Traditional brick and mortar schools have extremely competitive admissions criteria. Even students with exceptional undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores still find they do not get into their top choice of school. But what does this mean for average students who did not excel in undergraduate school or maybe did not complete their undergraduate degree? There are many people who would like to become lawyers, but feel there is no recourse from their undergraduate GPA or LSAT score. The truth is painful, these students will likely never be admitted into a ranked school but there are other options for those who are committed to becoming an attorney through California bar registered “distance-learning” schools commonly referred to as online schools.
Even if you did not graduate at the top of your undergraduate class or if you did not finish your undergraduate degree, there is hope.
Generally, distance-learning schools will admit students who meet the following qualifications:
No LSAT required;
Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.0;
Possess an undergraduate degree or Associates of Arts or Sciences, or 60/90+ transferable college units/credits.
NO LSAT SCORE REQUIRED
The LSAT is a standardized exam created by the School Admissions Council which is meant to test the skills necessary to be successful in school, these skills include logical reasoning, analysis and reading comprehension.
LSAT is required for admission to any ABA accredited schools. Generally, ABA schools will consider both GPA and LSAT scores; although the ABA does not dictate the weight that must be given to the LSAT for admissions, most top tier schools give more weight to the LSAT than GPA and therefore only students who test within a certain range on the LSAT will gain admission (for top tier schools this is generally between 160-180).
Distance-learning schools do not require LSAT for admission because they are not ABA accredited schools. This gives distance-learning schools a great deal of freedom to determine what factors they will consider necessary for admission. Therefore, even if you scored below average on the LSAT this will not close the door to school entirely.
UNDERGRADUATE GPA 2.0 – 2.5
Undergraduate GPA is a significant factor in school admissions for traditional brick and mortar schools. Most students attending ranked schools graduated at the top of their class. Online schools do not determine admission eligibility based solely on undergraduate GPA, nor do they weigh GPA as heavily as traditional schools. If you have a low GPA, many schools will allow you to explain abnormalities on your undergraduate transcript. Applicants who have a low GPA may also compensate for GPA by presenting legal work experience on their application.
Most online schools will admit a candidate who is otherwise qualified with a minimum GPA between 2.0 – 2.5.
AT LEAST 60/90+ TRANSFERABLE UNITS/CREDITS, OR ASSOCIATE’S OF ARTS OR SCIENCES OR BACHELOR’S DEGREE
Many students believe that there is no way they will get into a good school without completing an undergraduate degree. This is a common misconception as online schools again have more flexibility in admissions criteria than ABA accredited schools. Since online schools are registered with the California State Bar, the California State Bar has determined that these schools may admit students who have qualifying pre-legal education which may include at least 60+ transferrable units. If you are uncertain as to whether you have enough qualifying units for admission to an online school, for a cost, the California State Bar will review your transcripts and give you a determination of whether you can be admitted to school and if not, how many more units you need for admission. More information regarding transcript evaluation can be found at http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Education/PreLegalEducation.aspx
Generally students whose pre-legal education will not qualify for online school will be those with without any college units, those with an Associates of Applied Sciences, or units from an online college (without completing a degree).
In addition to the California State Bar, some online schools will review your undergraduate transcripts to determine whether they meet minimum pre-legal education standards at no cost.
The admission requirements for online school may vary slightly from institute to institute, some schools may require a student submit a personal statement with their application, other schools may require students pass a pre-law course administered by the school before they will be officially admitted to school, and other schools may require work experience in the legal field.
If you have always wanted to become a lawyer, do not let your past get in the way, there are many great online schools which are California State Bar approved to administer a Juris Doctor degree which will allow for you to sit for the California bar exam and become licensed to practice law.