Frequently Asked Questions

Getting in

Students enrolled in the prelaw program at UM have a 92% law school acceptance rate. Students not in the prelaw program have a 75% acceptance rate. Our prelaw program focuses on strengthening students' success through personalized professional advising.   From which classes to choose, what extra-curriculars to pursue, and hands-on advice throughout the application process - our personalized approach drastically increases your chance to be accepted at the law school of your choice.

No. The prelaw program is an advising option. You need to choose a major that fits your personal interests and goals. Learn more about how to choose your major. Your prelaw advisor will make sure that you take the courses you need to succeed in law school beyond the ones required for your major. Learn more about the curricular choices that will play in your favor.

There is no fixed Prelaw curriculum that will ensure that you will get into the law school of your choice. Choose a major that you find inspiring, challenging, and rewarding. Then, make sure to complement your major with courses that develop your logical, reading, and writing skills.

Learn more about the curricular choices that will play in your favor.

Learn more about how to choose your major.

There is no fixed Pre–Law Curriculum that will ensure that you will get into the law school of your choice. That said, there are curricular choices that may help you succeed in law school and within your career in the Law. Make sure to take classes in which you learn about the historical, philosophical, economical context in which the law was created. Also, take classes that allow you to develop your analytical skills, as well as your reading and writing skills. Learn more about the curricular choices that will play in your favor.

While your admission to law school depends on many factors, a GPA of 3.5 and above is considered competitive. A GPA of 3.0 and below will make it challenging (but not impossible) to get in.

Law schools are interested in students with a true commitment to service, proven leadership and social skills. No specific set of activities will increase your chances to get into and succeed in law school. That said, law schools will favor consistent and deep commitment to a few activities over superficial involvement in many disparate activities. Being seriously committed to a cause you truly care about will not only help you get into law school: it will also help you get a job after law school. Your extracurricular activities should reflect your personality, values and personal intellectual path.

Applying

An application file consists of an application form, a personal statement, a résumé, at least 2 letters of recommendation, transcripts, and possibly an addendum.

In your personal statement, you have the unique opportunity to give a sense of who you are, and why you are interesting, to admission committee members. You should not repeat any information that is already in your transcripts or résumé. Instead, you need to explain which event(s) shaped your personality. You may explain your decision to apply to law school, but that's not necessary.

Note that some schools give some specific instructions about which topic to address in your personal statement. If so, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

To learn more about writing your personal statement, check out "Personal Statement and Essays".

Your readers are sharp, and also exhausted. They have read MANY transcripts, résumés, and personal statements. So, make your personal statement as concise as possible. This is the place where you want to raise admission committee members' interest, not put them to sleep. Typically, a good range is 1 to 3 pages, double spaced.

Law schools typically ask for 2 to 3 letters of recommendation. At least two letters should be written by faculty members who can speak about your academic skills. A third letter might be included from a non-academic source. Make sure that all letters are actually useful to admission committee members. Importantly, how well-known is your recommender is far less important than how well s/he knows you. A letter from a Federal Judge who happens to be your dad's friend does NOTHING unless the Judge knows you very well, and has something to say about you that is relevant to your chances of success in law school.

To learn more about how to choose your recommenders, and about crucial strategies to get good letters, visit the "Letters of Recommendation" page.

You should include an addendum in your application if there is any part of your file that needs explanation. A low LSAT, a low GPA, academic misconduct, or a police record, would be appropriate topics to address in an addendum. The important thing here is to NOT make excuses, but to take responsibility. Claiming that you have been "set up" for all three DUIs on your record will not look good. In fact, it could prevent you from getting in: you are allowed to make mistakes, but you are expected to own up to your own responsibility in the matter.

Yes, definitely. If you don't, you might be prevented from passing the bar. Honesty is absolutely crucial. Consider explaining the circumstances in which the offense happened, and what you learned from it in an addendum.

There are many factors to take into account when one chooses which law schools to apply to, including cost, location, one's future career plans etc. To learn more about how to choose which law schools to apply to, visit the "Choosing a Law School" page.

