Can I attend law school in Alaska?
There is no law school in Alaska. UAA students wishing to attend law must plan on leaving the state for their course of study. However, many Alaska students return home during school breaks to work for local law firms, and in that manner acquire information about the practice of law in Alaska.
How much does law school cost?
Costs vary greatly among schools. Tuition may range from several thousand dollars to over $30,000 per year. Cost of living will vary from city to city, but you will need to factor in housing, food, books and transportation to and from Alaska.
How do I find out about financial aid for law school?
Each law school will have scholarships or other financial aid opportunities that are not available at any other school. For that reason, as soon as you have narrowed your law school choices, you should contact the financial aid offices at your schools of choice to find out what opportunities may be available. In addition, the LSAC publishes a brochure entitled Financial Aid for Law school: A Preliminary Guide that provides a good starting point for exploring financial aid options. It is available at www.LSAC.org. You should also familiarize yourself with the programs available through Access Group, a nonprofit organization formed to make financing more accessible to law students. Access Group's website, www.accessgroup.org, provides specific information on law school loans. Other websites you may want to explore include:
Do I need to attend an accredited or approved law school?
Attending a non-approved or non-accredited law school is not recommended. Alaska Bar Rule 2, which governs eligibility to take the Alaska Bar Exam, provides that every general applicant for admission shall “[b]e a graduate with a degree of Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) of a law school which was accredited or approved by the Council of Legal Education of the American Bar Association or the Association of American Law Schools when the applicant entered or graduated, or submit proof that the law course required for graduation for either the JD or LLB degree from such a law school will be completed and that a JD or LLB degree will be received as a matter of course before the date of examination. Many other state requirements are similar.
How important is law school ranking?
The American Bar Association does not recognize any system of law school rankings. The website of the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has stated: “No rating of law schools beyond the simple statement of their accreditation status is attempted or advocated by the official organizations in legal education. Qualities that make one kind of school good for one student may not be as important to another. The American Bar Association and its Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar have issued disclaimers of any law school rating system. Prospective law students should consider a variety of factors in making their choice among schools.
A good rule of thumb as you consider the merits of various schools is to review carefully the schools' most recent bar passage rates and employment rate. The ABA-LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools Online Searchable Edition allows you to research this data in a single search, at the following address: http://officialguide.lsac.org/
Can I get into law school without a high GPA?
GPA is only one of a number of factors considered by law schools during the admissions process. Admissions officers recognize that a number of factors can contribute to a low undergraduate GPA that do not necessarily reflect on a student's ability to succeed in law school. A high LSAT score and a strong record of volunteer service or extra-curricular activities, combined with an effective personal statement and solid letters of recommendation will often offset a low GPA.
Should I take an LSAT prep course?
Most students begin their preparation for the LSAT using the sample questions available in the LSAT & LSDAS Information Book and on the LSAC website. Taking the LSAC's sample tests while timing yourself is a good way to familiarize yourself with the LSAT process and to give yourself a general idea of how you might perform in the actual test. However, many students find that their practice test scores are improved by purchasing additional test preparation materials available commercially and by participating in an LSAT preparation course. The prep courses allow you to hone your test-taking techniques in a realistic simulation of the actual testing environment. UAA offers a course entitled "Preparing for the LSAT" approximately three times per year. You may call 907.694.3313 for more information. In addition, the American Bar Association's Career Resource Center lists links to a variety of commercial vendors offering LSAT prep courses. That list may be found at http://www.abanet.org/careercounsel/prelaw/prelawlink.
Are there sources of information especially created for members of populations historically underrepresented in law schools?
A recommended starting point for this information is CLEO (the Council on Legal Education Opportunity). CLEO is a non-profit organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its purpose is to increase the number of lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds and motivate them to provide services to low-income communities. Its goal is to assist low-income, minority and other disadvantaged students in successfully preparing for and applying to law school. More information is available at www.cleoscholars.com.
Can I attend law school if I have a criminal conviction?
A criminal conviction will not prevent you from attending law school, but it may adversely affect your ability to become a member of the bar in the state in which you ultimately hope to practice. Most states have character requirements that must be met before potential lawyers may sit for a state bar exam. For example, in Alaska the Bar Rules require that every applicant to take the Bar examination be an individual "whose conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others with respect to the professional duties owed to them. Conduct manifesting a significant deficiency in the honesty, trustworthiness, diligence or reliability of an applicant is a basis for denial of admission." A criminal conviction, with the exception of a minor traffic violation, will be "treated as cause for further inquiry before the bar examining authority decides whether the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law." See Alaska Bar Rule 2.1(d). In evaluating eligibility, the Bar will consider factors such as the recency and seriousness of the conduct underlying the conviction.