Frequently Asked Questions
Law School | LSAT | Undergraduate School | Law School Applications
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General Law School Information
How do I get into law school?
To gain admission to a law school, you must take the Law School Admissions Test, called the LSAT, and apply to law school. Of course, you must graduate from college before going to law school.
What is the duration of law school?
Law school lasts three years with summers off, though summers are usually spent clerking or working with a firm.
What kind of degree do I get from law school?
Most students get a Juris Doctor degree (JD) from law school. Those who want to specialize in certain areas might get certificates or master's degrees as well but the basic starting point is the JD.
Do I become a lawyer immediately after law school?
Yes, but you cannot practice law until a state accepts you into its bar or professional organization.
How do I get accepted into a state’s bar?
You must take and pass the state’s bar exam (typically the exams are given in February and July of the year of your graduation). You can take the exam as many times as necessary to pass it. The bar exam is difficult, so much time needs to be devoted to studying for it. Typically, a student will graduate from law school on a Saturday and on Monday begin to take a bar exam prep class which will lead up to the bar exam. Students who have taken the exam cannot begin to work as lawyers until they have received notice that they have passed it.
Are law schools ranked?
All accredited law schools are ranked. The most well-known ranking is unofficial; law schools complain about it, but it is done nonetheless. The ranking is done each year by U.S. News & World Report. The results are published and available in print or on the web. The rankings are divided into four tiers. The top 50 law schools are in the first tier, the next 50 are in the second tier, the next 50 are in the third tier, and the last 30 are in the fourth tier.
What do the rankings mean?
A top-tiered law school typically is a national law school, meaning that it is trying to attract students from all over the country and turn out lawyers for all over the country. Competition to get into these top law schools is most intense, and the competitive atmosphere continues throughout the three years of law school. These law schools attract the most law firms recruiting students, and most lawyers who clerked for judges have gone to these top law schools. A mid-tier law school is more focused on a state's or region's needs. It trains people for a specific geographic area of the country. A school in the bottom tier might be a newly-accredited law school, one that has experienced some financial trouble, or one that has as its mission to train people who might not otherwise be eligible for law school because of low test scores or GPAs.
Are law schools accredited?
Law schools are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Currently there are over 200 accredited law schools in the US.
What are the accredited law schools in Texas ?
Accredited law schools in Texas are the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor in Waco, Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas Southern ( Thurgood Marshall School of Law) in Houston, South Texas in Houston, St Mary's in San Antonio, and the University of Houston.
What are unaccredited law schools?
Unaccredited law schools are law schools that do not meet the requirements of the ABA . They could be lacking in the quality of their faculty, library resources, or finances. They are real law schools; but by attending them, a student would not be able to take another state’s bar exam or practice in another state without first going to a law school in that state. These law schools typically exist to train lawyers who plan to stay in one place and often work full-time jobs. The penalty for going to one of these schools could be severe if you plan to move sometime during your career.
Can I get kicked out of law school?
You sure can. You can be kicked out for violating their rules on academics, student life, or criminal behavior. Also, if you lied on your application, you can be expelled as well. Some law schools require you to maintain a 3.0 GPA (a B average) or above.
Where do I get an application for law school?
The law schools will have them. Either contact the law school directly or download the application form from the school’s website
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What is the LSAT?
The LSAT is a test required of all applicants for law school. It is a four hour test. There are five multiple choice sections and one written section. The multiple choice sections cover logic puzzles and games and reading comprehension. The questions are designed to test your ability to figure out situations using logic. A typical question might have five answers of which two are mostly correct. You have to choose the correct single answer. The multiple choice parts of the LSAT test your critical thinking ability and your time management skills.
The written section is an essay question that you will complete after you have completed the other portions of the test. It is not graded but sent by the LSAT folks to the law schools that you apply to. The admissions committee can analyze it or not in any way it sees fit.
The LSAT is graded on a scale from 120 to 180. The average score is about 150. Typically a score of 150 when combined with a decent GPA of 3.0 will get you into some law school. The higher the score and the higher your GPA, the better law school you can attend.
