Law School: What You’ll Need to Apply

To apply to law school you will need:

  1. Law School Admission Council Account
  2. Credential Assembly Service Account
  3. Law School Admission Test
  4. Transcript
  5. Personal Statement
  6. Resumes
  7. Letters of Recommendation
  8. Dean’s Certification

To discuss any application components, make an appointment with the Tufts Pre-Law Advisor

  • Register with the Law School Admission Council
    The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is a non-profit organization with over 200 member law schools in the United States and Canada. It administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and facilitates the Credential Assembly System (CAS), both of which can be accessed via the LSAC website. LSAC does not make admission assessments or decisions.  You will receive an account once you register for the LSAT.
  • Register with the Credential Assembly Service

    You must also register with the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which is your common app for applying to law school.  CAS forwards copies of your undergraduate transcripts, a standardized numerical summary of your academic records, your LSAT score(s), and letters of recommendation to each law school to which you are applying. Be sure to check your transcripts for accuracy before having them sent to CAS. Once you are registered with CAS, please check “yes” on the application to authorize LSAC to release your information to your pre-law advisor. This will help provide accurate statistics for Tufts students who apply to law school in the future. If you checked “no” initially, you can edit your account to authorize the release of information.

  • Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) 

    If you are applying to an American Bar Association-accredited law school, you must take the LSAT, a standardized test made up of five 35-minute sections. This exam is given four times per calendar year, and is scored on a scale of 120-180. Your score report will be sent to you about three-four weeks after you take the test. You may not take the LSAT more than three times in any two-year period. This policy applies even if you cancel your score or if your score is not otherwise reported. LSAC may cancel your registration, rescind your admission ticket, or take other steps to enforce this policy.

    Preparing for the LSAT

    It is possible to study for the LSAT on your own by ordering old LSAT exams through LSAC. If you want the support of a structured class to help you study, there are many LSAT-prep courses offered. While Tufts does not endorse one prep course over another, Tufts students have used the following courses to prepare for the LSAT. Others have studied with one-on-one tutoring.

    LSAT Prep Courses

  • Obtain Transcripts

    You are responsible for submitting your transcript to CAS.  Tufts will not automatically send in your transcript for you. If you graduated in 2006 or later, you can request your transcript online through though SIS. If you graduated prior to 2006, visit this page for more information. Once your transcript has been received by the Credential Assembly Service, it will be submitted to the schools you wish to apply to.

    Programs Sponsored by Tufts Programs Abroad

    As long as the courses you took abroad, along with your grades and credits are recorded on your official Tufts academic transcript or a separate or parallel transcript maintained by Tufts, you do NOT need to send an additional transcript to CAS.

    Non-Tufts Study Abroad Programs

    If you studied in a program sponsored by another US (including US territories) or Canadian college or university you must have the sponsoring college or university send a transcript directly to CAS. When you register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), identify the US or Canadian institution sponsoring the study abroad program under “Other Institutions.”

    Other Factors That Require Additional Steps

    (1) If you were directly enrolled in one or more international institutions but the total amount of work you completed is the equivalent to one year or less, do NOT list the international institution when you register for the CAS, and do not have a transcript forwarded. International work that is the equivalent of one US or Canadian academic year or less is not required for CAS purposes. You may, however, be required to list your attendance at such institutions on your application to law school.


    (2) If you are applying to a law school that requires the use of the CAS authentication and evaluation feature, were directly enrolled in one or more international institutions, and the total amount of work you completed at all international institutions is the equivalent of more than one US or Canadian academic year, then in addition to your home institution’s transcript, you must have a transcript forwarded to LSAC from the international institution(s). When you register for CAS, identify the international institution(s) under “International Institutions.” A transcript from a non-degree granting agency reflecting work completed through direct enrollment is not acceptable for LSAC purposes; you must have a transcript forwarded from the institution itself.

    International transcripts meeting the “more than one year” criteria are required from all:

    • undergraduate and graduate schools
    • law/medical/professional schools
    • schools attended even though a degree was never awarded

    All required international transcripts must be sent directly to LSAC by the issuing institution, and will be processed through the authentication and evaluation feature of CAS as described on LSAC’s website.

  • Write Personal Statements

    Your personal statement is the third-most important part of your application after your LSAT and GPA. The personal statement generally takes the place of an interview. It is not a statement of purpose but an expression of the motivations, values, and experiences that make you a unique addition to the incoming class.

    Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start

    • Who am I?
    • What makes me unique?
    • What are my passions?
    • What is important to me and why?
    • What have I learned from my experiences?
    • Which experience has shaped me most?

