Frequently Asked Questions
We know that you may have a lot of questions about applying to law school. We came up with this list of frequently asked questions so that you can find some answers immediately. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!
While an ideal applicant will have a strong GPA and LSAT score, you are right in understanding that there are many other things that we look for in our applicants. We are trying to bring in an intelligent, interesting, and diverse class overall. Thus, we are not going to want all of our applicants to have the same experiences, backgrounds, or interests.
With that caveat, the most competitive applicant will also have strong writing, reasoning, and analytical skills, be actively involved in organizations or pursuits that show a strong interest in learning and/or service, demonstrate a mature and ethical character, and have a well-thought reason for going to law school. Some applicants will also bring a diverse perspective because of their socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, or educational backgrounds, or because of their unique life experiences. Others will have exceptional work experience.
An applicant should make sure to demonstrate these things through the personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, supplemental statements (when applicable), and the optional interview. It is important to note that these factors in and of themselves will not get someone into law school, but it is the combination of them that make one most competitive.
Yes, we do! Simply request an application fee waiver online and we will email you the code. If you have any other questions, please contact the Admissions Office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-768-6613.
Generally, personal statements/essays should be between 2–4 double-spaced pages using 11 or 12 point font (stay away from fancy, cursive style fonts as they are more difficult to read). Some schools will be very specific about word or page limits and font sizes; others, like Lewis & Clark Law School, will not give any restrictions. Even if a school does not set any page requirements, it is important to be clear and concise enough to get your point across. You do not want to include unnecessary information, ramble, or be repetitive.
At Lewis & Clark, our “question” is very general. We ask you to write about your background, experiences, interest in law, aspirations, special abilities, or any topic that you feel will help readers of your application get a sense of you as a person and prospective law student. Past statements have covered topics such as a memory of an influential person, an important discussion with a parent, a significant life experience, a special accomplishment, a unique talent, a strong interest in something—you get the idea. At the same time, it should be relevant to your interest in applying to law school. Think about why you chose that topic and make sure the committee knows the importance of it to your interest in law.
First and foremost, admissions committees are going to be evaluating your writing ability. Your statement should be polished; that is to say it should be well written, be without grammatical or spelling errors, flow well, be clear, and show correct word usage. You will want to proofread it multiple times, with and without spell check. You may also want someone you know who writes well take a look at your essay and give you feedback on (not rewrite) your essay.
Secondly, it is nice if your statement is interesting. What often makes for an interesting personal statement is that it is personal and genuine. We want to know how you think, feel, and/or live, and you should be true to yourself. This is your opportunity to tell us who you are in your own words.
Lastly, have fun with it, because it can be an enjoyable exercise and you can even learn some things about yourself by doing it!
Here are some personal statement don’ts.
- Don’t go over your whole work history or resume in your personal statement. If you want to elaborate on something particular on your resume that is fine, but we already have your resume and we do not need it in again written in prose.
- Don’t use personal essay space to write about why your grades are low in your freshman year, why your LSAT isn’t an indicator of your potential, or why you switched schools three times. You should use an addendum to explain these things and save your personal essay for telling us about who you are.
- Don’t send an essay to University X that says how excited you are about the possibility of attending University Y. Again, proofread.
- Don’t write about how interesting the health law program is when that school does not have many health law offerings. In that same vein, don’t say you’re interested in health law (if you aren’t) just because a school has a great health law program and you think that’s what they want to hear.
- Don’t start off your essay with a famous quote if you can help it. Admissions committees have all read numerous quotes by Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aristotle, Thomas Wolfe, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Barbara Bush, H.W. Beecher, etc. Starting your essay this way is not original.
- Don’t try to write like a lawyer. Some people will use a lot of legalese or espouse what they know about the law. Your professors will teach you how to write for the legal field once you are in law school. Furthermore, if you attempt to show us what you know about the law, you risk really showing us what you don’t know.
- Along the same lines, don’t tell us what the law does or will do. We know that already. This type of essay does not tell us about YOU, which is something we don’t know and are hoping to learn more about.
Hopefully, this will help guide you in writing a stellar essay and avoid some of the pitfalls that applicants encounter with this piece of the application. This could be the most difficult and also fun part of the application process—try to approach it in a positive way!
First, let me say that there isn’t any specific thing that an admissions committee is expecting to see on a resume. For example, we do not expect that you have worked in a law firm or have 150 hours of community service. We simply would like knowledge of your various pursuits other than school. This gives us a good idea of the experiences you will be bringing to law school and can highlight things about you that might be different from other applicants.
Just like a resume you would submit for a job application, a resume for law school should list your educational background, such as where you went to school, the degree you received, and the date you graduated. Like a job resume, it should also list work experience including dates employed, your title, the name of company or organization of employment, and your main responsibilities in that position. It should also list school activities, volunteer work, and honors or awards. What is different with a law school resume is that it can be longer and more descriptive than job resumes. You won’t be limited to one page with a law school resume. You can also include things that might be a bit more personal such as personal hobbies & interests. You will still want your resume to look and sound professional while also giving a comprehensive view of what you have been doing with your life outside of the classroom.
If you have been out of college for a long time and have a great degree of life and work experience, you can be judicious about how much description you choose to include. Summarizing duties for past employment, or simply listing dates/title/organization for your volunteer work may suffice.
Keep in mind that activities from high school or before should not be on your resume unless they were particularly impressive (e.g. valedictorian) or lifelong pursuits (e.g. 15 years of violin playing). Also, note that acronyms for most things should be spelled out or some student groups explained. For example, many committee members will not know that CCWS means “Clark County Women’s Shelter” or that the Blues Sparrows are a campus a cappella group.
In general, admissions committees are interested in knowing how you have spent your time and the resume is a way to highlight that in a descriptive, yet succinct, way.
The best letters of recommendation come from people who know you best and are in a position to evaluate your skills and abilities that will be put to use in law school. These skills include writing, critical thinking, analytical skills, problem solving, the ability to conduct thorough research, etc.
