Law School Requirements: What You Need to Get In

Every law school sets its own admission requirements and eligibility criteria. However, there are some basic law school requirements that are mandatory for all institutions, regardless of ranking, location, or any other factors.

If you’re planning on pursuing a legal career, it helps to understand the basic law school admission requirements. That way, you can keep everything ready in advance and send out applications to your shortlisted law schools as soon as the application windows open.

Basic Law School Application Requirements

These 5 law school requirements are compulsory for all institutions:

  1. An undergraduate degree
  2. Admissions tests (LSAT or GRE)
  3. A personal statement
  4. Letters of recommendation
  5. Resume

Here’s a more detailed look at each of these requirements.

1. Undergraduate Degree

No matter what kind of lawyer you want to be – criminal, corporate, or family – you will need an advanced degree to practice law. You cannot practice law with a bachelor’s degree. The path to becoming a lawyer is to earn an undergraduate degree and then enroll in law school. No law school will accept you without a bachelor’s degree.

The good news is you don’t have to stress over which major to choose for your undergrad studies to qualify for law school. Law schools do not look for a specific degree nor do they require applicants to take specific prerequisite courses. What’s more important is to do well and earn a high GPA, especially if you’re aiming to apply to top tier law schools.

While a 2.95 GPA is sufficient to qualify for some colleges, you will need to aim for a minimum 3.7 or as high as 4.0 GPA to get into a top-ranked school. Taking the time to look into the median accepted GPA for your shortlisted schools will give you a better idea of the GPA expectations of each.

Although there are no specific major requirements, there are a few majors that will help lay a solid foundation for your success in law school and beyond.

These are the best majors for law school:

  • History
  • English
  • Philosophy
  • Business
  • Political science
  • Art & Humanities
  • Economics

If you’re interested in a fast-track path to law school, look for schools that offer a dual degree program. These programs allow you to complete your first year of law school while you’re also completing the final year of your undergrad degree. Enrolling in a dual degree program will save you at least one year of study toward becoming a lawyer.

2. Admissions Tests

Your test score carries the most weight when it comes to determining your acceptance into law school. This is followed closely by your GPA.

There are two standardized tests that are relevant for law school – the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Graduate Record Admission (GRE). Most schools consider LSAT scores when assessing applications. Very few assess applications using GRE scores. This does not mean you should dismiss the GRE completely. Some of the top-ranked law schools including Harvard and Yale accept the GRE.

To be considered for admission, you must complete and do well in any one of these tests. You don’t have to complete both. Which one you choose will depend primarily on your preferred law school. Succeeding in either of these standardized tests can be equally challenging. The key to doing well is making and sticking to a study plan and starting early.

Can’t decide which test is the better option for you? Juris Education offers Law School Admission Consulting to help you with this decision. They also offer tips on how to ace your chosen test and how to craft the perfect application.

3. Personal Statement

As we’ve said earlier, your LSAT/GRE scores and GPA are the two most important factors for acceptance into law school. But the reality is, every student who applies to law school has an impressive test score and GPA. So how do you compete against other applications that have equally high GPAs and test scores?  Here’s where your personal statement comes in.

A well-crafted personal statement can help your application stand out from the rest. In fact, admissions panels often compare personal statements when deciding between equally qualified applicants.

Your law school personal statement is an excellent opportunity to showcase your personality and highlight passion your law. Use these tips as a guide to help you write an outstanding personal statement:

  • Choose a topic that you’re truly passionate about, preferably one that you can tie to your interest in law. Your topic could be related to an aspect of your personality, an experience that shaped you, or an extracurricular activity that helped develop your legal skills.
  • Be original and authentic. Avoid the temptation to base your story on something you’ve read on the internet. Admissions committees read thousands of personal essays and can spot a copy or a fake.
  • Focus on one accomplishment or experience in your essay and follow a logical order while building your story and diving deeper to showcase how it relates to your interest in law. Even if you’re multi-passionate and accomplished in multiple areas, touching superficially on all your achievements does not add anything to your essay.
  • Proof and edit your personal statement multiple times before considering it ready to go. Submitting an essay with zero grammar and spelling mistakes and zero typos shows that you are detail-oriented, a critical trait for lawyers.

Consider writing about a significant aspect of your personality or character that you haven’t had the chance to explore yet in your application. You may also choose to write about something in your background or history that has shaped you in a unique way.

4. Letters of Recommendation 

Almost all law schools ask prospective students to submit at least one letter of recommendation along with their application. Some schools may ask for two recommendation letters.

Of all the law school requirements, this is the only one that does not require YOU to do any writing. What’s important for this particular requirement is to make sure you choose the correct person to write your recommendation letter. It’s best to secure at least one letter of recommendation from an academic faculty member who knows you well. Generally, someone who knows you well will be better able to compose a compelling letter that speaks highly of your growth, character, and accomplishments in and out of the classroom.

Always request for your recommendation letter early. Faculty members receive several requests, often closer to deadlines, and may not be able to oblige you if you ask too later. Also, when you ask early, it gives the writer sufficient time to give some thought to what they want to say and write a strong letter highly recommending you.

5. Resume

A resume is one of the more unusual law school admission requirements. You usually don’t need to submit a resume when applying to college. This resume is fairly simple that need to meet a few criteria.

Your law school application resume should be about 1 to 2 pages long. It should include 4 main sections – Personal information, Education, Work experience, and Extracurricular activities. It should be typed in standard font. This resume should essentially aim to give a preview into all the other components of your application.

While the above covers the basic law school requirements for all schools, it’s still very generalized. A look at the requirements at the top 10 law schools can give you a better idea of the standards you need to meet.

Application Requirements At The Top 5 Law Schools


  • Average LSAT score: 170-176
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.82 – 3.99
  • Number of recommendation letters: 2 – 3, at least 1 must be written by an academic faculty member
  • Acceptance rate: 10.1%


  • Average LSAT/GRE score: 170-176
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.84 – 3.99
  • Number of recommendation letters: 2 – 4 letters, preferably written by academic mentors
  • Acceptance rate: 6.9%


  • Average LSAT/GRE score: 171 – 178
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.87 – 3.99
  • Number of recommendation letters: 2, preferably written by professors
  • Acceptance rate: 5.7%


  • Average LSAT/GRE score: 173
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.91
  • Number of recommendation letters: 2 – 4, at least one must be written by an academic faculty member
  • Acceptance rate: 5.4% 


  • Average LSAT/GRE score: 167 – 173
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.61 – 3.96
  • Number of recommendation letters:
  • Acceptance rate: 9.7%

Remember, detailed above are only the basic law school requirements. Before you submit your application, you must go to each of your shortlisted law schools individually to determine their full list of requirements.

Not sure which law school is the best fit for you?  Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

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