The application process begins when you visit the Law School Admission Council website, where you must establish an account, register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and submit an application.
The following materials are required for an application to Berkeley Law:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You may complete undergraduate coursework during the application process. It is not advisable to wait until after your fall grades are posted before you apply if you are a current senior. International students must hold the equivalent of an American bachelor’s degree.
- An LSAT score taken within the last five years and no later than the January test (including a current writing sample), unless you are eligible to apply with a GRE or GMAT score.
- A Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report (i.e., your transcript summary) from LSAC
- Written components of the application, including a personal statement (ideally four, double-spaced pages), a resume (no page limit), and optional or required addenda
- 2-4 letters of recommendation
- A completed online application form. The form is available online via the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It becomes available each year on September 1.
- $75 non-refundable application fee. The fee cannot be used for processing applications to other law schools within the University of California System.
Continue reading to learn about each component in depth.
Consult this timeline as you prepare your application. Although the application deadline is not until February, consider applying early as we have a rolling admissions process.
This timeline does not include steps you may wish to take in the months leading up to the opening of the application. We highly recommend taking time to prepare for the LSAT, write several drafts of your personal statement, ask your letters of recommendation, and gather all of your required transcripts.
If you have researched your law school options thoroughly and have determined that Berkeley Law is your first choice law school, then you may wish to apply through the binding early decision (BED) application. Click on the graphic below to read about the requirements, benefits, and important dates for the BED application:
Berkeley Law’s early decision program is binding. If you are admitted, this means that you must commit to enrolling at Berkeley Law the following fall and that you must submit a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by the date indicated in your admission notification. No deposit will be required, but you must withdraw all other law school applications and not initiate any new applications. Early decision admission offers may not be deferred. You must be completely certain that you will begin your legal studies at Berkeley in the fall of 2021.
To apply, complete the separate early decision application available beginning September 1 on the LSAC website. There is no application fee for the early decision program.
You may not be an early decision applicant at another law school with a binding contract. If you elect to apply to Berkeley’s binding early decision program, then ours can be the only such application you submit.
If you are admitted, you automatically will receive a $75,000 merit scholarship, split evenly over the three years (six semesters) while at Berkeley Law. The only requirement to renew this scholarship is to maintain good academic standing and to make satisfactory academic progress. If admitted, you should presume that the $75,000 associated scholarship will comprise your total gift aid.
You may apply for other named or programmatic scholarships, such as the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship, however decisions for these programs, which are competitive, are not typically released until mid-March or later. If you anticipate that financial aid will be a significant factor in determining where you will attend law school, then you should consider carefully whether or not to apply to a binding early decision program.
Your application must be completed and submitted by 11:59pm PST on November 15, 2020 to be considered for the program. To ensure that your application is complete by that deadline, we strongly recommend that you submit an application before November 1, 2020. The October LSAT is the last test score that we will consider for early decision. If submitting a GRE or GMAT score, it must be taken by October 31, 2020 in order to be received in our office by the application deadline.
You will receive an admissions decision by December 7, 2020. If you are admitted, you will be required to submit a Statement of Intent to Register by December 14 and to withdraw all of your other law school applications immediately.
If you are not admitted through early decision program, then your application will be included in the applicant pool for the regular decision process and you will receive an admissions decision at a later date. No application fee will be required in these cases.
When you apply, you also must complete and submit the electronic Early Decision Certification form to confirm that you wish to be considered for early decision and that you understand the rules that govern the program. The certification must be submitted by November 15, and ideally by November 1. Your early decision application will not be considered complete until we receive the certification form.
If the certification form is not received by November 15, 2020, then we will assume that you have decided to withdraw from early decision consideration. Your application will not be held for regular decision. To be considered subsequently for regular decision, you will be required to submit a separate regular application and pay the $75 application fee.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The Law School Admissions Test is a standardized, multiple-choice test generally offered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). It is required for admission to the law school. The LSAT is unlike other standardized tests because it doesn’t test specific knowledge. You can’t memorize vocabulary words or formulas to succeed on the LSAT. Instead, prepare for the test by knowing the types of questions that will appear and then practice the skills and strategies to master those sections.
When evaluating your LSAT score, we will consider whether similar tests have under-predicted your academic performance in the past. For example, if you can document that you have earned exceptionally high undergraduate grades but performed poorly on the SAT, then this may be taken into account in evaluating your potential to succeed in law school.
Create a Timeline
Register early to secure your preferred test date and location and plan your preparation schedule accordingly. We recommend that you plan to take the test no later than November of the year before you intend to begin law school. Neither March nor June test scores are accepted for admission consideration in the same year.
The LSAC keeps and reports old LSAT scores for five years. We accept all past scores reported to us by the LSAC, up to and including those from the January test.
Multiple Test Scores
We advise preparing well so that you perform your best on test day and that you take the LSAT only once. However, if something unexpected occurs that negatively affects your performance, or if you believe you can improve your performance, then you may wish to consider taking the test again.
If you have taken the LSAT multiple times, we will use the highest score in our evaluation. We will not penalize you for canceling scores in accordance with LSAC policy.
