Pre-Law

Law School Application Timeline

The timetable/checklist below is adapted from several sources, especially Paul Lermack’s How to Get Into the Right Law School, which is in the reference section of the library.

First year and sophomore year

  • Make certain the Pre-Law Coordinator has your name and address. Contact Dr. Kristin Olbertson at (989) 463-7246 or olbertson@alma.edu
  • Take diverse classes to satisfy distributive requirements and to enhance analytical, problem - solving, synthesis, research, and communication skills.
  • Recommended: Explore the academic study of the law and society by taking one of the following, each of which satisfies a distributive requirement: REL/COM 280. Religion and the Supreme Court, HST 121. American Legal History I, HST 122. American Legal History II, PHL 228. Ethics and Law, POL 131. Intro to Political and Legal Thinking, POL 225. International Law and Organizations, POL 235. The Legal Experience.
  • Recommended: If your schedule permits, take one or more of the following: BUS 221. Principles of Financial Accounting, COM 111. Fundamentals of Speech Communication, COM 227. Argumentation and Public Advocacy, ECN 202. Principles of Microeconomics, ENG 133. Intro to Literary Analysis, HST 105. The American Century, 1877 to Present, MTH 112. Pre-Calculus, MTH 120. Discrete Mathematics, MTH 121. Calculus I, PHL 103. Critical Thinking, PHL126. Intro to Values, POL 101. American Political System, POL 231. American Political Thought, PSY 121. Intro to Psychology, PAF 150. Public Affairs Colloquium, SOC 101. Principles of Sociology, THD 125. Acting, THD 141. Social Dance.
  • Attend panel presentations and speakers sponsored by the Pre-Law Advising Group.
  • Consider a spring or summer job/internship in a law-related office.
  • Attend Barrister Society meetings and participate in its activities.

Junior year

  • Finish distributive requirements, and make significant headway in work for your academic major(s) and minor(s).
  • Finalize plans for law-related spring or summer job/internship, if you’re going to do one.
  • Recommended: If your schedule permits, take one of the law and society courses listed above or one of the following: BUS 325. Business Law I, BUS 326. Business Law II, POL 335. Constitutional Law I, POL 336. Constitutional Law II.
  • Attend panel presentations and speakers sponsored by the Pre-Law Advising Group.
  • Continue your involvement with the Barrister Society.

February and March

  • Attend informational sessions for commercial LSAT preparation courses (e.g., Kaplan, PrepMaster, etc.).
  • Take a practice LSAT-like test offered for free by a commercial LSAT preparation course firm.
  • If you’re taking the June LSAT, register for and begin a LSAT prep course, if you think it will help you.
  • Review commercially prepared guides to law schools, some of which are in the reference section of the library.
  • Develop criteria that you will use to make your preferred list of law schools.
  • Obtain (in March) from the LSAT/LSDAS Registration and Information Book from the Pre-Law Coordinator.

April

  • If you’re taking the LSAT in June, mail the registration forms for the LSAT and for the LSDAS.
  • Use the same form to order old LSATs to practice on when preparing to take the LSAT. Recommended: TriplePrep Plus.
  • If you’re taking the June LSAT, begin a LSAT prep course or begin preparing on your own for the LSAT 6-8 weeks before the exam.
  • If you don’t take a prep course but are taking the June LSAT, buy a commercially prepared self-study LSAT workbook (e.g., ARCO, Barron’s, KAPLAN, etc.), and begin working on it in regular, systematic fashion 6-8 weeks before the exam.

May

  • LSAT admissions ticket arrives for June test-takers. Check it and inform Law Services of any errors.
  • If you’re taking the June LSAT, continue your prep course and/or self-study.
  • June test-takers should take at least two, and preferably more, “old” LSATs under timed conditions.

Summer between junior and senior years

June

  • June-test-takers complete travel arrangements for LSAT and make a “dry run” to your test site.
  • June test-takers take the LSAT.
  • Research law schools and develop a preferred list of law schools for you, taking into account your interests, aspirations, and needs (not those of someone else).

July and August

  • LSAT results for June test-takers arrive in mid-July (or earlier if you obtain your score by phone).
  • Visit law school campuses as your summer job schedule permits.
  • October test-takers register for LSAT and LSDAS.
  • Use the same form to order old LSATs to practice on when preparing to take the LSAT.
  • If you’re taking the October LSAT, register for a prep course, if you’re going to take one.
  • October test-takers not taking a prep course should buy a commercially prepared self-study LSAT workbook and begin working on it (and old LSATs).
  • Telephone or write for 20-30 law school viewbooks, catalogs, and application materials.

Senior year 

September

  • Begin rough drafts of application essays (personal statements and any supplementary essays).
  • Develop a file system to keep track of law school materials you receive and law school application forms.
  • October test-takers continue to prepare for LSAT via prep courses, self-study, and taking practice LSATs.
  • October test-takers take at least two “old” LSATs under timed test conditions.
  • October test-takers do a “dry run” to LSAT site.
  • Decide whom you want to write recommendations for you, and ask them if they will do so.
  • Attend presentations at Alma College by law school admissions representatives.

October

  • Prepare rough drafts of law school application forms for those schools to which you are absolutely certain you will apply.
  • Obtain proof of legal residence, if needed.
  • Obtain proof of citizenship, if needed.
  • Obtain proof of affirmative action status, if needed.
  • Prepare final drafts of application essays, and have a pre-law advisor review/critique your next-to last draft.
  • Attend presentations at Alma College by law school admissions representatives.
  • Give each of your letter of recommendation writers the following:
  1. Law school recommendation forms.
  2. Addressed, stamped envelopes.
  3. An unofficial copy of your transcript.
  4. A copy of your (academic) resume’.
  5. A copy of your generic application essay (i.e., your personal statement).

November

  • October LSAT scores should arrive by mid-to-late November, except for those who obtain scores by phone.
  • Complete and mail your law school applications. Applying by Thanksgiving enhances your chances for acceptance, especially by law schools using a “rolling admissions” process.
  • Attend presentations given at Alma College by law school admissions representatives.

December

  • Mail remaining law school applications.
  • Obtain financial aid and needs assessment forms. Get application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from Alma’s financial aid office or from http://www.fafsa.ed.gov
  • Attend presentations given at Alma College by law school admissions representatives.

January

  • Have an updated transcript, including fall term grades, sent via LSDAS to law schools.
  • Contact law schools to make certain they received your application materials, including reference letters.
  • Complete and mail financial aid and needs assessment forms.
  • Attend presentations given at Alma College by law school admissions representatives.

February - April

  • Learn from law schools if you’ve been accepted, rejected, or wait-listed.
  • Over the college’s Winter break visit your top three choices that accepted you; arrange to sit in on some classes; talk to students at those law schools.
  • If necessary, consult with Alma College advisor(s) as you make your decision about which law school to attend (or whether to attend law school at all).
  • Decide which law school you will attend; pay your Fall deposit.
  • Send thank-you notes to those who wrote letters of recommendation for you.

The above timetable/checklist is both realistic and conservative. Students who take the June LSAT should accelerate the timetable to take advantage of most law schools’ “rolling admissions” policy. Allow a minimum of three weeks for those writing letters of recommendation for you to write and send their letters. All law school applications should be mailed by December 31 at the very latest, unless a law school to which you’re applying has a January deadline, in which case you should mail your application to that school by Thanksgiving at the latest.