Considering Pre-Law and Applying to Law School
Earning a law degree requires a significant investment in time, energy & money. This commitment is best met if you spend some time learning about yourself, the law school experience and the practice of law. To help you with this process, pre-law advising at UVM is provided by the Pre-Law Advisor at the Career Center and several faculty members within the College of Arts & Sciences. Join the Pre-Law Listserv for information regarding events and opportunities related to Pre-Law at UVM!
- Kala Gillim, 656-3450, Kala.Gillim@uvm.edu
- Erik Esselstrom, History, Wheeler House
- Don Loeb, Philosophy
70 S. Williams Street
- Lisa M. Holmes, Political Science
540 Old Mill
- Ellen A. Andersen, Political Science
- Visit the Political Science Pre-Law Page
Explore the Field of Law
Thoughtfully evaluate your reasons for pursuing a law degree, discover what law is all about, assess whether you would like practicing law, develop a realistic picture of what attorneys do, and obtain real-world experience in legal settings. Informational interviewing, job shadowing, interning and engaging in on-campus activities are all great ways to explore legal careers and gain relevant skills. Discover pre-law related resources and campus activities
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- The National Association for Legal Career Professionals
- ABA Career Center
- Informational Interviews with Alumni in the Legal Field
Opportunities to explore at UVM:
- Mock Trial Team
- Student Conduct Associate/ Academic Integrity Council
- Student Legal Services
- Lawrence Debate Union
- Pre-Law Events including Panels, Roundtables, and Workshops
- Pre-Law Summer Programs for Underrepresented Students
- Service Learning Course with the Vermont Attorney General Consumer Assistance Program (CDAE 159)
When is the right time to go to law school?
The “right time” will vary from person to person. Law schools are interested in people who take time off to gain related experience as well as students who choose to continue immediately after their undergraduate work. Taking time to gain relevant experience may enhance your application and make you more marketable to law schools and to employers after law school. Lawyers with specialized skills and expertise are competitive candidates for positions in both the public and private sectors.
Motivated first Year students at UVM should consider the 3+2 Program with Vermont Law School which provides an opportunity to earn an undergraduate and law degree in just 5 years.
Preparing for law school/major choice
What is the best way to prepare for law school? The best preparation for law school is a challenging undergraduate program.
The American Bar Association expects a student's "college education should stand on its own merits as preparation for a lifetime of active involvement in a diverse and changing society." Follow your true interests and get excellent grades. In addition you will want to:
- Be a responsible and respectful member of the community. You will be asked to disclose any disciplinary or legal actions in your application
- Develop positive relationships with professors (References!)
- Attend pre-law related events
- Explore the field of law through informational interviews, campus activities or internships.
- Learn about the current legal job market & identify areas of interest
Planning on taking time before law school? Consider how you will gain experience and skills to enhance your law school application and make you a stronger candidate for jobs following law school.
Does UVM have a pre-law major? The University of Vermont, along with most colleges and universities in the United States, does not have a pre-law major. However, it is important to understand the core skills and abilities that law schools are seeking and strive to acquire them before attending law school.
The American Bar Association does not recommend any specific group of courses to prepare for legal education. The skills that law schools are looking for include analytical and problem-solving skills, critical reading abilities, writing skills, oral communication and listening abilities, general research skills, task organization and management skills and the values of serving others and promoting justice.
In addition to these fundamental skills and values, there are some basic areas of knowledge helpful to a legal education. These include:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic and cultural) that have influenced the development of society
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and the contemporary American political system
- Basic mathematical and financial skills
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the US, of international institutions and issues, of world events and of the increasing interdependence of nations and communities in our world.
- Finally, many of our students have found it helpful to take classes in logic and philosophy.
Selecting a Law School
We recommend a process of self-assessment whereby the candidate gathers information about those factors that are critical to their needs, priorities, and goals.
Considerations may include: reputation of school, location, class offerings and atmosphere, cultural and racial/ethnic diversity, chances of admission, cost, and employment prospects following graduation.
The following links may be useful in your decision-making process:
- Official Guide to American Bar Association (ABA) Approved Law Schools
- ABA Required Disclosures
- Law School Transparency
- Law school forums
- Visit law schools
- Equal Justice Works Guide to Law Schools
- Talk to alumni practicing law through the Career Connection
- The Book of Law School Lists: Law Schools by Specialty Programs
- LGBT applicants
- Applicants of Color
- Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.
Law School Application Steps & Timeframes
We suggest submitting applications by late November the year before you plan to attend law school. Law schools usually have an application deadline in the spring, but use a rolling admissions process and begin evaluating applications for admittance and scholarships in the fall. There are four primary components of your application, similar to your undergraduate application: test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement and transcripts.
Two essential initial steps: Create an account on LSAC and the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS). You will register for the LSAT on LSAC and you will apply to law school with the CAS.
- Register for the LSAT in the summer or fall of the application year.
- Give yourself a minimum of 2-3 months to prepare for the test. It can help to think of the preparation as the equivalent of a college course.
- Applicants have found success with both self-study and test prep courses. Evaluate yourself as a learner and decide what you need to be successful. The LSAT score is the most critical piece of your application so give it the time and energy necessary. UVM doesn’t endorse any particular test prep company.
- While it’s best to plan to take the LSAT once when you are best prepared, it’s also wise to select a test date early enough give you a fall back date option if necessary. If for any reason you are unable to take the LSAT on the date selected or don’t get a score consistent with your expected performance, you will want the option to retest in the same application cycle.
Letters of Recommendation
- Note that after you enter your recommenders’ names and information into your LSAC CAS account, it will generate specific recommendation letter requests for those individuals.
- Request letters of recommendation in the spring or early fall of the application year.
- See our FAQs on Requesting a Letter of Recommendation
- While the LSAT and GPA get a lot of attention in the application process, writing a compelling personal statement is still essential as it gives the admissions reps a sense of your motivations and strengths and the experiences and perspective you would bring to an L1 cohort.
- Give yourself enough time to work through at least 3 drafts of your statement. The UVM Writing Center and pre-law advisors are able to give you feedback.
- We recommend you begin by reflecting on why you want to attend law school, the experiences that have shaped your path to the law, and the strengths that you believe you would bring to law school and a career in law.
- Note that after you enter your institutions into your LSAC CAS account, it will generate a specific transcript request form for that institution. This form must accompany the transcript to LSAC – make sure that any institutions sending a transcript send the form as well. (Some institutions do electronic transcript submissions.)
- Request your official transcripts from the UVM Registrar after you finish the last full semester before you submit your application. For example, if you are a Junior planning to go straight through to law school, then you will be applying the in fall of your Senior year and you can request your transcripts as soon as you complete the Spring semester of your Junior year.
- Be sure to also obtain transcripts from other institutions you have attended: community college courses, summer courses, transfer institutions, study abroad, and college courses taken while still in high school.
Financing a Legal Education
A strong application with great grades and a high LSAT score is most applicants’ best opportunity to garner financial support. Law schools are interested in supporting candidates who have grades and test scores above their medians. See the ABA Required Disclosures to identify schools where you will be a strong candidate. Here are more financial aid resources:
- LSAC Website
- ABA - Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
- AboutLawSchools.org Scholarship Listings
- Penn State: Law School Financial Aid Resource List (Great list of resources for underrepresented groups)
- Financial aid offices at law schools of interest
UVM Student Law School Acceptances
UVM acceptance rates to ABA approved law schools have been about 10 percentage points higher than the national average for many years. The most recently available UVM Acceptance Rate was 85% vs. a national average of 75% (for the 2016-2017 academic year).
Last modified September 10 2018 10:03 AM