Frequently Asked Questions

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 webiste presents a range of authoritative sources to help you explore schools.

When should I take the LSAT?

The LSAT is administered four times a year, typically in early June, early October, early December, and early February. Beginning in July 2018, the number of test dates will increase from four to six- July, September, November, January, March, and June. The ideal time to take the LSAT depends on your schedule: register for the LSAT when you will have the most time to study leading up to the test date. That being said, 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.  

Can I take the LSAT multiple times?

You can, but doing so is usually not advisable. If you take the LSAT more than once, many law schools will average your scores. The best approach is to prepare well for the exam, and to do your best the one time you take it. 

You should re-take the LSAT 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?

Beginning in 2017 a small number of the 206 ABA-approved law schools announced they will allow applicants to take the GRE instead of the LSAT. Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Arizona are among the the first among these schoolsThe schools 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 American Bar Association, which currently recognizes only the LSAT as an appropriate test, will be considering this change in the coming months and years. 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. The LSAT is still the standard exam to take. LSAC has provided a helpful FAQ about the two exams

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 say 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 Law Careers 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 transcripts 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. As of Spring 2013 Brown University transcripts can be sent in one of 2 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 electonically, 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?

When you apply, schools will ask you to report any institutional action that was taken against you during your time at Brown. This includes infractions of the Academic Code of Conduct and the Disciplinary Code higher than Reprimand, as well as academic standing notation of Suspension or Dismissal. The Academic standing status of Academic Warning (being 1 course behind) and Serious Warning (being 2 courses behind) no longer appear on Brown official transcripts. These designations are intended as a measure to encourage students to focus on successful strategies to proceed toward the completion of their Brown degrees. While they are not considered to be cases of institutional action, admission committees would scrutinize semesters during which you didn't complete a full course load.  It would be good for you to provide context in your application or in an addendum. Applicants should report Suspension or Dismissal. They appear on official Brown transcripts and law schools will consider them as institutional action. 

 Some law schools will also require a dean to certify that you have not been the subject of institutional action or state in writing the facts of any sanction against you. Following law school graduation the same information would be required for Bar applications. If you have concerns about your disciplinary or academic standing, consult with the Law Careers advisors before you begin your law school applications. 

When you receive dean certification requests, please complete only your portion and then bring or mail/email the forms to our main office in the Pre-Professional Advising Center (Hemisphere Building at 167 Angell Street, Ground Floor). Please provide a pre-addressed, stamped envelope with each form and complete our Law Careers Advising Office Registration Form. If you have reported a case of institutional action from Brown, make sure you forward your statement about the situation, a copy of your current resume and any narrative that you think would be helpful to the Law Careers Advisors.

Mailing Address: For FedEx/UPS/DHL deliveries:

Law Careers Advising
Attention: Kathy Toro                       
Brown University                                            
Box 1996, 167 Angell Street, Hemisphere Building- Ground Floor, 
Providence, RI, 02912

 

Law Careers Advising
Attention: Kathy Toro   
Brown University
167 Angell Street, Hemisphere Building- Ground Floor, 
Providence, RI 02912 

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. We do not know how they interpret grades of ‘S,' but we believe that they 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.