Back in March, I posted a sample application timeline for students taking the June LSAT and applying to law school that same year. One of the commenters on that post, Lisa, asked if I could post a sample application schedule for students taking the October LSAT.
I am more than happy to oblige.If you're taking the October LSAT and still want to get your applications in early, your schedule will be much tighter than the one I outlined for June LSAT takers in my previous post. Essentially, you will have to both study for the LSAT and work on your applications at the same time (something which I do not recommend, simply because they can each be very consuming endeavors, and you run the risk of not doing either exceptionally well if you try to do them both at the same time--it is, however, unavoidable in this case). Because you'll be doing them concurrently, it is more important than ever that you keep a list of what you need to do, what you've done, and who is doing what with your applications; it can be very easy to drop the ball on the smaller points if you don't keep track of them.
Assuming you are starting in July (again, not ideal--if taking the October LSAT, I would start working on my apps in May; alas, unavoidable here), this is what you should do.
WARNING: July will be a very busy month since you have to set the stage for everything early on so that you can focus almost solely on the LSAT from late July until the test.
- Research law schools. If you haven't already, take some time to do some thorough research on the schools you want to apply to. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with each law school and give you an LSAT score goal. A few resources that you will find helpful are the actual websites of each school, and LSAC's Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools (which can be found here). Study the Guide, learn about each school. Don't pick just because of reputation or cost. Pick places where you know you'll be happy.
- Sign up for the Credential Assembly Service. You can do this through your LSAC.org account without having to sign up for the LSAT (although you should just go ahead and sign up for the LSAT, too, if you have the available funds. It will make getting your preferred testing center that much easier). Signing up for CAS means that you will have an account set up and ready to process your transcripts and letters of recommendation way ahead of time (which may help you beat the rush of applicants trying to get their paperwork processed in October, November, and December).
- Sign up for the LSAT if you haven't already. The sooner you sign up, the more real it will feel, which will (hopefully) result in you hitting the books harder.
- Sign up for an LSAT prep class if you're using one, and start attending. Don't leave signing up until the last minute--there may not be room in the class you're interested in. We often, for example, have to turn students away after classes fill up.
- Request your transcripts. Get your requests in to the appropriate offices at all the undergrad and grad institutions you have attended. Because they'll have to be sent directly from the institution to LSAC and then they'll have to be processed by CAS to appear in your file, there's a lot of potential for third-party delays and errors. Give yourself time by requesting them early and following up with everyone involved.
- Talk to potential recommenders. Touch base with the people you want to have write your letters of recommendation, and tell them that you're applying to law school and you would like them to be one of your recommenders. If they are amenable to writing an LOR, arrange a time to meet so that you can discuss your plans and qualifications, and they can get started on their recs.
- Work on your personal statement. You may think this is not doable without having seen this year's applications; that is not true. Most schools simply request a general essay that presents a side of you not seen elsewhere in your application. Essentially, it's almost like an interview on paper (in a much fancier, literary manner). Start thinking about topics you can write about (and no, they don't have to be shocking, absolutely unique, or have you trying to save the world). Try to have the first draft of your essay totally done by the end of this month.
- Work on your résumé. It is not a typical employment résumé, so make sure you're familiar with what law schools are looking for, and how you can stand out.
- Confirm your transcripts. Don't assume that because you've submitted the forms to the appropriate offices that it's been handled. Check your LSAC account--if you don't see your transcripts processed (it should take about two weeks after they are received by LSAC), then follow up with your school(s). Transcripts are one of the most common causes for application delays I see--don't become a statistic!
- Confirm the letters of recommendation. Same deal with LORs. Don't assume that because you've asked that it's been taken care of. Follow up with your recommenders, offer to help polish up or proof the letters, ask if they would like to meet with you again to talk about your plans and qualifications. And give them a completion and submission deadline. People can help you the most when they know how to help and when to help you by.
- Finish up your personal statement. Wrap it up, get it done, put it to bed. Make sure you've proofed it extensively (consider having a professional take a look at it), and make sure plenty of people have read it and given you their opinion on it. The personal statement is your one opportunity to show your personality on your law school application--don't leave it to chance.
- Study for the LSAT. This is the last month before the test. Studying for the LSAT should be your primary concern and focus. Everything else in your apps should be done (or, if being handled by someone/something else, on its way to being done).
- This year's apps are now available--take a look at them. There may be any of the following in these apps: Additional essays (such as the "Why ________ Law School?" essay), Dean's Certifications, potential addenda you need to write (such as an explanation of any criminal arrest, or an academic suspension from school). Don't worry about the essays or addenda for now. You'll work on those next month. However, Dean's Certifications (if the schools you are applying to require them) can take up to a month to complete, so get those forms in to the appropriate offices ASAP and double-check that they get done and sent out.
- Make sure your transcripts and LORs have been submitted and processed by LSAC. If not, find out why, and get them in so that they can get processed.
- Take the LSAT. In the two weeks prior to the LSAT, try to set all application thoughts and work aside, and focus solely on the test. So much depends on your score that it deserves your undivided attention for a while.
- After the LSAT is done (you'll only need about two weeks at most for this next bit, so give your brain a week's rest after the LSAT): Go to your LSAC account and pull up the applications for the schools you're applying to. Complete all biographical information on the applications. Check to see if they request any additional essays or if you need to write any addenda, and complete them. Check that your Dean's Certs have been sent in.
Scores are out. Your apps should be complete. If you're pleased with your score, then send off your apps and wait for your big, fat envelope in the mail, or that happy phone call from the Admissions Office. If you think you can do better on the LSAT, consider if you want to retake it in December and add those scores to your LSAC Law School Report. The December LSAT is not an ideal choice, but it's better than February. You have an advantage in that all schools take the December LSAT for applications being considered for admission the following fall, so you won't have to worry about missing any application deadlines.
Be aware, your schedule will be tight and may feel a little rushed, since you have to cram in more app work into fewer months. Since it's the summer, though, you may have a little more time to devote to it, and it may not feel quite as intense (or is that wishful thinking?).
To the student that requested this schedule: I hope it helps! To all other students applying this cycle--don't hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions about the law school admissions process. I'm happy to answer any you may have!
Law school applicants may find it useful to watch the 9-part PowerScore Guide to Law School Admissions, which is available here.
Have a question about applying to law school you’d like me to answer? Send me an email.
Check out the Admissions Tip of the Week archives!