Quick Questions

The following are frequently asked pre-law questions. A great way to get your individual questions answered is to attend a workshop or meet with an advisor one-on-one.


No specific major is required for law school! Because there's no Pre-Law major and no specific major is required, many students wonder “What should I be studying to prepare myself?”

The best major is one that suits your strengths, positions you to excel academically, and allows you to pursue your interests.  You may wish to pursue a major that allows you to learn more about the legal system and government, relates to your long-term legal interest, or that allows you to work in a field prior to law school in an area of interest.   Regardless of your major, as an undergraduate student, you should strive to engage in coursework that involves a great deal of the following academic opportunities:

  • Complex reading and writing,
  • Conduct research,
  • Build critical thinking skills,
  • Engage in increasingly robust and diverse types of academic work.

UIUC Pre-Law students come from every major on campus, from Art Education to Music to History to Marketing to Electrical Engineering, and everything in between. You really CAN major in anything and go to law school! 

We talk about majors extensively in our Pre-Law 101 workshops and you can always learn more by reviewing our Pre-Law Handbook.  In addition, we are always happy to discuss your thoughts on possible majors and minors and how they may benefit your law school goals through our individual advising sessions.  You can set up an appointment online.

The short answer is, yes!  The reality is there are approximately 200 ABA -approved law schools in the US and there are many law schools that are likely ideally suited to support you and your long-term professional goals. 

The law admissions process is very competitive, with law schools engaging in a holistic review process.  Whether you'll be accepted to any particular school is dependent upon many factors, including GPA, LSAT score, your academic background, work and leadership experience, transferrable skills, strong recommendations, writing ability, and the overall characteristics of the applicant pool the year you apply.  Just as you would not wish to be solely evaluated on your LSAT or GPA score – so too should you give law schools a more robust review of their qualities and strengths than simply ranking alone.  

Rankings can be a useful tool as they include important data about a law school and help highlight a schools attributes schools that can be useful in your decision-making including: employment placement, bar passages figures, curriculum offerings, post-graduation debt, graduate starting salaries, and more.   Rankings should be used as one of many assessment tools in deciding on possible programs for you.  As you consider law school, it is important for you to consider your individual goals and what school will be conducive to your success. 


UIUC applicants attend a diverse list of schools from across the country each year.  We are here to help you determine options for your legal education that will be best suited for your personal success.  To get started, consider exploring law schools on the LSAC Law School Search database.

LSAC will recalculate your GPA when applying to law school through a process called Transcript Summarization.  This process aims to help law schools more fairly evaluate GPAs for candidates from many different institutions with different academic journeys.  


As part of this process, the transcript(s) for each individual candidate are examined and placed on a standard grading scale and all undergraduate grades are calculated in the GPA, even if earned at institutions different from UIUC (for example if you transferred after your freshman year).   As part of this process, LSAC will also look at grade replacement and courses in which you did not receive a letter grade (i.e., you earned a credit/ no credit).   For grade replacement, both grades will be calculated in your GPA, and for any course with an NC/no credit (or similar), a letter grade of F will be assigned.


What is important to keep in mind when considering these options is the following:

  • Academic remedies such as grade replacement, CR/NC options may have a different impact on your LSAC/Application GPA than on your UIUC GPA. Striving to avoid use of these remedies by managing the progress of your academic work closely and taking proactive steps to improve during the semester is very important.
  • These options when used appropriately CAN be beneficial to mitigating a low course performance or to your overall academic progress.  They may also be useful for other goals such as internships, scholarships, etc. 
  • If you choose to utilize these options, they should be used sparingly.
  • If you are considering utilizing one of these options it is important to investigate and speak with an expert, including your academic advisor and pre-law advisor, before making a final decision!   


To learn more about the Transcript Summarization process visit the Pre-Law Advising Handbook or Canvas Page.

Candidates will submit their applications to law school approximately one year prior to the anticipated start date.  If you are planning to attend law school the academic year after you graduate, you will apply during your senior year.   Law applications typically open in early fall (September) and close in mid-spring (March-April). 


For example:  If you wish to begin law school in fall 2025, you will apply in the 2024-2025 application cycle (fall 2024-spring 2025).


Each school will set its own specific deadlines for the spring and the admissions process is a rolling admissions process meaning that schools will begin making decisions prior to their published application deadline.  Due to rolling admissions, timing can be an important factor in your admissions process, and we recommend aiming to apply by late fall of your application cycle.


Be sure to check out our Application Roadmap workshop or set up an advising session to learn more and to create your own individual timeline!

The short answer is – it depends.   The best way to begin is to determine what application cycle you will likely apply during.   The LSAT is offered approximately eight times a year.  Fall and summer LSAT dates tend to be the most popular.  Most applicants will sit for the exam more than once, therefore you will want to anticipate two attempts prior to submitting applications.  Law applications open in the fall and ideally you will sit for your first LSAT no later than late summer/early fall during the year you wish to apply.  

For example: If your application cycle opens in September 2025, you ideally will sit for your first LSAT no later than August/September of 2025.


It is most important to create a timeline that allows you to balance good preparation with academic, professional, and personal obligations. We highly recommend that anyone anticipating applying to law school, create an LSAT timeline by January of the year they anticipate sitting for their first LSAT.   

For example, if you plan to apply to law school beginning in Fall 2025, we recommend planning your LSAT timeline and preparation schedule by January 2025.

Applying as an alum?  LSAT scores are valid for five years.  We highly recommend sitting for an LSAT during senior year or the summer following graduation if you intend to begin law school within 1-3 years after graduation.


In a word, YES! In two: YES, ABSOLUTELY! 

The time between earning an undergraduate degree and beginning law school is often referred to as “a gap year”.  A gap year may be one academic year or actually several years.  Gap year(s) are common for many law applicants.  Whether your goal is to gain professional skills, earn money to pay down undergraduate debt, decide whether law school is the right path for you, or pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, taking time before beginning law school can be very beneficial to your law school application and your ultimate success as a law student and future attorney.  


Additional information about taking time prior to law school can be found on the PLAS Canvas page,  Pre-Law Handbook, and at our annual  Gap Year Workshop (Check our event calendar for more details).  


If you are considering taking time prior to law school, please set up a time to discuss the many options available, and remember we are here to help you as an alumni applicant when the time is right for you!

We recommend that applicants plan to obtain at least 2 academic and 1-2 non-academic (professional) letters of recommendation for the law admissions process.  

Letters of Recommendation help demonstrate your academic strengths, professional skills,  and personal qualities that indicate you'll be successful in law school and beyond. Letters that indicate the recommender is familiar with you, your work, or activities, and provide detailed context, are typically most persuasive to law admissions committees. For this reason, many law schools express a preference for letters of recommendation from professors (or graduate assistants) who have taught you in college. For non-academic letters, this may include individuals such as employers or supervisors who have observed and assessed your work, professional, or leadership activities.  The key is that your recommenders have been in a position to evaluate your work and assess your intellectual strengths.

Letters of recommendation from state senators, friends of the family, and judges or lawyers who know you socially, but have not had an opportunity to observe your abilities in an academic or professional setting, are generally not considered to be very helpful due to the obvious bias from the personal relationship. 


Begin thinking about possible recommenders at least a year in advance of your application.  If you are an alum or current student and have concerns about identifying recommenders, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with a pre-law advisor.


For additional tips and resources for obtaining quality recommendations, explore our Canvas page and click on the Applying to Law School section and then the Letters of Recommendation tab.


The PLAS Handbook is full of useful information to support you on your prelaw journey. To visit the Handbook, click here.