Pre-Law Timeline

This is a suggested timeline starting at the Freshman year. The basic concept of the timeline is to provide suggested steps to students and alumni to be successful in their efforts to apply and gain acceptance to the law school of their choice. If you find that you need assistance in your preparation for law school, please contact the Undergraduate Scholars at UH or University Career Services (UCS) for additional resources.

Law students come from a variety of academic disciplines. If you are interested in a specialized program, such as Corporate Law, research the law school of interest to you and determine the requirements for acceptance.

Law school may not be the right field for everyone. Prepare yourself for a career beyond the practice of law because you may not ultimately choose this direction for your future.

Visit Rayna Anderson or Andrew Tessmer in the University Career Services to discuss career exploration, major choice and pre-law practical learning opportunities. UCS offers workshops such as resume writing and finding an internship.

Freshman year

  • “Pre-law” is not a major. It is a career path. Law students come from a variety of academic disciplines. Pursue a major that you would enjoy working in as an alternative to law. Take courses that interest you. CORE requirements such as Humanities, Visual/Performing Arts, Social Science and Social Science writing provide the option of exploring courses in different colleges.
  • Maintain good academic standing of at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. A competitive GPA will make you a better applicant to law school. The median GPA of students applying to law school is 3.0 – 4.0 cumulative. Learning Support Services provides free tutoring to help you increase your GPA.
  • Become actively involved with Phi Alpha Delta UH’s Pre-law Society. Visit the Center for Student Involvement for more information.
  • Attend Phi Alpha Delta’s Pre-Law Day during the Spring semester.
  • Visit Rayna Anderson or Andrew Tessmer in Career Services. Discuss services for general career exploration as well as pre-law career information (room 106 Student Service Center 1; 713-743-5100).
  • Utilize the Career Services workshops for pre-law students.
  • Maintain a positive credit rating. Avoid, reduce or eliminate credit card debt. You will be required to answer questions about your credit history after you are admitted to law school. Negative credit will haunt you in the future and may affect financial aid for law school and admittance to the Texas Bar Association.

Sophomore year

  • Select courses that involve critical and abstract thinking. Courses that require you to “think outside of the box”. Consult your academic advisor for information.
  • Improve your cumulative GPA in order to remain competitive for law school admission.
  • Enroll in courses that emphasize writing clearly and efficiently; obtain knowledge in various disciplines by using CORE courses that explore various majors; take courses that examine morality, ethical and social problems; learn about historical and culturally relevant issues.
  • Courses should also be challenging and require you to justify your position on a topic. Do not avoid challenging courses because the law school will know if your GPA is based on easy courses. However you should drop the course if it will negatively affect your GPA.  Consult an advisor to discuss dropping courses.
  • Examples of courses that will assist you in developing skills that will be useful in law school are Comm 1332 and HDCS 1300. Public speaking, Comm. 1332, will aid you in developing speaking skills and technique. HDCS 1300 Family Ecosystems is a Social Science Writing Intensive course that requires student to research and defend their point of view on current political and social issues.
  • Remain actively involved with Phi Alpha Delta UH’s Pre-law Society.
  • Attend Phi Alpha Delta’s Pre-Law Day during the Spring semester.
  • Research the law schools that you are interested in and observe professionals. The U.S. Department of Labor publishes a handbook of careers. This is a link to the section on law http://www.bls.gov.
  • Visit Rayna Anderson or Andrew Tessmer in Career Services. Discuss services for general career exploration as well as pre-law career information and internships (room 106 Student Service Center1; 713-743-5100).
  • Utilize the Career Services workshops for pre-law students.
  • Meet with study abroad advisor in Office of International Studies & Programs (5th floor, Ezekiel Cullen building; 713-743-9167) to discuss possible options for international study.
  • Attend the free Pre-law forum provided by Law School Admission Council http://www.lsac.org. The location alternates between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth each year. The forum will give you the opportunity to meet admission staff from local and national law schools.
  • Recommendation letters are required from full time faculty. Get to know your instructors. Actively participate in class, contact them during their office hours. Letters from faculty members give the law schools an indication of your academic potential.
  • Begin to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  Take different versions of the exam to achieve your highest score. The Law School admission Council offers sample test on their website. The MD Anderson library has LSAT preparatory material. Your local library should also have a copy.

