A JD, or Juris Doctor, can lead to a variety of law-related fields and can open doors to careers in government, business, nonprofits and higher education. Law schools now specialize with concentrations in Intellectual Property, Entertainment Law, Immigration Law, Environmental Law, Health Law, International Law and many others.
With the right preparation, your education at Case Western Reserve University will be a strong foundation for your legal education and career.
Exploring your interest
Deciding if a legal career is right for you is an important step in your journey. Pre-Law Advisor Terri Mester, and the staff in Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education are here to support you as you explore your interests.
Here are some suggestions to help you along the way:
- Email your pre-law advisor, Terri Mester (firstname.lastname@example.org), to be included on the pre-law database, Canvas and Handshake sites. This way, you’ll learn about job opportunities, free LSAT practice tests and upcoming information sessions.
- Attend information sessions and presentations by law school admissions, law professors, judges, prosecutors and specialized practitioners.
- Take career assessments through Post Graduate Planning and Experiential Education to determine if your personality, values and interests match those required in the legal profession.
- Review the Pre-Law Timeline
- Intern with a law firm or law-related organization in the summer like Legal Aid or the ACLU to gain exposure to the field.
- Shadow individual lawyers during winter and spring breaks.
- Conduct informational interviews to learn about the legal profession. Talk with lawyers who are family members, friends or CWRU alumni.
Preparing for law school
Admissions committees look at a variety of factors and trends in your academic record to predict how well you will perform in law school. There is no “pre-law major,” and unlike medical school, there are no specific educational requirements for entrance into law school. Choose classes that challenge your ability to think and reason logically, require you to research subjects thoroughly, write extensively and sharpen your ability to analyze material.
For in-depth recommendations, download the pre-law handbook.
Selecting a major
Choose a major that interests you! However, there are specialized areas of law that you may want to prepare for as an undergraduate. For example, if you are considering a career in intellectual property, you may want to major in engineering or science. If you are thinking of environmental law, geology or biology might be appropriate majors for you. Learning languages and taking courses in international studies will help lay the groundwork for a career in international law. Courses in economics, management and accounting are useful for corporate and tax law. Your path is yours to create.
Applying to law school
Determining where to apply
There is a lot to consider when picking out a law school. Does the school attract students from across the country and world or are most students from the region in which the school is located? What are the academic and experiential backgrounds of faculty? What is the overall atmosphere—are students friendly or overly competitive? What resources are available to help you find a job? What is the bar pass rate for recent graduates?
There are many questions to consider when determining where to apply. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help you make decisions!
Download the pre-law handbook for a comprehensive checklist to help you explore options.
Your law school application
Law school application forms are pretty straightforward, especially if you use the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) online application process. You only need to answer common questions like your name, address and undergraduate degree once and you can attach your personal statement, resume and other written information electronically
Most law schools require two letters of recommendation and some require three. You can even submit as many as four letters if you have strong recommenders. Recommendations should include concrete examples of intellectual strength, analytical ability, research skills, maturity, judgment, motivation, leadership and communication skills.
Letters from academics carry the most weight since they reference your success in an academic setting and your potential for law school. If you’ve been working for several years and are out of academia, supervisors or mentors can also write a letter. But, you should have at least one academic or faculty recommendation. No matter who you ask, make sure that person knows you well!
Law schools will ask you to submit official transcripts from the Office of the Registrar. Instruct the Registrar to send transcripts to the Credential Assembly Service (or CAS). CAS will send your transcript(s) directly to the law schools where you’ve applied.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test required for admission to all law schools. Scored from 120-180, the test has three main sections: reading comprehension, logical reasoning (also known as arguments) and analytical reasoning (or logic games). The actual test consists of 5 sections (each 35 minutes): one reading comprehension, two logical reasoning, one analytical reasoning and one experimental section. Additionally, there is a writing section which does not factor into your score but is sent to law schools.
Review the LSAT resources below and download the pre-law handbook for additional information.
All schools require you to submit at least one written essay. The essay, or “personal statement,” is your opportunity to show the school who you are. The statement is usually 500 words or two double-spaced pages. Be sure to attend the personal statement writing workshop held in September!
Writing a resume requires you to organize your thoughts and express your professional experience in a logical, creative manner. A well-written resume can help your law school application stand out and clearly articulate your relevant experiences when you go to campus to interview.
Consult with the experts in Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education to prepare and polish your law school resume.
There are many different resources and strategies to prepare for the LSAT and some resources will work better for some students than others. This list is not complete, but may be useful if you are looking for a variety of test preparation options. We do not recommend taking the test without some prior preparation. Take several practice tests in the months before your test date so you know what to expect. Give yourself ample time to prepare mentally and physically for the test date too. Most importantly, believe in yourself!
Planning ahead is key to your success when taking the LSAT. Dates and deadlines can sneak up quickly. Get ahead and review key dates, deadlines and recommended tips at the resources below:
For additional resources about when and where to take the test, download the pre-law handbook.