Admissions committees, often made up of professors, are admitting students and thus, letters from other professors attesting to what a great student you are will be the ideal people to write your recommendations. This is especially true if you are currently a student or a recent graduate. You should also consider how strong of a letter someone would write for you. If you received a low grade in a class, or clashed with the professor, that person may not be the best one to write a letter on your behalf. Other academic sources that are acceptable can come from graduate teaching assistants, academic advisors, and student activity advisors with whom you have developed a good relationship and who can speak of your strengths.
If you have been out of school for a while and have a job that has been challenging and afforded you a good level of responsibility, then employers are also a good source for a letter. Again, you will want to make sure that they will write a positive, if not glowing, letter about you. Additional options for sources include internship supervisors and volunteer coordinators – again with the caveat that they know you well and can evaluate your abilities that would be applicable to law school.
Letters from politicians, well-known people in the community, lawyers, or law school alumni are not the best sources if you are asking them to write the letter just because you believe their title or connection to the law school will be impressive. If these people have taught you or supervised you, know you well, and have been in a position to evaluate your skills & abilities, then they can be good people to ask. Otherwise, please do not submit these letters with your application.
When asking someone to write a letter on your behalf, make sure to approach them by asking if they can write a great letter about you. Allow them to say no if they do not feel they are the best source for you, or if they don’t have the time to write the letter. You do not want to pressure them if they really aren’t going to be able to be an excellent advocate for you.
At this time, Lewis & Clark still requires letters of recommendation from each applicant (we require two letters, but will accept up to three letters). If you would like your recommenders to also complete an evaluation through the service provided by CAS, the Admissions Committee will also review those evaluations as submitted.
The evaluation is also a great tool for your recommenders to use in crafting the letter on your behalf, since it touches on evaluation of many of the most important evaluative factors for an applicant. So, it might serve well as guidance for your letter writers!
Usually the easiest way is to send them through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) because everything is sent to one central location and letters can then be directed to schools from there. Also, LSAC will keep letters on file for five years so they’ll be there in the future in case you end up reapplying or applying later than you anticipated.
An addendum is a separate piece of paper that one submits with his or her application. It is used to provide additional information in one’s file that does not easily fit within the personal statement, resume, or elsewhere in your application. For example, an addendum can be used to explain a poor academic performance in a particular semester, large differences in multiple LSAT scores, why you transferred three times in college, long periods of unemployment if out of college, etc. It can also be used to discuss a learning disability, a unique grading system at a particular school, etc.
Law schools will ask applicants to submit additional statements to also explain any academic or disciplinary probations/suspensions that they have on their records, or to explain any criminal or misconduct charges ever received. These addenda are required.
Addenda are typically no longer than one page and sometimes are only a paragraph. They give one the opportunity not to muddy up a personal statement with issues or explanations that one still wants the committee to consider, or that the law school asks for specifically beyond the personal statement, such as an explanation of a criminal record.
It is worth noting that most people do not need to submit addenda. When in question, contact the admissions office and someone can discuss with you if one is necessary.
An applicant’s statistical profile is comprised of your LSAT score (the highest of multiple scores at Lewis & Clark) and your cumulative undergraduate GPA. A graduate degree does not affect this statistical profile.
However, a graduate degree can often strengthen an applicant’s file depending on the type of degree, grades earned, quality of school attended, etc. The skills one hones in graduate school can be very helpful in law school, especially if one has done a lot of research and writing. Strong graduate grades can especially help offset lower grades in undergrad. A graduate degree can also show academic motivation and maturity. Those are the positives.
On the other hand, a graduate degree will not erase an undergraduate degree and it may not make as much of a difference to one’s application as one would like (again, relevance and type of program are going to be a factor). Also, graduate degree GPA’s are less varied (because a C- or lower is often considered failing). Therefore, a 3.50 in an undergraduate program is a good GPA, while it is just average in most graduate programs. So, a graduate degree is usually a plus, but the main emphasis may still be placed on the undergraduate degree.
I have found that admissions committees usually look at each applicant’s credentials as a piece of the bigger picture and that applicants are given very individual reviews. In other words, a graduate degree for one applicant may be a very influential factor and for another it may make no difference in a decision whether to admit. In any case, it almost never hurts.
Yes. Academic performance and potential are very important considerations when making admissions decisions. Along with your overall grade point average, the admissions committee will consider the rigor of your courses, the school(s) you attended, when you attended college, and your grade trend. An upward grade trend can help make up for a poor performance earlier in college. A strong LSAT will also help. If your grades improve significantly and you show additional aptitude for law school through a good LSAT score, then you can make a strong case for your academic abilities despite having struggled earlier on. Your overall GPA will not go away, but a great finish to your college education and a high LSAT score will do the most to offset your earlier grades. Presenting as strong an application as possible in all other aspects (personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume) will also make a difference. Applicants may also submit a “GPA Addendum,” which is a statement explaining why their grades weren’t as high as they had hoped. This addendum does not need to be long—one or two paragraphs should suffice.
At many law schools, including Lewis & Clark Law School, there is almost no such thing as a “non-traditional” applicant. Our applicants have very diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills. Furthermore, the average age of our incoming students is 26, but we have many applicants who are in their 30’s, 40’s, and sometimes older. We receive several applications from people applying years out of college who are often switching careers. On occasion someone may be retired and are planning the next phase of his or her life.
Our Admissions Committee reads every application file in its entirety, but not all factors are going to weigh the same for each applicant. For example, the GPA of someone who has been out of school for a long time will still be an element of importance in the application, but much less so than it would for a recent graduate whose academic performance is fresh and who has minimal work experience. Another example is that we will expect a recent college graduate to have letters of recommendation from professors, while someone who has been out of school for a few years would be more likely to have professional recommenders.
Please be assured that your work experience, age of undergraduate or graduate grades, and recommendations will all be considered within the scope of your own background and experiences.
