The Law School Admission Process 101 Written By: Tesia Doblanko, Summer Student The first step to becoming a practicing lawyer in Canada is to complete a Juris Doctor degree. First and foremost, this step requires aspiring lawyers to apply and receive admission to law school. Across Canada, there are 24 law schools, each unique in their program offerings and admission requirements. Before Applying to Law School Applicants typically must complete an undergraduate degree prior to attending law school. Some universities consider applicants in their 2nd or 3rd years of their undergraduate degree program; however, the majority of admitted applicants have completed a full undergraduate degree. There is no specific undergraduate degree requirement. Law students come from a diverse range of undergraduate backgrounds so do not be discouraged if your program is not related to legal studies. It is recommended that you pick a degree program that you are interested in pursuing as you will have a higher likelihood of excelling and forming good study habits that will benefit you in your legal studies. Admission committees at law schools assess applicants based on a combination of factors. Although the factors used to assess applicants vary across schools, almost all schools will consider your GPA, LSAT, and some form of personal statement. The admission process across Canadian law schools is competitive; as such, applicants will want to aim to have their GPA and LSAT score around the average admitted applicant statistics that are announced by individual law schools. For instance, historically at the University of Alberta the average admitted applicant GPA and LSAT scores for the Faculty of Law are around 3.8 and 160, respectively. Be mindful that admission committees at different law schools use different processes to calculate GPA and LSAT scores. Some universities average all valid LSAT scores, while others only consider your highest valid LSAT score. In a similar fashion, some universities assess your most recent 60 credits when calculating your GPA, while others look holistically at your entire undergraduate transcript. Be sure to research how the admissions committee will assess your GPA and LSAT scores at each law school you apply to. The LSAT The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test administered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) that must be written within 5 years prior to the September in which you wish to be admitted. Plan to write the LSAT early, as this allows time and flexibility to re-write the exam or postpone if necessary. Preparing for the LSAT will take around 2 – 3 months of consistent study and practice. There are many study materials offered in a variety of formats including books, prep tests, online videos, and prep courses. Select the format that works best for you as the same study regime does not work for everyone. All study programs will teach you how to attack each type of problem on the LSAT such that you are familiar with the questions on the day of your exam. It is recommended that you simulate the test by doing practice exams, both timed and untimed, by using previous LSAT exams that you can purchase. These are published by the LSAC. A key to success is to always review your incorrect answers and mistakes so that you do not make the same errors again. If you are unsure where to begin studying, the LSAC provides a free official online prep program through Khan Academy that is sure to get you on the right track in preparing for your exam. Applying for Law School When applying to law schools across Canada, it is important to keep in mind that every school has different admission requirements. Additionally, admissions are typically on a rolling basis so it is recommended that applicants apply early and provide all required documents as soon as possible. In addition to varying admission requirements, law schools differ in what they offer to their students. Among the many offerings of law schools you may want to consider the school’s size and location, course offerings, legal clinics, mooting programs, and combined degree programs. As previously mentioned, most law schools require applicants to submit a personal statement. This portion of the application allows applicants to show the admissions committee their desire to succeed in law. There is typically no template but check with the law school’s admission requirements to confirm the word count and if there are any specific topics you should address. Applicants may choose to discuss their employment experience, extra-curriculars, volunteer experience, and undergraduate degree to demonstrate who they are as a person and show interest in the law school and legal profession. This is your time to shine and show that you are more than your transcript and LSAT score. A great discussion point for personal statements, and future law firm interviews, are extra-curricular activities. Continue your extra-curriculars that you grew up participating in, get involved during your undergrad with student groups, or become involved with non-university related organizations. Extra-curriculars broaden your resume, expand your social network, and demonstrate that you are well rounded individual. Applying to law school is a very large undertaking. Be sure to give yourself lots of time to write the LSAT, research law schools, and draft your application packages. Good luck!