Applying for law school is a long and complicated process. In order to provide plenty of time to complete everything in time for your application to be submitted, it is recommended that you begin the process in the spring of your junior year in college. Beginning the process early gives you time to hone in on law schools that fit your needs and qualifications. If you are a junior, here's what you should start on:
Spring of your Junior year: Prepare for and register to take the LSAT
We recommend preparing for the LSAT in the spring and taking the test in June. This allows for a couple of things. First, if you take your test in June, you'll know both your LSAT score and your GPA, which can help you determine which law schools would be best for you. It also gives you time to re-take the test if you are truly dissatisfied with your score. You need to have the test taken by December for the score to be used in admission for the following fall, so taking it in June gives you plenty of time to study and take it again if needed.
In order to prepare for the LSAT test, we recommend obtaining a LSAT Prep guide and that you take some practice tests. Practice tests are designed not only to test on the same information as the LSAT, but also to mimic the test itself. Typically, taking the practice test is almost like taking the real thing. If you take a practice test toward the beginning of your test prep efforts, you'll know where you need to focus your study. Then taking another test toward the end of your test prep will give you a benchmark of your likely performance on the test and allow you to fine-tune your final study efforts.
Register with the CAS
The CAS is the Credential Assembly Service. It used to be known as the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). This is a database that most law schools use. It prepares a report that it sends to all of the schools for which you are applying.
The report contains a large portion of your application. Your school transcripts are included. The CAS compiles your LSAT Score information as well as copies of your letters of recommendation. When a law school receives your application, it will request the report from the CAS, which contains all of the above information. In the end, registering with the CAS makes the law school application process much easier for you because many of the components of the application will automatically be sent to the school.
Looking for schools and applying
Likely you already have some ideas for desired law schools. However, the summer before your senior year is a great time to start really ratcheting up the research. Call schools that interest you and obtain catalogs and admission information. If you can, visit the school to see what it feels like to actually be there and touring the facility.
Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few, it's time to begin the completing the applications. It's a good idea to meet with your college advisor and discuss your choice of school. This is also the time to get letters of recommendation completed if you have not already done so. Often these letters are sent directly by the recommender to the CAS.