For the academic year 1996-97 there were 128,623 students
enrolled in the some 179 accredited law schools across
the country. All of these students went through
the same process in getting into this professional study.
There is no question that planning early is important.
Far too many do not look ahead: their senior year is the
first time that they think about law school.
This is not the way to go. This information should
assist you in properly planning for law school.
Hundreds of UTM graduates have obtained their JD's from
a variety of law schools, including premiere institutions
like Harvard, Yale, and Chicago. UTM offers superb preparation
for legal study. The proof of this lies in the hundreds
of our graduates who are successful members of the bar.
It is up to you to make the necessary commitment now!
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
All undergraduates considering post-graduate school should
consider the following questions:
1. Think in terms of a career, not a job.
Even if you can get a job with your college degree, what
are your prospects for career advancement without further
study? Think long-term, look at your interests v. the
career scene. Try to imagine yourself twenty years from
now. Where will you want to be? What will you want to
2. "Am I going to law school for the right
You need to be clear on your goals before committing
the time and expense of law school. Sometimes it is the
wrong reason that pushes you to apply for law school.
Some students may feel burnout after college or may not
be ready to choose a career they want to pursue. It is
alright to take a year or a couple of years to sort things
out. In some law programs, work experience and maturity
enhance your admission chances. Also, you do not want
to continue your education because school is a safe place
away from the demands of "real life." It is
important to understand what motivates you. A career in
law should fit your individual interests, abilities, values,
and priorities. Whatever you decide, you must know
that in order to succeed in law school, you need intelligence,
initiative, and self-discipline.
3. Self-Assessment: Your skills v. career demands.
Answering the questions below will help you decide if
you will like the demands of a law profession:
1. Do you have strong oral and written communication
2. Do you like to read? To analyze and think critically?
3. What personal values are most important to you?
4. How important is creativity to you?
5. What past experiences and achievements have been rewarding?
6. How good are your people skills?
7. Can you manage and prioritize your time well?
8. What are your strongest skills? What skills need improvement?
9. Are your parents, friends, or other people pressuring
you to go to law school?
10. What drives you to go to law school and form career
4. "I do not have a 4.0 GPA and my LSAT
score is average."
Although your GPA and LSAT scores are arguably the two
most important factors in the selection process, there
is room for other factors as well, such as strong reference
letters, meaningful university activities and extensive
work experience (See section "Preparing for Law School"
for more information). Another key appears
to be diversity. Law schools throughout the country
have been making special efforts to have diversity in
their student bodies; most of these schools emphasize
the recruitment of minorities (See section "Special
Opportunities for Minorities").
5. "Will I be happy once I get my law degree?"
Law school involves three years of intense study
and costs huge sums of money. You should not
determine if you want legal study by trying it; there
is too much of an investment involved. Look ahead
while in undergraduate study. Talk with attorneys.
Visit with your pre-law advisor. Attend court sessions.
Visit law schools, and be sure to talk with law school
students. In addition, read about the legal profession.
In recent years, studies have indicated many attorneys
have not been happy in their profession. You need to avoid
being in such a situation. These four publications
are excellent in developing an understanding about law
(1) Stephen Gillers, Editor. Looking
at law school: a student guide from the society of American
law teachers . New York: Meridan, 1990.
This is an excellent guide for a pre-law student.
It covers many aspects, including deciding on a legal
career, selecting the right law school, financing legal
education, the law school curriculum, and special concerns
of law school students. There is also special focus
on advice for minority students and gay and lesbian students.
(2) Walt Bachman. Law vs. life: what lawyers
are afraid to say about the legal profession .
Rinebeck, New York: Four Directions Press, 1995.
This writer has been a practicing attorney and a prosecutor
for some 25 years. He notes the many changes occurring
in the legal profession. This book reveals what
it is really like in the legal profession in the United
States. Bachman gives ten survival lessons not found in
any law school curriculum. This book was recommended
by several pre-law
associations, including the Southern Association of Pre-law
(3) Deborah L. Arron. Running from the law:
why good lawyers are getting out of the legal
profession. Seattle: Niche Press, 1989.
