Applying to Law School
Once you have decided to apply to law school, you should create an account at www.lsac.org if you have not already done so. This site will give you access to a wide range of information and allow you to research various law schools and their admissions standards. Most good law schools will provide the aggregate data on the GPAs and LSAT scores of their most recent entering class, which will help you to tailor your applications to schools that fall in your range. There is no set number of schools that you should apply to; this varies from person to person, largely on whether they are willing to leave New York City to attend law school.
In addition to creating a LSAC account, you should also contact one of Touro's prelaw advisors. Prof. Tom Rozinski is Touro’s principal prelaw advisor and assists students on all Touro campuses. He can be reached at email@example.com. Other Prelaw Advisors can be found here.
Touro's prelaw advisors have substantial experience in helping students with their law school applications, and they can provide helpful advice with many aspects of the application process. This includes such things as when to take (or retake) the LSAT, where to apply, what to write about in the personal statement, what to include in the resume, and whom to ask for recommendation letters. There are many nuances to the application process, and students will fare far better if they work with one of Touro’s prelaw advisors.
Law schools generally require that applications be submitted online. You will need to prepare a general personal statement and a resume, and may have to write additional essays. Every essay must be prepared with meticulous care, and should generally go through several drafts before it is submitted. A poorly-written essay is seen as the sign of a poorly- prepared student, so make sure that your essays are as perfect as possible.
You will also need to obtain at least two recommendations, usually from instructors who are familiar with your written work. Recommendations that say only that you have aced a professor’s tests do not help your admission because they essentially repeat the information on your transcript. You will benefit more from a letter written by a professor who can discuss a paper that was well-written and thought-provoking. You can also use letters from employers who are familiar with your work. Don’t waste your time trying to get letters from high-level government officials unless you have worked directly for them. Make sure that you waive your right to see your recommendations if you want law schools to give them full consideration.
You should also keep in mind that many law school admissions officers conduct Internet searches for public information about their applicants. Anything that is posted on your Facebook page, that you posted on someone else’s page, or that you blogged may be found and possibly held against you. Avoid posting anything that might cast doubt on your judgment or your fitness to practice law.
Responding to admission and waiting list offers
After you submit your applications, you should consider visiting the schools that you applied to, especially if they are in the New York area. Every school welcomes visits from applicants, and this gives you an opportunity to determine whether a given school will be a good fit for you. Are there kosher restaurants nearby, or must you bring your own food each day? Are there other observant students at the school, and what do they think about their law school? What accommodations will the law school make when you must miss classes for religious reasons? What would your commute be like, or should you look into a dorm or apartment? Knowing the answers to these questions will help when you need to make decisions about which school to attend.
You should rank the law schools you applied to in case you receive multiple offers of admission or waiting list placement. Since admission offers come at different times, you may have to give a final decision to one school even though you have not heard from a more-preferred school. There is nothing illegal or unethical about accepting an offer from one school while waiting for a better offer, unless you have no intention of attending that school. This is also true for waiting list placements, but there is nothing wrong with remaining on several waiting lists while you await final admission decisions.
If you do well enough to earn a scholarship, you will often have to make a decision between a reduced rate at a lower-ranked law school and full tuition at a higher-ranked law school. While saving tens of thousands of dollars on your first-year tuition might seem an easy choice, most scholarships come with renewal conditions, such as maintaining a certain GPA. Law school is a hypercompetitive environment and law schools place percentage limits on how many A’s each professor may award. Even if you have maintained a 4.0 GPA at Touro, this practice of grading “on a curve” may make it difficult to achieve a 3.2 your first year in law school. At some schools, a significant number of students with first year scholarships lose them after the first year, so you need to consider whether you would still be willing to attend that law school if you had to pay full tuition for the last two years.
Law schools are usually ranked higher if they provide their students with better job opportunities and high-performing classmates. The former are important so you can find a job upon graduation; the latter are important when you look to change jobs in the future. While saving tens of thousands of dollars on tuition may seem attractive, it could mean foregoing a great deal more in future salary. If you plan on a relatively low-paying career in public interest law, you should ask law schools about loan forgiveness programs that substantially reduce your debt if you work in public interest positions.
Once you have heard from one law school, you may be able to use it to your advantage in negotiating with other law schools that have yet to decide. One Touro student used an offer of a scholarship at a lower-ranked law school to convince a higher-ranked law school to offer admission. Another used an offer of a merit scholarship at one law school to obtain a scholarship from a similarly-ranked law school, and then used that scholarship offer to convince the first school to match it. This strategy does not always work; it is more likely to be successful earlier in the application process rather than later, when scholarship funds have been depleted. Admitted students who employ aggressive negotiation tactics to get a larger scholarship may find their original scholarship offer withdrawn.