Law School Admissions 101
Admissions Timeline and Costs
The law school admissions process is daunting. What are the steps and associated costs? Here’s a timeline (along with estimated cost) the guys recommend:
- 1.5-2 years before you want to start law school, start preparing for the LSAT. An LSAT prep platform like the LSAT Demon will cost you anywhere from $300-1500 for 3-4 months of LSAT prep.
- Take the LSAT early enough to apply in September or October of your desired admissions cycle. This will cost $200 per administration. Plan on taking the test 2-3 times for a total of $400 ($600).
- Sign up for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) for $195.
- Apply to your desired law schools early in their admissions cycle. Usually, this is September and October 1 year before you hope to go to said schools. Each time you apply to a school you will need to pay LSAC for a Law School Report, and you may need to pay the law school any application fees they may have. The Law School Reports per school are $45 and you should apply to at least 10 schools, meaning $450 more to LSAC. When it comes to the law schools, you’ll probably end up paying $200-300 more in their fees.
Total cost? ~ $2,000-$3,000
That cost considers taking the LSAT multiple times and applying early and broadly. This may seem like a sizable investment, but in return, you could get over $100k in scholarships. Please apply for the LSAC fee waiver (which would greatly reduce this cost), and always ask colleges to waive their own application fee waivers.
Episodes on Law School Admissions
Here are some Thinking LSAT Episodes where we discuss Admissions topics. Navigate to the specified time stamps to hear about certain topics.
Ep. 283: Late Cycle Admissions Qs with Ann Levine
9:49 – Diversity Statements: Who Qualifies as Diverse?
15:11 – On International Programs
32:40 – Negotiating Scholarships, Pt. 1
39:13 – Negotiating Scholarships, Pt. 2
Ep. 280: Waitlist Mania
54:27 – Three waitlist questions
Ep. 275: Don't Talk to the Cops
8:30 – Admissions officers are offering one-on-one Zoom sessions for prospective students. If a potential applicant is interested in a school, a rep from that school will happily set up a Zoom call to discuss their application to help “make it stronger.” Nathan and Ben agree that this isn’t a bad idea—it’s always helpful to get some feedback about your application and get a better understanding of what schools are looking for. BUT—and this is a serious but—don’t do this with schools you’re actually interested in attending. Remember that admissions staffers are salespeople who are trying to get you to apply to (and pay to attend) their institutions. If you’re going to do Zoom meets with admissions staffers, make it with schools you’re not actually planning to apply to. That way, you get the experience of talking to a staffer, you get some insights about your applications, and you don’t divulge too much info to insiders at schools you’re truly interested in.
Ep. 273: The Law School Admissions Timeline
4:58 – University of Hawaii Manoa Pre-law Advice Google Sheet (fee waiver info for schools)
10:16 – Admissions Process 101
24:17 - Admissions Qs - why x essay and scholarships
Ep. 268: The Most Competitive Admissions Cycle Ever with Ann Levine
3:52 – Ann Levine on The Most Competitive Admissions Cycle Ever
21:57 – Low-Ranking, High-Scholarship, vs. High-Ranking, No Scholarship
26:24 – Letters of Recommendation Waiting Game
32:37 – Sub-headings in a Personal Statement?
Ep. 255: Law School Transparency with Kyle McEntee
3:59 – Meet Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency
The guys talk to Kyle and discuss what led Kyle to create Law School Transparency. Like so many folks in the law school game today, his experiences in law school made him want to look deeper into what and how law schools report their data and advertise their programs.
Ep. 253: LSAT-Flex Registration Woes and Hacks
19:53 – LGBTQQIA+ Diversity Statement
Ep. 252: The New Law School Admissions Game with Ann Levine
04:06 – The guys discuss the new version of Ann’s book and get her opinions on going to (or not going to) law school in 2020. They talk COVID-19, deferments, LSAT-Flex, and more.
21:34 – LSAC Fee Waiver Appeal: Denied
Ep. 251: The Tip of the Spear
15:30 – COVID-19 Affecting Admission Cycle?
Oscar’s had his eye on the news. And he’s seeing lots of reports flying about the new coronavirus; businesses are opening up, people are out on the streets, and the imminent danger seems to have passed, right? So now Oscar’s wondering how the evolving pandemic might affect the upcoming law school admissions cycle. The guys take a look at data available and note that LSAT test sign ups have dropped by approximately 25-35% and they make some predictions about the 2020-2021 school year as well as the admissions cycle for the 2021-2022 school year. Nathan and Ben also do some ranting about the pandemic, the political response, and whether the virus is really winding down. Nathan refers to this source.
Ep. 249: June LSAT Grab Bag
7:07 – Protesting and Law School Admissions
Allison writes in to ask whether being arrested at a peaceful protest would have a negative effect on her legal career. Would it affect her chances of getting into law school? Would it have implications for her fitness and character review when it comes to getting admitted to the Bar? The guys agree that most admissions officers and state Bar Associations would be understanding for an arrest related to peaceful activism, but the pro tip is to just call those institutions and ask them!