Deborah Arron was a civil litigator and bar association
leader in the Pacific Northwest for ten years; her book
addresses the growing dissatisfaction among our nation's
lawyers. It examines why many of the country's attorneys
are unhappy with their work. The book offers insight
and inspiration for those wrestling with doubts about
the legal profession.
(4) Paula A. Franzese. Throw your fears out
the window: a book of wisdom, inspiration and guidance
for law students and lawyers . Newark: RR Donnelley
Financial Services, 1997.
Professor Franzese teaches at the Seton Hall Law School
and focuses on the promise and hope of the legal profession.
She encourages people to study law and to change the society.
This faculty member is very positive about the opportunities
offered by the study of law.
PREPARING FOR LAW SCHOOL
you have investigated and decided that the legal profession
is for you, you need to begin preparation.
The Law School Admission Council in cooperation with the
American Bar Association and the Association of American
Law Schools publishes annually a superb resource for all
pre-law students. It is the OFFICIAL GUIDE TO U.S.
LAW SCHOOLS. This is published by Broadway Books
of New York City each year. It is about $20, but
well worth the investment. This annual publication
has the most up-to-date admission requirements and program
descriptions of the 179 accredited law schools in the
nation, salary and placement statistics, information on
financing legal education, and LSAT/GPA profiles.
There is no doubt this is the most authoritative reference
on law schools in the United States. The UTM Pre-Law Advisor
has a copy of this text, as well as a wide variety of
LSAT prep books.
The Law School Admission Council also has available an
array of other pertinent publications, including previously-administered
Law School Admission Tests(LSATS). One can call Law School
Admissions Services at 215/968-1001, write them at Box
2400, Newtown, PA 18940-0977 or seek more information
on the World Wide Web: www.lsac.org.
Moreover, UTM gives practice LSAT's on two occasions each
Fall: contact Dr. Mosch if you are interested.
Two other web sites that may be useful include the following:
THE MAJOR CRITERIA FOR ADMISSIONS TO
(1) The LSAT
All 179 accredited law schools in the United States require
taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This
test is administered four times a year: June, October,
December, and February. The test consists of five
35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions in three
different categories: Reading Comprehension, Analytical
Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. There is also
a 30-minute writing sample given at the end of the regular
examination. The basic fee for this examination
is $118. LSAT scores range from 120-180.
These tests are the actual examinations that had been
given at the June administration. Test experts
at the Law School Admission Services claim that taking
previous tests is the best way to prepare for this important
examination. DO NOT TAKE THE REGULAR LSAT FOR PRACTICE!
The scores will be part of your record. In addition
to the LSAT, most law schools require applicants subscribe
to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), which
provides a means of centralizing and standardizing undergraduate
academic records to simplify the law school admission
process. The LSDAS prepares a Law School Report
for the law schools. Students must send official
transcripts of all schools to this service.
The LSDAS subscription fee is $109. Reports to the law
schools cost $12 each. Thus, just taking the
LSAT and applying for the LSDAS and getting the
reports to various law schools will come to well over
$200. And this does not include the application
fees required by law schools. Already the applicant
has made a considerable investment.
Generally speaking, one should have at least a 3.00 GPA
to really obtain serious consideration. However,
a 2.80 with a high LSAT should gain acceptance to many
schools. There are computer programs available to
indicate one's chances for acceptance at the various law
schools; these are based on the LSAT and the GPA.
Law schools will take the adjusted GPA reported from the
LSDAS. This is important to realize. The LSDAS
will eliminate some courses in their calculation, including
internships. The service will consider all grades.
Thus, if a student receives a D in a course and retakes
it, and earns an A, UTM, will only consider the A for
the final grade point calculation; the LSDAS will consider
both the D and A. Thus, one's GPA as calculated
by UTM may well be lower than that reflected in the Law
School Report. Because of the competitiveness
of law school, avoid taking courses again: students cannot
afford a poor semester ! The Law School Data
Assembly Service Report is the most important document
concerning law school admission.
