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Applying to Law School

Although everyone’s law school path can vary, there are general timelines to follow if you plan to attend law school. Use this checklist below to develop a broad set of next steps for yourself depending on your class year. When in doubt, apply early. Typically, the law school application process begins a year in advance prior to the year you will be applying; if you want to attend law school next Fall semester, apply to law school the Fall semester before.

Law School Timelines

Law schools utilize a rolling admission process, meaning they review applications as they receive them. This is also how law schools treat their awarding of financial aid packages based on merit or other qualifications, which is another reason why it is important to apply early. Usually, law schools will begin formally reviewing applications sometime in September and stop reviewing them and making offers by April-May. It may seem like you have a lot of time, but your goal should be to send in your applications between September and December. Use Fall Break, Thanksgiving and Winter Break as deadlines. There are exceptions to this, of course, and you can still gain admittance to a law school if you apply after January. Remember that you may be awarded less financial aid and will be notified of your admittance status later than if you apply early.

Many students take a gap year or more time off between undergraduate and law school, but for demonstration purposes, this timeline represents someone who is attending law school right after graduating.

Please feel free to meet with the Pre-Law advisor at any point in your law school application process to work towards the following action steps.

  • An LSAC Account (create one for free)
  • Materials to Submit for each Law School
    • Resume
    • Transcript(s)
      • Request Villanova transcripts online
      • Include transcripts from study abroad or transfer institutions also
    • Three Letters of Recommendation - Send requests through LSAC website
      • Law schools have a preference towards academic references, so try to mainly ask professors. However, you can ask a supervisor, coach, advisor, or someone that knows you very well and can speak to your skills, work, and abilities.
      • Make sure to talk with your recommenders - in person, preferably - about why you want to attend law school, and provide them with your resume, personal statement, and anything else that will help them write the best letter for you.
      • Letter writers will submit their recommendations through the LSAC website. You will input their information into your LSAC account and LSAC will generate a recommendation form email sent directly to your recommender. Remind them to check their spam email, just in case. Your lrecommender can then upload the letter directly to the LSAC website via the form or mail it directly to LSAC.  
    • Personal Statement
    • LSAT Score
    • Addendum(a)
    • Optional Essays (like Diversity Statements)
  • Pay the CAS (Credential Assembly Service) Fee to apply to law schools; CAS is like the Common App used to apply to colleges

Suggested Application Timeline

  • Explore majors – choose one you are most interested in – focus on taking writing-intensive classes to prepare you for law school
  • Get involved on campus to develop law-related skills (problem-solving, writing, team-work, critical thinking, etc.)
  • Create a Resume – check out the resume samples on our website
  • Sign up for the Pre-Law Newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things Villanova Pre-Law Advising
  • Schedule a Pre-Law advising appointment in Handshake at any point if you’d like any assistance in choosing a major, finding internships/jobs, creating a resume, practicing interview, and exploring legal careers.
  • Declare your major – again, choose a major that truly interests you
  • Maintain a good GPA
  • Get involved on campus – if you haven’t already
  • Update your resume
  • Get experience – land an internship, part-time job, fellowship, research opportunity, volunteering, study abroad, shadowing experience related to build relevant skills
  • Network with law alumni and people who work in law to get more exposure to the legal field
  • Consider visiting a law school or sitting in on a law class (you can do this easily at Villanova Law)
  • Start thinking about who you will ask for letters of recommendation. You will need at least three recommenders.
  • Update your resume
  • Maintain a good GPA
  • Create an account with to track your applications; this website is where you will submit all your application materials and apply to law school.
  • Get experience – land an internship, part-time job, fellowship, research opportunity, volunteering, study abroad, shadowing experience related to build relevant skills
  • Study for the LSAT starting 4-6 months prior to your test date *if you plan on attending law school after you graduate*
  • Register and take for LSAT test date in before the end of your Fall semester
  • Attend law school fairs and research schools in which you’re interested
  • Research financial aid options for law school – know your costs and research scholarship options
  • Network with law alumni and people who work in law
  • Decide on who you will ask for letters of recommendation (aim for three people)
  • Take the LSATif you plan on attending law school immediately after you graduate
  • Create a list of reach, target and safety law schools (recommended: six to eight schools). Resources to research law schools:
  • Attend law school fairs/Research schools you’re interested in
  • Network with law alumni and people who work in law
  • Acquire all materials needed to apply to law schools (link to checklist)
    • Finalize resume
    • Ask for at least three letters of recommendation from professors and supervisors; remember to give them a deadline but also give them plenty of time to write it!
    • Write your personal statement. Schedule a 60-minute Pre-Law advising appointment in Handshake to review your personal statement with the Pre-Law advisor.
    • Request a copy of your official transcript from the Registrar’s website to send to
    • Fill out FASFA/research financial aid optionsfor law school
    • Pay the fee for the CAS to send your application materials through LSAC
  • Apply before the end of Fall semester to be considered “early” in the process
  • Decide on which law school to attend
    • Compare and contrast your offers by weighing costs, financial aid, law school itself, etc.
    • Be sure to notify all schools of your final decision

