What classes will prepare me for law school?
Law schools do not require a specific course of study. Instead, schools look for evidence that an applicant can analyze and solve problems, communicate well orally and in writing, organize and manage time, and appreciate the value of serving others and promoting justice. The best approach to preparing for law school is to develop these skills broadly through an array of courses and co-curricular activities.
How many courses can I take S/NC?
Although law schools do not rule out courses that have not been completed for credit, you should be judicious about the number and type of courses you take S/NC. This grade option is intended to encourage you to explore academic areas that are a stretch beyond your comfort zone. Taking a number of courses in your concentration or main area of interest S/NC will not portray you in the best light. Mandatory S/NC courses (indicated on your official transcript with an asterisk) will not cause any concern. Note that courses completed "with distinction" are only used for the conferral of Brown honors such as Magna Cum Laude. The distinction does not appear on your official transcript.
What on- or off-campus activities will enhance my law school application?
Your activities do not need to relate directly to law or law school. However, they should develop and express your leadership, collaboration, and civic service skills. If you are interested in learning about trial law, you might join Brown's mock-trial team or debating union. If you want to get to know other students considering law school, join Brown's Pre-law Society, Brown's Black Pre-Law Association or other student groups with an advocacy and social justice focus. Whatever you do, make sure the activity is intrinsically interesting to you. Brown's Swearer Center for public service is the hub of service activities in the broader Providence area. CareerLAB's BrownConnect and Handshake are excellent systems to help you search for internships and jobs, and to connect with alumni in a variety of professional fields.
Should I wait a year or two after graduation before applying to law school?
In any given application cycle, 75-80% of applicants from Brown are one or more years beyond earning their A.B. or Sc.B. These candidates have strengthened their credentials and clarified their motivations for pursuing a legal career by working in a wide variety of fields, such as education, finance and business, public health, environmental activism, international development, and, of course, law. Overall, law school admission offices strive to admit an incoming class of individuals with diverse experiences. Furthermore, they understand that many different fields relate to legal study and practice. It is not necessary to find a job at a law firm or some other setting where you would work side by side with lawyers. Ultimately, the quality of your experience is what matters the most.
How do I decide where to apply?
Selecting schools to which to apply is a process you should approach thoughtfully. Research schools and individual programs well, considering your interests and how they will be served by a particular program. Just because a school is reputable does not mean that it is a good fit for you.
You can begin developing your school list based on your GPA and LAST scores. Be realistic, as well as aspirational, about your credentials, and apply to a well-balanced list of schools. Do not apply to schools you know you would not attend if admitted. But do be strategic in your choices and reflect well on where you stand and what you aim to accomplish with a legal education. The Resources section of our website presents a range of authoritative sources to help you explore schools.
When should I take the LSAT?
The LSAT is administered several times a year, with the number of test administrations growing since 2018. In 2019 test dates were in June, July, September, October, November, January, February, March and April. The ideal time to take the LSAT depends on your schedule, your preparation and your application plans: register for the LSAT when you will have the most time to study leading up to the test date. Generally, dedicating two-three months to intensive preparation is a good baseline although you should approach your test preparation plan based on your needs and your other commitments. It is best to take the LSAT by October. Most schools begin filling next year's class before December LSAT scores are released. Being late either with the application or the LSAT will put you at a disadvantage. Further, financial assistance offers depend on the timeliness of the rest of the components of your application. Test dates as well as all details of the exam are posted on the LSAC website under www.lsac.org/lsat.
The previously pencil-and-paper test converted to a computer-based format in 2019. All information about this transition is listed on the Digital LSAT pages provided by LSAC. With this new method of administering the test, the Writing section is decoupled from the rest of the test. For your LSAT to be complete you need to take the writing section too. It is advisable to complete it as soon as you can after you take the LSAT itself. Law schools will not consider your test, and therefore your application, complete until you have done so. If you have previously taken the LSAT which included a Writing section, that should be sufficient per LSAC's requirements, although individual schools may prefer to see that you completed the Writing section again if you repeated the LSAT. For all details about the policies and the process of completing the LSAT Writing section please consult the LSAC page on the subject: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/about-lsat-writing.
Due to the pandemic, beginning in summer 2020 through June 2021, the LSAT was modified to be taken remotely online. More information about the LSAT-Flex format can be found on our COVID-19 FAQ page, as well as on the LSAC page. Beginning in August 2021 the exam will no longer be LSAT-Flex, will return the previous 4th, unscored section of the exam, and will continue to be remotely proctored online through June 2022. For all relevant information about the LSAT in August 2021 and beyond, please explore the LSAC section dedicated to the new format.
Can I take the LSAT multiple times?
You can, but doing so is usually not advisable. If you take the LSAT more than once, while many schools may consider your highest score most carefully, many schools may average your scores. The best approach is to prepare well for the exam, and to do your best the one time you take it.
If you got a solid LSAT score and it was in line with your practice test scores, you should re-take the exam only if exceptional circumstances prohibited you from achieving your best possible score (e.g. sickness, computer malfunctions, or family emergencies). Unless you can considerably increase your score the second time around, re-taking the LSAT is not likely to enhance your application.
How long is my LSAT score valid?
LSAT scores are valid for five years.
Should I consider taking the GRE instead?
