Resources for Considering and Applying to Law School

UCSC Legal Studies Program
Prepared by Director of Legal Studies, Elizabeth Beaumont
With thanks for added advice from the 2024 Law School Panel: Cirrus Jahangiri, Alyssa Tamboura, and Jessica Xu

1) For Exploring your Interests and Building Experience

Pursuing experiences and work before, during, and after college is valuable for many reasons, and it can be valuable for helping people consider whether they really want a career in law that requires a law degree, and for developing themselves as well-rounded candidates.  Law-related experience isn’t necessarily any more valuable on a law school application than other types of experience (and non-law related experiences can sometimes be more valuable on an application). But having some opportunity to interact with legal work/settings can help you determine how interested you are in a legal career. You may find that you don’t like law, or are more interested in law-related work that doesn’t involve a J.D., or are most interested in another field.  A Legal Studies background is valuable for many different careers, and going to law school is not the only or best way to have an influence.

  • Consider looking for internships, volunteering, clubs, extracurriculars, hobbies, and/or jobs 
    • These might be things that can help you explore a legal issue, legal system, or experience working with organizations that interact with legal systems
    • And/or these might be things that can help you explore and gain knowledge and experience with issues, topics, communities, social problems that are of interest or concern to you.
    • UCSC Alumni suggest: “Find things that you are passionate about, or committed to,” and also encourage “finding community and/or leadership experiences in spaces that are going to value you”
  • Try talking (or doing “informational interviews”) with people who have worked in different legal fields or careers - UCSC alumni are usually very willing to help and offer advice!
  • “Consider how to be true to yourself, care for yourself, remember where you came from”

AND: Consider work or “gap year/s” after college before applying

  • Build more life and work experience, which usually benefits or strengthens a law school application 

2) For Preparing for and Taking the LSAT 

Although a few schools are starting to move away from heavy reliance on LSAT scores, for most schools this is still a very significant consideration for admissions. Thus, it is helpful to try to score as well as you can on this intensive test, which requires study and practice. Do not just try to take your first official LSAT test “cold.’

  • Try a practice test (free) to see your baseline.

  • Consider Free on-line LSAT prep assistance from Khan Academy partnership with LSAC

  • There is research that combining free on-line Khan LSAT test prep with taking 9-10 practice exams from LSAC is especially helpful for boosting scores:  

  • Study Shows LSAT Score Increases for Candidates Who Use Free Khan Academy Prep Tools

  • Consider whether you have the discipline to “self-study” - create a schedule to study and practice for the LSAT on your own, with practice books and tests, rather than paying for an expensive prep class. 

  • Advice on Using Self-Study methods

3) For Getting Advice and/or Seeking Letters of Recommendation

Talk through questions and interests with professors and other mentors and possible rec letter-writers 

  • Request recommendations (1-2 should be from professors, others can be from employers, supervisors)
  • It’s best for letters to come from people who got to know you. For professors, this may mean someone who taught you in a smaller seminar, or a class where you spoke up and contributed, or a class where you went to office hours. It’s also best for letters to come from professors who have seen your best academic performance (ideally an A-range final grade)
  • Give them plenty of time – don’t make a last minute request
  • Provide them with useful material to write you a strong letter, including:
    • Polished draft of your Personal Statement
    • Current resume
    • Unofficial transcript
    • Copy of a paper from their class or what you consider your strongest writing sample
    • A paragraph noting anything else you think it would be useful for the letter writer to know about you, and/or anything you would be particularly interested in having them consider discussing when they write your letter

4) Check out UCSC Career Center resources for people considering law school

5) Convert your work resume into a law school resume

See explanations, suggestions, examples here:

6) Craft and Revise your personal statement

There is some good general advice on these sites:

7) For Choosing Which Law Schools Might be a Good Fit For You/Where to Apply

- general info

- average LSAT scores and bar passage rates for schools

  • Find information regarding admission, employment and bar passage rates for the law schools you are considering
    • search for info on specific schools here

  • you can also see explanations and a link to ABA information with statistical information on law schools here:

8) Consider cost, loan, debt, scholarship information

  • From LSAC

Paying for Law School: A Preliminary Guide (PDF)


  • Information on average loan debt and monthly payments

9) Look for and apply for law school scholarship opportunities

For example

  • Before law school admission

  • After law school admission

An example of a list of outside scholarship opportunities for students already in law school – most Law Schools should have these types of lists for their students:

10) Consider looking for fee waivers or scholarships to pay for law school applications.

From a UCSC alum “Applying to law school is very expensive…. Please apply to scholarship programs that can help with application fees. Also apply for fee waivers with LSAC and with schools directly. If you get rejected, appeal appeal appeal appeal! Most schools will give you fee waivers if you just ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

  • One example of a scholarship that will help pay for applications