Going to Law School seems to be the craze today. With unemployment still teetering around 10% people of all ages and walks of life are seem to be looking to law school as either a first career, a change in career, or to make themselves more marketable in their current career. There are several factors you much take into account before you jump into your first day of law school.
Things You Will NeedTo give you the best overview of your chances at a top law school you'll need the following:
Access to the internet to visit scoring websites
Access to your undergraduate cumulative gpa
A scored practice LSAT (either online or in person)
Step 1Before you even start, you'll need to evaluate your reason for going to law school and what you hope to gain from a law degree. This is extremely important because your goal will determine what tier law school you'll have to attend. For example, if you want to be a law professor, you've got your work cut out for you. 50% of all law professors come from the holy trinity: Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. However, if you're currently a real estate agent and are just looking to be able to review your own docs, then going to a local law school will suffice.
Step 2The first thing you'll need before you can actually enroll in a law school is your undergraduate diploma. All ABA accredited schools require you have a bachelors degree from an appropriate institution. While you can start planning and even apply and accept admittance to a law school before you graduate (and I recommend this) you must have your diploma before the first day of law school.
Step 3Next, you'll need to know what your gpa is. LSAC, the Law School Admissions Counsel, will create their own version of your gpa, but just looking on your unofficial transcripts and finding the cumulative number should help you a good idea of where you stand.
Step 4Now you'll need to take a practice LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). It doesn't matter how it's administered, you can easily find them online by searching for "free practice lsat." Allocate 4 hours to sit down and take the test. At the end you'll be given a number between 120 and 180. That number plus your gpa will comprise 85%-95% of what law schools see when they look at you.
Step 5Finally go online and compare your gpa and lsat again the median of the schools you want to attend. Break down schools into Dream, Competitive, and Fall Back. Your dream schools are ones where you are below the median; your Competitive schools are ones where you are above the median and at or just above their top 25%, while your Fall Back schools are those where you're clearly above the 25%. You can use the US News and World Report Ranking as a general indicator.
Having followed these steps and based on your goals, you'll have a good idea of whether you should consider another career choice. Think twice before taking out $100k+ in student loans and make sure your outlook is realistic.
Tips & WarningsThere are a couple of resources available online that will simply allow you to input your gpa and lsat score and spit out a list of dream, competitive and fall back schools for you.
Once you drop out of the top 14 schools, finding a "big law" job becomes extremely difficult for those who aren't in the top of their class.
Make sure you consider scholarships and cost of living as you evaluate your options.