When should I take the LSAT?
If you plan to go to law school immediately after your May graduation, then you need to take the LSAT in the year prior to your attending law school. If your GPA is above 3.5 and you would like to go to an élite law school, then it is best to take the LSAT in June of your junior year. That way, if your score is not as high as you would like, you can re-take the exam in October of your senior year. If you just want to go to a mid-level or mid-tier law school, then take the exam in October of your senior year. If your score is not to your liking, you can take the exam again in December of your senior year.
How long after I take the exam do I get the results?
It takes about two months to get your exam results, but for an additional fee you can get those results earlier by phone. Either way, you will have enough time to schedule another LSAT exam if needed.
How do I prepare for the LSAT?
Studying logic and logic games is the best preparation for the LSAT. This can be done individually with material purchased at bookstores or it can be done though LSAT review classes taught by various private organizations including Kaplan and Princeton Review. A typical class, depending on where, when, and how long the class might be, will cost anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. Some classes are taught over the internet while some are available at locations around the Metroplex or in Lubbock. As of now, there are no classes taught in Abilene .
Whether you take a review class or work alone, you should be aware that the LSAT is a challenging, difficult test. It is designed to be hard and to test your thinking skills. Law Schools believe that the LSAT is the best predictor of law school success. If you are going to study alone, spend at least a month, if not two, studying at least two hours a day, every day. Additionally, on the Saturdays preceding the actual exam, take a practice LSAT at the same time every day to get your body and mind used to the experience. Therefore, on the Saturdays preceding your exam, you should be taking the practice exam at 8 am (the time the real exam begins) and taking the whole practice exam. You will need to block out 4 hours every Saturday morning and be in a place removed from any distractions like TV, radio, computers, friends, and telephones.
Is there any penalty for repeated taking of the LSAT?
Yes; the LSAT people will average your scores. So if you take it and do poorly the first time and do well the second time, your score reported to the law schools will be the average of the two scores.
Is it recommended that I take the LSAT more than once?
Yes, it is. Even a difference of two or three points can make a difference in admissions. Most students do better the second time they take the LSAT.
When and where are the LSAT tests?
The LSAT is held usually the first weekend of February, June, October, and November. It is held in various locations around the country. There is always at least one test site in Abilene for every test.
Where do I get an LSAT application?
You can register online with the Law School Admissions Council at http://www.lsac.org.
What else do I need to think about with Law School applications?
Your GPA, your major course of study, your personal essay, and your letters of recommendation are all important.
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What should my GPA be to get into law school?
It depends on where you want to go to law school. If you want to go to a top ranked law school then you need a higher GPA. A lower ranked law school will be less demanding of GPAs. On average a 3.0 should get you into law school.
What should I major in to get to law school?
Your major is your business. You should major in the subject that you love. What the law schools care about is your thinking ability (best demonstrated by the LSAT) and your ability to handle the challenging workload of law school. You can demonstrate your academic ability by your GPA and by taking hard, upper-level, classes. Law schools will take people from any major. There are some majors, however, that are more closely allied with the curriculum of law schools. These are English (where you focus on written communication skills), philosophy (where you think about thinking) and political science (laws are written by politicians). But other majors are very acceptable. Science majors need to be forewarned that while science focuses on single correct answers, the LSAT will be more focused on gray areas and throw you two correct answers in order to have you pick one.
Are there any classes I should take to get into law school?
Besides taking the best and hardest classes in your major, students might benefit from a logic class from the Department of Philosophy, an upper level English class where you focus on the specific meanings of words, an accounting class, and an economics class. All of these may help you either with the LSAT or with understanding specific law school classes.
What if I blew off my first year of college with too much partying and not enough studying?
Work very hard for the remainder of your college experience to improve your GPA. Show the law schools what you are capable of and how hard you are willing to work. If necessary, address this issue in your personal statement.
How should I plan my undergraduate career so that I maximize my chances of getting into law school?