(3) Other Criteria:
For those who want to apply to some of the best law schools
in the country, it is important to have meaningful activities
and awards. Participation in student government,
internships, overseas study, honors programs are in that
category. Also it is vital that your personal statement
is carefully prepared. The pre-law advisor has specific
guidance on the personal statement. It must
be innovative. Do not simply write why you want
to attend law school! See this Web site for assistance
with personal statement: http://www.accepted.com.
(4) Program of Study:
Many potential law students wonder what classes they should
take as undergraduates. There is no specified pre-law
program according to the Council on Legal Education.
Generally, pre-law students major in arts or sciences
or in business. Law school students come from
a variety of backgrounds. All law schools recommend
that students have well-developed communication skills,
analytical ability, and background on human institutions
and values. Students should keep this in mind when
deciding on majors and also in selecting electives.
Of course, a superb command of the English language is
essential. Thus, any course where writing is involved
will provide useful preparation. UTM offers a variety
of programs and courses that will adequately prepare students
for law school.
(5) Special Opportunities for Minorities:
The annual law school forums have special sessions on
minority recruitment. Many schools have special
scholarships for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native
Americans. Tennessee has been a leader in trying
to recruit African-Americans to professional schools.
Each year special sessions are held at Tennessee law schools
for minority pre-law students.
In addition, there is the Tennessee Pre-Law Fellowship
Program which is open to African-American residents.
The program offers three distinct levels of participation:
Associates: freshmen and sophomores:
Scholars I: juniors
Scholars II: seniors or graduates.
Associates are eligible to take up to six credit hours
of free college course work in the summer and also participate
in an internship experience with legal professionals.
Associates are required to have at least a 3.00 GPA.
Scholars I must have a 2.5 GPA, be a junior, and
have completed two semesters each of English, college
mathematics, and social studies. After their junior
year, Scholars I participants enroll in an eight-week
academic enrichment institute on the campus of the Cecil
C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.
The focus is to increase student comprehension and ability
in logic, jurisprudence, law school type courses, writing,
oral communication, and the Law School Admission Test
(LSAT). Scholars II must have taken the LSAT
and apply to both state law schools. Participants
have an opportunity to take four substantive law courses
in addition to legal writing and legal argument in preparation
for law school. Again, this program is offered at
the University of Tennessee, Memphis. The Tennessee
Pre-Law Fellowship Program has become a model for the
nation; other states have been studying it. African-American
pre-law students should definitely consider this outstanding
opportunity! You may write for information at the
following address, or see Dr. Mosch for more details:
Tennessee Pre-law Fellowship Program
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN, 38l52
LAW SCHOOL FORUMS
should get as much information about law schools in order
to make a wise selection. THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO U.S. LAW
SCHOOLS (latest edition) is a good place to begin.
Each of the 179 ABA-accredited law schools in the United
States, are included. In addition, many of these
schools have web sites and e-mail addresses. The
latest guide is available through the UTM pre-law advisor.
However, for specific questions on law schools, pre-law
students should consider sending questions to the various
law school admissions offices. The Law School Admissions
Council has its own Web Site: http:www.lsac.org.
Another superb source of information is the Law School
Forum. There are usually seven forums held
between July and November each year. These are free
to pre-law students. Usually about 135 law schools
have representatives present. There are special presentations
at these forums, including those on the admission process,
financing a legal education, and opportunities for minority
students. The forums are on weekends, the hours
usually running from noon to 6 or 7 p.m. on Friday and
from 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. on Saturday. Students
can obtain application materials, confer with law school
representatives, talk with representatives of the Law
School Admissions Services, and also obtain Law Services
publications and LSAT preparation materials.
The closest forums to Martin are Atlanta and Chicago.
Taking the time and effort to attend one of these forums
will be most worthwhile.