Since we are getting so many questions about the LSAT, this is a great time to address this question. If you have done some research into applying to law school, you know by now that the LSAT is a required part of the application. Currently, the LSAT is offered six times a year. Ideally, you will take the LSAT by December in the year before you plan to attend law school. Because most law schools review files in the winter and early spring, you will want to make sure your application is complete sometime in the fall or early-winter, and thus, taking no later than the January LSAT.
If you take the LSAT in March of the year you plan to attend law school, the risk is that your application will be complete later in the process and your file will be reviewed when less space is available in the entering class. (Note: schools will not review your files until all required items have been received, including the LSAT score.) Another disadvantage is that most schools will have already awarded their scholarships by the time they get to reading files with March LSAT scores. In really competitive years when applications are up, a March LSAT is really too late. In years where applications are going down nationally (like the last several years), a March score may be more acceptable, but you will still be later in the process than is preferred and may have less options than had you completed your application earlier.
A few law schools have application deadlines in January or have early action/decision programs (this means that if you apply to that school in the fall, you’ll have a decision earlier than most people, but sometimes must commit to attending the school if admitted). In these cases, you’ll want to take the LSAT no later than the September test - almost a year before you would start law school.
It can be a good idea to take the LSAT even earlier, such as in June, July, or September, so that if something happens around the time you’re planning to take the LSAT (e.g. you get ill or have a family emergency), you can cancel your reservation for the test and take it later. Or, if you don’t feel that the score you received is up to your potential, you can take the test again later and still have time to get your applications complete in a timely manner.
For test dates, registration sites and deadlines, LSAT costs and more, please go to http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/test-dates-deadlines.
LSAC has now partnered with Khan Academy to offer FREE LSAT prep courses to any prospective student. How you prepare for the LSAT depends on how much time you have to study before the test and how you best learn. Many people say you need at least 8 weeks of dedicated and diligent studying to prepare. In fact, if you decide to take an LSAT prep course, most of them are between 6–12 weeks long, though there are some courses that are longer and some weekend-long cram sessions. Either way, you need to be able to spend enough time to take several practice tests—enough tests so that you feel very comfortable with the test, so that you have seen improvement in your speed, and that your practice test scores are consistent (and you’re happy with the result).
It is very important to time yourself from start to finish while taking these practice tests and do not allow yourself any breaks that wouldn’t normally be scheduled. Finishing the test in the amount of time allotted is one of the biggest hurdles to doing well on the LSAT. You may be able to get most of the questions right if given all the time in the world, but the LSAT only allows you a certain amount of time per section and you’ll want to get through as many questions as you can. Also make sure not to get used to using scratch paper, as it is not allowed during the exam. If you find that you’re dedicating regular time to study over a few weeks and are satisfied with your practice scores, then studying on your own is probably an effective way to prepare.
Another option to preparing is to take an LSAT prep class. This can be effective if you are the type of learner who needs someone to instruct and motivate you, and/or if you are a more visual or oral learner. Because you are paying for the class, it’s more likely that you will go and thus, dedicate some time to preparing. Test prep companies will provide you with the prep materials and will conduct practice exams so that you can get a feel for what it is like. Again, make sure they are using previous tests that come from LSAC and are not just simulated to look like the LSAT. The downside to this method is that LSAT prep courses can be expensive. If you cannot afford a class, ask the prep company if they have any scholarship or grant programs that you could apply for that would either pay for or reduce the cost of the class. Also note that simply taking the class will not ensure a higher LSAT score. You should also spend time outside of class to get the most out of it.
A third option is to work with a private tutor. The test prep companies, your college learning center, or your prelaw advisor may be able to refer you to a tutor. A tutor will give you individual attention and cater the teaching to your learning style. A tutor will also be more able to work within your personal schedule.
Further, if you know or suspect that you have a learning disability, a tutor may be able to give you some more directed strategies. You should look into getting the disability diagnosed that is necessary in order to apply for testing accommodations on the LSAT. This process can take several months so you will want to explore this option long before you plan to take the exam.
Whichever option, or options, you use to prepare for the LSAT, make sure to give yourself plenty of time and practice often. You want to be as ready as possible when you do take the exam and ideally, you’ll be satisfied with your score the first time so you won’t have to take it again!
L&C does not have a minimum LSAT/GPA nor is there a statistical cut-off to our admissions process. Every single application is considered for admission during the application cycle. While LSAT and GPA are considered fairly heavily in the admissions process, the entire file is also considered (the personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, undergraduate coursework, etc.) so test scores and grades are not the only components considered. When you apply, you should talk about your background and anything that highlights your diversity as an applicant or conditions that may have adversely affected your past performance. You can include such discussion in your personal statement or include a supplemental statement if you wish to talk about that separately. Finally, you can also participate in our optional interview program either in-person, via Skype, or over the phone.
This is a question we get every year at this time. While you have a couple of options, the answer will be entirely up to you.
- Option 1: Wait to see what score you received on the test and then decide if you want to retake it. Multiple scores will be viewed by the admissions committee, but the emphasis will be placed on the highest score received.
- Option 2: Cancel your score and sign up for the January exam. Canceling your score means that you will never know what you received on the exam. You may want to consider this option if you were sick the day of the exam, could not concentrate because of something going on in your personal life, you froze and left large sections of questions unanswered.
Taking a February exam can put you at some disadvantage.
If you do decide to retake the test, make sure to sign up right away as spaces can fill up quickly. Continue to study for the exam so that you do not lose your momentum. If you think you didn’t do well because you didn’t prepare or weren’t happy even with your practice exams, consider taking a different approach to studying for the LSAT. Finally, notify the schools you applied to that you will be taking the February test so that a decision on your file is not made prior to receipt of your new score.
Yes, Lewis & Clark will give the most consideration to the higher LSAT score when reviewing applications. That said, the admissions committee will still see the other exam scores and may consider those as additional information to a much smaller extent should they choose. If an applicant has a significant difference in LSAT scores, or has more than three scores on record, I recommend that they submit an addendum with their application to explain the difference in scores or the reasons for taking it multiple times.
