studying_lsat

Penn has traditionally been one of the top producers of fall semester law school applicants in the country. |Courtesy of Stephen S. /Creative Commons

This month, as hundreds of Penn students prepared for the upcoming Oct. 3 administration of the LSAT, test prep service Blueprint advertised its LSAT study materials with the following poem:

No no no no no

No no no no don’t want to

No no no no no

The LSAT, or Law School Admissions Test, is administered four times each year — in June, October, December and February. The half-day exam has six 35-minute sections and tests students in skills necessary to succeed in law school classes, such as reading comprehension and analytical reasoning. The stakes are often high — law school applicants may only take the test three times within a two-year period, and many pre-law advisors recommend taking it only once.

“The LSAT exam is one of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the law school admissions process, sending even the most calm and reasonable applicants into a tailspin of self-doubt and irrationality,” Career Services Senior Associate Director Todd Rothman wrote in a blog post in November 2012.

Penn has traditionally been one of the top producers of fall semester law school applicants in the country. Between 2009 and 2014, 1,672 Penn students applied to ABA-accredited law schools, according to the “Top 240 ABA Feeder Schools for Fall Applicants” list produced by the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT.

This places Penn at second place out of all eight Ivy League schools in terms of fall law school applicants in the last six years, behind Cornell and ahead of universities of similar size such as Harvard and Columbia.

Many Penn undergraduates take the LSAT while still at Penn, regardless of when they actually apply to law school. According to Career Services’ Law School Admissions Statistics for the 2013-14 admissions cycle, 21 percent of Penn applicants were graduating seniors and 74.9 percent were alumni who had graduated less than three years before applying.

That cycle, Harvard Law School saw the greatest number of Penn applicants enroll in its program, followed closely by students accepted to programs at Columbia, New York University and Penn Law.

Career Services provides a number of resources for Penn students interested in law school, including sample resumes, guides to obtaining recommendation letters and information about law school financial aid. It also maintains an online calendar of pre-law events, including information sessions with law school admissions officers and workshops on the law school admissions process.

Pre-law commands a strong focus in Penn’s pre-professional atmosphere. The College Advising Office’s Major Dinners, held every semester, frequently feature an event focused on pre-law advising, with the next one being held on Nov. 11. Meanwhile, Wharton offers both a legal studies and business ethics concentration and a coordinated legal studies and history minor with the College’s History Department. Both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science offer submatriculation programs into the JD program at Penn Law.

Unlike pre-med, pre-law has virtually no set coursework requirements, allowing Penn pre-law students to major in any subject they choose.

“To be a competitive law school applicant, it is important to perform well in one’s undergraduate coursework by selecting a major/minor out of genuine interest, rather than one assumed to facilitate admission to law school,” the College’s webpage on careers in law says.

The executive board of Penn’s pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, for example, includes at least two communication majors in the Annenberg School for Communication, a Wharton operations & information management concentrator and a history major in the College, according to the group’s website.

Meanwhile, the editorial staff of the “Penn Undergraduate Law Journal” includes a management concentrator, an English major and minors in consumer psychology and modern Middle Eastern studies.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Harvard Law School accepted the greatest number of Penn applicants in its 2013-14 cycle. In fact, the greatest number of Penn applicants matriculated into Harvard's law program; more applicants were accepted to other programs. The DP regrets the error. 

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