Pen and Chisel Q&A: How to Start the Law School Application Research Process

Eileen ConnerIs it ever too early to think about applying to law school? Please welcome back law school admissions essay expert Eileen Conner, founder of Pen and Chisel, who has some timely advice on getting a head start on your law school application.

If you missed any of her other admissions Q&As, check them out here.

Planning to apply to law school next fall? It may seem like it’s far too early to get going with the application process. But even though your deadlines are currently nothing but a far-off glimmer in the distance, you can get a head start on your law school applications right now. How? Research.

Now is the perfect time to start researching the schools you think you would like to attend.

Early stage research can set you up for success when it comes time to fill out your various forms and send in your law school applications.

Why Research Law Schools Early?

In general, you should research your chosen law schools to discover whether they are good fits for you and your career goals. But why should you do that research so far in advance of fall application season?

First, researching programs now will give you plenty of time to prepare for applying to law school. Advance research is essentially an early warning system.

If, for example, you find that your first choice school has a median LSAT score of 165 among admitted students, that will give you a specific score to work toward as you study for the LSAT. If you find that your schools want a student body with more experience than you currently have, you’ll still have a good eight months in which to go out and get that experience. If you know these criteria well in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare before application deadlines come due.

Starting now also gives you the time to research while you aren’t overwhelmed with the additional obligations of application season.

This means you won’t have to scramble to research schools while balancing that task with an in-depth LSAT study regime or a bevy of application essay-writing sessions — on top of your busy school or work schedule.

Next, if you’re planning to visit law schools, you’ll want to be sure to do that during the academic year, so you can talk to current students and professors, get a feel for how the campus operates, and sit in on a class or two.

Starting your research now will give you more than enough time to identify your top choice schools before the end of the academic year, so you can plan your visits during spring term.

And if you discover that one or more of your target schools actually doesn’t have the kind of resources you’ll need to succeed on your chosen path — you’ll still have the time to scope out other options.

Consider Your Priorities

If you haven’t yet done so, now is a great time to sit back and consider exactly what you want in a law school program.

What do you hope to do with law, and what academic tracks might you want to pursue?

Are you looking to pursue a particular career path with law? Do you think it’s most important to attend a highly ranked school, a regional school close to you or in a target job market, a school with particular programs or clinics, a school that provides excellent financial aid, or a school that provides the best job prospects?

Think about what you want from law school before you start your research — that way you’ll be sure to recognize a good program when you see it.

Law School Research Resources

Law schools normally provide copious details about their academic programs in online resources. From official school pre-law sites to social media accounts to professor and student blogs, there is a treasure trove of information available for your perusal. Check out each school’s academic programs, activities, career services, and faculty interests, and see for yourself whether they offer what you’re looking for.

Statistical resources can also be an excellent way to discover whether your target schools really match up with your priorities. LSAC’s Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, which collects data about accredited law schools across the country, is a great place to start. For more statistical resources, take a look at Four data resources to check out before you apply to law school.

But if you want to go past the basics, it’s a very good idea to reach out and get in contact with the schools themselves. Call or email the pre-law admissions office at your schools of choice and discuss the various programs that you’re interested in with an admissions officer. Ask to be paired with a student liaison, so you can get the real nitty-gritty on what it’s like to attend their law school. And, of course, a campus visit — whether an informational session, an open house, or an individual appointment — can give you a much more full and vibrant picture of what it might be like to attend.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to begin your research on your target law schools. By arming yourself with knowledge well in advance, you’ll be prepared to make good decisions as you dive into the law school application process.

— – —

Thanks, Eileen! The early bird gets the worm.

Got an admissions question for Eileen? Leave it in the comments!

More about Eileen:
Eileen Conner is the founder of Pen and Chisel LLC, where she specializes in helping law school candidates perfect their application essays. 

A graduate of the University of Michigan’s prestigious creative writing MFA program, Eileen is the former Senior Editor for Law at Revision Editing.

Read On:

As you embark on your law school application journey, you might want to bookmark Applying to Law School 101: What You Need to Know to Succeed.

Then check out some of the rest of the Pen and Chisel Q&A:

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Best of luck!


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  1. […] Is it ever too early to think about applying to law school? Please welcome back law school admissions essay expert Eileen Conner, founder of Pen and Chisel, who has some timely advice on getting a head start on your law school application. If you missed any of her other admissions Q&As, check them out here. { Continue Reading } […]

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