KELLYE TESTY: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I’m Kellye Testy, and I’m currently serving as the president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council. I’ve been a law school dean and professor for a number of years at several institutions. And I’m also currently teaching corporations at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law this term. I’m so glad you’ve joined us. And I also want to give a very warm welcome to Gisele Joachim, who is here with us today from LSAC as well. And Gisele leads all of our educational programs and works with our schools very closely as we all work together to advance law and justice.
So, on behalf of both Gisele and myself, we want to let you know how glad we are that you’ve joined us today to learn about the year ahead, the LSAT, law school, and beyond. I love the “and beyond” piece, because of course that’s what we all think about is, what do we do with our careers, and what are our steps? So, we thought we’d begin today with a few comments just about why might you pursue law, what is it all about, why law school, why now? And just a little bit about how law school is structured, for those of you who are just starting to get involved and interested in pursuing legal education.
So, I want to start today with a little bit about why law at all, and just note the fact that law really matters in our world. People think about law all the time as the way that perhaps we police people or the way that we resolve disputes. But those are just a couple pieces of law. Law is so much more fundamental than that, because law sets the very infrastructure, the very structure of our society for how we can proceed peacefully, how we can live where everyone has an opportunity for human flourishing. And that larger role of law in being the bedrock of our democracy and of society is something we don’t always talk about, but it is something that’s really been brought to the fore in so much of what’s happening today as our world continues to be so challenged in so many areas, including the pandemic, racial reckoning that was long overdue, and so much of the dislocation economically, and so much of the violence around the world. When you look at societies where people are flourishing, you see a very strong system of law, the rule of law working well so that people can live lives of prosperity and peace and justice. But when that crumbles, so much else does too. And so, those of us who are called to law, who want to work for law and help make the world a better place, really have an opportunity to do that by studying law and pursuing a legal education.
And I want to begin by saying that I do hope that you decide to pursue law. We need your voice. We really do need diverse voices in law so that it truly answers to everyone and so that everyone respects law and it systems. So, I hope you decide that this is for you, to pursue law school. And I think it’s a wonderful career to pursue. And I’ll just share a few of my own reasons for that. And of course, there are many more people that you can talk to along your own journey in getting good advice about where to go, how to go, and just know that we’ll talk a lot today about the pathway to law school. Gisele is here because she served for many years as a dean of admission. And she knows exactly what that pathway is like and how to put yourself in the best position. So I’ll make sure you know that we’ll get there as well today.
But first, let me talk a little bit about the fact that today is a wonderful time to go to law school. The career opportunities are tremendous, and graduates of law schools are finding that our market right now is very well matched for graduates with the opportunities to pursue a legal career. And graduates of law school pursue legal careers in a very wide variety. Many go to law firms, or lawyers in the classic way we think of them and in court or helping clients with various things when in hearings or in business deals. But many people pursue law in order to serve the public interest: in public service, in government, especially in nonprofit organizations, and as well, many business leaders are also legally educated and decide to pursue business and innovation rather than pursuing working as a lawyer in the classic sense.
But the good news about legal education is that it’s a wonderful degree in complex problem-solving. It is the degree that, more than anything, helps you learn how to solve complex problems, and that skill, that critical-thinking skill, that ability to sort out that tangled bowl of spaghetti noodles, so to speak, is one that is in high demand everywhere in our world. As we see complexity continue to rise and we see differences continue to make everything more contested, and where that ability to hear diverse perspectives and to find a way to move forward well, toward the common good, is something that is just so desired, no matter what area of law, of business, of public service, and so much more. I’ve also personally found, and over the many years I’ve been in law, found that my students love the challenge of law. It’s a career where you can keep on learning. There’s never a dull day when you’re out there helping people with their problems. And a good friend of mine once described a law degree as simply a license to help people. And that really is what it is. It can give you the door, the opening to make the difference that you want to make in the world in whatever community you’re called to help, in whatever way that you’re called to make a difference in the world that you want to occupy.
And so, for career, for fulfillment, for the personal growth that comes from law, I think it’s a wonderful pathway to pursue. I also want to share just a little bit as we get started today about the overall structure of law school, because I realize that until you’ve been there, it may be hard to have a sense for what’s it really like? What is it that I should expect when I actually get there? And get there you will, and we’ll help you with that, because LSAC, the Law School Admission Council, aims to have outreached hands to help you on your journey. And so, you’ll hear a lot today about how we can do that. But what to expect once you get there? Well, first of all, law school is a post-undergraduate program.
