The process of becoming a lawyer involves many steps. It can take years of preparation, including a significant amount of time in school. That means before beginning a degree program, you’ll want to do your research before school, especially since many are challenging to get into. Luckily, the proper steps can help you prepare for a competitive program.
Learning All You Can Beforehand
Before entering a law program, you will want to research what it means to be a lawyer. For instance, what makes you want to enter the profession? There are many misconceptions about the career, including the fact that all lawyers are incredibly wealthy. However, it requires hard work, and you’ll need to stay focused on the goal.
As a lawyer, you can expect to spend much time researching, writing, and reading complicated documents. You will not be spending as much time in court. You’ll want to start by researching typical salaries in the area you want to work in so you can set realistic financial goals.
When setting financial goals, think about the now and the future. For instance, when getting your graduate law degree, how will you cover your education cost? You might want to take out a student loan from a private lender, and you can often benefit from the budget based repayment plan by not worrying about finances now and can pay back over time.
Passing the Necessary Tests
Before entering law school, you’ll need to take the LSAT and submit your score with your application. It can cost up to several hundred dollars, so you’ll want to take your time to ensure you pass the first time around. The score on this test is one of the most critical factors in determining whether you get into a law program. That means you’ll want to start preparing well ahead of time. Try to spend three months or longer on your studies.
There are several ways of setting yourself up for success with the test. You might enroll in a specialized LSAT course, which can help you prepare for the real thing. You may have to pay quite a bit for some of these, while others might be relatively inexpensive. The price depends on the amount of study material and the quality.
You can study at your own pace, but make sure you organize your study time, so you aren’t rushing at the last minute. If you find yourself getting distracted, you may need the support that a guided tutor or course can provide. You might be able to get a tutor from the law department at your educational facility, or you could find a private legal tutor online.
Before deciding how you will study for this big test, you should consider the best way to learn for yourself. You may find that a combined approach, such as working with a tutor and learning on your own, works best for you. Or you might find that an online course is a way to go.
Pulling Together the Necessary Documentation
You’ll want to start by getting together your transcriptions from any certificates, graduate, or undergraduate programs you have completed. You can expect to spend up to $20 on each copy, and these might add up if you are applying to several programs. And if you owe money to any educational facilities you have attended in the past, you will have to pay these first.
Another important document is your personal statement. It lets you showcase your personality to the admissions staff members. You might mention your academic achievements, goals for the future, and how you think this program will help you achieve that. This is the place to throw in anything else relevant that may not fit elsewhere. You may write the statement based on a specific prompt from the school, but others give you more freedom. Do your research to find out what makes a statement one that gets you into the school of your dreams.
Getting Letters of Recommendation
You’ll also need to have letters of recommendation. These can be from professors who you worked with the most and know you well. That means if you are still in school, now is the time to begin cultivating those professional relationships. You can also have former or current employers write these letters, especially if they can speak on how well you can balance your academic and work life.
If you can, you may consider meeting with them before to talk about what you would like them to put in the letter. Highlight areas you have been particularly successful in and ask them to mention those. After they write the letter, take the time to send a handwritten thank-you note. They’ll appreciate the thought, and it’s a great way to continue to cultivate your professional relationships.
Choosing a School to Apply To
Try to submit at least five applications, so you are more likely to get accepted into at least one of those. There are several things you can do to determine the right ones for you. For instance, consider the total financial cost. Do your research on the options, whether it’s scholarships, grants, loans, or a combination of these things.
The school’s location is another determining factor. You may find you have to move to a new area in order to get your education. And some places might have higher costs of living, which can strain your finances significantly. Think about your career goals. Is the school’s location somewhere you can see yourself getting a job after graduation? If not, you may wish to consider another area where you can develop professional connections to lead to a job.
It’s essential not to miss the application deadline. It’s often a good idea to apply by November before you wish to attend school since many programs accept students on a rolling basis. That means many get accepted before the official deadline, and you don’t want to miss out on a great spot in the program. And finding out whether or not you got accepted early lets you make plans, such as finding housing.