The Application Process
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Deciding Where to Apply
The Application Process

Time schedule for applying: 

Summer before senior year

1. Send for catalogues (postcards are OK for this). 

2. Take LSAT exam (If necessary, this can wait until October of senior year, but if you choose that option, remember to register prior to the first week of fall semester.) 

3. Register with LSDAS (This can be done when you sign up for the LSAT). This now includes an order for the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.  The Official Guide is now available online for free via

October or November, senior year
4. Send in applications to schools of your choice (based on perusal of Official Guide.) 

5. Have LSDAS reports sent to schools of choice. 

6. Request professors to send letters of recommendation. 

December, senior year
7. Make sure that every law school has received your complete application (including LSDAS and professors' letters.) No one else will do it for you.
The first thing to do is to send a postcard to the schools you have selected asking for their bulletin and an application. Most law schools do not have these materials available until late September or early October, so this gives you ample opportunity to make the initial decision. Upon receiving the bulletin and applications from each school, check whether the schools to which you are applying require any of the Law School Admission Services reports: LSAT and/or LSDAS, explained below. One can also apply now electronically via

LSAT - The Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a half-day multiple choice objective test, is given in October, December, March, April, and June and costs over $200 as of 2002-03. Applications for the test are found in the Law School Admission Bulletin, a pamphlet which also contains data assembly service application form, complete sample LSAT, and general instructions. The Bulletins are available in Career Planning and Placement (Raub Hall) and in the Political Science Department (347 Smith Hall). Registration for the examination must be postmarked 4 weeks in advance of the test date. If you miss the deadline, there is about $50.00 late registration fee. Almost all law schools require the LSDAS service, so unless you are quite certain that the schools to which you are applying do not require it, you should register for the LSDAS service with your LSAT registration. 

There is not a lot that can be done to prepare yourself for taking the LSAT other than the usual maternal advice "get a good night's sleep the night before and don't worry too much about it." How well you do on the LSAT actually depends a great deal on how you do on standardized tests in general. If you are one of those people who does not do well in a timed, contrived situation, the LSAT may give you some trouble. General rules of thumb to follow are: 

l) Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the test before you actually take it. Extra sample LSATs can be ordered when you register. Practice at least the one sample LSAT which is included in the LSAT registration packet exactly according to directions.  For the chance to do free practice LSATs, just click here: or

2) Relax. True, the LSAT often comprises a large part of your admission qualifications to law school, but unfortunately, your score does not improve proportionately with the amount of worry you put into the test. 

3) Try to gauge your time effectively, so that you will complete as much of the test as possible without panicking. 

4) Guess. The LSAT is scored by the number of correct answers, so that there is no penalty for guessing. 

There are commercial, very expensive LSAT prep courses available. The Official LSAT PrepTest is available through the Law School Admission 

Services -- you can order it when you register for the LSAT. There are also a number of preparation books available in bookstores.

It is a good idea to take the LSAT in the summer between your junior and senior years in college. This gives you plenty of time to get the results back so that you can develop a clear picture of where to apply, and also lets you know whether you should take the test again in the October or December sessions. Retake the LSAT only if you feel there was some definite reason that you did poorly the first time (you didn't feel well, etc.) and you feel that you can improve your score. Each law school has its own way of looking at multiple LSAT scores: some average the two (or three or four), some take only the first into account, some take only the second into account, some use the higher(st), etc. In other words, there is no way to predict what the law schools will think of your taking the test more than once without inquiring at each school. Most law schools seem to think that your score should improve from the first to the second testing because of increased familiarity with the test material and format so getting the same score may hurt you. Consider very carefully the retaking of the LSAT

LSDAS - The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) is basically a materials-coordinating service for law schools. A complete LSDAS report includes: your LSAT score(s), a transcript summary (how many A's you have received, how many B's, etc., as well as your cumulative grade point average), biographical data and a copy of your transcript from the University of Delaware. Most law schools require this service.  All law schools require that you use this service.

If you register for the LSDAS make sure you give one of the "Transcript Request Forms" to the University of Delaware Registrar and to registrars of other colleges you attended. Undergraduate transcripts are summarized only once in each processing year. After you receive a copy of your LSDAS Report you should send notarized copies of later grade reports containing additional grades directly to the law schools that request them. Note: When completing the Transcript Request and Matching Form and other materials for LSDAS be sure to spell your name exactly the same way in all communications. LSDAS tends to treat Alice B. Smith, Alice Barton Smith and A. B. Smith as three different people. 

Applications to law schools are very similar to the application you completed when you applied to colleges. One of the big differences, however, is that when a law school application gives you an instruction, they mean it. Colleges will put up with mistakes in following directions; law schools won't. If there is a deadline date and you miss it, they will return your application to you unopened; if they ask for 4 recommendations and you send them only 3, your application will never be acted upon because it will be considered incomplete. Follow the instructions to the letter.

Law schools have only two ways to look at you as a person instead of just another set of statistics: your personal essay and recommendations. You are most often asked to write in your essay about why you want to become a lawyer and what characteristics you believe would make you a good lawyer. Some schools however, ask you to write about anything of interest to you. The essay should be prepared with great care as it will be judged for clarity of expression and general writing ability as well as for its content. Be honest; try to evaluate yourself objectively but don't go overboard bragging or criticizing yourself. Easier said than done, so just try to write a good clear essay that you feel emphasizes some aspects of you. 

Recommendations may count quite heavily or they may not count at all in the admission process; one never knows for sure how they will be viewed. It's better to be safe than sorry so try to get positive, detailed recommendations from the types of people the law schools request. If they request recommendations from the Dean or from professors, for instance, make sure that this is what you give them. If they simply say "recommendations" without other instructions, they mean recommendations from professors who have had you in class. Because the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 gives students access to previously confidential material, all students are asked to waive their right of access to letters of recommendation or are asked to give a written refusal for a waiver to the pre-law advisers. No letters of recommendation should be mailed until the waiver or refusal to waive has been received. Law schools prefer that students waive the right to access since they believe that this encourages honest, candid recommendations, but students must follow their consciences in this matter. It is acceptable to have the same two or three professors send letters to all the schools to which you apply. Usually, the professor need only write one version of the letter and a secretary just types several copies of it. 

Approximately half of the law schools in the U.S. require a Dean's letter of recommendation in addition to individual letters of recommendation from professors. Dean's letters for Arts and Science students consist of a summary of the student's overall academic performance in relation to the rest of the College. 

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This page was last updated on 01/12/99