National Muslim Law Students Association

Prospective Students


A Word of Advice for Law School Applicants

Applying to law school is not- and should not be- an easy decision to make.  Granted, some of you may have grown up on Law and Order or have parents who are attorneys, so have always felt the drive to enter law school.  But for many of you, this may be a fork in the road that you are nervous about, wondering whether you are making the right decision.  Sure, law school is only 3 years, but it is 3 intense years (well, at least 2 intense years, with the last one thrown in for kicks).  You will be sacrificing a great deal of your time and money in those years, so you want to do your best to investigate whether law school is the correct path for you.

Our goal is not to determine whether law school is right for you.  That is a decision that you will need make yourself after careful consideration of your interests, career goals, financial situation, and personal circumstances.  Our goal is to help you make an informed decision.  In keeping with this goal, we outline a "three phase" approach in thinking about applying to law school.  While we provide a large amount of information, you will need to do your own research about specific schools, programs, and career opportunities. 

Once you have decided that law school is right for you and that you want to apply, peruse through our very useful "How to" Guides on topics ranging from how to write a personal statement to how to prepare for the LSATs.  These guides have been prepared by law students who have been through the arduous process of applying to law schools- and made it!  The guides a great place to start when thinking about your application- the requirements, the strategy, and the decisionmaking. 

Best of luck in your law school endeavors!


I'm still in college... what can I do now to prepare for law school?

Courses and Grades

Law schools are not looking for you to be a "pre-law" student.  You will learn enough law once you are in law school, trust us. Instead focus on taking courses you are genuinely interested in as this approach will likely lead to better grades, more research opportunities, solid faculty recommendations, and a more fulfilling academic experience. Grades matter!  While you may hear that the LSAT is king (it is very important), your grades really do influence admissions committees.  You don't have to have a 4.0, but remember working hard in challenging courses can pay off.  If you really struggled your freshman year, don't let it get you down.  Instead make a more concerted effort in your later semesters.  This will show what is called an "upward progression" in grades on your transcript and will be viewed positively by admissions folks.  Thus, try to take at least some courses that are research and/or writing intensive.  This will allow law schools to see that you are capable of excelling in demanding courses that require heavy reading loads and a good bit of analytical thinking.

Build the right skills

If you are an undergraduate student, there are some things you can do from academic standpoint that will prepare you for the heavy workloads associated with a law school curriculum.  First, take challenging courses that fit your interests.  You do not need to take "legal" courses to prepare for law school- you will learn "the law" once you get to law school.  Focus on courses in subjects that you find appealing because it will both allow you to do well and inspire you to undertake a more thoughtful approach to the work.  Second, do research.  Research builds skills such as attention to detail, organization, broad-based and nuanced analysis, and critical evaluation.  Law school admissions committees tend to look favorably upon independent research on interesting topics. 

If you find yourself not being comfortable speaking in public, it’s not the end of the world.  But for law school it’s a must, so try and get ahead by practicing your public speaking in the University environment.  For example, join an organization and take an active role.  You can become a Director of Communications or Outreach which will significantly help you improve your interpersonal and speaking skills. 

These approaches to school are useful not just for law schools but for a wide variety of careers.  Developing these skills will help you in careers ranging from law to medicine to business. 

Other tips

Get involved on campus or in the community.  Take leadership roles in activities you feel passionate about and take both responsibility and initiative.  Start a project or fundraising effort.  Extracurricular activities are a great way to demonstrate leadership and confidence, demonstrating to the admissions committee that your skills and abilities stretch far beyond the classroom.

Establish strong relationships with 2-3 professors.  You will need these relationships when it comes time to ask for recommedations for your law school application.  Getting a faculty rec in college is much more difficult than in high school- there are thousands of students and just a handful of professors.  The key is to start cultivating relationships early.  A great way to do this is through research.  Either join or propse a research project.  This will likely gain you a faculty mentor who will guide you along the way.  Another way is to take smaller seminars where you have more personal interactions with faculty.  Finally, always remember to give your rec writer a copy of your resume, a transcript (if it's good), and a copy of your personal statement.  This way the rec letter will be more "personal" and specific to your application.

