Applying to Law School
Taking PLW 401
Seniors applying to law school should consider PLW 401 in the fall semester. In this course, students will learn to navigate the admission process and receive feedback on law school application materials, including resumes and personal statements.
Registering with LSAC's Credential Assembly Service
The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) processes applicant information for submission to law schools. CAS prepares a law school report that will be sent to every law school to which you apply. The report includes:
- undergraduate academic summary
- copies of transcripts
- LSAT scores (along with writing sample copies)
- copies of recommendation letters
You must pay a registration fee for CAS, which includes preparation of the law school report, processing of transcripts and recommendation letters, and an online law school application service. You should carefully review LSAC's Applying to Law School web page, which contains an overview of the application process.
Researching Law Schools
Begin by assembling a list of law schools based on criteria that are important to you (geography, cost of attendance, programs, etc.), then consider the list according to your chances of admission. You should begin your law school research using the ABA's:
located in the Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools.
You will need to consider important information such as location, tuition and living costs, job placement rates, and bar passage rates, among other things. You should also consider attending a LSAC Forum or Miami's Law Day Fair in October to meet law school admissions representatives and learn more about their law schools.
Applying to Multiple Law Schools
On average, Miami seniors apply to 7-8 law schools. (This is also the most recent national average.) Diversifying your list will give you the greatest range of options to choose from after admission decisions are made. If you only apply to schools above your range, you risk not having any options; if you only apply to schools well below your range, you limit your ability to attend a school that you might find competitive and interesting. You should apply to several schools in which your credentials fall within the median GPA and LSAT scores. However, you should also plan to apply to a few schools in which your likelihood of admission is 75% or higher, and a few in which your likelihood of acceptance is 25% or lower.
Assembling Application Components
Most law school applications contain the following parts:
- Application (completed online through LSAC)
- LSAT Score Report
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation (2-3)
- Dean's Certificate (if applicable)
- Optional Addendum/Additional Essays (if applicable)
Detailed information for each of these components can be found in Miami's Pre-Law Advising Guide.
You will need to make arrangements with Miami's Registrar's office to have an official transcript sent to LSAC. You should do the following:
- Visit the Registrar's website to submit an online request. Be sure to note in the 'Special Request' box: "Please Do Not Send Without LSAC Form".
- Print the 'Transcript Request Form' off of your LSAC CAS account and bring it to the Registrar's Office at Room 102, 301 S. Campus Avenue. The Registrar’s office will merge your transcript with the form and send it to LSAC.
Consider submitting your applications as early as possible after applications open. (This date varies for each law school.) Many schools use a 'rolling admissions' system, which means that they make decisions as completed applications are received. Because most schools only plan to admit a certain number of students in any given year, as students are admitted, there are less spots remaining. Therefore, generally, the earlier you apply, the better your chances. You should aim to submit all applications by mid-November the year prior to matriculation to law school. This general timeline may assist you.
Obtaining a Dean's Certificate Letter
The Dean's Certificate form or letter is required by some law schools. This document must be completed by the Dean or another authorized representative. The letter certifies that you are in good standing with the university. Some schools require that the Dean disclose any disciplinary action taken against you, as well as details of your academic standing within the university. While you may be required to submit the certification letter or form with your application, some schools require the certification only after you have been accepted to the law school. At Miami, Dean's Certification letters for students with majors in the College of Arts and Science are processed in the College of Arts and Science Advising Office, Upham Hall, Room 146.
Taking Time Off Before Law School
The decision to take time off before attending law school is a very personal one that varies depending on the student's individual circumstances. More than half of all applicants apply to law school a year or more after graduating from college. There are several advantages to taking time off before applying to law school. Because law school is a rigorous academic program, taking a year or more off between college and law school may give you a much needed break. You may also find that gaining work experience will clarify whether law is right for you, make the lessons learned during law school more tangible, and even make you a more competitive law school applicant. If you are trying to determine whether taking time off before law school may be right for you, you should make an appointment to discuss your options with a pre-law advisor.
Financing Law School
Law school is an important investment in your future. Consider the financial aid process as seriously as you do the law school application process. Students typically use a combination of federal student loans, personal savings, family support, and scholarships to finance law school. Review LSAC's website on financing law school, as well as Miami's Pre-Law Advising Guide's section on Financing Law School to assist you in the financial aid process.