FAQs

What major should I select if I wish to attend law school?

There is no required major to attend law school. Pick a major that interests and challenges you. 

What types of courses should I take to prepare for law school?

Because there is no required major for law school, there are no required courses as well. However, students should be taking courses that help develop skills necessary for law school including: writing, communication, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning. 

Some recommended course at UC Santa Cruz that can help develop these skills and prepare you for law school include:

Student's College's Core Course 

PHIL 9 -Intro to Logic

PHIL 11 - Intro to Philosophy

COWL 12 - Public Speaking 

COWL 110 - Introduction to Mock Trial 

STEV 50A/B - Careers in Law 

LGST 10 - Intro to the Legal Process 

WRIT 2 - Rhetoric and Inquiry 

How important is a good GPA?

Very. The top two factors for admission is your GPA and LSAT score. Your GPA is only composed of courses taken for your undergraduate degree. Any graduate courses taken will be looked at, but not counted towards your GPA in your application. Admission committees take note when students begin with a low GPA that grows year to year. 

Should I take courses for a Pass/Not Pass (P/NP)?

Whenever possible, take courses graded. Do not take any major required course P/NP. While a "P" has no effect on your CAS (Credential Assembly Service) GPA, a "NP" counts as an "F" and is calculated into your GPA as a zero.  

Why is my CAS GPA different from my UCSC GPA?

Due to the different grading systems used by colleges and universities, CAS created a standardized format. For example, as noted above, a "NP" counts as a 0 for your CAS GPA. As well, an A+ is given a value of 4.3, whereas at UC Santa Cruz an A+ is 4.0. This your CAS GPA might be slightly different from your UCSC GPA. To learn more about the Credential Assembly Service visit the LSAC website

How important is having a Legal Internship prior to applying to Law School?

An internship is a valuable experience for yourself as a learner and as someone seeking a career in the legal field. An internship can help determine and develop interests in a relevant field. Internships are not required prior to applying to Law School, however, they are recommended for the purpose of having experience. 

What does the job outlook for lawyers look like?

Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 10% from 2012-2022, which is the average for all occupations. There is still strong competition for employment because there are more law school graduates than jobs. Although, there has been a decline in law school applicants. For more information on employment outlook for lawyers click here.

What is the Evaluation system on LSAC? How is it different from Letters of Recommendation? 

The Evaluation system via LSAC uses a rating scale that represents degrees of a particular characteristic. Evaluators can also include free-form text comments after each category as well as in the final comments section of the evaluation. Only three schools require Evaluations, Albany Law School, University of Detroit Mercy, and University of Montana. However, some schools recommend submitting evaluations as well as letters of recommendation. Carefully review each school's application requirements to see if you need to include evaluations. If a school's website or pamphlet does not specify, call the school's admissions office. 

What is the difference between an ABA (American Bar Association) Approved law school versus a Non ABA approved law school?

The American Bar Association (ABA) is an accreditation organization that has given approval to over 200 law schools in the United States. ABA-approved law schools offer a legal education that meets certain ABA standards set forth by the Council and Accreditation Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. In the United States, any graduate of an ABA-approved law school can take the bar exam in their respective jurisdiction, whereas, graduates of non ABA approved law schools can still take the bar exam, but only in a limited number of states. There is a chance that a non ABA law school can limit a student's overall opportunities, however, there are many positives as well such as cheaper tuition and if you are established in a repective city. Check with the state’s legal policy beforehand in order to make the best decision.

What is a Paralegal?

The American Bar Association (ABA) defines a paralegal as:

“A person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

-A person who has specific legal training and is employed by an agency’s or entity’s lawyer to focus on said specific legal work. A paralegal is not a lawyer and is not certified by the American Bar Association and therefore may not practice law in a court.

How does one become a Paralegal?

Through certification programs hosted by certain schools, such as vocational schools or community colleges.

What are the Pros/Cons of taking a gap year?

Pro: More time to study for the LSAT, time to explore a legal field, time to perfect your law school application, time to volunteer abroad or do something of equal value

Cons: Not a time to relax, rather the opposite. One must work just as hard as in college if not harder. The gap must actually mean something and should impress the admissions representatives.

What is a rolling basis application?

Law schools allow a wide time frame for students to submit their applications in order to allow for students to prepare the best application. The application period usually starts in early September and lasts up to early February (on average).

When is the best time to apply?

The best time to apply would be as early as possible. Spots fill up and the first batch of admission decisions come out around December, students want to ensure a spot as early as possible in order to secure it. Financial aid may decrease the longer a student waits as awards are given out early. Waiting means you could receive a small financial package compared to students who applied earlier and may have received a more generous package. This does not mean that you should apply through a binding early decision period, unless this school is your number one choice.

What is Early Action vs. Early Decision? 

Early Action and Early Decision programs usually require a significantly earlier application deadline than for regular decision (RD) applicants. In turn, schools usually guarantee a decision (accept/deny/waitlist/hold) for these applicants earlier in the cycle as well.

Each option, depending on the school, has its own deadlines – both for the application submission as well as a response time from the school. Normally, the deadline for submitting the application is in late October or early November and nearly all schools will respond by the end of December (though this is not universally true; see the next question for more details).

There is one significant difference between the two options, however. Early Action is a non-binding application which simply guarantees a response by a certain date; Early Decision, however, requires that the applicant agree to a binding commitment to the school, guaranteeing that, if accepted, the applicant will withdraw all other applications and matriculate to the school in the following school year.