Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Law School Planning

Law School Application Components Cost of Law School Applications
Law School Application Timeline

Law School Application Components

Law schools will have similar application components with different criteria. For each law school that you intend to apply to, you should carefully research their specific application instructions and requirements. On average, applicants apply to 7-9 law schools (2-3 law school for each of their target, safety and reach goals).

Preparing law school applications requires substantial time and money. Read below for application timeline suggestions and a summary of anticipated costs associated with applying to law school.  

A law school application generally consists of the following components:

Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

The digital LSAT is a standardized exam required for law school admissions.  An LSAT score is valid for 5 years. 
LSAT scores are typically issued within a three week timeframe.

Offered multiple times per year, the digital LSAT consists of four 35 min. sections of multiple choice questions measuring reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning along with a 35 min. writing section. Completed after you take the digital LSAT, but before you submit your application, the unscored writing sample is forwarded to law schools for review. 

Applicants should prepare for the LSAT at least 3-6 months in advance of their desired exam date. LSAC offers free resources for preparing for the LSAT.  Taking at least 15-20 practice tests ahead of the actual LSAT exam is helpful. 

Avoid taking the digital LSAT multiple times as law schools see every attempt. While candidates may take LSAT three times in a single testing year and/or five times within the current and five past testing years, taking the LSAT multiple times may raise questions about professional judgement and academic discipline.

To determine the target LSAT scores for schools of interest, candidates may consult the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools or the ABA Standard 509 form.


Law school admissions requires official transcripts from every higher education institution attended.  Applicants are responsible for sending transcripts from every U.S. school where they have received college credit, including dual enrollment during high school, summer school at a community college as well as study abroad programs if you attended the foreign university for a year or longer. LSAC will calculate a cumulative GPA based on all of your undergraduate coursework, not only your time at UT Austin. Consult the LSAC Credential Assembly Services (CAS) website for instructions on how to request transcripts. 


A resume included in law school applications serves a different purpose than a resume for a prospective employer. Aspiring law students should prepare an expanded resume that not only highlights their education, academic accomplishments, professional experiences, leadership, community service, and extracurricular activities, but also offers context for their involvement. The Law School Admissions Coach can review admissions materials, including personal statement and resume, to ensure that the application effectively conveys their strengths.

Letters of Recommendation

Students applying to law school during their senior year (and recent college graduates) should plan to submit at least two academic letters of recommendation to LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Letters should detail applicant’s academic performance, intellectual engagement, maturity, writing and research skills, knowledge and interest in law, analytical and reasoning skills, among other attributes relevant to law school. Applicants should provide recommenders with adequate time (1-2 months) to prepare the letters well in advance of application deadlines. Academic letters of recommendation written by professors (including TAs/GAs) are strongly preferred. Letters from employment supervisors who can directly speak to an applicant’s leadership ability, professionalism, work ethic, problem solving and critical thinking skills, and interest in and knowledge of the legal profession are acceptable. Consult LSAC’s CAS website for more details on how to submit your letters of recommendation. 

Personal Statement

A personal statement should be customized based on each law school's application specifications. Most personal statements are 2-3 pages long (size 11 font, double-spaced). All other components being equal, a well-written personal statement can positively differentiate candidates from other similarly situated candidates. Before writing the personal statement, applicants should carefully consider about what they would like the admissions committee to know about them by reflecting on their values and motivations for applying to law school. The personal statement is not the space to address information that is already reflected in a resume, undergraduate record or optional addendum/ essays.

As the personal statement is a writing sample for entry into a professional school, a statement should not contain any typos or grammar and punctuation errors. Meet with the Law School Admissions Coach to discuss potential topics and/or if you need assistance with substantive reviews or edits of your personal statement. Please be advised that all University employees are legally required to report any Title IX violations referenced in your admissions essays to UT's Title IX office.  

The Law School Admissions Coach may review up to 3 personal statement drafts for an applicant, however, drafts must be emailed at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment.

Optional Essays, Supplemental Responses and/or Addendums

Law schools offer applicants the opportunity to provide supplemental responses, such as a diversity statement, a Why X Law School statement, an essay addressing specific or optional prompts, or an addendum to address an area of concern or discrepancy in the application that requires additional explanation (ex. dips in GPA, multiple LSAT scores, or a character and fitness issue). Meet with the Law School Admissions Coach to discuss how to address potential concerns with a law school application.


Most law schools open their application process in early September. Early admission (including early decision binding) deadlines are typically in November (dates will vary by law school) with regular admission deadlines starting in February, or even later (dates will vary by law school).

Since applicants are typically admitted on a rolling basis, candidates should prepare and submit their strongest application well in advance of the stated deadline (preferably by early to mid December). The later in the admissions cycle an application is submitted, the less spots (and merit-based scholarships) there are available, however, applications submitted should be completed to the best of your abilities. Timing significantly impacts scholarship opportunities as the vast majority of law schools provide merit-based scholarships.  

Factors to consider when preparing an application timeline include when a candidate intends to start law school (fall or spring) and whether they intend to take a gap year(s) or participate in a junior deferral program. Candidates who are interested in a junior deferral program should plan to take the LSAT earlier. For candidates who wish to apply to law school post-graduation, they are encouraged to meet with the pre-law advisor at the beginning of their final semester to develop their timeline. 

Traditionally, an applicant will take the LSAT exam administered in June or September/October the year before they intend to enroll in law school, however applicants may take the LSAT earlier if that works better with their schedule since an LSAT score is valid for 5 years. For students who intend to begin law school upon graduation, it is common for students to plan to take the LSAT in June of their application year (or September/October as an alternate date) to ensure that they are able apply earlier in the admissions cycle. 

Aspiring law students should prepare for the LSAT at least three to six months before the targeted exam date. If intending to take the LSAT while in school, candidates are encouraged to work with their academic advisor to ensure that their coursework during the LSAT preparation period is manageable while balancing their personal and professional obligations.


Law school requires a significant investment of time and financial resources (average law school debt is between $84,000 - $122,000). Before even starting law school, here are some of the anticipated costs associated with applying to law school:

  • LSAT exam fee ($200)
  • Transcript fee (varies by institution)
  • CAS fee ($195)
  • CAS report fee ($45 for each law school you apply to)
  • Application fees (varies by law school)
  • LSAT prep course (varies by company) - Khan Academy is free
  • Professional attire 
  • Costs associated with visiting prospective law schools (transportation, housing, food)
  • Seat deposits (varies by law school) - typically due in April
  • Enrollment deposit (varies by law school) - typically due in May/June
  • Moving expenses (security deposit for apt, new home and school supplies, travel expenses)

Take advantage of the free resources from AccessLex designed to help students understand the financial aid process for law school and maximize their law school dollars. Aspiring law students may work directly with an accredited financial counselor for free though AccessConnex.

For applicants for whom the LSAT and CAS costs would be a financial hardship, plan to apply for a LSAC hardship waiver six months in advance of your desired LSAT date. 

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