One canceled score will not need to be explained and will not affect a decision on your file. The Admissions Committee understands that a person could have a really bad day and know that the score is not going to be a good one. In that case, it would be better to cancel the score and retake the exam when you feel better about doing so.
That said, it would not hurt to explain multiple canceled scores. If one takes the LSAT and cancels more than a couple of times, it could be interpreted in several ways—mostly negative. In that case, letting the Committee know what happened would be in your best interest.
Applying for scholarships at Lewis & Clark is easy because essentially, your application to the law school is your scholarship application. On your law school application form, make sure to check the appropriate boxes indicating your interest in being considered for scholarships. Scholarships are awarded based on the merit that one brings to the school and the amounts vary. Merit can mean many things. In this case, most of the emphasis is placed on your previous academic performance and your LSAT score. Other factors that are considered include writing ability, work or activities, diversity, and other significant accomplishments.
Applicants also have the option of submitting a scholarship statement with their application. This statement is used to provide additional information that one wishes the admissions committee to especially consider when determining scholarship awards. Typically, the statement highlights one’s merit and perhaps describes financial need. While these awards are not need-based, financial hardship may be considered during review for scholarships as long as significant merit is also there. Your FAFSA will not be reviewed for scholarship consideration.
The other scholarship we have for incoming students is for Native American law school applicants provided by the confederated tribes of the Quinault Indian Allottees Association. All self-identified Native students will receive information about this scholarship in the mail. If you have been admitted and have not heard about this, but are interested, please contact us and we will send you an application.
Applicants must first complete the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) by the priority filing deadline of February 15. The Financial Aid Office at Lewis & Clark begins releasing financial aid awards in early March. Every effort is made to provide students who complete the FAFSA by our priority deadline with their financial aid notification before a decision about enrolling must be made. Aid applications completed after the February 15 priority deadline will be reviewed in the order they are received.
Loans: Students interested in loans need to apply for financial aid as early as possible and should not wait for an admissions decision to begin the financial aid application. As soon as a person is admitted, the Financial Aid Office is notified; if the student’s financial aid file is complete, their award is prepared shortly thereafter. Thus, it is important to have the financial aid file completed at the same time as the admission file.
Scholarships: We award scholarships at the time we make the admission decision. If a scholarship was awarded, that will be noted in your letter of admission. The rest of the financial aid package, which includes student loans, is determined by the Financial Aid Office. That award is sent separately, but should include any scholarships you were awarded at admission. Please read through the Financial Aid Guide to learn how to accept your financial aid and receive student loans.
This is a question you will want to ask each law school you apply to as the answers may vary.
At Lewis & Clark Law School, the FAFSA is the only form that needs to be filled out for federal financial aid. Ideally, the FAFSA will be submitted before February 15 in the year you plan to attend law school, though you can submit the FAFSA after this date if necessary.
As for scholarships at Lewis & Clark, your application to law school is what will determine your eligibility and competitiveness for them. There’s a section on the law school application itself that asks you to indicate if you are interested in being considered for a merit-based scholarship. Checking “yes” is all you need to do to be considered and the committee will determine your merit compared to the rest of the applicant pool. You can submit a separate statement if you wish highlighting your specific qualifications for scholarships, but note that this is optional and is most helpful if you are providing any additional or new info that is not already in your application.
Yes, we do have several scholarships available to currently enrolled students. Most of these are merit-based, or have other eligibility requirements. For the most comprehensive list, you’ll want to check out our Scholarships and Awards page. The various scholarships provided by Lewis & Clark Law School are listed along with brief descriptions of the award. There is also information about outside (non-L&C) scholarships that we know of, and a couple of popular scholarship search engines you can use to do further research about other award opportunities.
Scholarships for incoming students are renewable every year the student is enrolled without a GPA contingency.
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a program that allows students to earn financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Earnings under this program are paid jointly by the government and by the organization that employs you. You must demonstrate financial need to qualify for work-study, and this will be determined based on a review of your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). At Lewis & Clark Law School, work-study awards are available by request to qualifying students who have completed their 1L year and who have been offered a FWS position. If you’d like to learn more about Federal Work-Study for law students, please contact the Financial Aid Office at email@example.com or 503-768-7090.
That said, many people work and go to school. Most people who do this choose to pursue our part-time program, which allows one to work during the day and attend law school at night. It’s a four-year, rather than three-year, program, but it does help continue one’s income while in school. The first year one would attend either the day program (FT) or evening program (a lighter course load). After the first year, one can choose to go part-time or full-time in day or evening classes.
There is, of course, summer work that one could also pursue while not in classes to help alleviate the cost of attendance. And, if qualified, obtaining a merit-based scholarship can also help.
Now! Our application opens online on September 1. Like most law schools, Lewis & Clark only allows new students to start in the fall, so the best time to apply is in the fall the year before you wish to attend. Lewis & Clark starts taking applications on October 1. The time you apply is important, but even more important is to get your application complete in a timely manner—that means that all required items are received by the law school. Files are not read before all materials are in, and getting your file complete by the end of the year is the safest. (Note that schools with early action or decision will have earlier application periods and deadlines.)
Our admissions committee began reviewing applications in late November/early December and our first offer letters usually go out in late December. You should expect to get a decision depending on when your application file was completed (meaning that the admissions office has received all required materials). We try to review files in the order that they completed. If your file completed before January, then you should hear from us by the end of February. If your file was completed after the first of the year, then you should hear from us about 4–8 weeks after your application file completed.
If you have any concern about your application, or believe you should have received a decision already, please contact our office at 800-303-4860 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will check on the status of your application.
We currently do not conduct an early admissions process. Under exceptional circumstances, our admissions committee has reviewed an individual’s file early, but we do not make it a standard practice.
While there have been circumstances where we are able to offer admission for the coming fall for someone applying after the June LSAT for that year, it is very rare that our class has not yet been filled that late in the summer. We generally encourage folks to consider the June and October LSATs when applying for the following fall to put oneself in the most competitive position for admission and more importantly, possible scholarship awards. Applicants applying as late as June for this fall should not expect to receive any scholarship funding, even if they are admitted. On occasion, we have allowed these late applicants to be early admits for the following year.
