Law School Preparation and Application Timeline
First & Second Year
Plan Your Academics
- Get on the pre-law alias by emailing Shawn Paulson, AAA of the Political Science Department.
- Get to know your academic advisor, and work with that person to select courses that will enhance your writing, reading comprehension and analytical skills. Develop your logical reasoning ability. Balance your schedule. Test your academic aptitudes and interests.
- If you have or can qualify for work study, find a meaningful, skill-building student work position (i.e. in the ASC, as a tutor on campus or with the local schools, in a Northfield community-based organization, as a Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, in an academic department, Admissions, etc...)
- Get involved and begin to develop leadership skills in student clubs and organizations of interest. Also consider joining the St. Olaf Pre- Law Society, St. Olaf Debate Team and/or St. Olaf Mock Trial team on campus.
- Engage in your local community through volunteer work and civic activity. Community service projects, community-based research, and service learning activities are other options. Keep a journal of these activities.
Explore Careers in Law
- Use the St. Olaf Online Alumni Directory to conduct informational interviews or set up job shadowing experiences with lawyers.
- Read books, newspapers and magazines and stay informed. Track issues or areas of interest in a career journal.
Prepare for Law School
- Start broadly investigating law schools—check their websites on the internet.
- Become familiar with the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
- Attend pre-law workshops, panels, law school information sessions and the law school fair sponsored by the Piper Center and pre-law advising committee.
- Cultivate relationships with professors.
- Stay out of the Dean of Students Office! Law schools require that you disclose any conduct issues you incur, whether law enforcement is involved or not.
- Use credit cards wisely. Avoid damaging your credit history and jeopardizing your ability to borrow money for your legal education.
Continue Law School Prep
- Register and study hard for the LSAT. Take the exam by June of your junior year if you plan to attend law school immediately after St. Olaf. (The test is also offered in October, December, and February.)
- Attend the Law School Fair at the Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota (typically in Oct./March each year). Continue to attend all relevant pre-law programs and activities.
- Continue investigating law schools and programs. Consult the latest edition of the ABA/LSAC Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools. If possible, visit some schools.
- Register with the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service) and notify them about how many schools you plan to apply to. After spring semester grades appear, send official transcripts from St. Olaf and any other institution attended to the LSDAS.
- Set up an appointment with a pre-law advisor (Kirsten Cahoon, Piper Center or Doug Casson, Political Science) with any questions you have about your academics or the admissions process.
- Submit letters of reference to the LSDAS by the beginning of the fall semester of your senior year, if not before.
Grow in academics and experience
- Take courses that challenge your logical reasoning skills.
- Continue to work/volunteer in fields interesting to you. Take leadership roles in clubs and organizations.
- Stay informed and continue to shape your awareness of human institutions, social/cultural values, and the world at large.
- Consider an internship, undergraduate research, or other significant experiential learning activities, particularly before the summer of your senior year.
Apply to Law School
- Register and take the LSAT in October if you did not take it in June or need to improve your score. Upon receipt of your LSAT score, review your selection of law schools. Check resources available at the Piper Center to see if you are applying to the appropriate tier schools.
- Take advantage of the Piper Center for personal statement and CV reviews. Complete and submit all law school applications in the fall. Your letters of reference should be sent to the LSDAS, if not already sent.
- Expect to hear admissions decisions anytime from late fall, through winter and spring. Patience and tolerance for ambiguity help at this stage. After January 1st, submit your FAFSA application for financial aid.
- If accepted, celebrate! Investigate financial aid, housing, etc. Release your offers as you narrow down your options. If rejected, don’t panic—decide on a course of action to bolster your chances next year.
- Take your fall semester in college seriously: many law schools will want to see those grades too!
** Adapted from the L & S Advising Services, University of Wisconsin-Madison**