So first, of course, getting our B.A., our B.S., our undergraduate degree. And then it’s a three-year professional program. There are also programs increasingly that take that traditional three years and either collapse it and allow you to do it faster, some places online, or extend it a little bit into maybe a four-year program so that you could go part time and actually be in school and working at the same time. And that’s certainly doable. I always have admired so much my students who choose that path. But whether you do a compressed approach for less than three years, a three-year more traditional approach, or a longer part-time program, the basic structure of legal education is generally the same, in that in the first year that you’re there, it’s really orienting you to the law, giving you some required first-year courses in the basics of law: things like contract law, constitutional law, criminal law, a subject called torts that’s really about accidents that happen in the world and who bears responsibility for those. And in that first year, you really get the basic building blocks, and it can sometimes be a real challenge to learn the language of the law. And some people find it takes a little longer or a little faster, but that first year is there for all of you to bring the foundation forward that will allow you to succeed. And in that first year, you’re learning a lot of subjects that then in your second and third year of law school, or more if you’re in a part-time program, there you can explore more in depth some of the subjects that you’re particularly interested in: learning about additional fundamental courses, like, for instance, the one I mentioned today, corporations, or business organizations. That’s a basic course, learning what are partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies. It’s also a time in the second and third year to not only get more of those basics down, but to take some classes in, say, areas that you know you’re interested in: intellectual property, criminal procedure, environmental law.
And not only are there classroom classes in law schools today, but our law schools have done just a fabulous job of creating hands-on experiential learning opportunities, so that not only are you learning in a classroom, but you’re out doing, even in law school. Working with clients, working in simulations, working under the tutorial of practicing lawyers so that you’re learning by doing in law school. And that’s something that law students really enjoy, because there’s nothing like actually working with a real client to make you understand why what you’re doing matters and how you can make so many lives better by what you do in law. Those three years go by fast, and many students use the summers between first and second and the summer between second and third to explore career areas. Law firms and other legal employers love to hire law students as clerks, as interns, as associates for the summer, in order to give them more experience and to get a taste for what a particular area of law is like, so that you know what that would feel like to practice in that area or work in that area. And you also start to build your network, your network of lawyers and other advisers who can help you on your career. I want to really transition now to some words of wisdom that Gisele has, but in doing that, I want to remind you that the Q&A is available, and we’ll try and cover a lot of questions that you have today, too.
Obviously, we’re covering a lot of things quickly, but I know that what’s on the minds of many of you is, “OK, Kellye, I want to go to law school. Now, help me get there.” What is it, what’s this admission process like, and how should I be thinking about that? So, Gisele, let me welcome you very warmly and ask you to share, from your perspective, some information on that process.
GISELE JOACHIM: Thanks so much, Kellye, and that was just a great overview. So, I feel like Kellye’s job here is to get you all excited about law school and give you sort of some bigger-picture ideas about what law school is and how it feels to be a law student, and then what your life as a lawyer might look like. My job is sort of more nitty-gritty. I’m going to really talk to you about the application process, about the admission process. We’ll also be posting some links for you that can give you some resources as you move along. So, I feel like the best way to understand the application process to law school is really looking at it in two parts. And the two parts are the application and all of the contents that go with the application, and then the CAS, the Credential Assembly Service, and all of the different parts of the CAS. We will start with the application. So, the way to look at the application process is that that is everything that will be required directly from you, the applicant, to apply to the various law schools that you might be applying to.
So, typically, what you’ll have is an actual application where there’ll be questions that you’ll answer, just as you’re used to from your undergraduate education. Typically, there’ll be a personal statement that will be required as part of that. You may have some other addendums that are also included with the application, and I’ll come back to what those might include. There may be an opportunity to submit a diversity statement as well. And then, obviously, any application fees, any of those kinds of items that are asked for, again, directly from the individual law schools you apply to from you, the applicant. The other part of the application process that I mentioned was the Credential Assembly Service. And what that includes is all of the items that you will need to submit as part of your application process that don’t come directly from you, the applicant, but are obviously about you. So, the examples of those items that go into your CAS report are your transcripts from any and all higher education institutions that you’ve attended, letters of recommendation, which are going to come directly from your recommenders through the process, and your LSAT scores.
So, let’s stop with the LSAT for a minute and give you a little bit of information about the LSAT, and then we’re going to come back. Kellye’s going to give a little bit more information in a few minutes. But basically, the LSAT is the premier standardized test that law schools use for entry, part of the holistic review process of admission at all of the law schools, all the ABA-accredited law schools in the United States. It has three primary sections: reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning. And then there’s a fourth section that will repeat one of those three sections. And that section is unscored, but those three sections are scored on a 120-to-180 scale. Additionally, there is a writing component that you will take at a separate time, and that is unscored, but the full writing example that you’ve done is sent to all the law schools that you apply to so that they can use it as part of the admissions process if they do. So, that sort of gives you a roundabout of the LSAT, and again, we’ll come back and give a little bit more information about that in a few minutes. In addition to LSAT scores, as part of your CAS process, we, I mentioned that all of your transcripts from any higher education institution that you’ve attended will be included.