Talk to current law students.  Talking to several law students will give you a diversity of perspectives in terms of what motivated people to go to law school, how they view that decision, what law school has to offer, and what career opportunities are available.  Ask students both general and specific questions regarding how they view their law school, academic programs, extracurricular and social activities, and the intellecutal/academic/social environment.  Finally, ask about their experiences applying to law school.  Did they make any mistakes?  Did they do something really well? 

Meet with your career counselor or a career development officer.  These are professionals who have years of experience dealing with students who are exploring post-graduation opportunities.  You and your counselor can work through your interests, short- and long-term career goals, and other issues.  You might end up concluding that a legal education can best further your goals and match your interests- or you might not! 

Explore materials that describe the law school experience and provides a realistic assessment of the career opportunities available post-graduation.  If you are going to law school in search of a $160,000 a year job, you might be in for significant disappointment.  Visit the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website to get a sense of the law school admissions process, placement statistics, and other important information.  Visit individual law school websites to see how the law schools you are interested in stack up in terms of admissions, career placement, and academic programs. 

Law school can be an amazing three years of intense intellectual development and personal growth.  But, it can also be a miserable place if you enter oblivious to the actual benefits of a legal education and without having done due diligence about your own goals and interests. 

Try out a legal internship

Spending some time at a law firm as a paralegal, legal research assistant, or legal intern can give you the inside view of the workings of a law firm.  While your experience may not be reflective of the work that the lawyers are actually doing, you can gain important legal research and writing skills as well as gain exposure to the day-to-day life of lawyers.  

A legal experience will also allow you to network with lawyers.  This experience can allow to ask honest questions about how attorneys made their journeys into the law, how they enjoyed their law school experiences, and what advice they have to offer you.  Asking questions to real attorneys is probably one of the most useful things you can do to learn about the legal profession in practice. 


I'm ready to apply to law school... give me some advice!

The L-Word: LSAT

Read the "NMLSA Guide on How to Prepare for the LSATs"  (pdf), (doc

  • The LSAT is the standard examination used by US and Canadian law schools to assess the applicant's logical and verbal reasoning skills.  The exam is administered four times a year, and is required for admission at all law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association. 
  • Your score is likely the single best predictor of whether you will get into the law school of your choice.  For whatever it's worth, most law schools place a heavy emphasis on your LSAT score. The score ranges from 120-180, with five multiple choice sections (of which four count towards your final score) and a writing section (which does not count towards your final score but should be completed to the best of your ability).  The definition of a "good" score depends upon the set of schools you are applying to.  While the national median is somewhere around a 151, to be competitive in the top 20 schools you will need closer to a 165.  Target scores for the top two or three schools are typically in the 170-175 (25th-75th percentile) ranges. A helpful website to determine what LSAT the average applicant needs to gain admission into a certain school, visit www.lsac.org, also try www.lawschoolnumbers.com.
  • This is an exam where consistent and diligent preparation is key.  Unless you have done a couple practice exams where you get a 170 or above, you must prepare for this exam. Multiple exam scores are averaged. Make sure to check with individual law schools – some schools take the higher score. 
  • Prep courses are highly recommended by most law students and lawyers, and there is no shortage of these.  Kaplan and Princeton Review are the most popular. Also consider Power Score and Test Masters. HOWEVER, if you’re a self motivator – you might not need to drop $$ on these courses. It’s a personal choice.
  • The most important thing to remember is: practice. And practice again. And practice again. Did we mention practice?  
  • To register for the LSAT, go to www.lsac.org. Register early and finalize a test center as soon as possible – popular ones fill up quickly. You do NOT want to be driving somewhere to do this test.
  • As a friendly reminder, make a lot of dua’a; get family and friends to form dua’a circles – preferably meeting around the time of your test.
  • Finally, remember: Your LSAT score is by no means a measure of your intelligence. It’s a test that tests how you do a test.
  • Read this NMLSA guide for helpful info on  "How to Prepare for the LSATs"  (pdf), (doc

Where should I apply?

