Students in the Department of Political Science at Western Michigan University planning on applying for law school will want to follow this checklist.
Freshman and sophomore year
- Make advising appointment with a Pre-Law advisor, College of Arts and Sciences advising.
- Finish general education classes.
- Consider extracurricular activities such as the Pre-Law Society and Mock Trial team.
- Start considering professors whom you could ask your senior year for letters of recommendation.
- Choose your major as soon as possible.
- Attend Chicago Law Forum. Usually, the WMU Pre-Law Society gets a group together to save on expenses. This forum has admissions officers from all law schools and offers workshops on financing your legal education, getting through the application process, and other helpful subjects.
- Get a practice LSAT from the Web. Take it in as similar as a setting to the actual exam as you can (i.e., turn off your telephone, take breaks no longer than given during the actual exam). Figure out what your LSAT score would be with no additional studying and no preparation course from Kaplan.
- Search the Web and research the law schools you are considering. Get those schools' LSAT and GPA requirements.
- Make an appointment to talk to the pre-law advisor. Based on your potential law school choices, estimated GPA at graduation, and these scores, this advisor should be able to help you determine whether or not you need to take a preparation course (estimated cost: $350 to $1300), how much studying on your own you need to do, and to help you sign up for the LSAT.
- If your practice exam score is close to your ideal law school's requirements, consider doing some heavy studying in the spring semester. If you're more than 10 points away, consider taking a preparation course.
- Talk to your potential recommendation letter writers and build a relationship. You will need approximately two letters for your applications next year. Approach your potential letter writers and make sure they are willing to write you a letter the following year. While there are no rules for these letters, try to make sure that at least one of the letters is an academic reference who knows something about your scholarly abilities. Former employers or people you have done volunteer work with are other options but not as favorable as academic references.
- Sign up for a preparation course if needed, and make sure all paperwork is filled out to register for the LSAT, which you will take in June. Registration deadline for LSAT is one month before the exam.
- Take the LSAT which is usually offered the first or second week of June.
July to August
- Write law schools for their catalogs and admissions materials.
- Receive your LSAT score. Register for the October LSAT if necessary—remember that your scores will all be averaged together.
- If you did not attend the Chicago Law Forum last year, attend it this year. You will have already received your LSAT score. Celebrate the good news, or recuperate from the bad, and write the schools you're going to apply to, asking to receive information and application packets.
- Sit down with your advisor and review the selection of schools and letters of recommendation. Show your advisor your first draft of a personal statement.
- Approach your potential letter writers and supply them with a copy of your resume.
- Subscribe to LSDAS and send your official transcripts to them. The subscription forms are in your LSAT Registration Book. Inform them which schools you will be applying to.
- Check with LSDAS to make sure they have all your information, including transcripts, letters of recommendation and LSAT scores. Don't forget: LSDAS averages all your grades; they don't allow you to retake a class you failed then drop the bad grade from your GPA and keep only the good one.
- Prepare your applications. Applications should be submitted well ahead of the deadlines. Try to have all your applications submitted by the first of December.
November to January
- File any financial aid applications.
- Visit all the law schools you've been accepted—this will add to your decision process. Pay your seat deposits on time to hold your position at your chosen school.
Then sit back, relax, graduate from college, and prepare to start law school in August!