Our suggested timeline for preparing for law school presumes that the Pre-Law student will attend law school directly after graduation. Be sure to reconsider time frames as they apply to your situation.
Freshman and Sophomore Year
During your freshman and sophomore year, it's important to select a major that suits your strengths and allows you to build the skills that law schools want to see. This is also the time to build an academic record demonstrating success in the classroom and get involved on campus to gain leadership and service skills.
- Review the information on our site and enroll in our Compass page to see Illinois specific handouts and resources
- Attend some of our many events, including a Pre-Law 101 workshop.
- Visit us in Room 520 of the Illini Union Bookstore. To make an appointment, call 217-333-9669.
- Read the Pre-Law Handbook.
- Sign up for our Pre-Law mailing list--it's easy! Visit this website and login with your Illinois netID. Then select firstname.lastname@example.org, and click on "Subscribe."
- Select a major in a field that you enjoy and that allows you to excel academically.
- Review the American Bar Association’s recommended skills for Pre-Law students, and talk to your advisor about classes that develop these skills.
- Begin to form relationships with professors, teaching assistants, and advisors so that they will know your work well enough to write a helpful recommendation for you.
- Focus on academics. Creating a strong academic record is critical to admission to law school, so polish your study skills and seek tutoring. You can talk to your academic advisor for resources to help you.
- Consider joining Registered Student Organizations, including the Pre-Law Club, and participating other extracurricular activities that are interesting to you and will help you develop your leadership, public service, and communication abilities.
- Join the Pre-Law Advising Services Facebook page, visiting often to learn about resources and opportunities for pre-law students.
- Plan ahead by thinking about opportunities to enhance your law school applications, such as study abroad, internships and externships, or research projects related to the legal field.
Throughout your junior year, you'll begin prepping for the Law School Application Test (LSAT) and start the application process.
- Take challenging courses, concentrating on upper-level classes.
- Get to know the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). They administer the LSAT and manage law school applications.
- Solicit letters of recommendation from professors, advisors, employers, and others who know you by May.
- Attend the Law School Fair during the fall semester to gather information on law schools and meet their representatives.
- Gather information about the LSAT and develop an LSAT preparation strategy that includes studying and taking practice exams.
- Register for the LSAT. It's offered in June, October, December, and February. Most students take the test in June after their junior year, which allows them to retake it in October if they wish. We recommend registering early; for June, our local site usually fills by spring break.
- Attend the Applying to Law School This Fall workshop in the spring of your junior year. The workshop will explain the application process and give you a head start on your application materials.
Summer Between Junior and Senior Year
Before beginning your senior year, you'll take the LSAT and begin your law school applications.
- Take the LSAT in June (or September).
- Subscribe to the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, which requires that you pay a fee.
- Order an official transcript from the Office of the Registrar and send it to the LSAC.
- Prepare or update your résumé for law school applications.
- Begin writing your personal statement.
- Research law schools and create a general application strategy and plan.
Fall of Senior Year
At the start of your senior year, you'll be set to complete your law school applications.
- Aim to finish your applications between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
- Check that the LSAC has received your letters of recommendation. You'll be able to view this through your LSAC account. Follow up with anyone who has not yet submitted his or her letter.
- Attend the Law School Admissions Fair and use the opportunity to make a good impression and discuss any questions with representatives from your list of schools.
- Finalize your personal statement. Attend one of our Personal Statement workshops, which you can find on our event calendar, and set up an appointment for a Pre-Law advisor to review your personal statement with you.
- Make an appointment with a Pre-Law advisor to discuss law schools, strategies, the application process, and more by calling 217-333-9669.
- Pick up a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (available beginning in October) and fill it out as soon as possible. This form is necessary to receive federal loans in law school.
- Take (or retake) the LSAT in October.
- Prepare your law school applications, including any optional essays. All law school application materials are accessed and submitted online through your LSAC account.
Spring of Senior Year
- If you're still waiting for a decision in January, send an updated transcript to the LSAC using the same method you did for your original transcript.
- Visit the schools you're seriously considering.
- Apply for individual scholarship programs through the schools to which you’ve been accepted.
- Pay attention to deposit deadlines. If you find that you are waiting for a response from one school and a non-refundable deposit deadline is approaching from another school, contact the law school with the deadline. Some law schools will extend the deposit deadline for you.
- After graduation, send a final, official transcript to the law school you'll attend in the fall.
- Report your acceptances and final decision to your Pre-Law advisor.