Are you thinking about going to law school in the future? Congratulations and Welcome! This makes you a "prelaw" student!
According to the American Bar Association, they do not recommend any particular undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to major in subjects that are considered to be in traditional preparation for law school, such as history, English, philosophy, political science, economics or business. However, you can also focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science and mathematics, computer science, engineering, nursing or education. Whatever major you choose, you are encouraged to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills. Taking a diverse range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for a legal education.
At the University of South Florida, the Pre Law Track is open to students of all majors who plan to attend law school. The Pre Law Track is neither a major nor a minor, nor a certificate program but a list of recommended courses to take. These courses are intended to provide students with a background in the skills and context useful in preparation for entering law school. The courses are recommendations that students may take voluntarily to augment their degree requirements or use toward General Elective hours. The focus of attention should be paid to improving writing, research and analysis skills to the highest degree possible. All students are encouraged to begin preparations for entrance to law school early in their college career and to confer regularly with the Pre-Law Track Advisor Ms. Rahi Dayerizadeh. You can set up an appointment to see her through: http://eschedule.forest.usf.edu/login.aspx
To be added to the pre-law track and specifically the CANVAS page, please send an email with your name, U number, and email address to PreLawAdvise@usf.edu
Please also join the USF Pre Law Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/USFPreLaw/
Spring 2016 Pre-Law Newsletter
For more information about the Pre-law track at USF, please contact:
Department of Government and International Affairs
University of South Florida
4202 E Fowler Ave. SOC 107
Tampa FL 33620
Office located in the Social Science building, 3rd floor, room 383.
Law and Politics
INR 4403 International Law
INR 3202 Human Rights
POS 2041 American National Government
POS 3283 Judicial Process and Politics
POS 3691 Law and Politics
POS 3697 Environmental Law
POS 4614 Constitutional Law I
POS 4624 Constitutional Law II
POS 4693 Women and the Law I
POS 4694 Women and the Law II
POS 3931 Politics & Policymakers
POS 3931 Law & Legal Careers>
CCJ 3014 Crime and Justice in America (Social and Behavioral Science)
CCJ 3024 Survey of the Crim. Justice System
CJL 3110 Substantive Criminal Law
CJL 4115 Environmental Law and Crime
CCJ 4224 Miscarriages of Justice
CJL 4410 Criminal Rights and Procedures
ANT 4930: Forensic Science
BUL 3320 Law and Business I
BUL 3321 Law and Business II
TAX 4001 Concepts of Federal Income Taxation (Restricted to Business majors)
SPC 2541 Persuasion
SPC 2608 Public Speaking (Humanities)
SPC 3301 Interpersonal Communication (Social and Behavioral Science)
SPC 3602 Advanced Public Speaking
SPC 3513 Argument and Debate
SPC 3710 Communication and Diversity
SPC 4701 Intercultural Communication
COM 4530 Influencing Public Opinion
Additional Performance (Speak/Act/Improv) courses with prefix ORI recommended.
ECO 2013 Macroeconomics
ECO 2023 Microeconomics
ECP 4451 Law and Economics
ECP 3413 Economics of Regulation and Antitrust
ECO 4505 Economics of Crime
ECO 4504 Public Finance
ECP 3530 Economics of Health
ECP 3302 Environmental Economics
ECP 3203 Labor Economics
ECP 3201 Economics of Women and Work
REL 4177 Comparative Religious Ethics
REL 3131 New Religions in America
REL 2166 Religion and Ecology
ENC 3250 Professional Writing (Exiting course: Writing Intensive)
ENC 3310 Expository Writing (Exiting course: Writing Intensive)
ENC 3371 Rhetorical Theory
ENC 4931 Writing for the Legal Profession
PHI 1103 Introduction to Critical Thinking (Social and Behavioral Science)
PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy (Humanities)
PHI 2101 Introduction to Formal Logic (Quantitative Reasoning/Gordon Rule)
PHI 1600 Introduction to Ethics (Humanities)
PHI 3130 Formal Logic
PHM 3400 Introduction to Philosophy of Law
PHI 4930 Logic for the LSAT
AMH 2020 American History II
AMH 3140 Age of Jefferson
AMH 3270 United States since 1945
EUH 3412 Roman Republic
EUH 3413 Roman Empire
EUH 3576 History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991
LAH 3130 Colonial Latin America
Year by Year Preparation
Law Schools are greatly concerned with your LSAT score and GPA. Therefore:
1. Begin preparation for the LSAT as soon as possible. Research the available study courses and materials for self study.
