Frequently Asked Questions
Most accredited law schools require that a Bachelor's degree be completed prior to registration. Additionally, admission is based upon the applicant's score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), ethical character, professional promise, academic achievements, and letters of recommendation. Because admission to law school is highly competitive, a student should attempt to achieve a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 and a LSAT score of at least 150 within a range of 120 to 180.
Law schools do not prescribe a specific undergraduate course of study. Students should seek out specific requirements of the law schools to which they are applying. Individuals with baccalaureate degrees in every subject area have been admitted to law schools and have become successful lawyers. The best background, however, is a program that provides a broad liberal arts education. Useful majors include English, Communication Arts, Foreign Languages, History, Psychology, and Sociology. As the practice of law becomes increasingly technical, a specialized background in business or science may prove valuable. A major should be chosen on the basis of the interest and challenge it offers, not because it might guarantee admission to a law school.
Montana State University Billings offers a minor in Political Science with a pre-law emphasis. The Political Science minor includes courses in United States Government, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, and Juvenile Delinquency--areas directly related to the law.
Certain academic skills are essential: the ability to read effectively with speed and comprehension; the ability to write clearly, including a good command of grammar; and the ability to think logically. These basic skills can be acquired by carefully selecting courses and instructors, regardless of the specific subject. Communication skills can also be developed through drama, creative writing, and the like. The ability to type and computer skills are invaluable.
Law schools require applicants to take the LSAT, a half-day standardized test. It consists of three sections which evaluate a student's reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and other skills. A 30-minute writing session is also included. The writing sample is not scored; rather, copies of the essay are sent to all schools to which candidates request their LSAT score sent. Most law schools also require candidates to register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), a biographical and academic information clearinghouse. The LSAT should be taken in June following the junior year or in October of the senior year. The LSAT/LSDAS registration booklet, which includes a sample test, is available from the Advising Center (McM 100) and the pre-law advisor (LA 817).
Most law schools operate on a semester basis; they begin the year of study in September and only allow admission at that time. Pre-law students should begin to consider possible law schools during the spring of their junior year and complete their applications by the end of the fall semester of their senior year. The Pre-Law Handbook provides information about all accredited law schools; it may be consulted in the pre-law advisor's office.
Montana State University Billings provides the basis for an excellent pre-law education. While admission to law school ultimately depends upon the student's abilities, MSU Billings offers challenging courses and instructors who help individuals develop the skills needed for admission into law school and a successful legal career.
This information is general and only serves as a beginning. More detailed information, including a suggested pre-law curriculum and particular law school admission standards, is available on request from the Advising Center (657-2240).