    If You Don’t Feel Comfortable Talking About Yourself

    • Talk about yourself to someone willing to listen and write down what you say or record yourself.
    • Choose a specific defining moment or experience to focus on.
    • Ask yourself what experiences or events have made you who you are today.
    • Generate ideas and find your voice with free writing, brainstorming and journaling.

    Writing the Statement

    • Plan to spend four to six weeks writing at least three drafts.
    • Make sure you understand the question and what’s required of you.
    • After writing your statement, re-read the question and make sure you’ve answered it effectively.
    • Your personal statement (unlike your transcript and resume) should be experiential, not factual.
    • Strive for balance—you should sound confident but not arrogant, be personal but not touchy-feely, have a distinct voice but don’t alienate your readers.
    • Don’t lose your focus. Your goal is to persuade the admissions committee to admit you into their program. Keep the focus on yourself.
    • Don’t get too attached to a draft. Writing a personal statement is a process, and your success depends on a willingness to change.
    • Don’t forget to edit your personal statement. Reading aloud can help you with this process.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid

    • Focusing entirely on “why I want to be a lawyer”
    • Using the personal statement to explain inconsistencies in your academic record
    • Reiterating your resume

    StAAR Center

    The StAAR Center has writing consultants available to meet with you to provide substantive assistance on your personal statement.

    Get Help With Your Personal Statement

  • Strengthen Your Resume

    A resume is a marketing brochure about you. It describes your abilities, experience (paid or unpaid), and education. An effective resume in a law school application should augment your overall candidacy (along with the LSAT score, transcript, letters of recommendation, and personal statement).

    In general, you pre-law resume does need to differ greatly from your peers’ resumes in arts, sciences and engineering. You might want to emphasize leadership experience, honors/awards, professional associations, and law-related experience (not required, but included it if you have it).

    While most recent graduates typically limit their resume to one page, you have more flexibility when applying to law school. Use two pages if the information adds value to your candidacy and would not be noted elsewhere on your application. The most critical information should remain on page one. And be sure, if you go with a second page, it has more than just a few lines.

    View More Resume Tips and Sample Documents

  • Secure Letters of Recommendation

    Law schools look for letters of  recommendation that speak directly and specifically to your intellectual and analytical abilities, research skills, ability to write clearly and coherently, motivation for and commitment to the study of law, capacity for responsibility, concern for something other than a high GPA, leadership, and ethical integrity. Typically, law schools ask for two to three letters. Do not exceed the number required. If you have additional recommendations, save them in case you need them for waitlist requests.

    Letters of recommendation are most useful when they:

    • Are written by people who know you well such as professors in small, upper-level courses that you have taken
    • Refer to specific experiences
    • Say something that is not obvious in other parts of your application
    • Say something relevant to your academic ability and potential success in in law school
    • Who Not to Ask for a Recommendation
    • Do not ask “important” people such as judges, senators, politicians that do not know you well. Those types of letters usually have little value to admissions representatives as they cannot address your academics or work experience.

    Provide Background Information

    Provide your recommenders information that will help them draft an informed, factual letter. You might want to compile this information in a folder, as it’s hard to misplace a brightly colored folder.

    • An updated resume
    • A copy of your personal statement
    • Your college transcript(s) and LSAT score(s)
    • A list of law schools you are applying to
    • A stamped envelope addressed to CAS (Credential Assembly Service)
    • CAS “Letter of Recommendation Form” (Complete the top-half of the form. Your recommender will then enclose his or her signed letter with the form and mail it directly to CAS).

    Follow Up

    Send a handwritten thank you note to anyone who takes the time to write you a letter of recommendation. When you receive news, be sure to share it with your recommenders.

    More Advice on Letters of Recommendation

  • Obtain Dean’s Certification (if applicable)

    Most law schools will require you to provide information about any prior disciplinary or academic issues, whether or not the school asks for a dean’s certification. Answer such questions truthfully and disclose information pertaining to your records. If you fail to disclose this information, you could face in severe consequences in the admissions process and possibly later, when you apply to be admitted to the bar. If any academic or disciplinary action is taken against you after you submit your applications, you must notify the schools to which you have applied.

    Dean’s certification forms are required by a small number of law schools. Many schools also require a dean’s letter or certification if you are applying to transfer to that law school. Certifications are required either before, or after you have been accepted, depending on the school. Read the application carefully for the school policy or call the school’s admissions office if you need clarification.

    View the List of Schools and Complete Certification

By Dovie King
Dovie King Pre-Law Advisor