What should I major in for law school?
There is no specific academic major for admission to law school. That means that you can major in any field you want. While many law school applicants do major in Law and Society or Political Science, it is not a requirement. These majors are not designed to prepare undergraduates for law school. Rather, students who enjoy these disciplines often also enjoy studying law. If either of these fields interest you, by all means declare your major in that field. If they do not interest you, feel free to declare a major in a field that does knowing that there is not an academic major that will increase your chances of admittance into law school.
Should I try to do a double major (or a major and a minor)?
Generally, yes. Law school admissions committees will scrutinize your transcript closely to see how rigorous your undergraduate classes were. If you complete a double major, you will have upper level courses in at least two disciplines. Doing well in both fields is an excellent indication of your intellectual strength. Excelling in your undergraduate courses is much more important that what you major in.
Additional information about undergraduate preparation for law school can be found here (on the applying to Law School page).
If I did poorly in a class, should I retake it in order to improve my GPA?
Usually, no, if your GPA is your only concern. Generally, when you retake a class at Ramapo College, the Registrar’s office recalculates your GPA to omit reference to your first grade. Law schools and the LSAC do not. They include every grade on your transcript in calculating your GPA. For students who retake classes, this often means that your LSAC-generated GPA is less than your Ramapo-generated GPA. In addition, law schools will look at your entire transcript, not just you GPA. So they will in fact notice that poor grade, regardless of whether you retook the class. If you failed a class, it may be wise to retake the course as law schools will then be able to see that F and subsequent improvement as part of your academic growth as an undergraduate.
How can I find out if I really want to be a lawyer?
One way to find out if you would enjoy being a lawyer is to get an internship or co-op where you spend time around lawyers. This will enable you to see what lawyers do in the course of a day and determine if the tasks they perform are ones you would enjoy doing. Working in a law office or government agency may help you clarify your goals and give you an added incentive to work hard preparing for the LSAT and applying to law school.
The Cahill Center can help you find a position in a law-related field. Also, check back on this site for announcements about additional internship opportunities with Ramapo alums who are lawyers. Although a job placement or internship in a legal setting may help you decide if law is the right career for you, such experience is not required or expected by law schools. It is not going to be what gets you into law school.
What is the LSAT like and when do I take it?
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is not a knowledge-based test. It tests your skills in three areas considered important for law school: reading comprehension, analytic reasoning, and logical thinking. The best way to prepare for the LSAT is to take difficult, upper-level courses that require a lot of reading, critical thinking, and writing from demanding professors.
The LSAT (LSAT-Flex now) is administered multiple times a year. You should plan to take it in June or September/October the year before you want to enter law school. To prepare for the LSAT, plan to take 10-20 practice tests to familiarize yourself with the test format and to learn how to manage the timing of the test.
When do I apply to law school?
Law school applications should be finalized and sent to the schools you have selected by December of your senior year. Even though many application deadlines are in January or February, all schools begin to look at the applications much earlier, and make admissions decisions on a rolling basis. Your application will get more individualized attention if you submit it earlier in the admissions season. Plan to spend a lot of time during the summer between your junior and senior years preparing for and taking the LSAT and researching law schools.
What do I have to do to get into a good law school?
Law school admission committees evaluate applications on several criteria.
- Grades: Build a transcript that demonstrates academic excellence by maintaining an above average GPA and taking a wide range of courses over several liberal arts disciplines. Many law school applicants are double majors. Be forewarned that involvement in non-academic activities will not compensate for a poor academic record.
- LSAT: Score at or above the national average on the LSAT. If you succeed as an undergraduate and prepare for the exam, you should do well on the LSAT.
- Application: Present yourself as a student mature enough to handle the pressure of law school, who will be a “good fit” with the law school, and who has the potential to contribute to the legal profession.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most law schools will ask you for two letters of recommendation from your professors. Law schools are more interested in academic letters than in job-related letters for most applicants. Make it your job to get to know some of your professors. It’s not impossible to be personally known by Ramapo professors but it does require extra effort on your part. Their recommendations will be much more effective if they know you personally.
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