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.
Download our condensed Pre-law Advising 1 page handout here.
What is Pre-law?
Pre-law is an unofficial self-designation that can be claimed by any student or alumni/ae interested in a career in law. There is no “pre-law major” or required undergraduate coursework. If you are considering legal pathways, Career Design is here to provide you with resources and individual counseling that can help you navigate this process.
Would you like to receive emails about pre-law relevant programming and opportunities? Please contact Pre-law Advisor, Amorette Farkas, at [email protected], to be added to the listserv.
Once you have read through the Pre-law information on this page, if you still have questions, we encourage you to attend the Pre-law Drop-in hour which takes place every Tuesday from 3-4pm in the Career Design Studio at 101 Stearns Center. RSVP on NUworks.
If you are unable to attend the Drop-in sessions, please contact Career Design at 617-373-2430 to schedule an appointment.
Phi Alpha Delta (PAD)
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.
Sign up for our mailing list here, and follow us on Instagram @nuphialphadelta for more updates!
Mock Trial Team
The Mock Trial team consists of 3 competitive teams that travel and compete in simulated trials against other collegiate mock trial teams, both informally and in the American Mock Trial Association’s ranked tournaments. Their attorneys gain hands-on legal experience and develop critical thinking and public speaking skills. In addition to these skills, witnesses develop acting and improvisation skills. Mock trial is also a great way to make friends and have fun! For more information, feel free to contact them at [email protected], visit their website at northeasternmocktrial.org, or follow them on Instagram @neumocktrial!
What You Can Do Now
Making a decision about whether or not to attend law school is a very important one that involves commitment as well as substantial time and financial investment. In order to be confident about your decision, we recommend taking the time to evaluate the reasons why you are pursuing such a degree before taking the steps to get there.
That said, what we recommend:
- Develop a course of study that’s interesting and challenging for you
- Take opportunities to explore interests, values, and passions, then decide on the means to pursue them professionally
- Get on the pre-law listserv to receive pre-law announcements
- Learn about the legal field through classes, pre-law events, networking and internships
- Concentrate on building yourself, not just a resume
If you decide on law, we encourage you to clarify your reasons. Instead of asking yourself, “Do I want to go to law school?” Ask: “Do I want to be a lawyer? If so, why?” To investigate this question further, consider taking the following steps:
- Do the inner work:
- Before pursuing any career path, it’s important to Know your “I” and Why. Take some time to evaluate your VIPS: values, interests, personality and skills. Does a legal career allow you to honor these aspects of yourself?
- If you need help with this, visit the Career Studio where you can meet with a Career Advisor who can help you navigate your career exploration.
- Identify your career goals/consider your timeline
- What are your career goals?
- Do you want to go straight into law school or do you want to take some time off to gain experience? Whether you take some time off or not has no bearing on the likelihood of you being admitted. In fact, about two thirds of admitted law students do take time off after obtaining their bachelor degree. However, it is important to make sure that you are spending your time off doing things that can enhance your application.
- Do your research
- Talk to lawyers and conduct some informational interviews. What could be more helpful in gaining insight into the legal profession than speaking to a lawyer? Check out the alumni tab of the Northeastern LinkedIn page, which is a great tool to start building your network.
- Look into the various programs and schools that interest you. You may want to start by looking at LSAC’s Official Guide to ABA-approved Law Schools. Some of the factors you may want to consider: location, size, length of program, faculty, cost, etc.
- Informational Interviewing-networking conversations with lawyers
- Job Shadowing-short-term observation at a law office or agency
- Volunteering-informal service commitment, typically to non-profit; does not need to be law-specific.
- Co-op/Internships-longer-term, formal placement in law firm, government agency or non-profit; paid or unpaid
1st and 2nd Years: Explore
- Take interesting and meaningful classes, and explore interests, law-related and otherwise
- Get involved, on-or off-campus
- Connect with the pre-law advisor and attend events
- Start talking to lawyers and being building relationships with professors and other mentors
- Look into the PlusJD program and follow instructions to apply if interested
3rd and 4th Years: Clarify and Prepare
- Investigate interesting legal career paths and specializations
- Network with attorneys and seek hands-on experience
- Attend a law school fair or forum, and begin researching different programs
- Begin preparing for LSAT or GRE
5th Year and/or Beyond: Apply
- Take the LSAT or GRE- late enough to allow for adequate preparation; early enough to allow for a retake (if needed)
- Prepare application materials and secure recommendations
- Finalize list of schools, covering suitable range
- submit application by the end of November
Law School Preparation
Once you have solidified your plan to go to graduate school, then comes the preparation part. This can be a daunting undertaking as there are several different components of the application. We recommend starting the process early, which will allow plenty of time to complete all components of the application as well as submit your applications as early as possible.
The law school application process should ideally begin about a year and a half to 2 years before you intend to start law school. The first hurdle of the process is the LSAT; determining when to take it and how to prepare. At this point, you will also want to consider who you might ask for letters of recommendation and where you might apply. Considering these aspects of the application from the beginning will help ensure you’re well positioned to submit your applications by around Thanksgiving. Other elements of your application include transcript(s), personal statement, additional essay(s) and addenda, resume and the application forms themselves (all completed online through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service).
Below are links to some great LSAC resources for help with getting started on your law school preparation:
Admission Checklist: www.lsac.org/admission-checklist
Admission Brochure: www.lsac.org/admission-journey
Law School Application and Preparation
All applications are submitted through LSAC and below is the general application timing and cycle:
Applications open beginning September 1, cycle runs through Spring (deadlines January-August)
- Most schools review and extend offers on a rolling basis, as soon as applications are received.
