In Preparation for Applying to Law School

In Preparation for Application

This blog post goes out to anyone who thinks they might possibly have even a casual interest in applying to law school. There are a few things I did that aided me greatly, and one or two that I wish I’d done that would’ve been a huge help.

Firstly, something I wish I did:

Get to know a professor whose subject you love.

One irritating reality of applying to law school is that law schools require letters of recommendation. At least one of those letters needs to come from a professor or someone else in academia with whom you are well-acquainted. If you go to a large public school (like I did), such members of academia can be difficult to come by. If you go to such a school, take a seminar or become a regular visitor at office hours so that you can make at least one professor at your school familiar with your awesome personality and stellar work (I’m assuming you’re awesome and stellar, pat yourself on the back).

If you go to a smaller school, lucky you. You probably can’t avoid being noticed by your professors. While I’m sure the situation has some drawbacks (much harder to watch internet porn during class), it also means you won’t have to look as hard when searching for someone to write a letter of recommendation. Whichever type of institution you attend, it is imperative that you endear yourself to a professor because frankly, the difference between a letter from someone you know and a letter from someone who gave you an “A” is a Grand Canyon-esque gulf.

Now, something I actually did that I feel redounded to my benefit:

Take a year off before law school.

Let’s say you absolutely know you’re going to go to law school. Stupendous. You are endowed with a level of purpose to which most can only aspire. Since you have such purpose, I know you want to get into the best law school possible. Through my powers of deduction, I know you thus also want the best LSAT score possible. I took the LSAT twice. The first time I took it, let’s say I was less than pleased with my score. I studied for it while taking a full load of college courses and wasn’t able to dedicate the amount of time needed.

The second time I took it, I earned a score worthy of being able to teach people how to kill the LSAT. I took a year off, worked, and was able to give the test my full academic attention. Huge difference. Let’s also not forget that taking a year off will give you the opportunity to gain some valuable work experience and perhaps give you something interesting to write about in your Personal Statement (not that you aren’t already interesting).

Another thing that helped A LOT:

Take an LSAT prep course.

I know, I know. This advice seems like it’s in my personal self-interest. Guess what? It is. You know what else? It’s also in your personal self-interest. Unless you are a grammatical whiz and logical prodigy, chances are that college didn’t equip you with the tools necessary to do well on the LSAT. The LSAT is unlike other tests you’ve taken. It’s not a test of knowledge. It’s a test of skill. You gain and maintain skill through proper practice. You learn to practice properly by taking a prep course. Had I gone it alone, I would have been lost. But I learned the skill necessary to dominate and did so. You can too, but you have to give yourself the proper tools. You’ll thank me when you end up at a good law school.

6 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    Hello Alex Davis,

    The part about obtaining at least one recommendation letter from a professor is somewhat troubling information for me because I have been out of undergrade for 18 year and most of my professors have retired or do not remember me at all.
    I have a question for you. I have plenty of bosses at work that could provide me letters, so, can a boss that knows my work very well be a substitute for a professor that does not know anything about me? Or is this some kind of formality that law schools need to hassle the old prospective students?
    A reply to this would be highly appreciated.


    • Alex Davis says:


      In answering your question I’ll quote the admissions pages of a couple well-regarded law schools:


      “The UCLA School of Law requires that applicants submit two letters of recommendation. At least one letter should be from someone familiar with the applicant’s academic work, if at all possible.”

      U of Chicago:

      “The Committee’s preference is to see letters from professors, lecturers, or teaching assistants who have had significant exposure to your academic work…”

      “…We understand that it may be necessary to ask your employer for a recommendation, particularly if you have been out of school for a while. Letters from employers are certainly acceptable and can often be helpful. However, it is important that they speak to academic qualifications.”

      Your predicament is one that schools take into consideration and should not be a deal-breaker. However, you may want to try and “guide” your recommenders to talk about you in an academic way (attentive, analytical, etc, etc), rather than discussing what a great job you do on your TPS reports.

  2. Ken says:

    Thank you very much for this information.
    This information will surely be helpful when I ask my employers to write up a letter for me.


  3. Marc says:

    Ha I love that you actually wrote the phrase TPS report. I was on the Board Committee for the Society of the Advancement of Management, and I was wondering if an admin from a setting like that would suffice. I mean is this completely unconventional or on point?

  4. Tammy M. says:

    I am now beginning to prepare for the LSAT with the hope of testing in the next three months. I believe I should be prepared, given the study schedule which I have set forth for myself and thus far have been able to adhere to well. My question was stimulated as I read others describing being out of school for some time and requiring possibly to have an employer write their letter for them, instead of an instructor. I graduated with a BSN in 2000 and my RN prior with my ADN in 1998. I have a near perfect GPA from a decent nursing school. I am also very hopeful that the past 13 years working in the field of nursing in two different specialty areas should help me get into a decent law school. What is your opinion on the manner in which career individuals with completely non-law-related work experience following college (those working on a JD as a second career) are viewed overall by law schools nowadays? Thank you for your time!

  5. Rachel says:


    I found this to be very informative, given that I will be applying to law school in the Fall. However, I wanted to know more about taking a year off. I’m planning on taking a course this summer and then taking the test in October, and working on my applications during the school year. Could you offer some pros and cons about taking a year off? A lot of my friends have decided they will, and I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not. Can you shed some light on the subject? Thanks!

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