The deadline for Fall Transfer and Visiting applicants is July 15; the deadline for Spring Transfer and Visiting applicants is November 15. That said, we recommend that you do not wait until the deadline if at all possible. You will also need to your transcripts from your law school and undergraduate school where you received your bachelor’s degree. This can take some time. The earlier you submit all required materials, the sooner we can get a decision to you and the more time you’ll have to move to Portland (if necessary) and get adjusted. Transfer & visiting application requirements and info can be found here: http://www.lclark.edu/dept/lawadmss/transfer_visit.html.
A few law schools have “spring start” options, but if you are applying as a new incoming student at Lewis & Clark Law School then you can only start in the fall semester. Transfer students have the option of starting in the spring, but should discuss this with our Registrar’s Office to make sure that they can sign up for any required courses they may not have already taken at their prior law school. LLM applicants may also apply to begin in the spring.
Yes, accommodations can be made for people with disabilities. You may be asked to provide documentation of your diagnosis and recommendations for accommodations by a licensed professional. You should discuss any needs with our Office of Student Accessibility and our Student Affairs Office after you have been admitted. Details of how to provide accommodations will be determined prior to the start of school.
Yes. The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) has essentially two main purposes. One is to enhance and support diversity; the other is to assist students who need additional academic support in law school. Admitted students who feel they might need extra guidance during law school can apply to participate in AEP in their first year and in AEP’s Summer Institute prior to starting law school. Current students who find themselves struggling with law school material, or who are on academic probation, also can use AEP for assistance. The Assistant Dean of Diversity Initiatives and Academic Resources, J.B. Kim, helps students identify their academic needs, organizes skills building workshops and tutoring sessions, works with first year TA’s, and offers individual academic counseling.
We also strongly recommend that students speak with their professors if they do not understand the course material, or even if they have a couple of questions. Professors are generally very willing to discuss coursework with their students. Doing so earlier in the semester is best, so that there is time to give you the most help possible.
If there’s something else going on in your life that is affecting your grades, but is personal in nature, it’s a good thing to discuss that either with your professors and/or with our Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Libby Davis. It may be that something other than our academic program is more appropriate for you. In general, there are people here to help you as long as we know that you need it!
There are many students at Lewis & Clark Law School with families; some are even starting or growing their families while enrolled in law school. While we do not have any formal day care programs at the school, there are daycare centers and schools in the area surrounding the college that students, faculty and staff use for their own needs and can recommend to others.
The community at the law school is very welcoming and understanding of the needs of students who are also parents. If you have any family concerns or issues that arise while you are a student at Lewis & Clark, we encourage you to discuss them with Libby Davis, Associate Dean of Student Affairs. Dean Davis will refer you to various resources and will discuss potential options with you.
During Orientation, our Law School Partners Program will invite the spouses and partners of incoming law students to attend a session so that they can get to know one another and to learn more about what to expect while their significant other is in school. This is a great opportunity to meet and develop a support network with others who also have families or significant others while in law school. The Orientation Directors also arrange for childcare for students and their family on campus for Orientation Day. In addition, we also have a Children’s Ceremony at commencement, where your child(ren) can also walk across the stage and earn a “diploma.”
About L&C Law School
This is a question the admissions office is asked on occasion, but we are not the best people to answer it. Only you can answer this question after you have clearly identified your goals, determined what kind of law school experience you want, researched and compared information from a number of different schools, and visited those you’re seriously considering.
You’ll want to consider what’s going to be most important to you (not your parents, friends, colleagues, etc.). This could include class size, location, cost (taking into consideration scholarships and cost of living), curricular offerings, access to professors, opportunities to gain practical experience, placement and bar passage rates, student retention, alumni satisfaction, etc.
To help you understand if L&C is a good fit, you might refer to the Why Choose L&C page. Without information about one’s particular interests, I believe it’s best to talk about why some of our students and alumni chose to come to L&C over other law schools.
- Location—Whether the west coast is where they call home (or want to), or whether Portland is the kind of city they enjoy and they like the legal opportunities they can get here (while in law school and after), or whether it’s the Lewis & Clark campus in a forested state park that lures them here, our student indicate that location was a big draw to Lewis & Clark. Our campus, city, and region are all attractive and unique, and the lifestyle is hard to beat. Luckily, Lewis & Clark is the only law school in Portland!
Faculty and Curriculum—Lewis & Clark professors are very interested in the quality of their teaching and developing relationships with their students—much like one might experience at a smaller undergraduate school. Professors know their students on an individual basis and care about what their students are learning.
While we prepare students to practice any type of law, some students come to L&C because they want to study subjects in which we are considered to be particularly strong. Some of these include animal law; business and commercial law; environmental, natural resources, and energy law; intellectual property law; public interest law; criminal law and crime victim advocacy; tax law; and a growing attention to international law. These tend to be the subjects in which we really shine, but even so, the curriculum is full of many other types of courses so you can be a generalist, or even create your own focus. Our graduates practice everything under the sun, so we encourage people not to limit themselves.
Finally, some students are attracted to the flexibility in our curriculum with our part-time program options.
- Cost—while law school tuition is admittedly high, we do offer scholarships to nearly half of our incoming class, making the cost more manageable. Obviously, scholarships are helpful, but they don’t always make a school more affordable. In comparison to other private law schools and many public schools’ out-of-state tuition, L&C’s tuition is competitive and the cost of living in Portland is definitely reasonable compared to some other areas of the country.
- Student body—L&C’s student profile is impressive and our students are smart, interesting, and fun. Our attrition rate is also on the low, which is a testament to high student satisfaction. The average age of our students (about 27) is slightly higher than most schools, and many of our students have impressive work experience prior to coming to law school. We also attract the kind of student who wants a supportive and friendly learning atmosphere, and doesn’t want to have an experience where their peers are secretive, competitive, and too intense.