  • General rule of thumb - try to get into the best school (i.e., highest rank) you can possibly get into. A very rare exception would be if you know of a school that has a specialty that you know you’re interested. For example, OSU has highly reputed faculty that specialize in Alternative Dispute Resolution and International Law, American University’s Washington College of Law has well known Human Rights programs. However, don’t pigeon hole yourself too early.
  • Compare your  LSAT score and GPA to the ranges at various law schools.  You can go to www.lsac.org and www.lawschoolnumbers.com to learn more about these numbers.  Pick schools in your range, but don’t be afraid to try for higher ranked schools. Some schools are trying to increase their diversity (ethnicity, backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints, etc.) and you may get in even with a score slightly below their range. 
  • Location - Location - Location – if you’re not trying to for a top 20 school, go to school where you would ideally like to practice. Opportunities will arise for you to network with local practitioners and do internships. Also, pick a location that you will be happy in. First year is hard enough without having to go through the misery of living in a place you don’t like.
  • Apply only to schools that you would want to attend.  Don't bother applying to the entire top 20 list if you know that you would never attend half of those schools- even if you got in. 
  • People are important. Find out what law students are like in the school you want to go to. Talk to current law students (more about this when you’re in Phase III: I’m in! – but it may even be helpful in figuring out where to apply)
  • If you can - visit the schools before you accept/apply. Sit in on classes Know where you're going and make sure you’re going to be happy going there.

The Law School Application

  • Applications can be very expensive, especially because you are applying to several schools.  Look into getting fee waivers from schools directly; some schools will waive the fee if you ask.  When registering for LSAC, you will be prompted to ask if they can release your scores to schools. If they do so, and you’re in a certain range – schools will send you fee waivers. If you choose to identify with a minority group, that might translate into fee waivers as well.
  • Get your applications in ASAP.  Law schools get tons of applications, and tend to admit on a rolling basis. Logically, there are more available spots open at the beginning of the cycle than at the end; the later you get your application in - the more the competition; hence, the more stellar you have to be.
  • While focusing on application trends is not the smartest move (since they shift a lot), a basic way of understanding trends is that the number of law school applicants tend to correlate with the general state of the economy.  During economic recessions and downturns, the number of students applying to law schools tend to rise.  But, focus on your application- and not the ones of the other 82,000 or so applicants. 
  • The earlier you get in your application, the earlier you find out - the wait can feel unbearable.  Once you've submitted your applications, try to focus on other activities like hanging out with friends or engaging in a hobby to de-stress and relax.  
  • Even if your scores aren’t in - pretend like your best score in the practice tests (perhaps the last one?) is your score. If you do better, you can always drop more applications later. Plus, LSAT reports don’t go in until the schools request them – so you have about a week buffer after your application is in. If your scores aren't officially in - LSAC will automatically send them in when they’re released as long as they've been requested. 

The Personal Statement

  • The personal statement is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee what you have to offer and what your goals are.
  • Do not take this part of your application lightly. If you are on the "borderline" in terms of LSAT and GPA, then a compelling, well-written personal statement might push you into the "Admit" column.
  • Spend a lot of time brainstorming, outlining, and planning. For the first two or three sessions, don't begin writing a draft- think through your ideas and plan a coherent and well-structured outline. Law schools are looking for more than content- they are also paying attention to organization, clarity, and style.
  • The earlier you get in your application, the earlier you find out - the wait can feel unbearable.  Once you've submitted your applications, try to focus on other activities like hanging out with friends or engaging in a hobby to de-stress and relax.  
  • Write – rewrite – edit – and rewrite again.
  • Your friends and family know you best, so use them as critics!
  • Contact us!! We'll review your personal statement for you.  Also, ask friends in law school, or people you know at the local law school.  Ask a counselor at your school to review it, or ask one of your professors.
  • If you have a unique background, you may choose to emphasize this in your statement.  But, this is a personal call, and you must remember that hte essay must "flow" and every detail has to be relevant.
  • Visiting a law school may also give you a better perspective on why you want to go there, which can be incorporated into your personal statement.