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Contact Us
Gregory J. Shaffer, Esq.
Coordinator of Pre-Law Advising
prelawadvisor@umd.edu
(301) 405-2793
Hornbake Library, Rm 0110

Pre-Law School Timeline

Freshman and Sophomore Years –»

The most important thing you can do is to make a smooth academic transition to college. Since there is no pre-law major on this campus, you should select a major that best fits your academic strengths and interests. Contact your pre-law advisor to discuss your plans for turning law school from an idea into reality.

Start taking courses to further develop your communication skills, reading comprehension, logical reasoning and analytical skills. Select courses in your major field that interest you, challenge you, are at a level that is advanced well beyond the mere introductory, require research, and require you to express your ideas in writing. Choose a balanced and diversified course of study.

Begin to think about whom you should ask to write letters of recommendation. In most cases, you will need letters from two professors who can specifically address your academic performance and intellectual promise. Make an effort to get to know members of the faculty.

Participate in selected extracurricular activities. Your contributions and involvement should be substantive and meaningful to you. If possible, obtain leadership status and identify some way to provide service to the college and/or local community. If you need to work many hours during the school year to help with tuition, be careful to avoid letting your work commitment take precedence over your academic commitment. The same is true for other activities: school must be your top priority.

Read broadly, including some law-related materials, and talk with law students and lawyers about the nature of legal education and the profession.

Junior Year - First Semester –»

Schedule an appointment with the pre-law advisor. Issues to be addressed may include: current academic status; LSAT preparation and individualized time frame; references; current trends and expectations; personal preparedness; preliminary research of schools; Credential Assembly Service (CAS); the application process and requirements. Visit http://www.lsac.org for more information and to sign up for the LSAT and CAS.

Your academic course of study should demonstrate depth, persistence and perseverance. Improve your GPA and select elective courses carefully. A list of suggested courses is available from the pre-law advisor, though none are specifically required. Philosophy 170 - Introduction to Logic and English 392 – Legal Writing and Analysis are two of the most common courses students select. Attend pre-law workshops and meet with law school representatives at the Law School Forum.

Junior Year - Second Semester and Following Summer –»

Prepare (or continue preparation) for the LSAT. Decide whether to test in June or in the fall of senior year. Begin with a Diagnostic Test. A major commitment of your time and energy is necessary.

If testing in June, register well in advance of the deadlines so that you are likely to be assigned to your first choice testing center. If you are requesting a fee waiver, you must obtain the Fee Waiver Forms and submit documentation earlier than the registration deadline. The same is true if you are requesting testing accommodations based on a disability. You may subscribe to CAS (a subscription lasts 5 years) when registering for the June test, or wait until the fall of your senior year to subscribe.

Schedule an appointment with the pre-law advisor. Review your individual timeline. Maintain a calendar to be used solely for the application process. Continue to evaluate your decision by obtaining information about and exposure to law-related careers and legal education. Evaluate your financial situation.

Identify faculty members for recommendation letters. (You may choose to discuss your plans with them and request permission to use them as references at this time or wait until September; however, if you opt to wait, be sure that professors you have in mind will be returning to campus in the fall.) Prepare a resume (resume workshops are sponsored by the Career Center) to be submitted to your letter writers.

Attend a Law School Forum sponsored by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). The first one is typically offered during the summer in Washington, DC. Toward the end of the summer, contact law schools via e-mail for applications, catalogues, bulletins and information about special programs, housing, financial aid, career placement, etc. You will be able to obtain much of this information from schools at the Law School Forum.

During the summer, update your resume. Prepare a first draft of your personal statement. Review your June LSAT score and determine if you need to retake the test in the fall. Create or revise your list of law schools, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses realistically. If you did not take the June LSAT or if you decide to retake the exam, register for the fall LSAT. If you are requesting a fee waiver and/or testing accommodation, you must obtain the proper forms and submit documentation much earlier than the registration deadline.

Senior Year –»

If testing in the fall, continue to prepare for the LSAT. If you are requesting a fee waiver, you must obtain the Fee Waiver Forms and submit documentation earlier than the registration deadline. The same is true if you are requesting testing accommodations based on a disability.

Subscribe to CAS and check your status online. Using the Transcript Request Forms, send your undergraduate transcript(s) to CAS. (First obtain your own copy and check it for accuracy.)

Schedule an appointment with the pre-law advisor to review the following: your list of schools; your personal essays; other important concerns and questions. Attend the pre-law workshops and other local pre-law events.

If you are submitting recommendation letters via CAS (the method required by most schools), complete the top portion of one form for each letter writer and deliver that form with other personal materials to each letter writer. This can be done as soon as you subscribe to CAS. In any event, you are advised to take care of this task as early as possible in the fall to assure sufficient time for letter writers and to allow for the timely submission of applications in the early admissions and/or rolling admissions processes. If you are using recommendation forms provided by the law schools in their application materials, distribute these forms and other material to letter writers at least 3 to 4 weeks before you plan to submit your applications. Read each school's instructions carefully.

Make final revisions to your personal statements. Complete and submit applications as early as possible, preferably between October 15th and December 1st. Make sure that applications are complete and keep copies. It you do not receive a notation from the law schools that your file is complete, follow-up with them.

Send first semester grades directly to the law schools. If you re-tested in December and want the law schools to defer reaching a decision about you until they receive your December score, you must inform the schools yourself. Research and apply for grants and scholarships, both school-related and outside award programs. Obtain and submit all financial aid forms by deadlines noted.

As soon as you begin to get decisions from schools, decide whether you need to apply to additional schools or investigate optional programs. Update law schools you have not yet heard from regarding new evidence to support your candidacy (honors, awards, an extra recommendation letter that does more than mirror information in previous letters).