The beauty of the CAS process is that you only have to ask for those items, those transcripts, once. And LSAC, as part of the Credential Assembly Service, will send out your transcripts and your scores and your letters of recommendations to all of the law schools that you apply to. And that makes things easier for you, the applicant, and it makes things easier for the law schools as well, because they get everything in one sort of uniform package for all of the applicants to that law school. Letters of recommendation, you’ll be able to request them all electronically from your recommenders.
I do recommend being in touch with anybody you’re going to ask to write a letter for you. Try to have a sit-down meeting with them if you can, either in person or via Zoom, so they’re up to date on the things that you’ve been doing. Be sure that you’re confident that they can write you a good letter of recommendation. You want somebody who’s going to speak very well of you, not somebody who’s going to give a tepid, sort of so-so letter of recommendation. This is an opportunity for you, as the applicant, to have sort of your best side shown.
On the application side of things, again, it’s going to be all of the things that you, the applicant, are submitting directly to the law schools. One of the primary things I’m going to tell you to watch out for today is: Be sure that you’re reading the questions correctly, both in the application and in particular when it comes to writing the personal statement. Many law schools have sort of generic personal statement questions that you’ll be able use the same personal statement for a variety of schools, but some may have very specific questions. And you’ll want to be sure to answer the question that’s being asked if one is being asked. Other addendums, other information that you might want to include with your application may include, for example, a diversity statement, which will talk about how your individual diversity impacts your desire to go to law school or to become a lawyer. Especially if that’s not part of your personal statement, that’s something that can be very good to highlight in a diversity statement. Another example of an addendum might be a case where you’re talking specifically about why you want to go to a specific law school. Oftentimes, it’s good not to include that in your primary personal statement, because you might send it out to the wrong school. It might not go with your regular statement, but you want to tell sort of your first-choice law school, “You’re the law school for me, and this is why.” That can make for a nice addendum. Additionally, if you have any character and fitness questions that come up or anything else in your application that you feel like needs a little explanation — whether it’s a rough semester in college, because there was something going on, maybe something in your family or an illness, or if you took the LSAT multiple times and you want to talk about a score and why it was lower than you expected, or something along those lines, those are the reasons that you would write an addendum, or possibly more than one addendum, and add that to your application packet. Most law schools use what’s called holistic admissions, which means that they’re going to review everything in your file. So, obviously, grades and scores are going to be a big part of the decision, but they are certainly not the only part of the decision.
So, I really encourage you that, as you’re working through all of the items in the application packet, getting your letters of recommendation, all of those are the places that you really can impact the outcome of your applications in a way that really lasts up until the end, right? So, the personal statement, that is in your hands, that is in your control until the day you hit “submit” on your application. So, take the appropriate time to make it perfect. Be sure that it’s free of any spelling and grammatical errors, obviously, but also have a good, objective eye. Read it and be sure that it’s conveying what you want it to convey about yourself and your motivations to go to law school or to become a lawyer. Again, read the question that you’re being asked by each of the law schools carefully, so that you’re sure that your personal statement addresses it correctly. In terms of the admissions process, you should know that a few, not many, but there are some law schools that do have early decision or early action programs.
And so, with those, you’ll want to be very attentive to the deadlines. Many schools have what’s called rolling admissions. So, with rolling admissions, what happens is there is sort of an outside deadline — generally it’ll fall anywhere from maybe around March 1st until April 15th — up until which a law school will continue to accept applications, and the message to its applicants will be that as long as you apply by that deadline, whatever that rolling admission deadline is, that you have the same opportunity for admission. Whether you apply in November with a March 1st deadline or you apply February 15th with a March 1st deadline, the messaging is that you have the same opportunity for admission. So, that may be true, but I’m telling you today that really, what you want to do is to try to apply as early in the process as you can. And “as you can” means as soon as you’re ready, right? You may not be ready until later in the process. Maybe you haven’t taken your LSAT yet, or you’re still collecting a letter of recommendation, or something along those lines.
So, you have to be ready, you have to have it all together. That’s the most important thing, but the second most important thing is the earlier, the better. And the reason why the earlier, the better is because sometimes, and I think if you follow anything about law school admissions, you may have seen this: Not this year, but the prior year, there was a big bump up in the number of applications to law schools. So, that made the law schools really look at things early on. And students who applied later in the process, their opportunity for admission became less and less as it got later and later into the calendar year.
