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Ensuring Admission: How to Get Accepted Into Law School

Daunted by the idea of applying to law school? From the LSAT to GPAs, the application process may feel like a maze of acronyms and information. This Q&A will answer several of those most asked questions and prepare you to be successful in your application.

Which undergraduate majors are best for law school admissions and success?

As law schools across the nation contend with rapid changes in legal education, understanding the law school admission process—and which undergraduate majors and courses makes the greatest impact—has never been more important. While the American Bar Association (ABA) does not mandate any one major or group of courses, it does identify traditional preparation for law school: history, English, philosophy, political science, economics, or business. The ABA also notes that more diverse tracks of study—from art to computer science—can provide the necessary and challenging coursework to prepare you for a legal education. Pepperdine Law welcomes and encourages students from a variety of backgrounds to pursue academic excellence for a lifelong and fulfilling legal career.

Learn how to best leverage your college major for law school admissions with the following Q&A with Shannon Phillips, assistant dean for admissions, student information and financial services.

Do I have to have a degree to apply to law school?

At Pepperdine, we require students to have earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited university before enrolling.

Which factors carry the most weight in the admissions process?

Law school admissions consider an applicant's undergraduate university, undergraduate major, GPA, and LSAT score. While each of these is important, the LSAT score is the one factor permitting the equal evaluation of applicants. It can be difficult to compare GPAs within different majors from different undergraduate schools.

Which are the best majors for law school admissions?

The admissions committee does not look for specific majors but instead focuses on whether the applicant took challenging courses that demonstrate the applicant's ability to master difficult material. The committee likes to see applicants who do not shy away from hard work or demanding courses.

What major will help me stand out as an applicant and succeed in law school?

The particular undergraduate major is not as critical as the demonstration of excellence in academic endeavors. The discipline required to excel will assist in developing the core skills for success in law school. These core skills include:

Analytic and problem-solving abilities—Applicants should seek courses that engage them in critical thinking about important and difficult issues, which will improve their comfort with the uncertainties inherent in legal studies.

Writing and editing—Applicants should develop a high degree of skill at written communication. Applicants are well served by seeking as many experiences as possible that require rigorous and analytical writing, including written pieces of substantial length that provide frequent opportunities for constructive criticism.

Oral communication—Applicants should embrace courses and experiences that develop basic speaking skills, such as debating and giving presentations to classes and groups.

Critical reading—Applicants should seek courses that require careful reading and critical analysis of complex textual material in literature, political or economic theory, philosophy, and history.

Organization and time management—Law school requires students to prepare and assimilate large amounts of information in an effective and efficient manner. Applicants should develop such skills and discipline prior to enrolling in law school.

What's the most unusual major you've seen from a law school applicant?

All applicants are unique in their own ways. Every applicant is treated as an individual and is evaluated using the criteria described above.

Do I have to take the LSAT?

Yes. All applicants are required to take the LSAT at this time.

Do you accept the GRE?

As of November 2018, Pepperdine School of Law applicants may submit either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), or both.

The GRE is offered on-demand, in multiple locations, providing greater flexibility for applicants. Over thirty American Bar Association accredited law schools now accept the GRE as well as the LSAT, including Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Northwestern, Georgetown, Texas, UCLA, and USC.

"Pepperdine Law is pleased to join the growing number of law schools that give applicants flexibility in deciding which standardized test to take," Assistant Dean for Admissions, Student Information, and Financial Services Shannon Phillips said. "We look forward to receiving more applications from students considering other graduate programs, including those with interests in science, technology, economics, and mathematics."

What are the fundamentals of a law school resume?

The law school resume is academic in nature and differs from what one would present to a potential employer. The applicant's resume should effectively communicate the applicant's interests and illustrate how the applicant spent his or her time in college. The resume should also highlight leadership experiences, point out factors that differentiate the applicant from others, and supplement the theme of the applicant's personal statement. There should be sections for education, honors, activities, employment, and skills, and it should include language proficiencies, exposure to different cultures, community-service activities, and even hobbies that require dedication and commitment.