- Opportunities—getting a job and being able to gain practical skills while in law school is also very important. Our Career and Professional Development Center is top-notch and offers a wide range of services and programs to help students find summer jobs, internships, externships, and jobs after graduation. Our faculty and administrators are also very helpful to students with regard to this. We have some fantastic clinical opportunities (in animal law, business law, environmental law, international environmental law, crime victim advocacy, criminal justice reform, and tax law) as well as strong moot court/mock trial teams, law reviews, and study abroad options. It is crucial that students develop their resumes while in law school and there are a lot of ways to do that at L&C.
Law school can be very time-consuming, but there definitely is room for a social and active life. We recommend that students find interests outside of the classroom in order to keep some balance in their lives.
There are many social opportunities at L&C. Our first-year pod system, where students in a section all take the same classes together, allows new students to really get to know one another. Because they have the same schedule, it also makes it easy for them to meet up outside of class and on weekends as well as to form study groups and study sessions if they wish.
The law school student organizations also plan several activities throughout the year. For example, one of our students recently started the Food and Wine Law Society and Lewis & Clark, and it has been an extremely popular and active student organization. Since the group’s initiation, they have held annual Food Law symposium, which have been sold out events. The Public Interest Law Project plans a major fundraising event every year to raise funds for the Summer Stipend Program at L&C for students planning to work in the public interest sector.
The Student Bar Association, Minority Law Student Association, Women’s Law Caucus and other groups often host BBQ’s, breakfasts, or potlucks in the outdoor amphitheater or student lounge, while our Intellectual Property Student Organization hosts a microbrew tasting. There are many more examples of groups of students getting together to ski, bike, hike, salsa dance, watch movies, go fly-fishing, kayaking, and much more. Of course, many of these organizations also host campus events such as speakers, live debates, documentary viewings, networking activities, etc.
Students can get involved in most student organizations as a first year student. You definitely won’t be lacking in things to do while in law school, and it is important that some of those things are also fun!
The easiest way to schedule a visit is to use our online visit form.
During a visit, you can get a tour of the law school, sit in on a first year class, and/or meet with an admissions director if you have questions about the law school or applying. Tours are generally given by current students unless classes are not in session (i.e., during final exams, winter holiday, and spring break).
We strongly encourage prospective or admitted law students to visit the schools they are seriously considering attending. Getting a feel for the campus and the people are important determiners when making the decision about where you will feel comfortable as a student.
Many schools also have open houses for admitted students specifically. If you are admitted, you will receive notification of those dates.
Yes, in addition to our joint JD/LLM in Environmental Law, Lewis & Clark is proud to launch our new JD/MBA program with Portland State University. Ambitious professionals looking to combine the powers of a law degree and a graduate business education will now have an option to complete the joint JD/MBA in four years, saving a year’s worth of time and expenses than the traditional five year program. More information on all the degrees we offer.
Lewis & Clark Law School has partnerships with the summer study abroad program at the University of San Diego and with Santa Clara University Law School, where L&C students can study in 12 countries or intern at 31 countries. L&C students can also attend a summer institute for international law and policy at Utrecht University in The Netherlands.
L&C students may participate in summer study abroad through either of these programs or they can participate in summer programs offered at other ABA accredited law schools. The ABA allows transfer of up to 12 study abroad credits towards a JD degree at a U.S. law school. Many Lewis & Clark students, particularly first year students, participate in study abroad programs each year.
It is advised to discuss your plans of going abroad with the staff at Career & Professional Development Center to make sure that this would fit well with your goals. In some cases, they may recommend that you consider working abroad instead or volunteering while studying, so that you come back with some solid work experience (preferably legal) that you can use to enhance your resume.
Some students choose instead to pursue an externship abroad, rather than studying abroad. Refer to our externship program for more information on this option. Examples of where L&C students have done international externships include India, the Netherlands, and China.
Click here for more information and advice about studying abroad.
You never actually have to pick a specialty if you don’t want to. Law schools have specialized, or “certificate”, programs that they award to students who complete certain requirements, but not all students are going to take advantage of this option.
The best way I can explain what a specialty is, is to compare it to getting a minor, or an emphasis within your major, in college. You should look at it as though law is your “major” and if you want to focus your electives in a certain area then you can get an emphasis, or “certificate”, in that area. It is not required to specialize in law school, just as it is not required to ever get a minor in college. It is simply a way to show that you have pursued a particular area of interest. It is also a way for law schools to promote an area of law in which it feels it is particularly strong.
For example, at Lewis & Clark Law School we have nine certificate programs – Animal Law, Business & Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Energy, Innovation, and Sustainability Law, Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Intellectual Property Law, International Law, Public Interest Law, and Tax Law. While we offer specialties, our students can study several other subject areas and our graduates end up practicing many different types of law, including employment law, international law, health law, immigration law, family law, Indian law, civil rights law, and much, much more.
About forty percent of our students pursue a certificate in one of our specialties mentioned above. Although they are taking focused classes, they also still have room to take courses outside of their specialty area. Other students are taking a mix of courses in many different subject areas. Students are also welcome to take courses within specialized areas without having to follow the set requirements for the certificate. In sum, there is a lot of flexibility to pursue many interests.
Generally, it can be a good idea to look at a school that has a specialty of interest to you if practicing in that area is really the main reason why you want to go to law school. For example, if you are set on practicing tax law and that is the motivating factor for you in going to law school, then you probably will want to attend a school with a specialty in tax law (you’ll want to make sure to compare specialties at various law schools as some schools’ specialties are more substantive than others). If you aren’t sure what kind of law you want to practice and you would like to keep your options open, then the specialties offered at a law school may not be as important to you. All ABA-accredited law schools are going to be able to prepare you to practice any type of law, so if you decide you want to practice entertainment law at a school that doesn’t have a specialty in it, then you should still be able to take a couple of courses and get some exposure to entertainment law even though you won’t have a specialized curriculum in that area.
For employment purposes, it may be even more important to gain an internship/externship, get clinical experience, or build up your resume other ways in your area of interest than it is to get a certificate; both, of course, would be ideal, but not always necessary.