So, do yourself a favor: Apply on the early side. It also can impact scholarships, which will be the next sort of thing I’ll talk a little bit about. So, law schools, unlike undergraduate institutions, there are very limited resources in terms of financial aid, especially traditional financial aid at the law school level. At the undergraduate level, some of you may be familiar with need-based grant money like Pell Grants and other grant money from individual states that are available. None of that really exists in the law school world. But what does exist in law schools is pretty much, at many law schools, very healthy scholarship programs. So, the scholarship programs are predicated differently at each law school, so you would have to do some homework in finding out who qualifies and how they qualify and how that works. But back to the discussion of sort of the reasons to apply early, that’s one of the other primary reasons to apply early, is some scholarship programs at some law schools will be distributed sort of on a first-come, first-served basis. So, you don’t want to miss out on that if that is the case. So, early is better.
There are also federal loans, of course, and there is plenty of information available, both on the LSAC website and from other sources, that can give you a much greater variety of information about financial aid. And if we have time, we’ll definitely come back to that discussion through the course of this webinar. But for now, as promised, we’re going to talk a little bit more in depth about the LSAT. And for that, I am going to ask Kellye to come back.
KELLYE: Thank you Gisele, and thank you for covering so much so quickly. Before I get into the LSAT, I noticed there’s a common question, and I think I’ll pitch it to you and then I’ll get into the LSAT, just about how many reference letters do people need and a little bit more about what do you mean by a diversity statement? So, might you hit those two things and then I’ll pick up?
GISELE: Happy to. So, in terms of letters of recommendation, that’s another area where I’m going to encourage everybody to look at the individual law schools that they’re applying to. Really, one of the tips that I tell students often is when you’re getting to that stage where you’re sort of deciding where you’re going to apply, make a little spreadsheet of all the schools you’re going to apply to, and then sort of list out in the columns all of the different requirements, both for admissions and you can also highlight then any deadlines with regards to admissions and financial aid. So, you can have it all in one place and you can track it in a way that’s convenient and easy for you to see. So, letters of recommendation, each law school is going to set both how many they require, how many they’ll accept, and they may even give you instruction about what they want those letters, who they want those letters to come from.
So, a very common thing would be, for example, that they want two letters of recommendation and they require one to be from an academic source - so, somebody who has taught you in the classroom, for example. Some law schools don’t have any letters of recommendation. That’s fine, too. What you don’t want to ever do is send more than they are allowing. You don’t want to sort of “photobomb” letters of recommendation to a school. If they say they accept two, if they say they require two and will accept up to three, do not send four. You can send three, but do not send four. So, that’s the letter of recommendation. I will say that as a general rule of thumb, because I know this is a common question, that for students who are coming to law school either directly out of their undergraduate experience or within a year or two, there is an expectation by most law schools that there will be at least one academic recommendation in there.
Law school is an academic experience, and it is very important for most admissions professionals and admissions committees to feel and see demonstrated that the student can be successful in an academically rigorous environment. So, those are very important. For students, for applicants who are out of school for a longer period of time who may have lost contact with any academic experiences that they’ve had because they’ve been in the work world for a while for five, 10 years, then you would go to employer-type recommendations, other people who can attest to sort of your skills and abilities. You don’t ever want letters of recommendation from relatives, even if it’s your mom’s law firm. That’s an inappropriate letter. Because I hope everybody’s mom would write them a great letter, right? So, those aren’t going to be appropriate. You always want to sort of reach outside of that. In terms of the diversity statement, this is oftentimes an optional part of the application. And it is a place where students, where applicants are really encouraged to think about their own diversity situations and how that impacts their decision to pursue either law school or becoming a lawyer.
So, it is a little bit, it can be a little bit different from the personal statement, which may talk about other motivations, but not how what you as a person and your experiences, your lived experiences bring to the process. Sometimes it’s the same. And if it’s the same, then you wouldn’t just resubmit the same thing over. What you should be doing in terms of deciding if you’re going to submit a diversity statement or other addendums is: Think about your application like a puzzle. You want it all to fit sort of neatly and make a great picture of you to the admissions committees who are reviewing it. And so, if a diversity statement fills a piece of that puzzle, then that’s the signal that you should do it. If it’s the same as something else, then you shouldn’t do it.
