Apply to law school through the Credential Assembly Service, an arm of the Law School Admissions Council (or LSAC). The CAS provides a means of centralizing and standardizing academic records from all undergraduate schools to simplify and streamline admission to U.S. law schools.
The LSAC provides a letter of recommendation collection service. Use of the service is optional unless a school specifically states it is mandatory. (Students not wanting to use this service can elect to have their individual letter writers send letters directly into the admissions office of each law school to which they apply. Please provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each school to each recommender.)
The LSAC online account allows you to have your recommendation letters sent to law schools based on each school’s requirements or preferences and to direct letters intended for specific schools. The LSAC allows you to submit up to four general letters to be sent to every school to which you apply.
These general letters require applicants to identify recommenders, print out pre-filled recommendation forms generated by the service and provide the forms to the chosen recommenders. Recommenders must complete the form, sign the letter, insert it into his or her envelope and send it directly to LSAC. The service will send general letters to law schools in the order in which they are received.
To ensure a strong recommendation, you should give each letter writer a personal profile or a copy of your resume. Recommenders should:
Ask for letters early. Some professors take quite a while to write and submit the letters. It is your responsibility to make sure each program receives the letters by the appropriate deadline. Find out if professors will be at VCU over the summer. If not, ask for the letters well before they leave. Give letter writers one to two months’ notice to write letters or fill out evaluation forms. Provide very specific instructions on where to send them. If postage is required, be sure to provide it to the person who agreed to write a letter.
It’s a good idea to consider people other than professors who might write a strong recommendation. Often, letter writers are advisors to student organizations or lawyers who were shadowed for a significant period (as opposed to one or two weeks). Other letters can come from supervisors or co-workers.
All schools require a personal statement, and each has its own instructions. Your personal statement is your opportunity to expound upon experiences not represented in other parts of the application. Perhaps you interned for a lawyer, judge, or politician, or volunteered a lot of hours, but what kind of experiences did you gain? Think about how your experiences have motivated you to pursue a career in the legal profession. Express unique qualities or experiences you have that you would like the committee to consider.
Volunteering or interning in a legal setting will bolster your application to law school and help to demonstrate your interest in pursuing law as a profession. Search for law-related internships in HireVCURams or consider applying the Wilder School Capitol Semester program, a semester-long fellowship at the General Assembly.
Shadowing lawyers or judges is the best way to learn about the legal profession, and the best way to get shadowing opportunities is to ask! Research firms, companies, and agencies that will develop your interests. For volunteer legal experience, contact the clerk’s office at a local court and research law firms that specialize in an area that appeals to you.
Talk with a career advisor about other opportunities to gain legal experience be your begin the application process. Regardless of what each school requires for admission, it’s important to get legal experience so that you know as much as possible about your chosen profession at the time that you apply.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all ABA-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many non-ABA-approved law schools. It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world.
Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier — in June or October — is often advised.
Taking a free, timed, practice LSAT is always a good idea so that a benchmark score is available to help determine preparedness for the actual test. The key to success on the LSAT is preparation. Self-disciplined applicants may decide to self-study. Others might consider an LSAT preparation course. Testing dates can be found on the LSAC Web site.
LSAT information and preparation courses:
Transcripts from all coursework completed at VCU and other undergraduate institutions must be sent to LSDAS. Transcript requests are filed with the Office of Records and Registration.
Most schools request a Dean’s Certification. These are obtained from the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.
Please consider gaining valuable post-baccalaureate experience before applying to law school. Law school is a tremendous and worthwhile investment which requires careful consideration. While you can always work to enhance your credentials (both legal and otherwise), you are strongly encouraged to become engaged in the application process 18 months before starting law school. VCU recommends that students apply to law school a full year before planning to enter a program.