The quantity of writing in law school is going to vary at times. In the first year, the most important writing required will be for your exams. With the exception of Lawyering, our first-year legal writing class, most or all of your first year courses are going to have essay exams at the end of the semester. Your grade on the exam will make up most, if not all, of your grade for the entire class. Other than exams in these classes, the writing you’ll be doing your first year will mainly be taking notes and outlining cases.
As for the Lawyering course, you will be doing writing exercises over the course of the first year. This is really where you learn the “type” of writing you’ll need (i.e. how to write like a lawyer). Some people call this “persuasive” writing. Looking at legal briefs or legal research will help give you examples of what I mean.
In the second and third years, you’ll have some courses that will require papers in addition to, or in lieu of, a final exam. Most of these papers will include research you’ll need to do on legal issues or cases. You’ll learn how to do research through the Lawyering class, but the library staff is also very helpful to students who ask for their assistance.
Graduation requirements vary, but at Lewis & Clark Law School, all students must write two large research papers before graduating. The papers can be ones you wrote for a class requirement, or they can be done for one of the law reviews/journals, or you can do them on your own time outside of class.
If you’d like to hone your writing skills, a couple of books that I think are great for learning how to write well are Eats Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss, and The Little Book on Legal Writing by Alan Dworsky, which is a book used by a lot of our own Lawyering professors and sold in our bookstore. Here’s a link too to 100+ books on the law that you might find just interesting to read.
Juggling full-time work, part-time law school and a family can be overwhelming, but it is also manageable. We have held evening courses for over 100 years and have had time to establish a very well-run, flexible program for students who have other work and life commitments. One testament to that is our low attrition rate—few students leave the law school regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time students.
Even so, some students are able to handle the load better than others. Time management and prioritizing skills come in very handy! The best advice is to get everything (and everyone) on a schedule. That way you allot time to all that you have to do. Also, your family and your employer will all know what to expect and when you will be available. We encourage you to work with your employer to allow some flexibility into your schedule if possible. For example, maybe you could work less, or even take time off, when it is time to study for final exams.
Having the support of your family and friends is key. Because working law students are stretched for time, your loved ones may end up with much of the burden of running a household and taking care of children, if applicable. You are all going to be in this together so if they are not on board with your goal, or have unrealistic expectations, then things will be more difficult for everyone. Lewis & Clark has a session during Orientation specifically for spouses and significant others of law students. The session helps prepare them for what to expect and allows them to meet others in the same situation.
It is very important for you to think about your goals, your current situation, the type of work you are doing, and whether you might need to make some changes to make it all work with law school too. In the end, if going to law school is a goal of yours, we think our part-time option makes that goal a reality for many people. We have hundreds of alumni who went through the part-time program, either all four years or for part of law school, who can attest to the reality of doing it!
No, you cannot enroll in any courses for credit prior to being admitted to the law school. There is the ability to “audit” courses at the law school, but if you do so and later attend the law school, you cannot transfer those in as credits toward your law degree. Auditing is meant for those that need a couple of courses for their employment or general knowledge, but not for later admission or to see if law school is something one would want to do. Only upper-division (not first-year) courses are available for auditing and only if they aren’t already filled. Check with the Registrar Office for the cost of auditing a course.
We do allow prospective law students to sit in on a class or two as a one-time visitor, but obviously, this is not the same as auditing. If you’d like to do that you can fill out our online visitor form.
We understand the wealth of free information available at our fingertips given the state of the web and current technology. We also understand applicants’ desire and drive to gather as much objective and anecdotal information about schools as they can dig up. There are many pitfalls accompanying the use of such sites however. We generally recommend applicants be careful about using the law school discussion forums and discussion boards because it is often factually incorrect or misleading and can be really toxic and paranoia-inducing, so for most people it’s not a helpful resource. Many of the people who post to these sites have very little information upon which to base their posts, or have taken a very unique circumstance upon which an entire policy or practice is assumed. We know that our applicants will continue to peruse such sites, and we urge only that you take information provided there with the very tiniest of grains of salt.
The law school does not require students to purchase a laptop computer but students are highly encouraged to purchase/bring their own computer. You can use the lab computers whenever they’re available, but most students find that a laptop is an essential resource. Regardless of which type you bring, Mac or PC, please make sure it isn’t too old, that it’s in good working order (no viruses or spyware), and has the latest updates.
Also, the law school uses a computer-based exam system. The vendor we use is ExamSoft. Most laptops less than five years old will meet the minimum system requirements. We provide ExamSoft free of charge to all our law students.
You can go to school anywhere in the U.S. and still be eligible to take any state’s bar exam as long as you have attended an ABA-accredited law school. There are at least a couple of states where you can still take the bar exam even if you didn’t attend an ABA-accredited law school, but the vast majority of states have this as a requirement (including Oregon).
With more and more states adopting the Uniform Bar Exam, this means that law graduates are more and more at liberty to attend law school in a state other than the one in which they would like to practice in. At Lewis & Clark Law School, a lot of students choose to take the bar exam in other states. Even some bar exam prep companies hold their classes for the Oregon, California, and Washington state exams at Lewis & Clark to make it more convenient for graduating students.
If you know you want to practice in another state, we recommend that you speak with the Registrar’s Office at your law school. Most will have a list of common subjects covered on each state’s bar exam. This way, you’ll know what courses you might want to take while in law school which could help you on the exam. Because bar exams cover common, substantive areas of the law, every law school should be offering courses that would be on any state bar exam. For example, almost all first year classes (Contracts, Civil Procedure, Torts, etc.) are areas that will possibly be tested on the bar exam. Not all courses you take in law school will be subjects tested on the bar exam though, and most students study for the bar by also signing up for bar prep courses. These are offered the several weeks leading up to the bar exam. You may also want to check the website of the state bar association where you plan to practice to see if they have any additional information about their particular exam.