Since 2017 a number of ABA-approved law schools announced they will allow applicants to take the GRE instead of the LSAT. Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, and Northwestern are some of these schools. The schools initially considered this step in the context of continually declining applications nationally and with the aspiration to attract applicants from a wider range of backgrounds. The 2020-2021 application cycle saw a substanial increase in the number of law school applicants nationally, however, and it is likely the following cycle would be impacted as well. The American Bar Association, which currently recognizes only the LSAT as an appropriate test, has been considering the GRE for years but hasn't definitely ruled on the matter as of early 2022. The main consideration would be the predictive validity of the GRE not only for performance in the law school curriculum but also on state Bar exams. According to the current ABA standard 503 (page 33) law schools can accept up to 10% of their incoming classes without an LSAT score. The ABA has provided a framework for law schools to consider the parameters for school policies about admitting students without LSAT scores. The LSAT is still the standard exam to take. If you are applying to a joint degree program that only requires the GRE, that would be OK - follow the guidance of the individual program. The administrators of the GRE, ETS, have provided a GRE/LSAT Comparison Tool. We recommend you use this only as a rough guide.
Will a joint degree enhance my job prospects?
Acquiring a second degree while in law school can be a wonderful way to broaden your professional knowledge and skills. However, a joint degree is not the only way to enhance your legal studies with related experiences. Many law schools now offer a variety of curricular, scholarly, and experiential opportunities as part of their regular academic programs. These opportunities may increase your viability on the job market just as much or even more than a joint degree.
Before deciding to pursue a joint degree, identify the skills, knowledge, and experience you think a second degree would provide. Then ask yourself if you can attain these goals by pursuing a J.D. that includes relevant opportunities. Keep in mind that a joint degree almost always costs more in tuition and time. We strongly recommend that all applicants do a careful benefit-cost analysis before applying to joint degree programs.
What should I write in my personal statement?
Your personal statement should give the admissions committee an idea of who you are beyond your resume. If law is explicitly part of this, that's fine, but if not, you do not need to discuss it. Avoid the "Why I want to be a lawyer" dissertation; instead, say something unique about yourself and your aspirations, or relate a personal experience that is consistent with your desire to attend law school. While you wouldn't want admission committees to have to work extra hard to ascertain why you would be a good fit for the school and the profession, allowing your narrative to show your motivations, focus, values and qualities and aim to show through them your fit for a career in law.
The personal statement should also showcase your abilities as a writer. Strong communication skills are essential in law school; the admission committee will read your statement with an eye not only on your ideas but also on your ability to convey them well. Students and alumni close to campus can obtain feedback on drafts at the Writing Center. We also suggest that you work with a faculty advisor, perhaps one of your recommenders for law school. The Pre-Law advisors are also happy to read drafts and to suggest revisions (include a copy of your recent resume if you would like feedback on your draft essay). Make sure that the final version you submit as part of your application is error-free.
Do all letters of recommendation need to be from my professors?
Most schools require two academic letters of recommendation with each application, although some may allow three. However, one academic recommendation and one work-related recommendation could be optimal if you have been out of college for a year or more. Check the application instructions for each law school to which you apply.
How do I order transcripts for LSAC?
You will need to order a transcript from the Registrar Office of any post-secondary schools where you have taken courses of earned an undergraduate or graduate degree. If you have taken courses at RISD you must submit a RISD transcript. Brown University transcripts can be sent in one of two ways. To request a paper copy of your transcript, complete the LSAC Transcript Request Form when you approach the Brown University Office of the Registrar. More information is available at LSAC's Requesting Transcripts page. Brown University's Office of the Registrar can now send your transcript to CAS electronically, as well. Go to brown.edu/Administration/Registrar, click on "Order Transcripts," enter your personal information, select "Admission Service" and select LSAC. Select the "Send electronically to an education institution" button and choose Law School Admission Council from the following drop-down menu. You do NOT need to submit the LSAC Transcript Request Form if you choose to have your transcript sent electronically.
What is a Dean Certification?
Dean Certifications are forms that some admission committee send to applicants during the application process, requesting completion and/or letters of explanation from an appropriate official at Brown. Please see our page on Dean Certifications for details and instructions.
One of my application forms asks for my "class rank." What do I put down?
Brown University does not give a class rank. Fill in "N/A."
Do I need to order a transcript for any foreign academic work?
Transcripts from academic work abroad are required if you were abroad for one or more years of post-secondary education or if you earned a degree from a foreign institution. All application requirements can be found on the LSAC web site.
How do I calculate my GPA from Brown?
Brown's Office of the Registrar reports the University's grading standards each year to LSAC, including the fact that letter grades at Brown University do not bear numerical equivalents. LSAC will calculate a GPA for law school applicants based on your official transcripts, not on your internal academic record. Brown does not validate LSAC's computation of the GPA; however, experience has shown that LSAC uses the following rubric in assigning quality grade points: A=4.0, B=3.0 and C=2.0. Based on observations ‘S' grades are left out of law school's GPA calculations.
I have been accepted to law school. Can I defer my matriculation?
In general, deferrals are allowed for specific reasons such as fellowships, academic or work opportunities, or personal circumstances. Criteria and rules for deferral vary from school to school, so check deferral rules for the law school you are interested in before you apply. It is not recommended that you apply to law school when you are certain that you wish to take some time before matriculation - deferrals are not guaranteed and most often require a signed commitment to the school, if granted.