How Do I Pay For Law School?

by Todd Rothman

If you are currently in the law school application process, hopefully your applications are long submitted and completed and you are awash in acceptances and terrific offers – and if you aren’t yet, please don’t panic.  The application season is still very much underway, so I’m sure they’re on their way soon.  Now, with acceptances – and perhaps some holds and waitlists – in hand, your mind should now be turning to the following equally question: So now that I’m in, how do I pay for law school?

It is certainly an overwhelming and daunting question and, last night, Jeffrey Hanson – a financial literacy expert and a specialist on graduate school borrowing – gave an informative presentation on just this topic. [To view a video of Mr. Hanson’s presentation at another recent LSAC venue, please click here:] And to help you follow along with his presentation, here is his corresponding handout for your convenience: Paying for Law School Handout

This presentation is a great way to start thinking about – and more importantly, planning for – the inevitable financial component of this exciting next step in your academic and professional career.  It is certainly not exhaustive, but I would encourage you to avail yourself of this resource.  In addition, here are some other valuable resources for you as you begin to tackle this question of paying for law school.

Hopefully, this will get you on your way to being both knowledgeable and less anxious about finding an answer (or answers) to this all-important question in the law school application process.

It’s Time To Get Your Ducks In A Row

by Todd Rothman

Well, it is that time of year again – the start of the law school application season – and so I thought my blog post from last year around this time would serve as a helpful reminder of what you need (and do not need) to be thinking about and doing at this stage of the process.  Although undoubtedly stressful, please also remember that this is also a very exciting time and we look forward to working with you to make applying to law school as smooth and enjoyable as possible in the year ahead.

Continue reading “It’s Time To Get Your Ducks In A Row”

Getting Your (Law School Application) Ducks In A Row

by Todd Rothman



Students often ask me the same thing in various iterations about the law school admissions process during this time of year.  Sometimes it comes in the form of a reluctant acknowledgment, sometimes in the form of a series of rapid-fire questions, and sometimes in the form of a panicked confession.  But in the end, it usually sounds something like this – “I have no idea what I should be doing right now.”  So, since most 2011-2012 law school applications will be officially released to LSAC in the next week or two, here is an attempt to address that very dilemma… as well as what you need *not* be doing right now (which is often equally important).

The To-Do-Now List:


1.       Open a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Account with LSAC.  The CAS account is an essential part of the law school application process, as LSAC helps you to organize (or “assemble”) all of your application materials (or “credentials”) for the law schools to which you will be applying.  The bad news is that it comes with a $124 registration cost that, in our electronic age, cannot be avoided, as this is now a mandatory part of applying to law school in the United States and Canada.  The good news is that the CAS does an excellent job in coordinating and simplifying the application process for applicants *and* your registration is actually valid for five years.  More information about the CAS can be found on the LSAC website:

2.       Think About and Draft Your Personal Statement.  Although the official law school applications with their instructions and prompts have not yet been released, most law schools will ultimately provide such open-ended questions in the personal statement section that applicants rarely find the prompts to be particularly helpful in drafting their personal statement.  I always encourage applicants to visit the Career Services Pre-Law Website for some basic guidelines before the drafting begins (  The most important advice I can offer, though, is that your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your strengths, personality traits, passions, and interests in a way that “shows” rather than “tells” the reader about yourself.  This is a chance to relate some personally meaningful anecdotes in your experiences so far that will help you convey those strengths, personality traits, passions, and interests in an interesting and engaging way.  Think of it as a substitute for an admissions interview – if you had fifteen minutes with an Admissions Committee, what about yourself (besides what is already included on your application) would you want them to know?

3.       Update/Reformat Your Resume.  Law schools either require or strongly recommend that you submit a full resume along with your application, and this is another terrific opportunity to enumerate and articulately describe all of your major activities and accomplishments.  Unlike a resume that you might prepare for the job search, a law school resume has some important distinctions – (a) it can be more than one page, (b) it should devote as much attention and detail to your campus/extracurricular activities as your professional/internship activities, and (c) it should not have an “objective,” nor do you need to highlight your typing speed (even if it is 100 words per minute) nor your computer/technical skills like your “Working Familiarity With PowerPoint.”  Consider the audience here.  You can also refer to the sample law school resume on our Pre-Law Website as a guide:

4.       Contact Potential Letter of Recommendation Writers.  Most law schools require two letters of recommendation and most, if not all, law schools prefer that these letters be academic in nature.  After all, this is an academic program to which you are applying.  Professional and/or extracurricular letters of recommendation might also be helpful and appropriate in light of your experiences, provided your involvement was indeed substantive in nature.  With that in mind, you should identify at least three possible letter of recommendation writers (you never know if someone is on sabbatical/out of the country/doesn’t remember you as well as you think they do) and begin to contact them to see if they can write you a strong letter of recommendation.  I strongly recommend giving your recommenders at least a month for turn-around time, so if you haven’t already begun that process, you should certainly do so now.