KELLYE: Gisele, that is so helpful. Thank you for your good advice. And I want to remind everybody of two things. One is that LSAC is here to answer these questions for you and to help you. And the admission offices of each of the law schools that you’re interested in, they have staff who are there for exactly that reason as well: to help you understand the requirements and to give you advice about how to position yourself best for admission and success in law school. So, please know that LSAC and the law school admission offices in the various schools are here as your helpers along this journey. We also have a lot of you asking about recording, and we are recording this, and an initial copy will be available to everyone who attended today 24 hours after we end today. And then it will be later posted on our website for on-demand viewing at LSAC.org. So, if you’ve missed something and want to hear it again, you’ll be able to listen to this again and hear Gisele’s great advice on the process.
So, I was asked to talk a little bit about the LSAT, the Law School Admission Test. And some of you have asked in the chat, “Should I take it, and when should I take it?” Let me answer that and talk a little bit about what it’s about. So, first of all, I think you should take it, and there’s two really critical reasons why. The first one comes from my desire to help you as an onramp into succeeding in law school. The LSAT tests the very three skills that are most important to your success in law school: the skill of reading carefully and closely and understanding what you’re reading; the skill of reasoning - “if this, then that,” the ability, and that’s the ability lawyers have sometimes, we say, to look around corners, to anticipate and to make good arguments; and then the skill of writing, because lawyers, whether they’re speaking, they’re kind of writing in their head and speaking, they’re writing and doing briefs, writing skills are critical. So, the LSAT helps you acquire the skills of writing, reading and reasoning that are the very same skills that you need to thrive in law school and to thrive as a lawyer. And so, there is an arc to this. This is your onramp to legal education. And so, prepping for it will help you thrive in law school. Now, the other reason that you should want to do it is 99% of matriculants to law schools submit an LSAT score as part of their application. The schools are looking for that, and they also are, of course, reviewing the whole file. But again, to be admitted to law school, you want to know that around 99% of students do submit those scores. So, you want to make yourself as competitive as possible.
So, for both those reasons, the learning that comes and the competitiveness in the admission cycle, you’ll want to do that. When should you do it? That’s one that I think you want to work backwards on a little bit. So, you start from when you’re thinking you’re going to apply to law school, and you want to make sure, as Gisele said, that you’re applying as early in that cycle as you can. And so, that would mean that you’d want to take the LSAT in plenty of time to have your application ready early in the fall, because we’re on academic calendars and we’re kind of late summer through the next summer. And so, you want to work backwards and make sure you’ve taken it in plenty of time to get your application ready the fall before you want to start law school. And I like to suggest, too, that candidates think about taking it more than once. And the reason for that is that thinking about law, as the LSAT asks you to do, is a new way of thinking for everyone. It was for me when I first started teaching at, excuse me, studying law. And so, sometimes prepping for it and then taking it once before you’re really ready to apply, that can help you get ready, and then take it, really, as you’re ready to apply to do your very best.
And I want to remind you, please, you are not your LSAT score any more than you are your GPA. You are a whole person, and we want all of you in legal education. And so, the schools really are looking at everything. And so, the fact that they use the LSAT does not mean it’s the only thing. And I want to make sure you know, too, that a lot of times, the schools will advertise a “median” LSAT. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to have that. No, a median means that half of the students are under it and half of the students are over it. And so, that means that’s just a range. And so, you don’t want to take yourself out of the running. You want to apply, give them a chance to know that you’re right for them, because they’re looking for fit, for a diverse class, for a range of perspectives, a range of different kinds of strengths in their classes. Now, we’ll talk in a little bit about ways to do your best on the LSAT. And so, that’s going to be coming up very soon, but I want to let you know that as you think about it, make sure that you’re not thinking about it just as a test. It’s an onramp to success, getting the skills you need. And that’s why it’s the only valid and reliable test for law school admission. And it is the one factor that helps you know whether this works for you. Because law school’s a big investment - we realize that. And the LSAT is a good predictor of your success in law school. So, you deserve to have that information so that you know how that’s fitting for you and you can decide whether this is right for you. Gisele, with that, I want to note that with taking the LSAT, there’s a lot of timelines and deadlines. LSAC is eager to accommodate those of you with disabilities and there’s deadlines for that that are important. So, I wonder if you might talk, Gisele, a little bit about the admin dates for the LSAT coming up, and then we can go from there.
GISELE: Sure. So, we’re going to put the dates, the links to the actual dates, right in the chat so you will all have that even after we’re done here today. But generally speaking, the LSAT is administered in most months. The months that we do not administer it are basically May, July, and December. And really, every other month, it’s administered. It’s fully remotely offered now, remotely proctored. So, you’re going to take it in your home or in a quiet space. I do want to also be sure to mention that LSAC wants to partner with anybody who has difficulty, either because of financial difficulty or because they don’t have an appropriate space to take their exam. That is something we can help you out with by either sending you a loaner device to take the test on, if that’s what you need, or by helping you to afford to take the test in a hotel, for example, where you would have reliable internet and a quiet space.