2. Take challenging classes in your major as well as general electives.
3. Dedicate yourself to achievement in whatever class you take.
4. See each class assignment as an opportunity to hone your skills and move one step closer to you goal: academic achievement and entrance into the law school of your choice!
5. Confer with your major academic advisor to ensure on-time progress toward graduation.
6. Review this webpage with information on How to become a lawyer: http://www.lawyerinformation.org/how-to-become-a-lawyer/
At all times remain positive and dedicated to your chosen task!
Freshmen and Sophomores
- Select a major that you enjoy and not one that you think will look good for law schools. Make sure it is a major that allows you to also pursue other paths besides law school in case you decide not to apply for law school.
- Begin researching the various careers in law through the internet, interviewing and shadowing attorneys, visiting law schools, and through workshops.
- Get to know your professors. Go to their office hours, participate in class discussions, and sit in the front row of class. Try to take classes with the same professors so that you can continue to build relations to hopefully ask for a letter of recommendation for law school.
- Get involved! Join student organizations, study abroad, do research with faculty, and/or volunteer in your community. You should get involved in leadership activities and organizations that you are interested in and not necessarily just law related organizations.
- Take some of the pre-law track recommended courses that are also FKLs such as PHI 2101 Formal Logic, PHH 2000 Intro to Philosophy, PHI 1600 Intro to Ethics, PHI 1103 Intro to Critical Thinking, SPC 2608 Intro to Public Speaking, SPC 3301 Interpersonal Communication, and CCJ 3014 Crime and Justice in America.
- Set up an appointment with the USF pre-law advisor: Rahi Dayerizadeh through this link: http://eschedule.forest.usf.edu/login.aspx and begin discussing a plan to prepare you for law school and the timeline for the application process.
- Keep on exploring the various careers in law to know your options. To learn more about the various fields of Law check out: http://www.brown.edu/academics/college/advising/law-school/fields-law/fields-law; http://www.lsac.org/jd/thinking-about-law-school/fields-of-law; http://www.law.columbia.edu/curriculum/areasofstudy
- Maintain a high GPA! A competitive GPA for law school is a 3.40 and above.
- Try to gain a leadership position within the organizations that you are participating in.
- Make sure you again meet with the pre-law advisor to remain on track and begin targeting specific law schools.
- Begin preparing for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) by taking a full length practice test. Various opportunities to take a full length exam are available throughout the year on campus. Once you have taken a practice exam and received a score, you will be able to gauge how much preparation you need for the real exam. It is highly recommended that students take a LSAT prep course and learn the strategies to overcoming the LSAT!
- Begin visiting law schools that you are interested in attending. Set up on campus tours and meetings with admission councilors.
- Every year there are Law School Forums where various law schools from all across the United States attend. It is a good way to talk with law school representatives in one location. This is a free event and you can visit the LSAC.org website to find the dates and locations and registration information.
- If you cannot make it to a law school forum, the "Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools" is also a good resource to start researching schools:
- Start thinking about faculty and other professionals that you want to ask for letters of recommendation for law schools.
Summer before Senior Year
- Keep on studying for the LSAT. Ideally students should prepare for the June exam. However, if you are not prepared, then sign up for the September exam.
- Register for the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. Make sure you do this at least six weeks before you plan to submit you first law school application. This will give you time to make sure your profile is complete.
- Begin to write your personal statement. You can create a generic document and then work on formatting it according to the individual law school's specifications. You will need to review each school's website to determine what that law school wants to see in the personal statement. Certain schools also require a diversity statement. If there is something in your academic record that you would like to further explain, consider writing an addendum to your personal statement.
- Create an Academic resume for law schools. Visit USF Career Services if you need assistance with your resume.
- Research law school rankings:
Fourth Year Students
- Meet with a pre-law advisor again to discuss your law school questions.
- Request all your official transcripts to be sent to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS) from the registrar's office of each institution you have attended.
- Set up appointments with your letter of recommenders and give them a copy of your personal statement and Academic Resume and the LOR Letter of Recommendation form (found on your LSAC account). This will allow them to write a more thorough letter. Please give your recommenders a minimum of a month to write your letters and remember to give them a deadline and send them thank you notes!
