Undergrad Preparation for Law School: Coursework and Timeline
There are no required courses or a specific major required for entry to law school. Students applying to law school come from a variety of majors including those in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. However, there are several things to note:
- Your education should be rigorous, demonstrating increasingly challenging coursework throughtout your time at Hunter.
- Law school admissions committees look for demonstrated educational rigor and intellecutal depth. Notable accomplishements such as a strong G.P.A., graduating with honors, completing a thesis, and designing an interdiscinplinary major will make for a stronger application.
- Students planning to attend law school should take courses that develop writing skills and the ability to think critically and creatively. Courses that require you to read critically, analyze information, and synthesize course materials (in class discussion and in papers) will enhance these skills.
- Certain paths of study may help you depending on your planned area of legal practice. Students should discuss with the Pre-Law Advisor and with academic advisers which courses will best advance their educational and career goals.
- More information regarding course selection is provided in the Hunter Pre-Law Handbook, available for download on the right hand side of your screen.
Overall, at application time, law schools seek students with intellectual depth, well-developed critical thinking and writing skills, a strong work ethic, and leadership potential. Admission officers will look at your grades here at Hunter (and at other undergraduate institutions you attended), the rigor of your coursework, your LSAT score, and the content of your recommendations, résumé and personal statement to assess your academic strength and personal qualities.
The timeline that follows is not a hard-and-fast blueprint but rather a planning tool, offered to assist you in making choices that will help you develop into a thoughtful student, and a desirable law school candidate.
Freshman and Sophomore Years
- Select a major in a field that both interests you and allows you to excel academically.
- Cultivate relationships with professors, lecturers, and TAs so that they will know your work well enough to serve as your recommenders in the future.
- Meet one-on-one with the Pre-Law Advisor. Attend group information sessions with other Freshmen and Sophomores.
- Explore career options by seeking jobs, internships, or volunteer positions in legal environments.
- Sign up for the Pre-Law Listerv and participate in publicized Pre-Law activities.
- Take increasingly challenging courses during your academic career.
- Read either the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times each day. Not only will this help to keep you informed, but the op-ed page is particularly good training for the reading comprehension section of the LSAT. Critical reading skills must be developed over time.
- If a professor writes you a recommendation for an internship or other position, consider “storing” the recommendation with an on-line credentials service such as Interfolio, so the letter can be updated later.
- Sophomore Year: Speak to the Pre-Law Advisor about Hunter’s subsidized LSAT prep course that begins in February with guided self study, and leads into a more intensive summer component.
No Later than the Summer Before Your Junior Year
- Take a free diagnostic LSAT through a commercial test-preparation service in order to assess your “baseline” score. Begin preparing for the LSAT, familiarizing yourself with the format, and gauge your progress. Students often find the “Powerscore” books a good place to begin self study. Steve Schwartz’s “LSAT Blog” website offers reasonably priced study schedules of varying lengths, along with downloadable exams and explanations. Consider if you should take a preparatory course, either at Hunter or one offered commercially.
Meet with the Pre-Law Advisor to assess your academic, extracurricular, and work experiences in relation to the application process.
Engage in rigorous LSAT preparation, ideally completing the test by June of your Junior year, but no later than October of your Senior year, so that your applications are complete by November 1.
Before the end of Spring semester:
Attend one of the Personal Statement & Application Workshops given by the Pre-Law Advisor
Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
Approach professors about writing letters of recommendation for you for law school. Your professors will need a special form from CAS in order to submit a recommendation on your behalf.
Summer Before Your Senior Year
Secure a summer job or internship in a law-related field, continuing your exploration of career options.
Begin drafting – and getting feedback on – your personal statement for your law school applications.
Research law schools and compile a list of tentative schools, with an eye towards average LSAT scores and GPAs expected by the schools (which are available on LSAC.org, as well as the law school sites themselves).
Meet with the Pre-Law Advisor to help you assess the strength of your application for the schools you are considering. Follow up in a series of meetings to request critiques of your successive personal statement drafts, resume and additional essays.
Visit the schools in which you are interested, taking special advantage of open houses and invitations to events.
Have transcripts from all undergraduate institutions you have attended sent to CAS.
Make sure your Credential Assembly Service report is correct; review the report through your online account.
Make arrangements to have dean’s certifications sent to schools that require them.
Attend the LSAC Forum in October to network with law school representatives, gaining additional information about schools and demonstrating your interest in your target schools.
Try to complete applications by November 1, but no later than Thanksgiving.
Check with schools to make sure your files are complete.
If you are waitlisted, contact the Pre-Law Advisor about writing a follow-up letter to the school expressing your continued strong interest, updating transcripts, and seeking additional recommendations.