Ep. 244: Desperate Schools, Desperate Measures
44:09 – Desperate Schools, Desperate Measures, Pt. 2
As the admissions cycle drags on in the time of COVID-19, law schools everywhere are feeling the burn. Fewer applicants are making timely decisions. Many are deferring a year, in hopes of actually attending a college campus. And schools are looking into their crystal balls, proverbial sweat on their proverbial brows, and anticipating a meager application cycle in the fall as well. As they say, the jig is up. Colleges are reaching out to students and extending seat-deposit deadlines, offering more scholarship money, and leaving negotiations very open-ended. The guys read a few emails between law schools and an applicant to illustrate.
Ep. 236: Swipe Left for the Next Applicant
39:31 – Deciding Which Law School To Go To…
Law school admissions letters are starting to roll in. And for many folks that means a variety of offers. Some reach schools, like Harvard, are sending acceptance letters (hell yeah!), meaning you could study at an elite institution, but for hefty tuition. Other schools are sending big offers with full rides and stipends. And that’s just what is happening to G. They got into Harvard, but they’re already saddled with considerable debt from undergrad and grad school. Should they bite the bullet and go to Harvard? Or head somewhere else that won’t add to their debt load? Ben and Nathan mull it over—if you’re going into debt? Harvard, Stanford, and Yale are the three you would go into debt for. They offer G some advice, including deferring with Harvard and applying more broadly in the fall.
Ep. 235: The Waitlist Game of Chicken
59:12 – Ben and Nathan consider the changing law school admissions game and how it affects scholarship and offer negotiation. If you get waitlisted, send a LOCI (Letter Of Continued Interest) to let the school know you’re excited and interested in going to their school. You can still get a scholarship even if you’re waitlisted. Aside from sending a LOCI, it’s hard to know what will help you get off of a waitlist.
Ep. 232: Do the Work
1:27:41 – There’s no cycles and counter-cycles. Get your best LSAT score. Apply early in the cycle. That’s all y’all need to succeed in this game.
Ep. 231: Law Schools Workin’ Overtime
48:08 – regarding Touro College’s four-year Flex JD program and the many reasons not to go to law school.
Ep. 227: Fixing Law Schools with Professor Ben Barton
Full episode – Nathan and Ben sit down with Ben Barton, JD—professor of law at the University of Tennessee Knoxville—to discuss his new book, Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond. Tune in for a sweeping conversation about the state of law schools and law-school admissions practices today, over the past decade, and the past century. The guys discuss predatory admissions behaviors, what to consider when applying to law school, how to set yourself up for your best legal career, and, of course, how to not pay for law school.
Ep. 219: What's in a Name?
35:18 – Cam writes in to ask the guys about movin’ on up after kicking ass in your 1L year. He wants to know if it’s a good strategy to shoot for a good scholarship at a lower-ranked school and then try to transfer to a better school after proving yourself during 1L. The guys weigh in and discuss why this is a pretty risky maneuver.
Ep. 216: Law School Alternatives
20:04 – It’s no secret that Ben and Nathan want you to rebut the presumption that you should absolutely not pay for law school. You should think hard about whether or not you should even get a JD! Maddie writes in and asks—if you’re not going to law school, what the hell else are you going to do??
Ep. 211: What’s the Deal with Law School Prep Courses?
18:51 - Mary’s applying to law school for 2020, and she’s pumped. But she also wants to be prepped for her first day. She asks the guys their thoughts on law school prep courses. These are classes that help you understand how law school works and what 1L classes will be like. The guys say that getting a sense of what law school will be like, and preparing for 1L is a good idea. While they don’t endorse any particular program, they do recommend you steer clear of any prep courses offered by the law school itself. Otherwise, here are some materials that may be useful in preparing for law school:
- The Law School Toolbox – Alison Monahan and Lee Burgess have tons of resources—mini-guides, blog, podcast, classes, etc. to help you destroy your law school experience.
- Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams – Ben’s recommended read for 1Ls-to-be
- The Law Career Playbook – A book by friend-of-the-show, Rachel Gezerseh, about understanding the ins and outs of a law career from a big-law lawyer.
- A Horn Book on Torts – Nathan’s recommended read for 1Ls to get them ready for the type of materials you’ll need to soak up in law school. He also suggests taking a trip to the law school library and checking out exams, so you have a sense of where your semester is heading.
Ep. 208: Admissions Advice from Law School Admissions
16:15 – If you aren’t satisfied with your first LSAT score, try, try again. And apply broadly meaning a few safety schools, reach schools, and just-right schools.
Ep. 183: LSAT Assumptions are FUNdamental
1:00:05 – Do W’s affect your admission? Admissions staffers are more likely to look at your LSAC GPA than actually digging into your transcript—especially if you’re a 75th percentile student (like you should be wherever you apply).
Ep. 172: Creative Destruction
20:38 – He wants to know how he can best showcase his more serious work as a doctoral candidate, rather than have admissions staffers focusing on his lackluster undergraduate career.
Ep. 162: Right for the Wrong Reasons
39:23 – Will the PhD be a boon for her or will it hurt her in the admissions process?
Ep. 169: Asking for a Friend
18:33 – The guys assess some wisdom about how college admissions staffers review your range of scores.
Ep. 122: Stop statsturbating
15:14 – But here’s the pro tip: when you write your personal statement, it should clearly answer two questions for admissions staffers—why you, and why law school?