The Law Services Information Book for the upcoming academic year is available in early April from the Office of Career Services, or from Law School Admission Services, Box 2000, Newton, PA. 18940-0998. The book is your route to invaluable information and forms; among other things, it contains the necessary registration forms for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS).
Required Application Materials:
- Law School Admission Test
- LSDAS Law School Reports (including official transcripts)
- Law School Applications
- Letters of Recommendation
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The test is usually offered in June, October, December, and February. Most schools accept scores of tests taken up to five years before the application, although some law schools may require more recent test scores. If you are taking the test in the academic year in which you are applying to law school, you should take the test no later than October. Taking the test the previous June, however, gives you the added advantage of knowing your score before the application process begins; it also allows you time to repeat the test in October if your score is unsatisfactory. Do not, however, plan to take the test more than once. Remember that all scores are reported to law schools, so do not take the test if you are not prepared for it.
Registering to take the LSAT - The Law Services Information Book provides a checklist of procedures for registering for the LSAT, as well as the necessary forms. Deadlines for registering without a substantial additional fee occur approximately five weeks before the test date.
Preparing for the LSAT - We recommend using the official Law School Admission Services materials. Test-taking strategy is described in the Law Services Information Book. Additional previously administered disclosed tests may be ordered from LSAC/LSAS. See the order form in the Law Services Information Book. Commercial test preparation courses are also offered in most metropolitan areas and during both spring and fell terms on the Hartwick campus. For information on the Kaplan course offered at Hartwick, see Career Services. Before you rush to enroll in a course, make certain you really need it.
Law schools require applicants to register for the Law School Data Assembly Service, which provides law schools with the applicant’s LSAT score(s), a summary of academic work, and a copy of the college transcript(s). This information is known as the Law School Report.
Subscribing to LSDAS - Complete the LSDAS section of the LSAT/LSDAS Subscription Form, thereby opening a file at LSDAS. Do this only in the year in which you are applying to law schools. Fees and services are explained in the Law Services Information Book.
Sending transcripts - After you have mailed your LSDAS Subscription Form, check your transcript in the Registrar’s Office to be sure it is correct and up-to-date through the end of the summer term. Using the LSDAS Transcript Request card contained in your Law Services Information Book, instruct the Registrar to forward your transcript to LSDAS. Undergraduates usually send transcripts during the summer before senior year unless they are taking courses in the summer. You must order transcripts from every academic institution in which you have been enrolled. Although credit for course-work completed elsewhere is recorded on your Hartwick transcript, grades are not; consequently, transcripts from all institutions you have attended must be sent to LSDAS. Allow about three weeks for transcript requests to be processed.
Ordering Law School Reports - When you file your law school applications, you must enclose with each application a Law School Application Matching Form, provided in your Law Services Information Book. When a law school receives this card, on which you have listed your Social Security number, the school will notify LSDAS to forward it your Law School Report. LSDAS will send you a confirmation copy of every Law School Report it has sent for you.
The Law School Application
Application materials are usually available from law schools at the end of the summer. You may use the Request for Information postcards supplied in the Law Services Information Book to send for applications, catalogs, and financial aid information. Since applications usually change very little from year to year, you can at last get a head start on the essay or personal statement section. Take special note of the application deadlines so you can begin to organize your individual timetable. Personal Statement - Most applications include an open-ended essay question about your accomplishments and career goals. Even if a personal statement is not required, you would be wise to provide one. Since interviews are not part of the admissions process, the essay is your best opportunity to present your personal attributes, accomplishments, and interests to the admissions committee. A good essay could be the deciding factor in an admissions decision; an unconvincing or unremarkable essay can adversely affect your chances of admission.
The most effective essays convey a personal dimension. They reflect an individual distinguished by intellectual motivation and accomplishment, social concerns and contributions, and personal values. You may want to develop the essay around an experience, an accomplishment, or an interest. Another option is to present your reasons for seeking a legal education. It may help to imagine yourself being interviewed by an admissions officer or simply talking to a good friend whom you have not seen for awhile. What would you want them to know about you? In general, avoid second-guessing what lawyers so or discussing legal issues unless pertinent to your experience. Above all, be sure your essay is well written. Since the essay is also evidence of your writing ability, be careful about grammar and spelling. Limit yourself to one or two typed pages. If you use a word processor for your essay, consider using a laser printer.
Filing Applications - Plan to mail your applications by about December 1, well ahead of the deadlines. Most admissions officers begin to read applications in December, and many schools announce their decisions soon after that. Most deadlines are between January 15 and February 1. If you want the law schools to receive fall term grades, you must send transcripts directly to each law school.
Letters of Recommendation
Before requesting letters of recommendation, consult the law school catalogs for specific instructions. It may take more than one reminder to some of your recommenders and much longer than you might expect, so allow at least four weeks from the time of request.
Academic or employment letters - Two academic letters of recommendation are required by most schools. Applicants usually request one letter from a major professor, and one from a professor in a second discipline. In addition, letters from employers are often relevant. There are no absolute rules, but as a guideline, three academic letters is not too many, provided the letters present different information and describe substantive facets of your skills and accomplishments. More than five letters, however, may be excessive. Since recommendations are weighed heavily in admissions decisions, make your choices carefully, gathering strong evaluations from persons who have had an opportunity to observe your academic strengths and personal qualities.
If you expect to need recommendations for other programs in addition to law, or if your plans are uncertain, you may want to request general letters of recommendation that evaluate your performance but so not specify your future plans. Take care to instruct your recommenders clearly, particularly if you waive your right to see the letters.
It is important to contact your professors early. Make an appointment to discuss your course-work and other interests, as well as your plans for graduate study. To avoid last-minute problems, specify a reasonable deadline; professors are busy, and they write letters out of courtesy and out of interest in your future. Given the Hartwick calendar, they may be on leave or on vacation when you need to obtain your recommendations, so check their schedules early.
If you are planning to request a letter from a professor from whom you are taking a fall-term course, discuss your intention with him or her well before the end of the term. Since it may not be possible to have this letter written before the December break, the mailing of your recommendations may be delayed beyond January 1. If the letter is important, by all means sacrifice timing for a quality letter, provided it can arrive before the particular school’s deadline.
Dean’s Certification - Many law schools require certification of the applicant’s college conduct record. At Hartwick, the Dean of Students attests to the applicant’s academic and personal record as part of the Dean’s Certification. Although this letter will include notification of any disciplinary action, it is not College policy to report any proceedings. The Dean will also discussion special aspects of your college experiences, such as extracurricular activities, leave-term employment and internships and honors.