5.       Send Your Official Transcripts to LSAC.  You will need to request official transcripts from all of the undergraduate and graduate institutions you attended, including any institution at which you took a college-level course.  And the sooner you start that process, the better.  Yes, that means that your advanced high school course in Accounting that was affiliated with your local community college or university.  Yes, that means the summer college course in Sculpture that you just took for fun during your summer in New York.  Any academic situation that generated a college-level transcript for you, even if those credits never transferred to Penn, must have an official transcript sent to LSAC.  More information about transcripts for law school can be found on the LSAC website:

6.       Research and Formulate Your List of Law Schools.  As with any admissions process, your list should be a comprehensive, realistic compilation of schools that represent a range of schools in terms of selectivity.  This is similar to when you applied to college, as there should be a critical mass of law schools that represent “safety schools,” “in-range/target schools,” and (everyone’s favorite) “reach schools.”  Unless you are very strongly tied to one narrow region of the country (for example, if you only want to attend law school in the Pacific Northwest), I recommend applying to between 10-15 schools, provided that the schools represent the aforementioned range of schools in terms of selectivity.  So if your list of 10-15 schools is a photocopy of the Top 15 Law Schools in US News & World Report’s most recent issue, we have a problem.  The choice of where to apply to law school is a highly subjective one, so a good deal of research is highly recommended; a good place to start is the LSAC website (  Ultimately, your list should represent a synthesis of Where Do I Want To Go (in thinking about geography, reputation, class size, employment prospects, particular areas of interest) and Where Do I Stand A Good Shot Of Getting In (where you should be comparing your quantitative information… undergraduate GPA and LSAT… with the published 25th/75th percentile and median information for the schools on your list).

Since many applicants find some (or all) of this to be overwhelming and confusing, that leads us to the last item of this To-Do List…

7.       Get To Know Your (Friendly and Knowledgeable) Pre-Law Advisors.  And our names are Todd Rothman (that’s me) and my colleague, Anne Reedstrom.  We are available through 30-minute individual advising appointments (in-person or by telephone), email advising, our weekly Pre-Law Walk-In Hours (Thursdays from 2:00-4:00pm in the Career Services Office), our various seminars and programs throughout the semester, and through our Pre-Law Listserv (here is how you sign up:   We are here to help you with any and all of your questions about this process, so feel free to call our office (215-898-1789) to make an appointment with one of us or send one of us an email with your questions.  More information about our services can be found on our website:


The No-Need-To-Do-Now List:

1.       Visit Every Law School on Your List.  Unlike applying to college, law schools do not weigh whether or not you made an actual campus visit to their school as a “plus factor” in their admissions process.  In fact, while I’m sure that they would happily have you on campus to check things out, it will not factor at all into their decision-making process.  I strongly recommend visiting some of the law schools to which you are admitted later in the process (think Admitted Student Programs in the Spring) as you finalize your decisions, but there is no need for a “law school tour” in the summer or fall.  I promise.

2.       Decide Where You’re Going to Law School.  Otherwise known as not putting the cart before the horse.  This is a long, hurry-up-and-wait process and, although you may have a first choice or a favorite “dream school” at this point, all you need to focus on in the next few months is applying to a range of appealing schools and putting your best foot forward as an applicant.  What happens over the course of the admissions cycle will – for better or for worse – help to inform you about your options and, as your decisions start rolling in usually beginning in December, you can begin to think through the actual options in front of you.

3.       Panic.  Applying to law school – much like law school itself – requires endurance, stamina, patience, and the ability to handle stress in the face of challenges.  Though it might feel overwhelming at times, please know that being accepted to law school is an entirely attainable prospect, provided that you stay on top of deadlines, set realistic goals, and keep things in perspective.  So, do your research and start working your way through your own personal To-Do List with diligence, attention to detail, and enthusiasm about what lies out in front of you.  And if you don’t have a To-Do List yet, feel free to use this one for now.