- Apply to your target law school(s) as soon as their applications are available. Apply as early as possible (most applications are open in October). Make sure to apply by December 31st to have a competitive advantage and this is also the scholarship deadline for most schools. Once the law schools receive your completed applications, they will contact the LSAC Credential Assembly Service to have your law school report sent to them which will include your transcripts and letters of recommendation.)
- It is only recommended that you take the LSAT once, but if you think you can get a better score, then the last LSAT opportunity would be the December exam. You can go ahead and apply before December 31st.
Wait patiently for the law schools to send their decisions!
Law related Student Organizations
There are several on-campus organizations in place that can provide prospective law-school bound students with opportunities to learn about law school and the legal field. These organizations are also a great way to find a supportive environment of colleagues with similar goals and aspirations. USF has a few law related student organizations:
Phi Alpha Delta Pre Law Fraternity
USF Pre Law Society
Mock Trial Club
Moot Court at USF
Interested students should search for these groups via BullSync for more details.
Obtaining internships in a legal environment can help you determine what type of law you are interested in. In addition, this could be an opportunity to get a professional recommendation and boost your Academic Resume. You can get exposure to the practice of law and the legal employment opportunities and the skills you need to develop. Having some prior familiarity with legal institutions and vocabulary will help you once you are in law school. Students are encouraged to take any opportunities to shadow and be mentored by practicing lawyers in order to begin creating a professional network. However, a law related internship is not required for admission to law school. Instead, internships can help you build your professional development and begin thinking about and focusing on the specific career you want to pursue and give you a more competitive advantage in the legal market after law school.
For law related internships please refer to:
http://gia.usf.edu/el/law/ : Political Science majors can get major elective credits for these internships. For all other majors, please refer to your major advisor if you are trying to do an internship for USF credit.
Students can also look for legal internships in the Tampa bay area or other areas by contacting local law offices and referring to internship and job placement websites.
There are several for-profit and non-profit LSAT preparation programs of varying length, intensity and cost. While it is not required that students participate in such a course, it is highly recommended that they research the possibility. Participating in such a program will provide a structure to the LSAT preparation process. Prep courses include but are not limited to the following:
Exam Focus: http://www.examfocus.com/
Test Masters: http://www.testmasters.net/lsat/Course/Florida-LSAT-Prep-Courses.aspx
USF LSAT review: http://hubs.ly/y0v8Kc0
Velocity Test Prep: http://www.velocitylsat.com/
LSATMax LSAT Prep: http://www.lsatmax.com
The law school application process is rigorous and has various important components. You will need to put time aside the end of your Junior year and the beginning of your Senior year if you want to apply for entering law school right after you receive your bachelor’s degree. However, it is highly recommended that students take a year off after their bachelor’s degree and focus on the LSAT and the rest of the application process.
Applications to law schools are now done through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website: http://www.lsac.org/. You will need to set up and an account on the LSAC website. As soon as you set up your account profile with your information and you will be able to fill out applications to law schools electronically. Most law schools have a rolling admissions system where they begin accepting applications in early October till either February or March for the upcoming Fall terms. There are a few law schools that still accept students in the Summer or Spring sessions, (please check the law schools your are interested in for their preferred application dates and options). The sooner you apply the better since there is less competition with earlier applicants. It is recommended that students apply to at least 5 law schools in order to have more options. The applications will be a long process so you can save your work and come back when needed.
Make sure you carefully review any additional directions on each law school application. It is important to note that if for example: a law school states that they do not want a resume attached with your application, then do not attach one. Giving more information that they do not want will not impress them! However, if an item on their application says OPTIONAL, make sure to complete it, these are usually trick questions to check if a student is really eager to fully complete the application. Finally, when each law school application is complete, you can submit it directly to the law school and wait for their response.
Credential Assembly Service (CAS) profile
The account you are setting up on the LSAC to apply to law schools includes the Credential Assembly Service which puts together your college/university transcripts, biographical information and LSAT score(s). The CAS is utilized by law schools to evaluate your undergraduate performance and compare you with other students who have gone all gone to different undergraduate institutions with various grading scales.
You will be sending your letters of recommendation, evaluations, all official transcripts, and your LSAT score (automatically), to the CAS which will organize your information and reevaluate your GPA. Law schools that you have applied to will be able to review your CAS profile in addition to your applications, personal statement, and Academic Resume. Once they can view these documents they will forward your information to their admission committee for review.