Contrary to what many think, it is not necessarily an advantage to go to law school right after college. Many law schools appreciate students who are more mature, and who have taken the time to learn about themselves and the world before they apply to law schools. Participating in a program like Peace Corps or Americorps is especially valued.

To learn more about when to apply to law school, visit the "Application Timeline" page.

LSAT

The LSAT is the Law School Admission Test. It is a standardized test required by nearly all ABA-approved law schools and administered by the LSAC -- the Law School Admission Council. The test consists of five 35 min. sections, four of which are scored. The sections include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. The unscored section is generally used to try out new test questions. There is also a writing sample, which is not scored, but is sent to all the law schools to which the student applies.

To learn more about what the LSAT is about, visit the "LSAT" page, as well as the LSAC page about the LSAT.

The LSAT is offered four times a year: February, June, October, and December.

You should take the LSAT when you are ready to score your best. Optimally, you should take the LSAT in June a year before you plan on attending law school. So, if your plan is to go to law school right after college, that means taking the LSAT in June following your Junior year. If your plan is to take some time off, you have more flexibility. One strategy is to take it in December of your Senior year, i.e. while you are still in "school mode" (taking it in June after graduation may not be a great idea). Another option is to take wait until after you graduate, once you have enough time and motivation to prepare your best.

To learn more about the best timeline, visit the "LSAT" page.

The best way to prepare is to practice. The LSAT is a highly learnable test. In fact, you are tested just as much on your discipline and commitment as on your skills. Many students choose to self-study, others register for private courses/tutoring. Note that the University of Montana offers an LSAT preparation course for a modest fee. In any case, preparing for the LSAT should be seen as a 3-month commitment.

To learn more about how to prepare for the LSAT, visit the "LSAT" page.

You may retake the LSAT (no more than three times in a given year). Typically, law schools will look at all your scores but will consider your best score. When deciding whether or not you should retake the LSAT, please consider the chances that you will significantly improve your score. To help determine this, students should take into account several factors: the extent of their preparation for the first LSAT, how closely their official LSAT score matched practice scores, their cumulative GPA, and the prospects for further study and practice to lead to improvement on a subsequent LSAT.

LSAC/CAS

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is a nonprofit corporation that is part of the admission process for law school. It is best known for administering the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Among other services, the LSAC processes academic credentials for law school applicants, and publishes LSAT preparation books and law school guides.

To learn more about the LSAC, visit the LSAC webpage.

From the LSAC website:

"The Credential Assembly Service streamlines law school admission by allowing applicants to have all transcripts, recommendations, and evaluations sent only once to LSAC. LSAC summarizes and combines that information with LSAT scores and writing samples into a report that is sent upon request to the law schools to which the applicant applies. The applicant's fee for this service also covers electronic application processing for all ABA-approved law schools as well as transcript authentication and evaluation for applicants educated outside the US. Nearly all ABA-approved law schools and many other law schools require the use of the Credential Assembly Service for JD applicants."

Request that all institutions in which you have undergraduate or graduate coursework send your transcripts to CAS. To learn more about how that works, visit the "Requesting Transcript" page on the LSAC website.

The LSAC offers a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) and Evaluation service to Credential Assembly Service (CAS) registrants. Letters may be submitted electronically or on paper, depending on the recommender's preference.

Use of LSAC's LOR or Evaluation service is optional unless a law school to which you are applying states that its use is required. These services allow you to use your LSAC.org account to have your LORs and evaluations sent to law schools based on each school's requirements or preferences.

From the LSAC website: "A letter discusses the qualities and characteristics of the applicant's ability, academic and otherwise, to study law. An evaluation rates both cognitive and noncognitive attributes and skills that have been identified as important to successful lawyering, using a scale that represents degrees of a particular characteristic. Letters may be submitted electronically or on paper, depending on the recommender's preference; evaluations are completely electronic."

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Most law schools require that your test score be no more than 3 years old. That said, you should contact the law schools you are intending to apply to in order to determine whether your score will be accepted or not.

All your grades are taken into account when CAS computes your GPA, even the grades you obtained for courses you later repeated. Since UM does not takes into account your lower grades for repeated courses, your GPA as calculated by CAS may well be lower than your official UM GPA.