Personal Statements

Think of your personal statement as an opportunity for law schools to get to know you as an individual, beyond your application materials – your values, interests, goals, and passions. Your personal statement should be another piece of your application that sets you apart from other law school candidates, as well as showcasing your writing abilities.

  1. Brainstorm some pervasive themes and topics that relate to you, ones that are prominent in your life. Think about why and how you got interested in law and significant life events and interests. Here are some topics to get you started:
    • Work, school and community experiences, such as positions you have held, volunteer opportunities, and projects you have participated in
    • Extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports teams, leadership positions
    • Personal challenges and experiences, including travel, disabilities, goals you have accomplished
    • Unique talents or interests
  2. Select 1-2 topics/themes you believe will be the strongest. Use this theme as the thesis statement of your personal statement. Make sure to integrate the theme throughout your personal statement. Think of it like a “sandwich” – begin your PS with the theme/thesis (top piece of bread), write your body paragraphs that relate to/support the thesis/theme (contents of the sandwich), and reiterate your theme/thesis again but in a different, conclusive way (bottom piece of bread).
  3. Write a rough draft, not worrying about length, style, or grammar. Get all your thoughts down.
  4. Put it away for a while. Time adds an interesting perspective to your writing.
  5. Redraft and edit as needed; aim for 2-3 pages double spaced. Be sure to notice if you have carried a strong theme throughout your personal statement.
  6. Have several people read it- the Pre-Law advisor (make a 60 minute law school application appointment in Handshake), your Letters of Recommendation writers, or the Writing Center.
  7. Weigh the feedback you have been given and develop your final draft.
  8. Proofread, proofread, and proofread!

If the school does not specify a topic (and many don’t, but always check) here are a few ideas to help you brainstorm:

  • Hobbies/work/other experiences that have shaped you
  • How you became interested in the law
  • Life events that have changed or motivated you
  • Challenges & hurdles you have overcome
  • An issue or subject that you feel strongly about and why (just make sure not to “preach”)
  • The growth you’ve experienced in college
  • A unique experience that you have had inside or outside the classroom
  • Your goals and the events that have shaped those goals
  • Double- and triple-check that you answered the essay questions that were provided
  • Remember to put the personal in personal statement – use personal stories and experiences
  • Avoid just restating your resume or transcript: law schools are looking to get to know you beyond what is in your application materials
  • Most schools do not restrict page length for the personal statement, but a general guideline is 2-3 pages double spaced (although check with each school for specific guidelines)
  • Navigate to Handshake.
  • Select the Career Center option that aligns with your current student status.
  • Select one of the two Pre-Law Advising appointment options.
  • Find a date and time that works for you!