Remember that the admissions offices in almost all law
schools will be happy to accommodate you. Many law
schools have special orientation weekends for prospective
students. DO NOT ENROLL IN A LAW SCHOOL WITHOUT
FIRST VISITING THAT SCHOOL. You need to know what
you will be facing for three years.
Other opportunities that you might want to utilize
include the following:
- In recent years, Vanderbilt University has invited
UTM pre-law students to attend their Career Day, which
is held each fall. This takes place during the week,
usually between 4 and 6 p.m. Recently, as many
as 50 law schools have sent representatives to this
gathering. UTM pre-law students who attended found
it most helpful.
- Law School Admission Services has published an invaluable
little booklet entitled THE RIGHT LAW SCHOOL FOR YOU.
This can be ordered through Law School Admissions Services.
Check their web site http://www.lsac.org
or write: Publications Division, law Services,
P. O. Box 40, Newtown, PA 18940.
- Talking with representatives of the law schools is
essential; the admissions deans from the two state law
schools, the University of Tennessee and the University
of Memphis, visit UTM each fall. They will also
be at the various law school forums.
SELECTING THE RIGHT LAW SCHOOL -A CHECKLIST
Following is a checklist of questions that
may be helpful in deciding on a law school. This was developed
by the UTM Pre-Law Advisor after attending several sessions
at the national Pre-Law Advisors conference in 1996.
- Faculty: What kind of legal training
has the faculty received? What are their specialties?
Is the faculty diverse? Is the faculty accessible?
- Financial Support: What loans and scholarships
are available? What type of work opportunities
- Housing: Does the school have inexpensive
and convenient facilities? What are the apartment
rates in the area? Is parking a problem?
- Academic Support: What kind of tutorial and academic
support programs are available?
- Internships: Is there a variety of internship
programs available? How many are paid?
- Environment: What are the crime rates in the
area? What type of recreational opportunities
are available? What are the physical facilities
like. What are the classrooms like? Does
the school have adequate student lockers and student
- Student organizations: Does the school have
organizations geared for me? (e.g.
minorities, gays/lesbians, women, religious)
- Attrition rate: What is the specific failure
rate at the university? .
- Placement of graduates: Are jobs only available
for those in the top percent of the graduating classes?
Where are these jobs? What kinds of jobs?
What is the starting salary for these jobs?
- Library facilities: How much computer support is
available? What are the hours of the library?
Does the university provide law students with keys to
their library, permitting 24-hour use? What is
the availability of other campus libraries?
- Alumni involvement: What do alumni say about
- Study body: Is the student body diverse? (e.g.-
sex, race, age, religion) What are the backgrounds
of the students?
- Reputation: What is the status of the
undergraduate/graduate institutions of the university?
- Costs: What are tuition costs? Fees? Will students
be paying one set rate for their entire legal education?
What is the likelihood of an increase in tuition and
fees? Will the tuition decrease if I become a
resident of that state?
- Bookstore: What are the holdings at the bookstore?
What is the availability of special study guides?
- The Bar: What is the university's pass rate
on bar examinations? What review courses
are offered? What are their costs?
- Speakers: Who are the most recent speakers?
Who will be speaking in the future?
- Involvement of law students: Are the students
involved in the admissions process? Are they involved
in curriculum selection? Are they involved in
the administration of the law school?
- Philosophy: What are the school's priorities?
- Administrators: Who are the key administrators?
What are their backgrounds? Their focus?
- Joint programs: Is there any flexibility
in terms of students tailoring their own programs?
- Enrollment: What is the law school's
enrollment? What is the average class size?
Of course, a goal
for all law students will be securing a job. According
to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP),
77.6 percent of the 1995 law school graduates responded
to their survey. This was the type of employment
listed six months after obtaining the J.D. degrees:
- 56.1 percent Private Practice
- 13.4 percent Business and Industry
- 11.8 percent Judicial Clerkships
- 11.6 percent Other Government
- 2.7 percent Type Unknown
- 2.0 percent Public Interest
- 1.2 percent Academic
- 1.2 percent Military
Salaries vary greatly.
