How to get into a top law school

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Getting a degree from a top law school will certainly help you to boost your career. From magic circle law firms to top-tier investment banks, from non-profit organizations to the United Nations, a degree from a top law school can open many doors. Here is a simple guide that can help you to successfully manage the exacting application process and get ahead of the competition for the limited places at law schools that make the difference.

 

How to find a top law school

 

Before we go into the details on how to get into a top law school, we need to first ask the question: what is a top law school? According to the American Bar Association (ABA) there are currently 205 ABA approved law schools in the US. The Law School Admission Council lists another 32 law schools, which educate future lawyers, though these schools are not directly ABA approved. The latter group of law schools can still help a student become a lawyer, but because they are not approved by the ABA, they are not reputable and therefore generally aren’t considered to be top law schools.

 

Generally speaking, a school may be considered one of the top law schools if it is continuously ranked as one of the top 10 in the country. There comes the issue of there being multiple rankings around the world. In the US, the three most reputable rankings can be found on Forbes, the US News Best Law Schools page and the QS US Law School search. We’ve also included the QS World University Ranking for the subject of Law. Here are the top 10 law schools depending on the rankings of these websites.

 

 

Forbes

Law School Ranking

US News

Law Schook Ranking

QS US

Law School Ranking

QS Worldwide

Law School Ranking

   1

New York University

Yale University

Harvard University

Harvard University

   2

University of Chicago

Stanford University

Yale University

University of Cambridge

   3

Harvard University

Harvard University

Stanford University

University of Oxford

   4

University of Pennsylvania

University of Chicago

New York University

Yale University

   5

Columbia University

Columbia University

University of California, Berkeley

Stanford University

   6

University of Virginia

New York University

Columbia University

New York University

   7

Stanford University

University of Pennsylvania

University of Chicago

University of California, Berkeley

   8

Northwestern University

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Georgetown University

University of Melbourne

   9

University of Michigan

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Los Angeles

London School of Economics

  10

University of California, Berkeley

University of Virginia

University of Michigan

 

 

In the US, the four top law schools are consistently Harvard University, Yale University, New York University, and Stanford University. Internationally respected and reputable as institutions for earning a Law degree, these top law schools help students develop their expertise in legal issues and prepare them for work in the legal profession. The University of Oxford, University of Melbourne, and the London School of Economics also offer globally recognised programs for students who wish to pursue their Law degrees.

 

The entry criteria for the schools above vary a little between one each school, but there are some patterns and general criteria that apply to them all.

 

Choose an undergraduate degree that will prepare you for law school

 

Top law schools look for candidates that have training in a range of vital academic skills. Developing your skill in things such as library research, developing and structuring an argument, and critical thinking are all a must. You must also have a fluent command of the written and spoken language in which you’ll be taught. You’ll demonstrate this through your academic record, a top score on the LSAT or an equivalent examination, and finally a well-argued and meaningful essay attached to your application. If you are non-native speaker of the language of your institution, you’ll need a relevant language qualification, such as TOEFL or IELTS. Avoid studying undergraduate courses like Criminal Justice, which aren’t viewed as rigorous enough – choose an established subject that’s well-respected like History, Philosophy, or (of course) Law.

 

You cannot forget the importance of writing, too. Top law schools will require students to demonstrate a high level of clear, concise writing. A student is a valuable asset if they can take a complicated topic or problem, break it down to the essentials, and structure a clear essay. If you’re able to develop your writing skills during your undergraduate education, you’ll better prepare yourself for the work that you’ll face while studying at a top law school.

 

Prove you’re ready for law school: Get good grades

 

Once you’ve chosen your undergraduate degree or major, you’ll be responsible for laying the foundations for your application to a top law school. The best law schools around the world require top grades from their applicants. Data from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) shows that you should have a GPA of 3.59 and an LSAT of 162 or more to get into one of the top 10 law schools. Although there might be some exceptions to this rule, you’ll be much better off if you don’t take any chances. If you want to get into one of the top 3 schools, such as Harvard, Stanford, or Yale, you will need a 3.75 GPA and a 169 LSAT to be considered. Academic stardom isn’t enough by itself, but it could be the number that swings the arrow on the meter from rejection to acceptance.