- Applicants should plan to apply by the end of November
- Some schools will have a cut-off LSAT administration
Many schools have Early Decision and priority deadlines:
- Early Decision is binding and may preclude the applicant from consideration for merit-based aid
- Priority/early action-typically non-binding, may promise a decision by certain date
Decisions and offers anytime from September through August
- Typical decisions: admission (with or without funding), waitlist, denial
- Most admissions offers are busy with recruitment until after Thanksgiving
- Bulk of decisions are typically in winter/spring, prior to first deposit deadlines (April-May)
If you apply by:
October- you’re early
December- you’re on time
Anything after – you’re late
The LSAT is designed to measure the skills necessary for law school success. These skills include reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing, and are the same skills required for success in the legal profession. When you prepare for the LSAT, you are also preparing for your future career in law — strengthening the core skills you will need as you move forward in your journey, from test day to law school and beyond.
For test preparation, we encourage you to take advantage of the LSAC resources listed at the top of this page.
There is no one right way to prepare for the LSAT, and you have various options to consider.
- If you learn well through self-study, taking practice tests on LSAC LawHub is a great option.
- If you believe you’d do better with guided study, there are good commercial preparation courses available. There’s also an excellent option for guided study that’s 100% free: Official LSAT Prep by Khan Academy.
*Research shows that taking more full practice tests is the most effective way to prepare for the LSAT.
- Because every test taker is different, there is no single timeline that will be appropriate for everyone. In a lot of ways, the more pertinent issue isn’t the “timeline” but rather the “workload.”
Test preparation involves looking at a lot of LSAT questions to develop familiarity with the test and to hone one’s reasoning and reading skills. If you have a schedule that allows you to take on a large test-prep “workload,” you might be able to dramatically improve your score in as little as a month. But others may need significantly longer. 4-6 months is often recommended for those taking the LSAT for the first time, but you should look closely at your own circumstances when deciding when to begin studying for the LSAT.
The LSAT is a test of skills — specifically critical thinking skills as applied in the areas of reading and reasoning. The LSAT is designed to measure these skills precisely because they are skills that are essential for success in law school, and preparing for the LSAT helps to strengthen those very skills. So the good news is that preparing for the LSAT will benefit you not only on test day, but also in law school and beyond.
Guidance and Resources on Application Materials
- Send to LSAC in the summer before applying.
- LSAC will process the transcript and produce a GPA that will be used in the application process. Note that sometimes the LSAC GPA differs from the school’s GPA due to the conversion process. You can read more about this in the Transcript Summarization section on the LSAC website.
- Can be two pages
- Should focus on all things done during college
- Descriptions should focus on skill sets gained
- Legal experience is not required
- Essentially answers who you are and why you are choosing a career in law.
- There isn’t one way to approach the law school essay. The most important thing to remember is to be authentic (and please don’t read other people’s essays as this will make it harder!)
- Describe something interesting about you that isn’t demonstrated in other aspects of your application.
- Describe a personal challenge or hardship you’ve had to overcome and how it shaped you
- Describe your proudest achievement
- Describe the moment or circumstance that made you decide to pursue a career in law (it’s not necessarily a moment in time for everyone, so don’t stress about this)
- This essay gives you the opportunity to talk about elements of your identity that can really add value.
- Diversity of thought, geography, faith, ethnicity, gender, backgrounds, and interest.
- It should be different than the personal statement
- Although called “optional,” it’s still important to submit if you are taking the time to apply.
- Additional essays that provide more information about you, your desire to go to law school, and what you can bring to the law school environment.
- This allows you to explain any weaknesses in your application such as low grades, multiple LSAT scores, leave(s) of absence from school.
- Be clear and concise. Explain what happened, only giving the facts.
- This portion of the application requires the applicant to reveal negative past behavior (may include criminal record, academic misconduct, disciplinary actions, or civil proceedings/lawsuits).
- When in doubt, disclose!
- Be honest and provide important details.
- Take responsibility for your actions; don’t make excuses.
- Law schools are not looking for people who have never made a mistake; they are looking for people who can understand why and how they made the mistake.
- Most law school applications require 2-3 letters of recommendation. In order to ensure that your recommenders are able to write strong letters with thoughtful detail, it’s important to start building these relationships with your professors as soon as possible. Make sure you are participating in class discussions, attend office hours (come prepared with questions!), find ways to engage with your professors one on one through opportunities such as a research project or independent study, etc.
- Give your professors at least 2 months to write the letter.
Resource: How to Request a Grad School Recommendation Letter | 5 Easy Steps (northeastern.edu)
FAQ's on the Law School Application
An outstanding record of achievement and involvement:
- Course of study that is rigorous, meaningful, and that helps to develop essential skills: critical reading, writing, and research.
- Strong academic performance and test scores (LSAT and GRE)
- Involvement in extracurricular activities that are interesting and impactful:
- Opportunities to gain leadership experience
- Not necessarily law-related; quality over quantity
- Great recommendations from professor and professional mentors.
No… law schools do not require that applicants have previous legal experience.
….but it can be helpful to:
- Network in a field where you might work
- Experience the actual work of a law firm, government agency, or non profit
- Decide, before attending law school, whether law is the right path
- Yes, and you wouldn’t be alone!
- Roughly two-thirds of law school applicants take at least one year between graduation and law school.
- But, make sure you have a plan!
- Secure letters of recommendation before leaving school
- Take the LSAT before or soon after graduation, when still thinking like a student
- Structure your time in a meaningful way.
If you have any pre-law questions, we encourage you to come to the Pre-law Drop-in hour, which takes place every Tuesday from 3-4pm in the Stearns Career Studio. You can sign up on Nuworks for the session(s) you plan to attend.
If you’re unable to make these sessions or if you have other questions, please direct them to the Pre-law Advisor, Amorette Farkas, at [email protected]