The average staring salary for the class of 1995 was $45,590.
Salaries of more than $70,000 accounted for just 11.2
percent of all salaries reported. These were
the full-time median salaries for 1995:
The UTM Pre-Law Advisor has an array of books on legal study,
catalogues from most of the accredited law schools in the
country, LSAT Applications, and LSAT preparation courses.
Most of these can be checked out on an individual basis;
some need to be used in the office area.
- Academic $36,750
- Business/Industry $44,750
- Government $33,000
- Private Practice $50,000
- Public Interest $30,800
You should take the LSAT either
in June after your junior year or in October as a senior.
December is also a possibility, but is not recommended.
It takes about six weeks to obtain the scores. You
can obtain the scores earlier by signing up for telephonic
notification. However, the LSDAS will not be getting
the official report until about six weeks after the examination.
It is important to take the examination early; this means
your application will be complete. And some law schools
admit promising students early. They can only do this
when files are complete. Do not take the LSAT in
February; the official reports will not be at the law
schools until probably March. Law schools generally
require students to have their applications in by February.
Apply in the fall, certainly by December. There
is also a Law School Computerized Service.
W. Margolis, LSAC, 661 Penn Street, Newtown, PA 18940,
FAX 215/968-1169 e-mail: email@example.com. Law
schools have agreed to inform applicants by 1 April about
their status. Those with complete and outstanding
records could gain official word as early as Dec ember..
By 1 April applicants should know if they were accepted,
rejected, or on hold. If one is on hold, this means
the law school is waiting to learn if accepted students
will join them. If not, then, the schools go down the
list. Thus, a person on hold may have to wait until early
August to know. There are risks involved. You do
not want to turn down a school in hopes of getting into
another. The other acceptance may never come.
The earlier you apply, the better chance for early acceptance.
Also you will have an advantage in regard to financial
aid. The chart on the following page may assist
you as well.
TIMETABLE FOR APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL
SUMMER OF JUNIOR YEAR
- Examine guides to various law programs, preferably
over the Internet.
- Determine test requirements and application deadlines
for each school.
- Talk to your faculty advisor about your findings,
ask for guidance.
- Request application materials from programs.
- Talk to professionals about career choices, requirements.
Study for the LSAT.
- Sign up for the LSAT or even consider taking the LSAT
- Research financial aid assistance. Request application
- Write a draft of your statement of purpose.
- Take the LSAT.
- Begin to finalize your choice of schools.
- Request recommendations from faculty members.
- Order official transcripts from Registrar's office
(preferably including your Fall grades).
- Give recommenders addresses of prospective schools,
- Work on your statement of purpose.
- Apply finishing touches to application packets and
mail them (although most deadlines are late January-early
February, it is always useful to get the packets in
- Contact recommenders to be sure that they have mailed
- Remember that this is the last month to take the
- If you have not done so, mail application packets.
- Contact schools to ensure that all application material
arrived by the deadline.
- Contact law schools about possible visits.
- Prepare and file a copy of your federal income tax
return if you are applying for need-based financial
aid programs. File FAFSA for financial aid.
- Consider additional campus visits.
- Discuss acceptances, rejections with your faculty
advisor, faculty in your department.
- Pay law school deposit.
- Have final transcript sent with indication of your
- Let your faculty advisor know where you have been
The latest LSAT and LSDAS Registration Information books
(2006-2007) are available in 115 Business Administration.
Upcoming test dates for this academic year are: Monday,
June 12; Saturday, September30; Saturday, December 2, 2006;
and Saturday, February 10, 2007.
Those interested in attending a Law School Recruitment Forum,
the closest will be in Atlanta, Georgia: Friday, November
3 and Saturday, November 4, 2006, Hyatt Regency Atlanta,
265 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia, Hyatt's
Telephone: 404-577-1234. Representatives from about 135
law schools will be present.