Five Things Nontraditional Law School Applicants Should Know
- Mar 03, 2023
- law admissions, Law School Admissions
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
While many law school hopefuls choose to apply during their last year of undergrad, you might take a nontraditional route – and that’s OK (and increasingly common)! Nontraditional law school applicants include anyone taking an alternative path to law school, including those who might be switching careers or have taken a gap year (or two).
Applying to law school can be a daunting process, no matter your background, but if you’re a nontraditional applicant, you face a unique challenge. Here are five things you should know about the admission process if you’re a nontraditional applicant.
1. You’re not alone.
Of Harvard Law School’s class of 2025, 78% of students have spent at least one year out of college. More and more, law students are choosing not to attend law school straight out of their undergraduate programs. The average age of a law student varies from the mid-to-upper 20s, but most schools have students older than that as well. Schools often include the range of ages represented at the school in their class profiles and applicants can use these to find schools with older student bodies.
Every law school will have students from many different fields of study and careers, including STEM. Good news: many law schools have organizations for nontraditional students to connect.
2. Your background can be an advantage.
There are many niche fields of law that prefer lawyers from specific backgrounds. For example, patent attorneys often come from STEM or engineering disciplines, which prepares them for the specifics of the field. This is true for lawyers coming from other disciplines as well: knowledge of and experience in any field – such as education, health care, or business – can help lawyers find legal jobs related to their former careers.
3. Going back to school doesn’t have to be hard.
Many nontraditional students report that their years of work experience prepared them well for law school. By treating their studies like a 9-5 job, they manage their time better and can end up happier while in law school. Also, students entering straight into law school from their undergraduate programs can feel burnt out, while nontraditional students have taken at least a few years off from constant schooling and can feel fresher and more ready to learn.
4. Your application process might look different.
While undergraduate seniors will submit letters of recommendation from their college professors, nontraditional students often choose to ask their employer for letters of rec. Additionally, a traditional student’s personal statement might be centered around something they did while in college, while older applicants often have more varied life experiences to write about. Finally, with your grades being less current, your LSAT scores are extra important. Preparing for the LSAT with an LSAT prep course can help you put your best foot forward.
5. Admissions consulting can help.
Since you no longer have access to pre-law advisors like their undergraduate counterparts, you might turn to an admissions consultant. Our consultants have decades of experience working in law school admissions and can guide you through every step of the process – from finding schools that are a good fit to helping you write your personal statement to negotiating a large scholarship. Luckily, Blueprint offers a free consultation to get you started on your law school journey. Good luck!
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