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Pre-Law Question Or Tip Of The Week

The questions, answers and tips on this page reproduced from one of John Richardson’s:

1. Law School Bound™

2. Mastering The LSAT®

3. Richardson – Law School Bound ezine®

Advice given is of a general nature. Please discuss your specific circumstances with your pre-law advisor.


Question 1 – Reproduced From Chapter 2 of Law School Bound. Copyright (c) John Richardson, All Rights Reserved.

Does it matter whether you have a Bachelors Degree Before Going To Law School?

U.S. law schools require a Bachelors Degree. Some Canadian law schools will admit applicants with only two years of University. Other Canadian law schools require a Bachelors Degree. Outside of North America law school is usually an undergraduate program. Hence, one attends law school after the equivalent of high school.

The number of Canadian law schools that will accept applicants after two years is diminishing. It is very difficult to be admitted to law school after only two years. To put it simply, superior grades and a superior LSAT are required. One school commented that:

"An applicant applying in the second year of undergraduate studies must meet higher standards for admission and may not be considered competitive when compared to applicants with lengthy records of academic achievement."

Hence, as a practical matter most applicants who are accepted have either a three or four year degree. Are you better off with either a three or a four year degree? In general Canadian law schools do not distinguish between three and four year degrees. There may, however, be strategic reasons for obtaining one or the other. (See the discussion on trends in grades below.)

The two most important criteria for admission to law school, for mainstream applicants continue to be grades and LSAT scores. Law schools are interested in your grades because law school is an academic exercise and your grades provide the law schools with direct evidence of your capacity to do academic work. (On this
point please remember that all communication with the law schools should be premised on the assumption that law school is an academic experience.) Upon completion of law school you will be awarded the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in Canada or the Juris Doctor (J.D.). in the U.S. (The law degree offered by the
University Of Toronto is a J.D.) A law degree is an academic degree and not a professional certification. In fact, it would be a mistake to think of law school as the equivalent of professional school. In the words of one law dean:

"Legal education is, first and foremost, education - an opportunity to gain understanding of the social practices that comprise our system of justice, an opportunity to reflect on why those practices are the way they are and what that means for the lives of the people of our country and, finally, an opportunity to criticize those practices and to suggest reforms."

There is one other strategic consideration governing your decision to apply after three or four years. This consideration takes into account how the LSAT score is weighed. For some schools - the larger the number of undergraduate years, the less important is the LSAT. The smaller the number of undergraduate years, the more important is the LSAT. If you are applying to a school that weighs the LSAT in this way, a fourth year of study will diminish the importance of the LSAT. This will be a consideration for only those of you with low LSAT scores. Conversely, if you have marginal grades and a high LSAT score, applying after three years would have the effect of maximizing the effect of the LSAT score!