By the Book: New Additions to the Career Services Library

by J. Michael DeAngelis, Information Resources Manager

The Career Services library is open during our regular business hours, Monday – Friday from 9am-5pm.  It’s a great place to come and study during finals and to take advantage of some of the amazing print resources we have.  Here are a few of our latest acquisitions:

The Ten Day MBA by Steven Silbiger (3rd edition) – Billed as “a step-by-step guide to mastering the skills taught in America’s top business schools,” this is an extremely popular book for those about to enter the world of business but don’t have an exclusively business background.  The book covers everything from understanding finical statements to developing corporate strategies.   Easy to read, this book will help anyone get on the same page as those with an advanced business degree.


Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) 2012-2013 – from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The preeminent and reliable resource on medical schools just got better. MSAR’s printed guidebook includes abridged profiles of each medical school, while comprehensive listings of U.S. and Canadian medical schools, and baccalaureate/MD programs appear online. (The guidebook includes a unique code which can be entered for one year of unlimited access to the web site.) On the MSAR web site, you’ll be able to perform advanced searches, sort data, browse schools at a glance, save favorites, compare schools, and access more data and information than ever before. MSAR is the only resource fully authorized by medical schools and is a must for anyone interested in perusing a medical degree after graduation.


The NALP Directory of Legal Employers 2010/2011 – from the Association of Legal Career Professionals.  NALP’s most widely used Directory features information on more than 1,500 employers. The front of the book includes indexes by location and practice area keyword. For the most up-to-date version of this Directory, including employers who listed after the print edition was published, visit (The entire database is replaced annually — at about the same time the print edition is released — but employers can continue to change their online listings throughout the year.) While the online version allows searches, comparison charts, and creation of mail merge lists, the print edition remains a valuable companion resource.

Accelerating on the Curves: The Artist’s Roadmap to Success by Katharine T. Carter & Associates – The definitive guide to self-marketing and career advancement for artists. The 363 page volume is anchored by Katharine T. Carter’s detailed roadmap approach to building an exhibition record and advancing from local and regional success to a path toward national recognition. Also included are numerous practical guidelines and approaches to marketing and presentation–sample pitch letters, artist statements, press releases and résumés, as well as protocols and advice on the best ways to effectively approach and communicate with professionals in each sector of the art world. In addition, individual contributions by the company’s distinguished Associates cover a broad range of issues and professional development topics. And finally, a comprehensive, up-to-date Information Resources index provides a wealth of useful research tools, publications, contacts and professional services essential to artists. A perfect companion for fine artists at both the BFA and MFA levels.


Who Are You?

by Anne Reedstrom


Whether this phrase immediately brings to your mind the classic sounds of The Who, the world of CSI (Las Vegas version), or simply sessions with your therapist, it is an important question to ask yourself when preparing to write a personal statement for your application to a health professions or law school.

Your personal statement is a chance to answer this question and give admissions committees insight into your personal qualities, abilities, characteristics, and skills which might be relevant to your field. I don’t mean that you should write an autobiography along the lines of “My name is Anne, I am X years old (I’m so not going to tell you the actual number), I grew up in Minnesota and studied Modern Languages as an undergraduate.” That’s not particularly helpful to anyone and will likely make you sound like a much more boring person than you are. That sentence certainly doesn’t do me any justice!

Dig a little deeper and provide the reader with more than a list of facts or accomplishments; these are the kinds of things that you can showcase on the actual application or the résumé you submit. Give them something they can’t get from your other application materials – you can’t really convey compassion, determination, meticulousness, organizational or communication skills on a résumé. But you can in a personal statement if you relate an experience, something in which you were an active participant, which demonstrates how you developed or used those qualities in a real-life situation.

When I talk to people about this, some know immediately what they want to write about – either the qualities they want to emphasize or the story they want to tell. Others struggle a little more, I think, for a couple of reasons. You have been doing a specific kind of writing since you came to college and only rarely has it been expressive or personal in any way. We’re actually taught to remove ourselves from academic writing and it can be a challenge to now be faced with a situation in which you are the subject of the essay. Some of us find it difficult to write about ourselves in an overtly positive way or even to identify positive traits we have – after all, our mothers taught us not to boast or be conceited (some were more successful than others).

These are the reasons that Peter, Todd, Carol and I are here to help you. We’re happy to help you reflect on your experiences, read what you’ve written and fill the pages with red ink. No, wait, that last one’s just me. Seriously, we are an excellent resource and hope that you will let us help you answer one of life’s great questions:

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)*

*Words and music by Pete Townshend