So, you should not hesitate to reach out to LSAC if you need that kind of assistance. Additionally, as Kellye mentioned, we work very closely with students who require accommodations, and there is a process. I will say that you want to be sure to leave enough time to ensure that we can make whatever accommodations are necessary for you. I want to, we want to talk a little bit about LawHub and the resources that we have for test prep. But I thought, Kellye, I would throw out a question to you, too, that’s sort of unrelated to LSAT that I very frequently hear, and I think you would be terrific to address it. And I saw it come up in the question box today. And that is, can you talk a little bit about the difference between part-time and full-time law school attendance, and is one better than the other? How should potential applicants look at that decision?
KELLYE: Yeah, Gisele, that’s a hard decision to make, because on the one hand, it’s tempting to want to work during law school because you’re still earning money and you don’t have to forego that while you’re full time in school. But law school is a rigorous challenge. And I know that a lot of times my students who maybe had done an MBA or done some other kind of graduate school, when they get to law school, they were like, “Whoa, this is a rigorous challenge. It’s fun, but it takes more focus and devotion to really learning the law.” And that’s not because we want to just make it hard, it’s because it’s complex, and that’s why it’s interesting. And it’s also because a lot’s at stake. When you become a lawyer, you have people’s lives in your hands. It is serious work that requires us to really be our best and prepare. And so, I like to make sure that when you’re thinking about that choice, you need to know there’s no one right answer.
The answer is what works for you. What allows you to do what you need to do best in terms of, maybe you need to support your family or yourself. And so part time is really the option that you can do, but know that you’ll be busy and to make the choices you can to make sure you give yourself the chance to succeed in law school as you’re doing that. So, I want to make sure that everyone knows today that the good news about law school is that we take the music majors and the math majors, the poets and the physicists, the PE majors and the performers, there’s no, nothing like in med school where you have to have been pre-med. We welcome a wide variety because we need a diversity of thought in law. And likewise, there’s no right one way in terms of how you sequence it. I know many outstanding lawyers and judges who went to law school part time. And I know many who went full time. What works is what works for you. But I think it is important to know that you want to make sure you leave the room to really, especially in that critical first year, to really immerse yourself in the learning. You’ll love it, and it’ll push you in all the right ways.
GISELE: So, that’s great. So, I’m going to ask you another question before we get into test prep which will be the, probably the last thing that we speak about. Another really common question that I hear is, “Do I have to know what kind of lawyer I want to be before going to law school?”
KELLYE: Well, I sure hope not, because I didn’t. [laughs] No, no, you don’t. And many times your initial thought about what you might want to do changes during law school. And so, the good news is you can be more of a generalist, you can get in there and see what you like, see what fits, try out a summer job, see if that fits. Now, some of you may know for sure, like you may have for whatever reason decided it’s only environmental law for me, for sure. And that’s fine; that may be what you want to do. But if you don’t know, if you want to just see what works for you as you get there, that’s fine. And I’m a first-gen college grad in my family. I didn’t know a litigator from a transactional lawyer from a corporate when I started law school. That’s OK. Some of you are from lawyer families; some of you are not. It will build your career as you go through it, and there are career services offices to help you. Law schools have a lot of student support so that each of your journeys can be successful. No matter where you start and no matter what you want to do, you’ll find your way, and that is the pathway that we want you to find and to help you thrive in.
GISELE: That’s great. So I’m going to pick up a question here and then I’m going to toss it back to you, Kellye, to talk a little bit more about LawHub. But I do see in the Q&A box, there’s still a lot of confusion about letters of recommendation, so I want to highlight something there. I mentioned the CAS, the Credential Assembly Service, which is an LSAC service that all of the law schools in the U.S. use as a way for applicants to collect those pieces of the application that come from other sources other than the applicant themselves. So, one of those sources is the letters of recommendation. So the way the process works, just generally speaking, is that from the LSAC website, you’ll be able to send links to the individuals who you are asking to be your recommenders. And with those links, they will submit the letters directly to your CAS file, to your credential assembly packet. And then that will be sent out to all the law schools. You do have the opportunity in that process to direct letters. So, if you have a letter that’s specific to a law school, you’re able to do that and just have it go to that law school. And so, that’s what allows you to accommodate for, in the process, sending the right number of letters to each of the law schools that you’re applying to. So I hope that’s a little bit clearer for folks. So let’s talk about LawHub, Kellye.