There is no academic curriculum that is required in order to apply for or attend law school, other than completing the bachelor’s degree. While the most popular majors of law school applicants tend to be in political science, history, philosophy, psychology, and English, our students have majored in everything you can think of including math, music, geology, computer science, art, and world languages.
The best advice we can give is to major in whatever most interests you, because if you’re interested in the subject matter, it is more likely that you will do well in school. That said, the rigor of your program is going to be a factor in the consideration of your application and how well you might do at the law school where you apply. For example, if you are majoring in engineering or a hard science, we realize those areas can be quite difficult and the admissions committee will take that into account. Regardless of what you choose to major in, we suggest that you take some classes that are academically challenging, as law school will present many such courses. You should also take some classes that develop skills in writing, reading, critical thinking, and research. Examples of such classes can be found in the areas of philosophy, history, political science, classics, and some of the sciences and liberal arts.
Generally, law schools will strongly discourage you from taking this approach. Deferrals are intended to allow for the unexpected events that prevent you from being able to attend school for the year you applied.
It is very difficult for law schools to make plans and predictions for their incoming classes if they are receiving applications from people who do not intend to matriculate that year. Because of this, many schools have chosen not to grant deferrals at all.
It seems that most people interested in this option are college seniors who wish to take off a year or two before attending law school and are worried that the longer they wait to apply, the weaker their applications will be, especially with regard to getting recommendations from professors. The thought is that the further out of school they are, the less their professors will remember them and therefore, they’ll get weaker letters of recommendation or none at all. One must keep in mind that you can request a letter of recommendation and submit it to the Law School Admissions Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) and they will keep it on file for you for five years. While letters that are five years old are not ideal, letters that are one or two years old are usually fine to use for your application.
Another way to mitigate this concern, is to let your professors know that you’d like to get a recommendation from them in the future when you plan to apply to law school, and then make an effort to keep in touch with them over the next year or two so that they don’t forget you. When you are ready to apply, you should remind your professors that you would like a recommendation, provide them with a copy of your resume and personal statement, and then set up an appointment (via phone or in person) to discuss your goals and reasons for applying to law school. Professors often write great letters for a student they taught a couple of years ago, while also commenting on the student’s growth and maturity since graduation.
An additional concern graduating students have is that they need to take the LSAT when they are in the study “mode” and must apply to law schools with a recent score on file. Similar to the letters, your LSAT score will be kept on record with the CAS for five years and most law schools will accept scores up to five years old.
There are a couple of legitimate reasons to apply now with the knowledge that you might actually attend law school a year later. One reason is if you are currently applying for a program such as the Peace Corps or Teach for America and have not yet received an acceptance from the program. If your plan is to go to law school if you do not get accepted to such programs, then it is understandable that you would need to apply sooner than later. Some schools will offer 2 year deferrals to those going into the Peace Corps, but with the ease of internet access across the globe it can be quite simple to apply to law school even while serving in a remote area of the world.
If you have other reasons for applying while knowing you’d like to defer, you should contact the admissions office to discuss whether this is a wise approach for your circumstances.
Requests for deferral must be submitted in writing (email or letter) to the Admissions Office with a full explanation as to the reasons for wanting to defer. Deferrals are not granted automatically, but are considered on a case-by-case basis at the time of the request. If approved, deferrals are granted for one year (potentially two if you are doing a long-term service commitment such as Teach for America or AmeriCorps). We recommend that you do not submit your request until you know for sure that you would like to defer, because if approved, you will immediately be removed from the current entering class and placed in the next year’s entering class. If your deferral request is granted, any merit scholarship offer you have received will also be deferred and guaranteed for the following year when you start; however, you will not be eligible for the consideration of additional merit scholarship in the following year. When a decision on your deferral request is made, we will notify you by email. You will also be required to submit a non-refundable deposit of $600 by April 15 in order to secure your seat for the following year. Finally, we will ask you to return a Deferred Student Confirmation Form by September 30 or risk losing your seat.
If you are a “traditional” undergraduate student who went to college straight from high school, then taking a break may be something you want to consider. If you are feeling burned out from studying, if you have grand thoughts of traveling or volunteer service, or if you’re not really sure what career you want, then taking time off is a good idea.
Something else to keep in mind is that while it is fairly easy to take a break after undergraduate school, it is not as easy to do so after law school. Most law students pursue a job right out of law school, so you will have to explain to some employers why you weren’t working using your law degree for a year or two out of school. The legal field can be competitive and the best time to get a legal job is soon after you graduate and take the bar exam. Thus, it will be much harder for you to “take time off” after law school.
Also, taking time off after getting your undergraduate degree may give you time to mature and to make sure that law school is something you really want to pursue. Law school is very challenging and expensive. It is not an endeavor to take on if you are feeling ambivalent about it.
However, if you are really excited about law school, can’t wait to get started, and are confident that law school is something you want to do, then starting right out of college may indeed be the right thing for you.
Lewis & Clark does not ask you to reveal expunged records, but some schools may, so the short answer is yes.
Here’s the long answer: All law schools have a question on their applications that deals with your “criminal” history. It is important that you reveal this in your application fully and truthfully. Even if a record has been cleared, erased, dismissed, whatever the term, it is best to reveal more, rather than less, information. In most cases, the criminal history will not be severe enough to impact a decision on a file, especially if it’s been expunged. The real concern is that you are being honest about your background. When you register to take a state bar exam after law school, the bar examiners will do very thorough background checks. If they find discrepancies between your background and your application, it can be a big problem. Dishonesty is not a good start to a legal career.
When submitting an addendum to explain academic sanctions or criminal history, admissions committees are expecting you to provide the dates, circumstances, and outcomes of the situation. They are also expecting that you address what you learned from the experience. Many people list just the facts and don’t take the time to reflect on the situation; this is a mistake to avoid.
If you have questions as to how the state’s bar examiners will react to your application, contact the bar admission agency, prior to matriculating, in any state in which you intend to practice. Personnel at that agency are in the best position to give you guidance on the likelihood of your passing that state’s character and fitness requirements. The National Conference of Bar Examiners website lists all the state bar licensing agencies with contact information.