC-calculated GPA or the UW reported GPA. So depending on how the law school perceives this, it may or may not help the student to retake a class.
- Check in with a pre-law advisor for assistance.
3. Senior Year:
- If you did not take the LSAT in June, October is a good time; some students prefer this date because they are enrolled in school and may be more focused on test taking. For many law schools, the December test is the last possible date in order to get the test results by application deadlines. Check the requirements of the law schools to which you are applying. The standard recommendation is to study six months for the LSAT.
- Check in with your pre-law advisor if you have questions and concerns.
- Make requests for your letters of recommendation. Make an appointment with your potential references so they have time to discuss your plans with you.
- Work on your personal statement as required by your application materials.
- Register for the Law School Data Assembly Service http://www.LSAC.org/, if you have not already done so.
1. General Resources available to peruse or pick up in A&S 152, in one of the pre-law advisor offices, or check the LSAC website at http://www.LSAC.org/. The LSAC is a good source of information about pre-law, law schools, and the services provided by this nonprofit organization that administers the LSAT and provides services to students and the law schools during the application and admissions process.
- Test and the Law School Credential Assembly Service.
- The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
- Recruitment Calendar of annual law school forums.
- Thinking About Law School: A Minority Guide booklet.
- The Ten Questions for Minority Law School Applicants booklet.
- Loan Information.
Postings of interest to pre-law students
are on a
bulletin board across from A&S 152. There also you will find posters from many law
including cards for ordering their Bulletins.
Many law school bulletins are in the Simpson Lounge, A&S 139.
3. The UW College of Law invites pre-law students for tours of the law school, mock law school classes, faculty and law student panels, and receptions. You may even participate in moot court sessions as a juror. During Law Week in October undergraduate students are encouraged to attend lectures and presentations.
The University of Wyoming Pre-law Club welcomes new members to help you gain knowledge of the legal profession by facilitating interaction with legal professionals, law school deans and professors, and law students. The group also organizes mock Law School Admission Test sessions, mock trials, visits with area law schools, and opportunities to socialize, have fun, and network. Contact Cheryl Burnett, A&S Bldg. 223, 766-2988 or email@example.com for membership information and meetings.
5. The magazine Pre-Law provides excellent advice on all facets of pre-law study and the application process. It is free and available at A&S 152 and from the Pre-law advisors.
Abrams, Lisa L. The Official Guide to Legal Specialties, An Insider’s Guide to Every Major Practice Area (Harcourt Brace, 2000).
Arron, Deborah. What Can You Do With A Law Degree? A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside, and Around the Law (Seattle: Niche Press, 1999).
Bachman, Walt. Law v. Life (Rhinebeck, NY: Four Directions Press, 1995).
Bell, Susan J., Ed. Full Disclosure: Do You Really Want to be a Lawyer (Princeton, NJ:
Peterson Guides, American Bar Association, 1992).
Carey, Christin Civiletto. Full Disclosure: The New Lawyer’s Must Read Career Guide (New York: ALM, American Lawyers Media, Inc., 2001).
Law Services. Financing Your Law School Education (Law School Admission Council).
Law Services. The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools (American Bar Association, Law School Admission Council).
Law Services. Out and In, Information for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Law School Applicants (Law School Admission Council).
Law Services. So You Want to be a Lawyer: Practical Guide to Law as a Career, Revised edition (Law School Admission Council).
Law Services. Thinking About Law School: A Minority Guide (Law School Admission Council).
Llewellyn, Karl. The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1991).
Moll, Richard W., The Lure of the Law: Why People Become Lawyers, and What the Profession Does to Them (New York: Viking Penguin, 1990).
Montauk, Richard W. How to Get Into the Top Law Schools (Prentice-Hall, 2001).
Munneke, G. A. How to Succeed in Law School 2nd edition (NewYork: Barron’s, 1994).
Shapo, Marshall and Helen Shapo. Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success. (Westbury, NY: Foundation Press, 1996).
Simenoff, Mark, Ed. My First Year as a Lawyer (New York: Signet, 1996).
