Applying to Law School
LSAC/Credential Assembly Service
You must register with the Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) in order to apply for Law School.
Nearly all ABA-approved law schools and many non-ABA approved schools require the use of LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS). LSAC collects the US and Canadian academic records of law school applicants and summarizes the undergraduate work according to a standard 4.0 system to simplify the admission process. Applicants who have studied for more than one academic year outside the US or Canada can use the Credential Assembly Service for transcript evaluation and authentication if required by the law schools to which they are applying.
The Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) creates your law school report by combining:
- An academic summary report;
- LSAT score(s) and writing sample(s);
- Copies of all undergraduate, graduate, and law/professional school transcripts; and
- Copies of Letters of Recommendation, if applicable.
The Credential Assembly Service fee covers:
- Transcript summarization (as well as authentication and evaluation, if applicable),
- Creation of your law school report,
- Letter of recommendation processing, and
- Electronic application processing for all ABA-approved law schools.
Important: You should register and pay for the Credential Assembly Service at least four to six weeks before your first law school application deadline. It takes approximately two weeks to process a transcript or letter of recommendation from the time it is received.
The quickest and most convenient way to register for the Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) is by using your LSAC.org account. Your Credential Assembly Service fee covers five years of service, starting from the date you register. If you register for an LSAT at any time during this five-year period, the five-year period will reset, and you will be covered for five more years from the date you registered for the LSAT. You do not need to register for the Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) at the same time as you register for the LSAT.
Law School Selection
Use the Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools to search for law schools based on a variety of criteria including location, selectivity, UGPA/LSAT, and/or keywords.
Resources are also available in the Career Services Office, including:
Kaplan's Law School Lists - Information on specific programs and which law schools offer them (ex. Schools with Environmental Law programs)
Vault's Law School Buzz Book - Profiles of law schools (organized by state), as well as quotes and survey results from past and current students
ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools - Profiles of all ABA approved law schools
Students interested in applying to the Cornell University Law Early Admissions Program (LEAP) should express their intent to apply for the program by the end of their sophomore year and are expected to submit LEAP applications and request HWS' endorsement by Sept. 1 of their junior year. The pre-law adviser and a small review committee will review student applications to the LEAP program and recommend applicants to Cornell.
Financing Law School
Are you considering law school, but don't have the funds? Money for law school is available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. The amount of aid that a student receives depends largely on the law school to which he/she applies. Every student applying to law school needs to know how they are going to pay for law school. The best possible solution for financial aid are the law schools themselves because if a student's GPA is strong and they scored well on the LSAT, there is a strong chance of receiving aid.
The most useful place to go for information about financing your legal education is finaid.org. There is an application process that students can download from Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which us available online at fafsa.ed.gov.
Some law schools may ask that students and their parents apply through Access Group (accessgroup.org) or College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (collegeboard.com), which helps gather information to verify eligibility for grants, scholarships and financial aid.
Financial Aid Facts
- Apply for federal loans first
- Consider Loan Repayment Assistance Programs- Each law school will have different terms so be sure to read the fine print
- Establish good credit- You can get a free credit report (once a year) from Experian, Equifax, or Trans Union
- Develop a budget
- Search the Web (www.fastweb.com) for scholarship and financial aid information
- Scholarships should be the top choice
Most law schools do not have an interview as part of their admissions process. The personal statement is the admissions committee's opportunity to get to know more about you. Law Schools are looking for a concise, well-written, and detailed statement that illustrates a student's uniqueness and goes beyond the aspects of a student's persona.
Law schools will be seeking information about student's leadership skills, personal qualities, background, incentive to learn and other distinguishing qualities. Students should focus on writing a personal statement about themselves that reveals their personality. Some schools ask a specific question but other schools give students the option to choose from multiple topics.
When writing your statements, do not reiterate your resume. Students should choose topics such as a demonstration of growth or distinctive qualities.
Admissions committees are interested in learning about your studies and your reasons for applying to law school.
Some suggestions about writing a personal statement include:
- Typed, double spaced with a name as a header
- Do not title your statement
- Do not begin with a quote
- Tell them a story or offer information the committee will not gather from a resume
- Create a strong, unique introduction
- Ask several objective readers to review your statement
- Don't overuse the thesaurus
- Speak directly to the admissions committee
- Avoid making broad generalizations but provide personal anecdotes
Letters of Recommendation
Law schools require students to submit letters of recommendation from employers or professors to distinguish a student's academic and personal work experience. They look for motivation, communication skills and intellectual abilities.
Students need to remember that writing a recommendation letter is time-consuming for the recommender. Therefore, students should make it easy for the recommender by providing an updated resume, LSAC recommendation form (on LSAC website), statement about why the student is applying to law school (one or two paragraphs), copies of papers, grades, and paper comments (to remind the writer of courses you have taken with them), a deadline ( a month in advance), addressee information (where to send the letter), and stamped envelope and mailing information (send letters to CSO or CAS).
Some law schools require two letters of recommendation, but students can submit three. Students should ask professors for recommendation letters for the academic letters. For nonacademic letters, students should ask internship advisers, former employers, or coaches. Submitting old letters of recommendation is acceptable, but students should make sure that they ask the recommender to update and modify letters to fit qualifications for law school.
The Salisbury Center for Career Services offers information on how to set up a file with the Interfolio recommendation file service to assist students in their search for employment and/or admissions to graduate or professional school.
Additional Resources for Students
Dear Future Colleague is a pre-law mentorship organization for underrepresented and marginalized students without institutional, insider knowledge of the law school admissions and preparation process. The organization connects students with current law students and lawyers who act as long-term mentors.