Pre-Law at Cottey
Cottey College Pre-law Advising Information
If you are planning to attend law school, use your time at Cottey to help you prepare. Cottey’s curriculum is well suited to provide you with a strong foundation for studying law.
GPA: 3.0 minimum, but 3.5 or higher is better.
Beginning in your freshman year, maintain a strong grade point average. To have a reasonable chance of being accepted to law school you will need a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, in combination with a good score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), an effective personal statement, and strong letters of recommendation.
Major: It does not matter which major you choose.
The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular major before attending law school. Some students opt for majors traditionally associated with preparation for law school, including Business, English, History, and International Relations. It is just as acceptable to major in fields such as Criminology, Environmental Studies, Organizational Leadership, Health Sciences, Psychology, or Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. What matters most is that you choose a major that interests and challenges you and that you will excel in. For more information go to the pre-law section of the American Bar Association’s website: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.
Courses: Take demanding courses that develop vital skills and provide critical background knowledge.
The American Bar Association does not recommend a specific group of courses prior to attending law school. It does advise taking classes that develop the following skills and that increase your knowledge in the following areas.
- writing, revising, and responding to constructive criticism
- reading comprehension, especially of lengthy, challenging texts (e.g., anthropology, economics, history, literature, philosophy, political science)
- library research and the analysis and synthesis of findings in substantial written projects
- public speaking, careful listening, and collaboration
- problem-solving, including the critical examination of current events and ethical issues that help you clarify your beliefs and help you tolerate differences of opinion and criticism
- organization and management of a large amount of information (e.g., capstone project)
- history, particularly that of the US, but also of other countries and regions
- political thought and government, particularly that of the US
- basic math and finance
- human behavior and social interaction
- diverse cultures, global issues, and international institutions
Experience: In and beyond the classroom find ways to gain experiences that will help you in law school.
The ABA encourages students to gain exposure to the legal profession through internships and shadowing or mentoring opportunities with lawyers. These experiences can help you decide if a career in law is right for you and might help set you apart from other applicants to law school. In addition, consider activities that demonstrate your concern for others and your ability to collaborate and work as a member of a team, such as involvement in community service or social justice causes.
Four-Year Undergraduate Checklist to Prepare for Law School
- Begin taking core courses to improve skills in writing, reading comprehension, and critical analysis.
- Begin maintaining a strong GPA. To apply to law school you will need at least a 3.0, but higher is better.
- Meet with the campus pre-law advisor: Dr. Sandra Chaney, RBAC 218; tel. extension 2176; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Examine the American Bar Association’s (ABA) website for details about undergraduate preparation for law school: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law/
- Investigate whether or not law school is truly right for you and explore its financial costs.
- Decide on your major and explore possibilities for an internship during your junior year to gain first-hand knowledge of the type of work involved in the legal profession. Consider summer work in a legal or social justice capacity.
- Set up an internship, preferably one familiarizing you with the legal field.
- Create your free account with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC): https://www.lsac.org/. This non-profit organization provides invaluable information about preparing for law school. Through LSAC you will later register for the LSAT and submit your application to law schools. LSAC also has information about law school forums that you may attend, either in person or online, to meet law school representatives and learn about the legal profession.
- Investigate law schools that are a good match for you using the ABA’s Official Guide to Approved Law Schools and by visiting the websites of law schools you are considering. Law schools publish their criteria for admission (GPA, LSAT scores) and their areas of specialization. The ABA’s list of approved law schools is available through their website: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/aba_approved_law_schools/
- Consider Cottey’s Law Scholar Program at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. To be a law scholar, be admitted to Maurer School of Law (accepted students’ median undergraduate GPA: 3.6; and median LSAT score: 159 of 180). If accepted, Maurer provides a mentor and a minimum scholarship of 50% of tuition (valued at approx. $50,000 over 3 years for in-state residents and $80,000 over 3 years for out-of-state residents).
- While some law schools no longer require the LSAT for admission (they accept instead the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE) you are urged to take the LSAT. This standardized test has proven to be a good indicator of critical thinking skills and performance in the first year of law school. The LSAT is administered several times a year. You may choose to take it in an online, remotely proctored format or in person at a test center. Specific test dates are listed on the LSAC website, https://www.lsac.org/. Use your LSAC account to complete the required advance registration for the test. Register for the LSAT by the end of your junior year if you plan to go straight into law school after graduation. Or, register at the end of your senior year if you plan to take a gap year. It is advisable to take the LSAT in June so you can apply to law school early in the fall when there are fewer applications for more spaces. This allows you to take advantage of most law schools’ rolling admissions. If you score poorly you can take the test again in the fall. If you wait until December to take the LSAT, it may be too late to be accepted to law school the following fall term. The fee for taking the LSAT is $222. You may take the LSAT no more than three times in one year (testing cycle runs July – June), no more than five times in the current and past five testing years, and no more than seven times over a lifetime. Take the LSAT only after you have seriously studied and practiced. The LSAC website provides free tools for studying and taking practice tests. All of your LSAT scores earned in the prior five testing years will be reported to the law schools to which you apply.
- If you did not take the LSAT in June after your junior year, or scored poorly on it, take it in the fall. To do so requires registering for the test in advance, before returning to Cottey for your senior year.
- Upon receipt of your LSAT score, review your selection of law schools. Begin obtaining letters of recommendation from faculty who know you well (a supervisor, too, perhaps). Properly complete all forms. If your GPA is below a 3.0 and you did poorly on the LSAT, consider alternatives to law school. It is always beneficial to have back-up plans anyway.
- Using your LSAC account, register and submit your law school application and supporting materials to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Most ABA-approved law schools require the use of the CAS; the fee for using it is $200. Through the CAS you will complete an electronic application to law school and submit your transcript, letters of reference, the all-important personal statement (for guidance with this see Dr. Chaney), and other materials. After submitting your complete application, the CAS sends it to the law schools to which you apply. For more information on the CAS and additional fees go to https://www.lsac.org/jd/applying-to-law-school/cas.
- Expect to hear law school admissions decisions beginning in late fall and through the spring. Be patient. And be honest. Failure to supply complete and truthful information will prevent you from admission to law schools in the US and can result in disbarment if discovered subsequently. Save all important forms and correspondences between you and law schools. If accepted, look into financial aid and housing as soon as possible. Do not miss financial aid deadlines. Most available aid comes from law schools, and usually is awarded on a first come, first served basis.