Law School Admissions Council – www.lsac.org
Law schools in the Rocky Mountain Region
University of Montana School of Law – http://www.umt.edu/law/
University of Wyoming College of Law – http://www.uwyo.edu/law/
All ABA Approved Law Schools – www.abanet.org/legaled/approvedlawschools/approved.html
Association of American Law Schools – www.aals.org
U.S. Department of Education – www.ed.gov
Free Application for Federal Student Aid – www.fafsa.ed.gov
The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid – www.finaid.org
National Association for Law Placement – www.nalp.org
National Association for Public Interest Law – www.napil.org
American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) – www.aallnet.org/index.asp
Association of American Law Schools (AALS) – www.aals.org
American Bar Association - Preparing for Law School -This site also includes links to the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, and other information.
Internet Legal Resource Guide, Pre-Law Student Services - www.ilrg.com
National Association for Law Placement (NALP) – http://www.nalp.org/Prelaw/
National Conference of Bar Examiners – www.ncbex.org
Princeton Review http://ww.princetonreview.com
Recruit for Law School - http://www.recruitforlawschool.org/--Be sure to click on the tab, 'Applying to Law School' which includes, among other topics, advice about personal statements and letters of recommendation among other topics.
Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International – www.pad.org
Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC) – www.planc.org
Midwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors (MAPLA) – www.mapla.org
Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors (NAPLA) – www.napla.org
Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SAPLA) – www.sapla.org
Southwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SWAPLA) – www.swapla.org
Western Association of Pre-Law Advisors (WAPLA) – www.wapla.org
American Law Institute – American Bar Association – www.ali-aba.org
Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)– www.hnba.com
NAACP Legal Defense Fund – www.ldfla.org
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) – www.napaba.org
National Bar Association (NBA) – www.nationalbar.org
Native American Rights Fund (NARF) – www.narf.org
Other useful sites with links to additional information (These are provided for your information and research, but UW does not endorse any site or its products/services)
HierosGamos, the Comprehensive Legal Site www.hg.org/schools.html
Kaplan’s Guide to Law School and the LSAT www.Kaptest.com
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test that is required for admission to all member law schools of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It provides a standard measure of reading and verbal skills that law schools use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. These skills include:
- Reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight.
- Organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences.
- The ability to reason critically.
- Analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and argument of others.
The LSAT is given four times each year (June, September/October, and February) at numerous locations within and outside the United States. A packet of information about the test, test dates, testing sites, and an application form may be obtained:
the Law School Admission
- By mail from LSAC at Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940-0998 (automated system phone number is 215-968-1001; or 215-968-1001 weekdays)
- From the UW School of Law or one of the UW pre-law advisors listed above.
- UW Testing Center, Coe Library, Room 303 307-766-3743.
There are a number of ways to prepare for the LSAT. The Law School Admission Council offers several preparation tools, including copies of recently administered tests. You can visit LSAC website at www.lsac.org or contact the LSAC at (215)-968-1001 for more information about test preparation aids.
Among many others, the private companies that also offer preparation help are:
Get Prepped (1-800-508-4473),
- Kaplan Test Prep (1-800-527-8378), www.kaptest.com
- The Princeton Review (1-800-273-8439), www.princetonreview.com
Almost all ABA-approved law schools and several non-ABA-approved schools in the United States will also require that you subscribe to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD). The LSD is a five-year subscription that prepares and provides a report for each law school to which you apply. The subscription comes with one law school report and there is an additional cost with each additional report you will require for the number of law schools to which you apply. This law school report provides a means of centralizing and standardizing undergraduate academic records to simplify the law school admission process and contains the following information:
- An undergraduate academic summary
- Copies of all undergraduate, graduate, and law school transcripts
- LSAT scores and writing sample copies
- Copies of Letters of Recommendation processed by the LSAC
You may want to subscribe to this service at the same time that you register for the LSAT to simplify the paperwork, but you do not have to. The important thing is to understand that this service will coordinate your academic and biographical information, as well as your test score, for the law schools to which you apply and that you will have to subscribe about a year before you plan to apply to law schools. LSD needs to have enough time to process your transcripts before your applications arrive at the law schools. The law schools to which you apply will obtain a copy of the report directly from the LSD. The forms you will need to use for this service are in the current year’s LSAT/LSD Information book or downloaded from www.lsac.org.
You may also send letters of recommendation to be kept on file. Up to three letters received by the LSD will be sent to each school to which you apply. All letters of recommendation should be sent to the LSD as soon as possible after you register for the service. This can be done even before you decide on the specific law schools.