 

Since a Law degree will require a lot of essay writing and reading, it’s a good idea to take at least one subject during your secondary education studies that will help you develop these skills. You could take, for example, English language or literature, or a history course. If you have a top law school in mind, take note of any prerequisites that are listed for the course, and tailor your subject choices to reflect those requirements. This way you’ll be ahead of your own academic develop for the Law degree you’re interested in and you’ll be able to fortify your strengths for studying at a top law school.

 

Be interesting

 

Top law schools pride themselves on admitting an eclectic variety of students, so don’t be put off if you’ve got a background in an unusual but rigorous field, or if your route to studying Law is an unconventional one. In fact, such things are an excellent topic for your motivation letter. If you’ve decided to enter Law after studying Theology or Physics, for example, it might be worth thinking carefully about how this background might give you a unique perspective on legal matters – especially if this relates to a field of specialist legal interest! The Law is an extremely broad field, and practically every academic field has legal significance. Nor should you focus solely on your educational background. When writing a motivational letter for a top law school, leave out a flat list of all your professional achievements, since your CV should cover this, and instead focus on lessons you’ve learned, and the formative events in your life. Competing as an athlete, extensive voluntary experience, or taking on leadership roles all make for great topics of discussion. This way you’ll also have material to discuss during your interview with the Law school.

 

Be discerning and discuss your career goals

 

When applying to a top law school, it’s obvious that the school’s international reputation is a reason for doing so. That same reason applies to every application, and so it won’t help your application stand out if you state this as such. The truly excellent applications will rest on further evidence for why you and your chosen schools are a close fit. Does the school in question have a particular specialism in an area of law you find particularly interesting? Does it have a close relationship with a firm you’ve worked for in the past? Does its ethos and culture appeal to you? Reasons like this are that much more compelling than the blunt fact that the school you’re applying for happens to be a good one.

 

Another aspect to consider is discussing your career goals within your personal statement. Writing a clear and coherent application shows the admissions department that you are seriously considering the law program and how it will prepare you for your future career. What vision do you have for the aftermath of your studies? It can help to work backwards and consider how a specific degree could help lead you to your professional goals.

 

Get some professional experience beforehand

 

It isn’t required that you’ve completed legal internships or gained other relevant experience before you apply to graduate law school, but it will help your application. It’s also useful to you personally. A legal education is an expensive, time-consuming undertaking, and being sure that a legal career is what you ultimately want to do is very important both for you, and for the admissions tutors at the schools to which you’re applying. Doing an internship can also make it much easier to gain letters of recommendation from respected legal practitioners and academics, something that is very important for certain schools.

 

Your resume will also stand out if you can demonstrate professional experience gained from internships or other work placements. These show the admissions department that you are committed to developing yourself professionally, even before your admission to a top law school to complete your degree. You’ll also be able to ask for letters of recommendation from your supervisor, who would have witnessed you in action and who would know your work ethic well enough to write a positive review for your work. The top law schools want students who can excel in their classes and having previous professional experience shows that you’re well equipped to handle a certain workload.

 

Prepare for the law school interview

 

Most law schools require candidates to go through an interviewing process, whether that is through virtual means or meeting representatives of the school who visit larger cities. When you’re invited for an interview, make sure you’re prepared because a successful interview will help secure your acceptance into a top law school. Rather than looking at the interview as a difficult next step, use it as a chance to share your experiences and passion that makes you the best fit for the Law degree. Avoiding scripted responses is recommended, and it helps to brainstorm possible questions that could be asked and to think about how you would answer them. Also keep in mind that interviews give you a chance to showcase your personality!

 

And finally – apply early for law school

 

Submit your application to a top law school well in advance of the start of the academic year in order to increase your chance of admission. Most law schools operate to a certain extent on a first-come, first-served basis. Even very talented, qualified candidates can be put on the waiting list if the places for the coming year have already been filled, and delays of this kind can really slow your professional advancement. So start planning your application process as far in advance as you can, and make sure that you have a back-up plan in place, such as getting relevant work experience. Even if you’re unsuccessful during the first round of applications, you’ll have something lined up that will help you develop your skill set for the next round of applications.

 

A legal career is a challenging one, and giving yourself the best start possible is fundamental to your future success. Securing a place at the top schools as identified by Forbes is one way of doing this; but this is no easy task. By remembering the pieces of advice we’ve provided above, you will be well prepared for your applications to a top law school. Why not check out the Law degrees available on MastersAvenue and start your journey today?

 

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