For more information about the CAS please refer to:
You will need to send all official transcripts directly from every undergraduate, graduate, and professional school you have attended to CAS. Courses that you took at another institution for example for your AA that is showing in your bachelor’s degree transcript (dual enrollment or community college courses), for example, will also need official transcripts to be sent to CAS. Please contact the registrar’s offices to have them send over your official transcripts.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test that must be taken in order to be considered for law school admissions into all American Bar Association (ABA) approved schools in the United States and most schools in Canada. The exam is offered four times a year (February, June, September, and December) and it takes about half a day. The range of the LSAT standardized test is between 120 to 180. A competitive or “good” score is 155 or above. Beyond your GPA, your LSAT scores is also the most important aspect of your admission to law school. The test questions consist of reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning and logic games, in addition to a writing sample. The LSAT is composed of five 35 minute multiple-choice sections. Of the five sections, one is experimental and will not be counted for scoring purposes. Although the writing portion is not scored, copies will be sent to each of the law schools that you are applying to.
For more information about the LSAT test please refer to: http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/about-the-lsat/ For test prep courses, please see the Test prep section.
Personal Statement/Law School Admissions Essay
This is a 2 to 3 page summary of who you are, why you want to go to law school, what you have done to prepare, and why you are targeting a particular law school. Since law schools do not interview applicants, it is important to think about what you want the admissions committee to know about you and your achievements and experiences as well as your goals.
Think of the things that are already listed in your application such as internships, student organizations, courses etc. and try to instead explain what you have learned about yourself through these experiences. You need to put time and effort into the personal statement and this can take many drafts. It is recommended that you show people your drafts for review including: family, friends, professors, the USF Writing Lab, and your pre-law advisor.
Here are a few links on tips for the Personal statement:
Please search online as well as the library and bookstores for more resources on how to write a personal statement. In addition, you can email the pre-law advisor for another resource at PreLawAdvise@usf.edu
Most law schools ask for an Academic Resume to be included in your application. This can be attached electronically to your applications when you submit them online through the LSAC website. USF Career Services is available to help you draft this resume. Here is their link for more information and to schedule an appointment with a career advisor:
Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
Most law schools ask for 3 Letters of recommendation (LOR). Make sure you read each law schools application to determine how many letters are required and who qualifies as good recommenders. Usually it is recommended that you have two academics (Tenured professors) and one employer letter. When you ask a professor or employer for an LOR, make an appointment to see them and take with you a draft of your personal statement as well as your Academic Resume. This will allow your professors to learn more about you and write a stronger letter of support. It is best to ask professors that you have connected with and done well in their class. Once you know who will write positive LORs for you, then submit their information to CAS and they will be send an email with directions to follow to submit their recommendation electronically. For those professors who prefer to mail a letter, there is also a LOR form or cover sheet with a barcode that can be found on your CAS account that you will need to download and give to those recommenders. They will need to include the LOR form/cover sheet with your letter when they mail it to the LSAC. All recommendations need to be sent directly to the LSAC by the recommenders and not by the applicant.
It is important to note that in CAS you will need to determine which letters should be sent to which law schools (especially if a law school only requests two letters, then you get to choose the two out of the three available).
Applicants need to hold themselves to a high ethical code and avoid falsifying any information on their law school application. If a law school determines that you have attempted to do so, the consequences can include rescinding an acceptance to their school or in the future your law degree. Applicants need to give full disclosure on their application on anything from an alcohol violation as a freshman to any misdemeanor or felony offenses. Many violations are not something that would prevent a student from being admitted to a law school. However, if an applicant fails to disclose a violation and the law school finds out, then they will most likely not consider your application.
If you find out that you were put on the wait list for a law school, this is not a bad situation. You can contact the law school and ask how far down you are on the wait list and when they will be making their final decisions. Most law schools have a ranking on their wait list. By finding out where you are on this list you can determine your chances and weigh your options. However, please note that each law school may have their own policy about how much they tell an applicant about the details of their wait list.
Once you have been accepted to a law school, you will most likely be asked to pay a seat deposit to reserve your space in the incoming class. This deposit will later be credited to your first year tuition. By paying the seat deposit you are letting the law school know that you are accepting their admission offer and will be part of their incoming class. Most law schools request that the seat deposits be paid by April 1st. Try to rank order your preferred law school choices while you are waiting on your acceptance letters so that you can make an informed decision. Before submitting your seat deposit, make sure you know if it is refundable, how much is refundable and if there is a deadline date for a refund of your deposit. If you decide not to attend a particular school after you have submitted your seat deposit, that money may be forfeited to the school depending upon their policy.