Considering Law School? This Article Is For You!
Whether you are in high school or post-secondary, it is important to think about the steps to reach your future career goals. If you are thinking about law, there are a number of considerations to take into account years before you apply to law school-chiefly, why are you interested in law? Once you have explored your reasons and firmly decided that you want to pursue law, how should you prepare? In this article, I will address these above questions and provide some tips on how to get into law school in Canada.
As a Law and Society major at York University, I have harbored hopes of someday becoming a lawyer. However, I was not always serious about this goal. At one point or another, I wanted to become an orthodontist, a race car driver, a film maker, and even an astronaut. As I became more familiar with my strengths and preferences, I realized law was a career I wanted to pursue.
Why did I make this decision?
A law degree provides individuals with a lot of flexibility. You do not have to become a lawyer with a law degree. Jobs in politics, government, business, and human rights are some of the many paths one can choose after attaining a degree in law. On a more broad scale, there are various reasons some may choose to go to law school such as hopes for certain financial benefits, extra education, and to make a difference in the world.
The Journey Begins…
Once you are set on going to law school, you must register for an undergraduate degree at an accredited university. Your undergraduate major can be anything of choice as there is no specific major that is preferred for law school admissions. That is not to say that your major cannot provide you with the tools you need for law school. Students who take courses that focus on developing reading, writing, communication, listening, research, problem-solving and management skills will be ahead when it comes to facing the challenges law school provides. A minimum of two to three years of undergraduate study is required to be eligible to apply to law school.
Once you are enrolled in your major of choice, there are three important factors that you should focus on throughout undergraduate studies to get into law school.
- GPA. The first factor is an individual’s grade point average (better known as one’s GPA). Your GPA is especially important since the higher the GPA one attains, the better chance you have to get into a Canadian law school. Generally, a GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is a minimum requirement for most law school applications. However, a GPA of around 3.6-4.0 is considered competitive. Canadian law schools vary in how much they weigh your GPA.Some schools, such as Queen’s University, will look at your cumulative GPA whereas others, such as Western University, focus largely on one’s last two years of undergraduate studies. Thus, the minimum GPA each school requires can affect the schools one applies to. It is especially important to research each school you are interested in, to ensure you are achieving a competitive GPA throughout your undergraduate studies.
- The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The second factor an individual should focus on is the LSAT, which is required to apply to an accredited Canadian law school. The exam consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions and a 35 minute unscored writing sample. Only four of the five multiple choice sections contribute to the test taker’s score. The writing sample is sent to all law schools you apply to. According to the Law School Admissions Council, the LSAT is an “integral” part of the law school admissions process as it provides a “standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants.”Since this exam is known to be quite tricky, it is important to study well in advance to achieve a good score. An LSAT score around 160 or above is considered competitive for law school. This link provides examples of approaches students can use while studying for the LSAT.
- Extracurriculars. Although extracurriculars are not a requirement for law school, they help demonstrate your leadership qualities, and interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Extracurricular experiences show that you are able to maintain good grades while juggling school. These activities are especially important because law school will be extremely demanding; therefore, showing the admissions committee that you can attain balance in your life can improve your law school application. Aside from law school admissions, extracurriculars are important because they can help one attain experience in different fields of life.
Other Considerations: the Personal Statement & References
Aside from these three factors, a personal statement and references are an integral part of a law school application. Generally, the personal statement provides additional information about yourself and why you are applying to law school. It is also used by the admissions council to further evaluate the applicant’s writing skills. For more information on writing a personal statement, visit this link. Meanwhile, letters of reference should be attained by someone who knows you on a more personal level so that the written letter can highlight your abilities, whether academic or not. Referees can be professors, work or volunteer supervisors.
On a cautionary note, remember that law school is especially demanding and you should not choose this career path unless you are ready to accept its responsibilities. A lot of dedication and hard work are required throughout your undergraduate studies, throughout the application process and during law school. Extensive focus and preparation are necessary to succeed in your goal of becoming a lawyer.