How can parents support their pre-law students through the law school application process while their student manages their extracurricular involvement and coursework? The Pre-Law Advising Office at The University of Alabama has come up with a year-by-year guide to help you support your student.

Our objective is simple: provide our students with resources and information that allows them to make an educated decision about attending law school, while preparing them to be successful applicants. Each individual has unique goals and needs, so our aim is to provide guidance and support through every phase of the student’s collegiate career. Your pre-law student will provide professional representation for others someday, and it is imperative that they develop not only the academic preparation but also the necessary interpersonal competencies as well.

Law schools look for students who not only excel academically, but who also find ways to supplement their education with experiences outside of the classroom that can add a diverse perspective to their law school class. We advise our students to seek out local and out-of-state internships, student organizations, volunteer service, undergraduate research, and study abroad programs that match their interests and will help them connect their coursework with meaningful experiences. Parents can use their professional and personal connections to help their student find opportunities to begin building their resume.

Note: We encourage all pre-law students to meet with their pre-law advisor regularly during their time at UA. It is particularly important for students early in their junior year to see an advisor to go over their timeline for applications (unless your student plans to take a gap year. More than 60% of law schools applicants take a gap year for improving their LSAT score or exploring other careers before committing to law school).

Year-by-Year Guide

Why is the student interested in law school? Has the student started building their resume? Is the student involved in extracurricular activities or organizations? Has the student settled on a program of study yet? Is the student signed up for the pre-law listserv? Have they joined PLSA on campus? Has the student review the Pre-Law website on the College’s A&S website? (https://prelaw.ua.edu/)

Parental Support and Suggestions

  • Empower your student to seek internship and volunteer opportunities during breaks and holidays.
  • Encourage students to get to know professors and attend office hours.
  • Encourage students to get to know advisors and attend appointments.
  • Enable students to be problem-solvers.
  • Support students if they need additional academic support (i.e. tutoring, major change, career track change, etc.)

Does the student have an LSAC account (https://www.lsac.org/)? Is the student thinking about how and when they will prepare for the LSAT (https://www.lsac.org/ For Future Students: Law School Admission Test)? Has the student started researching schools through LSAC (https://www.lsac.org/ For Future Students: Choosing a Law School)? Has the student visited with the Office of Experiential Learning and/or the Career Center? Has the student registered for an LSAT test date? How much will the LSAT and LSAT preparation cost? Are there any associated costs with the Credential Assembly Service? Has the student updated their resume since freshmen year? Has the student reviewed their law school choices for their median LSAT scores and GPA trends? Has the student attended the on-campus Law School Fair? Has the student started their first draft of their personal statement? (Ideally in the summer before their senior year)

Parental Support and Suggestions

  • Become familiar with the general timeline of your student applying to professional school.
  • Make sure that your student is aware of deadlines.
  • Familiarize yourself with the cost of APPLYING to professional school (i.e. standardized test, prep materials, Credential Assembly Service, applications, visiting schools, etc.)
  • Make sure that you and your student are familiar with the cost of ATTENDING professional school (loans vs. scholarships), and the difference between undergraduate loans vs. graduate loans.
  • Trust your student to lead out when engaging with professors and advisors.

Has the student applied for graduation? When does the student intend on submitting their application materials through the Credential Assembly Service? How is the student handling their class load? Does the student have any concerns or doubts about applying to law school? If they intend on graduating in the fall semester, what will they do in the spring and summer before potentially starting law school? Does the student plan to take a gap year?

Parental Support and Suggestions

  • Be supportive but let your student lead when seeking support from professors and advisors.
  • Remind your student to submit applications early. This matters with rolling admissions.
  • Advise your student to carefully consider cost and visit his or her topic choices before making a final decision.
  • Encourage your student throughout the year. Check in and motivate them regularly.
  • Celebrate every victory (i.e. Dean’s list, interview invitations, etc.).

For information about bar passage rates and employment after law school please check the American Bar’s Employment Outcomes data: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/statistics/2017_law_graduate_employment_data.authcheckdam.pdf

For descriptions about what types of law careers your student could pursue, please view the following page from LSAC.org: https://www.lsac.org/jd/thinking-about-law-school/fields-of-law