"82% at least one year out of college 69% two or more years out of college 21% four or more years out of college"
These are the admission stats for Harvard Law School's Class of 2026. In fact, during my university's Pre-law advising session, our pre-law advisors even said that taking gap years is encouraged and beneficial to your application. So what are the implications?
As an undergrad and potential pre-law student, what do I need to know?
First of all, it is critical to remember that the majors you choose will not affect the competitiveness of your application. Although many would see political science, history, legal studies (if offered), or other humanities majors as fodder courses for law school, law school admissions officers do not look more favorably to these courses than others. So really, the main takeaway is to choose whatever major you fancy! As long as you enjoy it and do well (ahem - that being said, GPA is crucial to your application), you will be fine!!
So...how important is my GPA?
At least according to what I have heard (from both advisors and current law students), getting a good GPA (the definition of good depends on what law schools you are aiming at - the top ones are at least 3.9 and above) is extremely important. After all, you can retake the LSAT and do more extracurriculars/internships, but your GPA will not change once you graduate. Hence, GPA should be in your mind during course selection. That being said, you should still take courses that are intellectually stimulating and challenging for you! It encourages you to plan ahead and not overburden yourself during one semester.
In terms of GPA calculation, this guide will give you an overview of how your letter grade will convert into GPA. The exact result will vary by school. But an important takeaway is that admission accounts for the difference between A+ and A (unlike the convention where both are seen as 4.0). So it will definitely boost your competitiveness when you have more A+s on your transcript.
P.S. It will benefit you to gain some exposure in a field of law that you are interested in through taking courses in your undergrad. It's not just for your application, but also to make yourself aware of why you are interested in that topic!
Do LSAT and GPA make or break my application?
According to my pre-law advisors, it's a no. They are "critical but not the only indicators looked for by admissions".
So what else can I do apart from doing well in my classes to help further my interest in law?
As someone who is also navigating through the pre-law path, I would say being proactive is the key to success (in most scenarios). Hence, here is a list of action items as inspiration:
contact your university's pre-law advisors and arrange a meeting. they are in the best position to provide personalized advice and offer any resources on/outside of campus for you to research.
check out any pre-law clubs/activities on your campus - sign up for their mailing list to keep yourself looped into any future events
if your uni has a law school, audit some of their introductory courses (e.g., Civil Procedure, Contract, Criminal, etc.)! They should have course timings posted on their website and search for their audit policy. (I have popped into some of the big lectures from my uni before.)
log in to career networking sites that your uni is affiliated with (e.g., Handshake) now and then and see if there are any pre-law related events that your uni is hosting or law-related internships that you might be qualified to
keep an open mind: you don't necessarily always have to do activities that are directly linked with Law. Anything that develops your critical thinking, analysis, and other qualities will always be a plus to your application.
register an account on LSAC (it's like Common App, but covers ABA-approved law schools - which are most law schools, see exceptions). LSAC offers a ton of resources for law school preps and frequently organizes law insight events.
I hope that this article gave those who are thinking of going down the pre-law path a clearer idea of what their next steps are. As a disclaimer, the information above is what I have gathered during my journey as a pre-law student. Therefore, this is by no means professional advice.
I will keep you updated on any of my discoveries in future posts. As always, I welcome you to put down any of your discoveries/tips in the comment section so we can all learn from each other! Alternatively, if you are one of our *cool* blog writers (psst psst, anyone can be one once you sign up as a member and check out our blog writer page), you can write a post to share with the community!