Preparing for Law School

Preparing for law school can be overwhelming, which is why we have prepared these resources and quick links to help you through the process.

How to Choose a Law School

Selecting the right law schools to apply to involves research and introspection. While a school’s reputation can be important, you don’t have to rely solely on their rankings. We recommended that you gather information about both law schools and yourself to develop your own criteria and help you make an informed decision.

Gathering Information

  • Attend Pre-Law Workshops, Panel Discussions, one-time visits and other related opportunities where law school representatives are present. Meet the representatives and ask questions

  • Attend the LSAC sponsored Law School Forum in Los Angeles or other metropolitan cities in the fall to speak with law school representatives about the application process, the LSAT, financial aid, diversity and the legal profession. https://www.lsac.org/lawschoolforums

  • Use LSAC Law School Links, to research law schools and program specifics, https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx

  • Conduct informational interviews by calling or visiting law schools. Most schools will have a representative who is currently in law school or who just graduated to talk with all potential law school applicants. 

  • While you are visiting the school, sit in on a class, if possible.

  • Network with other Pre-Law students and legal professionals by attending events hosted by Pre-Law organizations such as the Los Angeles Bar Association https://www.lacba.org/, For People of Color , Inc.  https://forpeopleofcolor.org/ and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), https://cleoinc.org/.

Deciding Where to Apply

After gathering information, here are factors to consider.

  • Admissions considerations – Look at the schools entering class profiles to assess LSAT scores and GPA and how your numbers compare. It is not totally about the “numbers”! Students with lower than average LSAT and GPA scores have often been admitted with a strong personal statement and a vision for what they will do with their degree in law. Divide your chosen schools into 3 categories: 1.) Dream schools that are a “stretch”, 2.) Core schools where your application will be competitive, and 3.) Safety Schools where you will likely be admitted.

  • Diversity of the student body and faculty

  • Financial Considerations

  • Location – Where might you like to start your practice? Is weather a factor for you? Do you need to be near your family?

  • Availability of specific law classes, experiential education and clinical programs of interest. All law schools provide different opportunities for you to prepare for your law practice and profession. 

  • Career Services and placement rates

  • Campus facilities (housing, library, classrooms)

  • Faculty (legal training, areas of interest, accessibility, diversity)

  • Extracurricular activities (Law Review, moot court, student clubs)

  • Academic programs (clinical opportunities, joint degree offerings, student abroad options)

Comparing Schools

  • Check out Standard 509 Reports, plus Employment Outcomes and Bar Passage Outcomes
  • The American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education, has up to date reports on all ABA approved schools. The reports include data about tuition and fees, living expenses, GPA and LSAT scores, and grants and scholarships which can help you compare law schools before applying.

  • Review the California State Bar Association website. A very interesting site with bar pass rates for ABA and non-ABA accredited schools in and out of the State.

Law School Application Timeline

We encourage students to apply early! Even with “rolling admissions,” law schools fill up quickly. Financial aid is often prioritized for those who apply early and can run out before the end of the application season. If you want a seat secured at a particular law school and the best possible financial assistance package, don’t procrastinate.

Junior Year

  • Continue exploring the legal field

  • Attend workshops or talk with our Pre-Law advisor about the application process, including how to write your personal statement.

  • Obtain LSAT information https://www.lsac.org/lsat  

  • Obtain Credential Assembly Services (CAS) registration information from the LSAC website and register for CAS https://www.lsac.org/applying-law-school/jd-application-process/credential-assembly-service-cas

  • Register for the June or July LSAT. The LSAT is offered 7 times a year  https://www.lsac.org/lsat

  • Allow one to three months to prepare for the LSAT

  • Consider taking a test prep course to help you prepare for the LSAT

  • Consult faculty regarding letters of recommendation

  • Start gathering information about law school 

  • Arrange a visit to a law school by working with their admissions office. You can request a tour of the school, get connected with a current student, or ask to sit in on a law school course

Summer After Junior Year

  • Take the June or July LSAT

  • Receive LSAT score (3-4 weeks after test)

  • Review law school choices in light of LSAT scores

  • Register for October (or other date) LSAT if necessary

  • Continue requesting letters of recommendation and checking on their status

  • Begin writing your personal statement

Fall of Senior Year

  • Finalize letters of recommendation

  • Order your Occidental College official transcripts

  • Finalize personal statement; get them proofread by faculty, the Writing Center, the Hameetman Career Center, and other law-related professionals

  • Take the October LSAT if necessary

  • Request financial aid information from law schools

  • Complete and send admissions applications before Thanksgiving, if possible

Spring of Senior Year

  • Contact law schools to see if applications are complete

  • Complete and submit financial aid materials

  • Evaluate admissions offers

  • Thank all recommendation letter writers and inform them of your plans

Paying for Law School

Law schools can be quite expensive so we’ve compiled some resources to guide you through the complexity of financial aid, scholarships and loans.