During your first two years of college, focus on determining your major, establish good study habits, do some extra-curricular stuff, and work on having a good GPA. During your junior year, take a logic class and a few hard upper-level classes. You need to plan on spending a part of the summer seriously studying for the LSAT . If you are taking it in June, study in May. Take the LSAT and while waiting for the results, think seriously about where you would like to go to law school. If possible visit those schools, meet their admissions people, and go to a class or two. It is best if you don't make an appointment but rather show up on campus unannounced. That way you can see how you are treated.
Once you get your test results, apply to those schools where you would like to go which would also accept you. Be realistic. Not everyone gets into Stanford. Have a fallback school you are applying to that would accept you regardless of your test scores. Then continue attending class (law schools want your complete transcripts) and doing well while the law schools make their decisions. Typically, the best students are accepted first (usually late fall of the senior year) and everyone else starts finding out during spring . Then enjoy your last summer of freedom!
Law School Applications
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What else do I need to apply to law school?
You will need to write a personal essay about yourself and get letters of reference.
What is the personal essay?
This essay gives the law school a reason to accept you. Think of it as a marketing document where you explain to the school why it should want you as part of its entering class. In this letter you explain how various things you have done — including work experiences, internships if applicable, classes, and majors — all are leading you to attend this one specific law school. This essay is a narrative on your life written from a certain perspective. The perspective must be why you want to go to that specific law school. Focus on what makes you interesting or unique. Think diversity here, in all its diverse senses. Geographic, racial, work, age, volunteer, and family diversity all should come into play if applicable. This essay is also where you tell the law school what you want to do after you go to law school. Don’t worry about what kind of law you choose as no one will hold you to it. Many people change their minds once they take classes in specific subjects. Rather, your job in this essay is to give each law school an idea about who you are, what your ambitions are, and why it wants you in their school.
What are letters of reference?
These are letters written by people who know you to the law schools. Most schools want three of these. Try to get two letters from professors with whom you have worked. The more specific information they put into the letters, the better they will be appreciated. The third letter could be from a professor or someone outside of school who also knows you well. A lawyer, judge, or alumnus of the school you are applying to would all be good people for you to get letters from. Just make sure that the letters will be complimentary to you. Finally, if your recommendors could write about the same theme that you used in your personal essay, well, that would be a big plus.
What is the LSAC? Do I have to use it?
When you apply for the LSAT you will get a booklet from the people who run the test. This is the LSAC (Law School Admission Council). They administer the test and are gradually assuming more responsibility for the whole law school admissions process. Many law schools now want your personal essay and letters of recommendation sent to the LSAC. They will then send your materials on to the law schools you are applying to.
What if I have a criminal record? Do I have to tell people?
All law school applications have a question about your criminal background. Answer the question truthfully and do NOT hide anything. If you have a minor in possession, tell the school. Leave nothing out and answer truthfully and fully. Law schools will conduct a background check on you after you start to attend their school. If they find out you lied to them or hid something from them, they will ask you to leave immediately.
Other Items of Interest
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How often should I see the pre-law advisor?
The pre-law advisor, Dr. Paul Fabrizio, is available during his regular office hours and by appointment. See him as often as you feel the need.
Where have McMurry students gone to law school?
McMurry students in the last seven years have gone to almost every law school in Texas and Oklahoma, including UT, Tech, Texas Southern, South Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and St. Mary's. We also have had students accepted to Washington and Lee in Virginia and Barry College in Florida . Almost every student from McMurry who applies and has taken seriously the advice to study hard for the LSAT has made it into law school. In the last seven years, only one enrolled McMurry student (out of 20) who applied to law school did not get accepted.
How have McMurry students done in law school?
McMurry students have traditionally done as well in law school as they did at McMurry. A few have made law review at their schools, a sign that they are tops in their class.
What kind of jobs have McMurry students received after law school?
Jobs are traditionally in law firms. One student clerked on the Texas Supreme Court before joining a firm in Los Angeles, while another now works for the Department of Labor as a staff lawyer. Most of our recent graduates work in Texas.