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Cornell University

Applying to Law School

If you are planning to apply to law school, you will need to get to know the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). LSAC administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) , the most commonly used admissions test for law school, and manages the system and manages the portal through which you will submit all of your application materials (similar to CommonApp at the undergraduate level). At any point, you can create a free JD Account at, with which you will schedule your exam; organize transcripts and letters of recommendation; and complete each of your school's application form.  Detailed guides to each of these steps may be found in the LSAC website.

Your law school application will be made up of several components, which are summarized generally below.  Research the specific policies and requirements ar each of your schools before submitting your applications, and reach out to schools for clarification if anything is unclear.

Note that many law schools have adopted new policies addressing how applicants may use AI in preparing their materials.  While a small number of schools encourage the use of these tools (such as ChatGPT), the great majority have chosen to restrict them in some fashion.  For some, this restriction applies only to generating full drafts and other documents; for others, it amounts to a total prohibition of any use of AI, including for brainstorming, outlining, and copyediting.  Before submitting their material, applicants may be required to sign attestations that they have abided by these policies, and the penalty for violations can be quite severe-ranging from the loss of an offer of admission to the revocation of an already completed degree.

You are strongly encouraged to verify the policy at each of their prospective schools before starting work on their materials, because even within a graduate field approaches may vary widely.  If statements on an application form or website are ever unclear, reach out to the graduate program directly for clarification.

Admission Test. Applicants must submit an entrance exam score along with their applications.  Most opt for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is accepted at all ABA-accredited law Schools.  This exam is offered eight times per year and scored on a scale ranging from 120 to 180.  As of September 2023, it may be taken either remotely or in a testing center.

Many schools will accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in place of the LSAT.  The GRE is available on0demand and, like the LSAT, may be taken wither remotely or at a testing center.  Because it is accepted by a wide range of different graduate programs, the GRE is an attractive option for applicants considering a dual-degree, as it requires them to take only one exam.  If you are considering the GRE, make sure to confirm that all of your intended schools accept it, and review the materials for insight into how it is evaluated. Be careful to note that if you have taken both the LSAT and GRE, law schools will disregard your GRE score in favor of LSAT.

Undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA). Applicants must submit all undergraduate transcripts to the LSAC's Credential Assembly Services (CAS), which converts grades to a cumulative grade point average using a set of consistent values. If you have earned college-level credit at more than one institution, the UGPA will likely differ from your Cornell GPA.  See this page for more information on transcript policies and UGPA calculation.

Personal Statement. Applicants typically submit several essays to each of their law schools: a personal statement, one or more optional essays, and an addendum (if needed). These essays contribute vital context, nuance, and detail to your application.  They offer insight into your goals and motivations, and they help admissions officers imagine how you will contribute ti the classroom, the law school community and the legal profession.  In effect, this is where you make your case for admission.  Plan to invest considerable energy here, and allow yourself amplt time for revisions.

Letters of Recommendation. Most law schools require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from professors or employers to gain a different perspective on the applicant’s academic strength, intellectual curiosity, motivation, communication skills, and personal qualities.

Experience. This factor may encompass a wide range of pursuits–from undergraduate curricular and extracurricular activities, to internships, to full-time work experience, etc.–which demonstrate that the applicant has skills and abilities relevant to the study of law and will contribute to the diversity and strength of the class.