KELLYE: Happy to do that. And I noticed, too, in the questions, people are asking, “If I’ve had work experience, is that welcome, “and what if I’m right out of undergrad; is that OK?” And the answer is yes. Some students go right through to law school; others work for a while. All that is welcomed; our law schools do indeed look for a wide diversity in their class in terms of experience. And so, you may be a veteran, you may have worked a while. You may be right out of undergrad. You might be one of those students who’s only 16, has already done three college degrees and now you think law school is a good idea. There’s just a really wide variety. So, follow your journey and know that that’s what the schools want. They want to know you through your application. So, give them a sense of who you are, why you want to do this, what you hope to contribute, even if you don’t know in what area, and that’ll help them get to know you.
So, Gisele, you asked about LawHub, and LawHub is a critical new tool that LSAC has. And one of the things I love about it is that the pandemic has been horrible. There’s just no question about how devastating it’s been in so many places. And among that, I think we’ve all tried to be resilient. We’ve all tried to find ways to make progress somewhere, to keep doing the things that matter. And one of the things that we were able to do is to build a wonderful platform, LawHub, that helped us deliver the LSAT safely during the pandemic. And with Omicron, we see it’s still dicey to get out. And so, we’ve continued to deliver that remotely so that people can take it safely and with less anxiety, in their home, than trying to get to a particular center at a particular time. But we also then, in building out a way for students to practice that online testing, we also decided that we could provide a wonderful platform to help with preparation. And so, what I wanted to encourage everybody to do today is to come to LSAC.org and to look at LawHub.
LawHub is a wonderful tool that helps you prepare for the LSAT, and it helps you build the skills that will make you successful in law school. On LawHub, you can effectively prepare for the test. If you haven’t already, I’m going to urge you to sign up there because you’ll have free LSAT prep account through LawHub. You can familiarize yourself with the questions and the problems; you can practice them. You have access tools there with unlimited practice and a test interface, instant scoring and feedback. So you can really use that as a great, great learning opportunity. And then what I’m going to urge you to do, too, is, as you’re then ready to take the next step, we’ve created a LawHub Plus program where you’re able to upgrade to even richer, a richer set of materials that help you get ready for law school. And I won’t keep it a secret. We aim to be there for you the entire journey from prelaw through practice, through LawHub. It will give you tools to help you now, when you’re applying; it will give you tools to help you when you’re in law school; and it will give you tools to help you pass that Bar exam and get on into practice and thrive. So, get started with LawHub and get started on your journey to law school.
GISELE: And I’ll highlight that in LawHub there are more than 70 priorly given LSAT exams, so you’re working with the real exam and, as Kellye said, in the real interface and working in that real interface that will be the same as when you actually take your LSAT really helps you. It helps you get used to it, it helps keep the nerves down, to quell any anxiety. Because if nothing else, you’ll be used to sort of the look, the feel, the functionality. So, that is certainly an advantage to preparing with the LawHub tools. Additionally, we have free test prep in a partnership with Khan Academy, and you can find information about that on the LSAC.org website as well. And the difference, or they sort of work together in that in LawHub you’ll find the opportunity to take the exam over and over again, which will certainly help you improve your score. If you feel like you need something that is more defined in terms of strategies and other information about how to tackle certain questions, you will be able to find that, again, for free in the Khan Academy partnership.
Over the next year, LawHub will continue to grow into the destination for the information you need to make informed choices about where to apply, where to attend, and how to navigate the application process. We have live events that will continue February through May, culminating in a program called Admission Unmasked that takes place in June and July. Admission Unmasked is a six-week program that will help you get your best shot at getting into law schools that meet your needs and goals. And after Admissions Unmasked, we’ll pick back up with our monthly events. So, there’ll be lots of programming that will be there for you, addressing all of the topics, some of which we’ve talked about today, but in a much more detailed sense than we can have time for in a one-hour webinar. So, I think we have a few minutes left and I actually think what folks would love is if we could hit maybe another question or two before we close out. So, let me see if I’ve got a good one for you, Kellye; did you see anything that caught your eye?
KELLYE: One thing that caught my eye, Gisele, was that I saw some people writing in. For instance, someone noted that they were blind and used a screen reader, and could there be accessibility? Absolutely; we pride ourselves on accessibility and universal design in many cases. And so, please know that whatever your circumstance, we are here to help you on your journey. And so, I wanted to emphasize that as well. And then I also noted, Gisele, this is a question maybe that you could hit, is we have a number of people that are not from the U.S., they’re from Canada and are asking, “Is there anything particular different or that we ought to know there?” And so, that may be one thing for you to hit as we address some of the questions.
