Pre-Law Advising is a service that provides individual counseling to students and alumni/ae regarding law school as an advanced degree choice, the law school application process, and the legal field as a career path. Pre-Law Advising also sponsors programs and distributes information to students, staff, and alumni/ae who are considering applying to law school. Anyone interested in law school or law as a career is invited to join our listserv and utilize the resources found on this site.
Please send an email to Monty Thomas, Pre-Law/Graduate School Advisor, to join the listserv.
Please visit myNortheastern or call Employer Engagement and Career Design at 617-373-2430 to schedule an appointment.
With over 650 law, pre-law, and alumni chapters, Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) is the largest co-ed legal fraternity in the United States. Focused on promoting a deeper understanding of the law and the legal profession, PAD supports students of all disciplines in their academic and professional pursuits related to law.
PAD offers several resources to members, including LSAT seminars, guest speakers from the legal field, college and career fairs, discounts on prep materials, and law-related volunteer opportunities. In addition to being a professional fraternity, PAD also coordinates social events for members – both within the fraternity and with other student groups on campus. All Northeastern students are welcome to join, regardless of major or professional goals.
Although it’s an additional cost, consider using the LSAC electronic service. Using the electronic application service can save you time, allowing you to answer common questions only once (e.g., your name, address, undergraduate degree). Moreover, the service allows you to attach your personal statement, resume, and other written information electronically. Most students find the service well worth the cost. Law schools are accustomed to receiving applications generated by the LSAC electronic service, which can be used to apply to all of the ABA-accredited law schools.
You can take the December LSAT and apply to law school during the same academic year. The disadvantage is that you will not know your score in advance of having to submit your applications.
Admission criteria include LSAT score, GPA, personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, activities and interests, and life experience. In general, LSAT score and GPA are the most important factors in determining probability of success in gaining admission for the majority of schools. This is not to say that the other criteria are unimportant or should be taken lightly. A well-written personal statement, excellent recommendations, and work/life experience are significant factors in the deliberations of admissions committees. Leadership, commitment to, and significant participation in worthwhile extracurricular activities are more important than participation in a plethora of activities. As such, an applicant to law school should take note of the importance of cultivating relationships with potential recommenders and involvement in activities that will build life experience and skills. Honors courses and seminars, challenging academic loads, and co-op experience are also looked upon favorably.
Applicants should choose a major and enroll in classes that build up critical thinking, analytical, research, writing, and communication skills. Law schools seek to build a diverse class of students from different backgrounds, including those from a variety of academic fields. Breadth and depth of academic study are particularly valued. There are some sub-specialties in legal employment that require a degree or coursework in a specific major (i.e. patent law requires a scientific related degree). For those sub specialties, students should research the relevant criteria at the institutions they intend to apply.
Because of the large number of undergraduate schools offering multiple majors, the LSAT serves as a standardized measure for all law school applicants. As such, the LSAT is given great weight in admissions decisions. Accordingly, success on the LSAT is crucial to admission to most programs. Months of serious study should be dedicated to preparation. For more information on the LSAT see the template marked “LSAT” on our website.
Applicants in this situation should write a separate addendum to their application addressing reasons for disparities in their LSAT and GPA scores. Possible explanations include illness, family situations, and history of poor performance on standardized scores.
The LSAT tests an applicant’s ability to read critically and accurately, analyze fact patterns rigorously, manage and process information that may be unfamiliar, and draw conclusions and inferences from text or other sources of information, all under significant time pressure. Accordingly, courses which develop critical thinking and analysis, reading and comprehension skills, and logical inference are recommended. Further, practicing on old LSAT tests (available through the Law School Admission Council) is a definite requirement for success on the actual test.
An applicant should take the LSAT only when he or she is thoroughly prepared. As detailed above, the importance of the LSAT cannot be overemphasized. As such, applicants should devote approximately six months of study and preparation. Furthermore, because law school have access to all of an applicant’s LSAT scores and in some cases, average them out for admissions purposes, an applicant should aim to take the LSAT only once.
The personal statement should be thought of as an interview for law school admission. Because the majority of law schools do not have formal interviews, the personal statement is the only opportunity to demonstrate qualities and skills that are not apparent in the formal application. The personal statement should highlight, among other things, why law is important to the applicant, the desire to matriculate at a law school, the potential contribution of an applicant to an incoming class, the qualifications of an applicant for legal study, and what sets an applicant apart from the rest of the pool. The personal statement should provide solid factual evidence for the skills and experience that an applicant claims to possess. Perfect grammar, punctuation, diction, conciseness, and quality are especially important in the drafting of the personal statement.
Yes. Most law school applications request a resume among the application materials. A resume provides a comprehensive list of an applicant’s activities, interests, and life experiences. Time and attention should be devoted to your resume for law school. It is recommended to utilize Career Development and Coop advisors to assist you with resume writing.
In general, most schools require two to three letters of recommendation. Recommenders should be individuals familiar with an applicant’s character, academic or professional skills, and potential to study law. Recommendations from professors or instructors are preferred. Letters from famous or influential people who do not know an applicant well are discouraged. If an applicant has taken significant time off between the completion of undergraduate study and applying to law school, employer recommendations are possible alternatives.
Show the recommender your personal statement so she learns even more about you, your goals and your accomplishments. The more information you provide the person writing your recommendation the more tailored the recommendation will be.
Applicants who take time off before law school to pursue interests which build up experience and skills are looked upon favorably. Maturity, responsibility, leadership, the ability to overcome hardships, “real-world” experience, and success in other employment are qualities that would boost an applicant’s chances at admission. These qualities can be gained through graduate work, military service, government service, and travel. Moreover, the pursuit of a law degree is a rigorous and lengthy undertaking that should be embarked upon with focus, discipline, and energy. Applicants should examine their capacity for self-motivation, mental stamina, and rigorous study.
Character in the legal field is prized. The minute an individual steps into the halls of legal education is the moment he or she is welcomed into the world of lawyering and is treated accordingly. Included with the benefits of the profession are corresponding responsibilities. Applicants to law school must demonstrate a certain level of ethical fitness. Post-graduation, state boards of law examiners also require applicants to demonstrate the requisite moral and ethical fitness to practice law. Applicants with a history of breaking the law, academic dishonesty, and other negative blemishes are required to disclose and explain the nature of their transgressions.
Law education can be extremely expensive. A good number of law graduates accumulate a significant amount of loans, in addition to any loans taken out for undergraduate education. Accordingly, good financial planning is a must for those interested in legal study. Issues to consider include the cost of a law school, financial aid packages, expected starting salary, and geography for in-state tuition purposes.
The majority of law graduates work in some kind of legal employment after graduation – in law firms, government positions, or non-profit legal organizations. Some graduates also take the opportunity to serve as a law clerk for a state or federal court. Clerking is an extremely prestigious opportunity for an aspiring lawyer to learn about the workings of the judicial system and how decisions are made. Those who do not desire to practice law may find positions as research associates or instructors/professors.
The spectrum of starting legal salaries is varied, ranging from salaries as low as $30,000 a year to as high as those starting in the mid $100,000s. Large private firms tend to have compensation packages in the higher end of the range, with medium and smaller-sized firms with lower salaries. Government attorneys tend to have starting salaries between $40,000 and $60,000.
Law school reputation, geography, class rank/grades, legal experience, acquired skills, and recommendations are included among the factors that go into job placement post-graduation. Accordingly, much thought must be given in deciding what law school an individual should enroll in and much effort should be invested in legal classes and work opportunities.