Making Friends with LSAC

How to conquer one of the more arduous aspects of the law school admissions process.

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Embracing now, early in the admission process, will save you heartache later.

They are not merely the people who give the LSAT; they are absolutely instrumental in getting information from you to the law schools. The process will likely overwhelm you at first and will strike you as frustratingly bureaucratic. But take a deep breath and start reading the instructions carefully. In today's post, I'll highlight why it's important to endure this gauntlet and provide links to for more detailed information.

(By the way, just when you think you understand everything, LSAC likes to change things up. Throughout my book and blog, I refer to the Law School Data Assembly Service ("LSDAS") but—suddenly—this is a red herring; LSAC has renamed its service-providing arm the "Credential Assembly Service" (CAS).)

Different name, same game. You will register for this service, send all of your transcripts and letters of recommendation to it, and use it to fill out and submit applications for every ABA approved law school. You can't live without it, so spend time figuring out the right way to do everything by reading the site carefully.

Send in All of Your Transcripts.

Transcripts must be sent by the school directly to LSAC, and they must be official copies. All of your transcripts (from every school after high school) must be included. When LSAC receives them, they create a sheet that summarizes all of your credits from every institution and provides a recalculated cumulative and degree summary GPA. So, even if your grades from community college didn't count toward your GPA at your college, LSAC now brings them back into the mix. About 2-3 weeks after your transcripts are received at LSAC, you will see an "Academic Summary Report" show up in your LSAC file. From this, you'll be able to see clearly how LSAC calculated your GPA and whether there's anything that might need to be explained to the law schools, such as repeated courses, a semester where your grades are significantly lower than other semesters, an upward or downward trend, etc.

Submit Letters of Recommendation Properly.

You must fill in a form at LSAC with your recommender's information, and you need to waive your right to see the letter. Then, you give the cover form to your recommender to enclose with the letter. Give the writer instructions for submitting the letter to LSAC, and you will be notified by email when the letter has been received and processed.

Fill in Applications.

This is the easy part, and we'll talk more about this next month when most applications become available. However, you can fill in the Common Information Form, which will auto-fill individual applications when you're ready for that step. Take care with this part—typos here will leave typos in every application you submit.

Think About the Candidate Referral Service.

As you register for CAS, you will come across the option to participate in the Candidate Referral Service (CRS). This is nothing but a marketing device; your decision to sign up has no impact on any school's admission decision. Schools may select to contact potential applicants in certain states, of certain ethnic or minority status, or by gender. If you want to receive letters, application fee waivers and other marketing materials from schools then you can opt into the CRS. It can be a great way to learn about a school you might not otherwise consider. However, you don't need to apply to every school that sends you a fee waiver. Schools often do this to boost application numbers so their acceptance rates look lower for rankings purposes. If you discover a school through CAS that truly interests you, then checking the box serves its purpose.

Understanding LSAC is necessary to successfully navigating the process of applying to law school. Spend some time on the site today and get to know your new "best friend."

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