GISELE: Perfect, I saw that as well, and welcome to our Canadian participants. So, I think the main things that Canadian participants will want to know is that all the Canadian law schools do utilize the LSAT. So, everything we said about the LSAT is absolutely relevant to applying to a Canadian law school, from the preparing, from the dates that you want to consider taking it, registering, the whole thing. They do not, however, the Canadian law schools do not utilize the CAS process. So, that part of it, the submission of your application and the other pieces of your application, that is different and that’ll be more school-specific. I believe that the Ontario law schools, they have a sort of common application process, that for students applying to those law schools, it’s all in one process. But otherwise, I believe it’s individual law schools. Here’s another one for you, Kellye. And then I think we’ll probably be closing out after this, but I think this is a great one. Again, one that I commonly am asked. Do law schools frown upon a gap year?
KELLYE: Absolutely not. One of the things that’s challenging and fun about law is that you have to apply law to every situation. There’s no area of the world that doesn’t have some legal component. And so, gap years give you some experience in some area. And even if you’ve taken some time off, it’s a reflection. It helps you know what you want your journey to be. So, again, there’s no one right way to do this. And what I encourage you to think about is not so much “Would they frown on this; would they not?” Give them the narrative: Show them why that made sense for you. Show them your story and how where you’re heading is where you want to head and how the past has fit into that. So, weave that together for them through your personal statement, through your diversity statement, through your letters of recommendation and your application, and let them see who you are and where you want to go. I saw too, Gisele, people saying, “I’m disappointed in my score. I may not get in exactly the school I want.” And there, I want to say to you, the good news is it in Canada and the U.S., we have so many great law schools. I know there’s a lot of hype around certain rankings and certain groupings. But I work with all the law schools across this big world that we’re in, and there’s so much strength here. And so, find the fit that’s right for you. Because a lot of times, there might be a school that’s “higher-ranked,” but the experience doesn’t maybe fit. And most people, self included, do better when they’re doing something they love, where they feel a sense of community and belonging. And so, finding that fit can help really get your career on the right track. And know that there’s a lot of the same things that happen whether you’re studying in one state or another, those courses I described in the first, we’ll get on your way.
GISELE: Yeah, I will say that, absolutely, one of the things that I really encourage applicants to think about in terms of fit is sort of the location, the geography. Some folks will feel like they’re going to do their best work in an urban environment, in a big city. That’s what they are comfortable with or that’s what they’ve wanted. Others might want to be on a university campus; that may be an environment that makes them feel really good. And some may want to be in a more remote location, because that is where they do their best work. So, really think about where you perform your best, where you’re comfortable, the situations that keep your anxiety under control and will allow you to do your best work. I know we’re in our final minutes, I wanted to hook on, Kellye, to something that you said, and then, of course, I’ll have you have the last word. But when you were talking about sort of bringing your whole self to the process, the way that you described that fits so perfectly with my sort of explanation as a puzzle. When you’re looking at your application sort of objectively, step back and ask yourself, “What might somebody who doesn’t know me, what might leave a question in their mind?” If that’s a gap year, that’s fine; just answer the question. What is it that you did with that year? Anything will be fine. We just want to know and understand you. And so, try to realistically sort of step back. What might somebody sort of question? And then fill that gap. Be sure that the answer is there in front of them so that they don’t have to sort of make it up on their own. I want to wish everybody the best of luck in this process. LSAC is here to support you, to help you, and to provide you with whatever information we can as you get through this process. And Kellye, back to you.
KELLYE: Gisele, I thank you so much for sharing your wisdom as a former admission dean and now working with all law schools in the, that LSAC works with. And I want to note about that. I see some of you writing in from around the world, LSAC administers the LSAT all over the world; you can certainly find access to that. And we’re here to help if you need to know how to do that. Our law schools in the U.S. and in Canada welcome applicants from all over our world. Again, that helps contribute to the richness as we understand different legal systems. So, wherever you are, I hope that you’ve found today’s webinar helpful. As noted, LawHub and LSAC will be there for you. We’ll have a number of programs that I hope will help you along your journey. But if you need any help on where to start, start with LSAC.org, and we will be there to assist you. And take a look at LawHub, because there’s some wonderful tools there that can help you get ready and show your best self as you apply. I want to just close, Gisele, with thanks for everyone who has tuned in. Thank you for caring about law. Thank you for caring about justice. Thank you for knowing that law may not be perfect, but it’s a wonderful pathway to a just world and still remains the best one I know to make that world one where we may all thrive. We look forward to being with you next time. Have a good evening.