Junior year

  • Continue to meet degree requirements while maintaining a competitive GPA.
  • Attend the Law School Admission Council Pre-law forum http://www.lsac.org. Compile a list of questions to ask the law school representatives. Discover how schools differ in order to satisfy your educational needs. There are law schools that provide academic support and have an “open door policy” with professors.
  • Save money for law school application fees, LSDAS and LSAT and law school tuition deposits. Upon acceptance law schools will require a seat deposit to hold your space. Seat deposits range from $75 - $300.  Seat deposits will not be required before April 1st.
  • Remain actively involved with Phi Alpha Delta (PAD). PAD offers LSAT practice tests and networking opportunities with law school admissions representatives and attorneys.
  • Attend Phi Alpha Delta’s Pre-Law Day during the Spring semester.
  • Attend open house sessions at the law schools you are considering. This will provide you with the opportunity to talk to current law students and faculty.
  • After you have approximately 90 hours of credit (including transfer work) you may begin the application process.
  • Register with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) and send official transcript(s) to LSDAS.
  • You have the option of taking the LSAT at this point or waiting until the Fall of your Senior Year. If you decide to take the LSAT, June of your junior year is recommended because it will not interfere with your coursework and will provide another opportunity to take the test at a later date, if necessary.
  • Law schools will look critically at multiple attempts of the LSAT. Register for the exam when you are certain that you have adequately prepared. Multiple attempts may be averaged which may decrease your overall score.

Senior year

  • Begin filling out law school admissions applications in late summer or early fall of your senior year.  Each school’s admission calendar will be different; follow the appropriate deadlines for each phase of the application process according to the specific school or schools to which you are applying.
  • Begin gathering securing recommendations and constructing your resume.
  • See the pre-law advisor for a copy of the Boston College Law School Locator that provides an estimation of your law schools that you are eligible for based on your GPA and LSAT score.
  • Attend Phi Alpha Delta’s Pre-Law Day during the Spring semester.
  • Register with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) approximately six weeks before you will apply to law schools (probably August or September of your senior year).
  • Complete the FAFSA in late January/early February to secure funding for law school.

Early decision applicants

  • The last possible test date for students who are planning to apply for an Early Decision is October of their senior year, or October of the year before they are planning to enroll in law school.
  • Consult the law schools you intend to apply to for deadlines for early decisions. There may be special conditions.
  • For example: Texas Tech’s Early Decision requires seat deposits immediately and the deposit is non refundable. Texas Tech’s early decision program is binding and students who are considering other law school should not apply under this program. Visit their website at https://www.law.ttu.edu/ for more information on their Early Decision policy.

Regular decision applicants

  • The latest test date for students to take the LSAT is the December of the year before they plan to begin law school.
  • February is the month of most law schools Regular Admission Deadlines. There are schools that will admit as late as April. There are law schools that have Fall and Spring admissions. Admission deadlines may determine the latest date you can take the LSAT.
  • Contact the law schools for additional information and stipulations.
  • Await admissions decisions (spring semester, depending on the school).
  • Upon acceptance law schools will require a seat deposit to hold your space. Seat deposits range from $75 - $300.  Seat deposits will not be required before April 1st. Early admission will enable you to receive conformation from your desired schools before the seat deposit is due.
  • Save money for law books, legal supplements, and state bar application fees. Law school students often use supplements to help them study legal cases. There are a wide variety of materials and they can be expensive.  Upon entry into law school you will be required to submit a preliminary application to the state bar. This application is also expensive.

Rolling admission

There are also law schools that offer rolling admission (no deadline date) such as Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. View your prospective law schools website or consult the LSAC website for their Official Guide to ABA approved law schools.

GOOD LUCK!