In order to be a licensed attorney, you must earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) after graduating from Texas A&M. Law school typically requires three years of study beyond the baccalaureate degree, about 90 semester credits. During your first year of law school, every student takes similar courses across the country: contracts, torts, criminal procedure, civil procedure, legal research & writing, and property. During years two and three, your law school will have additional requirements, such as constitutional law, but you will also be able to select a large portion of your classes.
After graduation, law students take a bar exam in the state where they plan to practice. Once licensed, lawyers may practice in nearly any field of law without further education. You do not need to determine exactly which type of lawyer you plan to be before law school. Instead, learn about the practice of law and whether that is appealing to you.
The best piece of advice to follow is to talk to a lawyer, followed by talking to another lawyer. Learn about the profession and how individuals came to it and wound up in their niche. Remember, every lawyer went to law school and therefore knows a lot of lawyers in different practice areas. After getting a sense of the profession, dive into an internship in a court or law office to see if law is right for you.
Thinking about Law School
Of all professional programs, the Juris Doctor (J.D.) remains the most flexible and accepting in terms of admission, in part because there are no required courses for admission. In fact, law schools do not favor any major over another; instead, they revel in diversity of everything, from your major, activities, outside interests, and personal history. At Texas A&M, students from every college apply to law school and are successful in both admission and in law school. Therefore, choose the major that suits you, one that you find challenging and engaging, one that prepares you for other career paths.
You do not need to determine exactly which type of lawyer you plan to be before law school. Instead, learn about the practice of law and whether that is appealing to you. The best piece of advice to follow is to talk to a lawyer, followed by talking to another lawyer. Learn about the profession and how individuals came to it and wound up in their niche. Remember, every lawyer went to law school and therefore knows a lot of lawyers in different practice areas. After getting a sense of the profession, dive into an internship in a court or law office to see if law is right for you.
Research Law Schools
As you progress through undergraduate studies, take every opportunity to learn more about legal education, law schools, and how schools differ from one another. There are currently 203 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, so you will have a lot of choices.
One place to start your search is right on campus! Each year, Texas A&M hosts one of the largest law school fairs in the country (Law School Caravan), with about half of the accredited schools coming to campus to tell you more about their programs. You do not have to be a law school applicant to benefit from attending. Throughout the year, various law school admission deans are guest speakers at student organization meetings, university events, and networking events. Attend every session you can to learn more about legal education.
There are dozens of online “law school rankings” which seek to create a single ranking of law schools that will be appropriate for everyone. These rankings cannot capture elements which are important to you, fit your academic profile, and provide the best setting for YOUR legal education. Instead, these rankings tend to imply that schools in “lower tiers” are not worth attending; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Read rankings with a cautionary eye and develop your own list of potential law schools and read what the Law School Admissions Council has to say about them. Another great resource is the Napla/Sapla Book of Lists. This 500-page online book is based on an annual survey done by prelaw advisors of the U.S. law schools each year. Find out more about joint programs, study abroad, concentration areas,scholarships and more!
When making your list of law schools, do not restrict yourself by eliminating private schools or schools in other states. Sometimes private school scholarships make them more affordable that an in-state school. Instead, start listing factors which are important to you, whether it is location, size of student body, clinical programs, employment statistics, admissions profiles, and more. Talk to attorneys who attended various schools and learn more about what each school has to offer. Finally, you can visit law schools on your own or with other Aggies. The PreLaw Advisor will announce all trips planned to Texas law schools on the aggie-lawyer listserv. The MSC sponsors the J. Wayne Stark Northeast Trip which tour law and business schools in Chicago, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia in January each year.
Prepare to Apply
Aggies in any major are well-prepared to be successful in law school due to the rigor in all majors and the high expectations of your professors. However, the American Bar Association has prepared a statement about Core Skills, Values, Knowledge, and Experience to guide you in preparing for law school and a legal career. These include:
Writing and Editing
Oral Communication and Listening
Organization and Management
Public Service and Promotion of Justice
Relationship-building and Collaboration
Exposure to the Law
You can find the entire prelaw statement in our handouts or on their website. After reading the statement, do a self-analysis on your skills and knowledge levels and make plans to improve them. Doing a self-analysis every semester will ensure that you are ready.
Please note that many of the skills that the law school are looking for are acquired outside the classroom. This is why participating in student activities, service work, internships, and leadership positions is crucial to building a strong case for you being admitted to your top law school.
The LSAT is a half-day test composed of 5 multiple-choice sections of 35-minutes each, plus a 30-minute essay. The test covers reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning (sometimes called logic games). The test is given four times per year: June, September/October, December, and February. Unlike other graduate and professional exams, the LSAT is a paper and pencil (must be a wooden pencil!) test. Score range from 120 to 180. The Aggie LSAT median in 2016 was 155.
If possible, take the LSAT in June the summer before you apply. Thus, if you want to attend law school in Fall 2019, you should apply in Fall 2018 and test in June 2018. Scores are typically valid for four or five years. In the end, the best time to take the LSAT is when you have the time and ability to prepare for it.
Absolsutely, and it's never too early to take it. You can download and print from from LSAC to see the types of questions that are asked. Kaplan and Princeton Review give practice exams online with no cost or obligation. Try to take a practice exam before the end of your sophomore year. This should give you sufficient time to decide whether you will do self-prep or take a commercial prep course. Which method to choose is very personal and depends upon your starting score, your goal score, your level of personal responsibility and motivation, and the craziness of your schedule. One size does not fit all!
Once you have a timed practice score, the PreLaw advisor is happy to discuss your prep options and help you sift through that decision.
The Application Process
Applications for law schools general consist of 5 parts: academic record
- LSAT score
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
Fortunately, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) makes the process simple and streamlined by aggregating all application functions on their website. You will register with LSAC and the Credential Assembly Service. Following their instructions, you will print a Transcript Request Form for each school you have attended and have the registrar forward an official transcript directly to LSAC. Letters of Recommendation (LORs) are collected and processed at LSAC as well. When you are ready to apply, you will access applications there and submit them electronically.
Workshops about the application process and current state of law school admissions are held by the PSA Law School advisor in the spring, summer and early fall. Check the Workshop calendar for dates and registration information. You may also consult the current handout about the application process.
The OPSA make no claims about the efficacy of various LSAT prep programs, but provide the names of known providers as a service.