Is it Hard to Get into Law School?
Law school admission is highly competitive, as over 60,000 students apply every year for one of the 40,000 available seats at the roughly 230 law schools across the United States. Students typically apply to six different law schools. The competition for the highest-ranked law schools grows even more intense as law school rankings often affect the first job offers graduates receive. Many factors are considered by law schools when choosing their students, including previous education and life experience. Students are also evaluated according to their undergraduate major. In addition to pre-law/political science degrees, there are many other degrees that create excellent preparation for law school. As a result, law schools value students whose backgrounds are diverse in terms of their education and experience.
How Does The Law School Application Process Work?
In law school, the application process is rigorous, and there are several factors involved in acceptance:
- Standardized test scores on the Law School Admissions Test (or LSAT). GRE scores are also increasingly accepted. The average LSAT score of each law school is published. Applications within (and preferably above) the average are more likely to be accepted.
- Undergraduate performance. In addition, law schools take into account your undergraduate and graduate degrees. Even though many undergraduate degrees prepare excellent prospective law students, it is important to demonstrate your passion for your undergraduate major. Extracurricular activities and work experience that demonstrate a passion for a field of study may be considered.
- Describe how you are likely to be a good law student in a letter of recommendation from a professor. Lawyers are bound by professional standards, which means letters of recommendation speak to more than just your capacity as a student.
- A unique and diverse combination of life experiences. Considering the incredibly broad nature of the legal profession, law schools seek students with rich, unique life experiences.
- Credential Assembly Service (CAS) is a service provided by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and required by most ABA-approved law schools. If you pay CAS, they will package your transcripts, LSAT scores, and letters of recommendation. If you apply to the law schools of your choice, they will contact the CAS directly and request a copy of your report. Register for the CAS around July so that you can complete your file as soon as possible.
Applying to law school is also expensive. Between the cost of a standardized test, the application fee to a law school (which averages $80), and the cost of the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), the cost to apply to one law school is between $400 and $450. The average applicant applies to six additional schools at a cost of $60 to $100. Nearly $1000 is usually spent per law school application by most applicants. In addition to using preparation courses or materials, most applicants also add to the overall cost of the application process by taking standardized test preparation courses.
What Is Accreditation For A Law School And How Important Is It?
A law school graduate must be licensed by a state's law licensing agency in order to practice law. Law students usually attend law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, because most states require lawyers to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school. To be accredited by the American Bar Association, a law school must meet its requirements. Still, there are six states in which bar exam candidates can apply without attending a law school that is accredited by the ABA. Applicants in these states must attend a law school approved by the licensing agency. Some jurisdictions do not require a J.D. at all. As an alternative to a J.D., such jurisdictions require an internship.
What Is The Cost Of Attending Law School?
It varies widely depending on whether one attends an in-state public school, an out-of-state public school, or a private school. According to US News and World Report's analysis of the 2018-2019 academic year, the cost of in-state public schools is over $20,000 less than the cost of a private law school. In addition to private schools costing over $50,000 per year, public out-of-state schools cost over $40,000 per year on average. Depending on a school's ranking and prestige, however, the costs associated with it can vary widely. In the United States, the most expensive public school (the University of Virginia) costs over $60,000. The least expensive option (the University of District of Columbia) costs less than $15,000.
The extra cost of private schools does not negate the advantages of a law school education. To lure top students, private schools typically offer more financial aid to applicants who need it. To be considered for a scholarship, it is important for you to get a good LSAT score, which is used as a benchmark by most law schools for prospective students.
Public law school education is also not inferior due to its lower cost. Nearly 30% of the top 25 law schools ranked by US News and World Report are public universities. For students who wish to practice law in the same jurisdiction as their university, public universities also have an advantage since their faculty and community are often closely connected to the local legal community.
Approximately How Long Does Law School Take?
ABA-approved law schools offer 83 classroom hours prior to graduation. The classes generally take place over six semesters with three years between each semester. A law school's three years are generally abbreviated as 1L (first year), 2L (second year), and 3L (third year).
What Will I Study In Law School?
In a traditional three-year law school program, students are taught the fundamental subjects of law in their first year: contracts, torts, civil procedure, property, criminal law, and constitutional law. A legal writing and research methods class is also generally required of first-year students. Students focus on business administration and legal processes during their second year. Legal careers are prepared through these classes. Third-year students specialize in their fields of law, such as environmental law, health care law, or tax law.
There are some law schools that emphasize a specific area of law rather than teaching a general curriculum. Students who want to specialize in Environmental Law often choose the Lewis & Clark College of Law at Northwestern University. Law schools also offer joint degrees that allow students to earn their Juris Doctor while also earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), or a healthcare degree such as an MD or Masters in Public Health (MPH). Combining both degrees takes less time and money than obtaining them separately. A lawyer can also focus his or her studies and expand their job prospects through a law degree.
Can I Get A Law Degree Online?
Approximately 83 of the minimum hours required to earn a J.D. must be learned in a classroom setting, according to the American Bar Association. Online courses are allowed by the ABA but the hours may only total four per semester. A law school accredited by the ABA generally does not allow distance education during the first year. In other states, however, there are no ABA-approved law schools needed for attorneys to become licensed.
In addition, the ABA is expected to update its regulations regarding distance education, because students are increasingly pursuing advanced degrees through distance learning. Online Juris Doctor programs may be the future at the University of Syracuse College of law. A combination of online and on-campus education is offered in this ABA-approved program. Syracuse's program, called JDInteractive, is more flexible than a traditional legal education but still takes 3+ years to complete and combines live classroom and online learning.
See Also: The Class They Didn't Teach in Law School: Junior Associate 101
When I Graduate, Will I Be A Lawyer?
Almost all jurisdictions do not require lawyers to have a Juris Doctor. Licensing is regulated by a licensing authority in each state or territory (commonly referred to as "State Bar"). Law school graduates who wish to practice law must pass another examination, prove that they are morally fit and pay membership fees to the State Bar of the state in which they reside. In some cases, a law school graduate must apply for a license to multiple states if their law license does not necessarily extend to other states.
Some states do not require the completion of a Juris Doctor degree (or a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school) in order to be admitted to the State Bar. The applicant is still required to meet the other requirements for admission to the Bar in these states.
After I Graduate, What Kind Of Job Can I Get?
Upwards of 90% of law school graduates go on to practice law, and most find employment within 10 months of graduation. Despite this, the practice of law is remarkably diverse and the types of jobs and salaries differ significantly.
In general, jobs exist in both the public and private sectors. Law firms and corporations both offer jobs in the private sector. Generally speaking, private sector jobs pay more, resulting in increased competition. Graduates who accepted jobs in the private sector had a starting salary between $60,000 and $85,000, according to data from the class of 2017. Most of the respondents earned over $85,000, with a much smaller percentage earning over $150,000.
Jobs in the public sector pay less than those in the private sector. Among them are jobs as criminal prosecutors, public defenders, and non-profit advocacy. Starting salaries for most public sector jobs are less than $60,000. When law school graduates accept jobs in the public sector, they can often qualify for student loan forgiveness programs.
A lawyer's starting salary tends to increase rapidly with experience, which is also important to note. Lawyers' salaries in 2019 topped $120,000. Law school graduates also prepare for careers other than law, leveraging their education in various ways. There are dozens of career options for law school graduates, including law enforcement, finance, and many more.
About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.
With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.
Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.
Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.
One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.
One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.
Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.
In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.
Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.
In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.