Academic Record: The CAS Report
LSAC operates a service that collects and analyzes data for admission to all ABA-approved law schools, known as the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). You must send transcripts to CAS from all of the schools you attended after high school, including community colleges and graduate programs.
CAS will analyze your undergraduate transcripts (even if you earned your degree in another country), calculate a cumulative undergraduate GPA, and send an academic summary and copies of your transcripts to us as part of their service.
While graduate transcripts are required and included with CAS reports, graduate school grades are not included in the GPA calculation.
What are we looking for in your academic record?
We want to know that you have the ability to succeed academically in law school. When we review your CAS report, we look at your cumulative GPA, but that’s only one factor. We also consider your overall undergraduate academic record. This will include the age of the grades, exceptionally high grades, the difficulty of coursework, time commitments while attending college, grading patterns at the school attended, and grade trends or discrepancies. Graduate work will be considered a “plus factor.” We do not have a GPA cut-off, so all are welcome to apply.
During the 2019-2020 admissions cycle, Berkeley Law began accepting the GRE (general test) and GMAT under limited circumstances as part of a three year pilot study. The policies associated with the pilot program may change, without notice. View press release here.
Who is eligible to use the GRE or GMAT in place of the LSAT?
The final dates by which you should complete the GRE or GMAT will depend on which application you are submitting, and whether you are applying for the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship (BLOS) award.
For Binding Early Decision applicants: Complete the GRE or GMAT by October 31, 2020
For Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship applicants: Complete the GRE or GMAT by November 30, 2020.
For Regular Decision JD applicants: Complete the GRE or GMAT by January 16, the same date as the last eligible administration of the LSAT.
If you wish to have GRE and/or GMAT scores considered, please complete our supplemental form.
To submit GRE scores: Request that ETS send an official score report to Berkeley Law. We recommend you send scores from the test administration date containing your highest scores (it is the applicant’s responsibility to designate which test administration they want ETS to send). Please use the Berkeley Law JD program school code 4818. Unofficial or student-provided ETS score reports will not be accepted in lieu of official score reports received directly from ETS. Berkeley Law will have access to your analytical writing essays through ETS.
To submit GMAT scores: Request that GMAC send an official score report to Berkeley Law. This report will include all active GMAT scores. Please use the Berkeley Law JD program school code: N2V-3S-66. Unofficial or student-provided GMAC score reports will not be accepted in lieu of official score reports received directly from GMAC.
NOTE: Even applicants applying with only the GRE and GMAT must also send a CAS report to Berkeley Law. No application will be complete without a CAS report received from LSAC, and the associated CAS fee will not be waived by Berkeley Law.
A personal statement is required of all applicants. The statement can be up to four double-spaced pages. There is no required topic for the statement. It is your opportunity to describe the subjective qualities that you will bring to the study of law at Berkeley. Because we do not interview applicants, the personal statement is your only opportunity to introduce yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity to describe your life journey, and what brings you to our door.
Navigate through the following slides for some tips on writing a personal statement (note that there is no audio):
In addition to a personal statement we require that you include a resume. The resume may be of any length and should provide chronological information about your work experiences, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, volunteer experience, travels, and accomplishments.
Here are some suggestions for creating a law school resume:
- The resume is distinct from a C.V.; however, you are welcome to include information about research or any publications in your resume
- You should not assume that the Admissions Committee knows what a particular organization does or what an acronym means, rather, you should explain these briefly or write out the full name
- Do not include anything pre-college
- It is helpful to include the hours and dates you worked or volunteered, as well as your responsibilities – bullet points are perfect!
Addenda are additional, short statements that go into more detail about sections of an application or supplement the application. Some addenda are required, but many are optional. You may choose to attach a response to one or more of the following questions as addenda if you feel the information would be helpful to us when considering your application. Addenda are attached with the application on LSAC.org, or you can email them to us if you have already submitted your application.
How will you (your perspective, experience, Voice) contribute diversity in our classrooms and community? (350 word maximum)
Our definition of diversity is broad. You are welcome to talk about characteristics such as: race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic background, first generation college or professional school student, student parent, re-entry student, geographic diversity, ideological diversity, and others.
Tell us more about your interest in Berkeley Law. What makes our school a good fit for you in terms of academic interests, programmatic offerings, and learning environment? (350 word maximum)
If you do not believe that your standardized test score(s) accurately reflect your ability to succeed in law school, then you may tell us why and share what you believe indicates your potential. (250 word maximum).
This addendum could also be used to notify us of circumstances that may have impacted your LSAT score, such as whether you were sick, had inadequate access to test preparation, or any other reason. If you are making the argument that standardized tests do not accurately predict your ability to succeed, you must attach a copy of your SAT or ACT score report(s) to this essay.
If you answered “yes” to any of the three Character & Fitness questions or if you previously matriculated at a law school, you MUST submit an addendum to explain the circumstances.
In many cases, a misconduct experience is not the death of an application; however, you are required to submit an explanation. Some tips for writing a Character & Fitness explanation:
- Read the questions carefully
- Err on the side of disclosure
- Be truthful and transparent
- Take responsibility
If you are applying for the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship (BLOS) or the Graduate Diversity Program (GDP) scholarship, you must submit an essay for each scholarship. The essay prompt for each award is listed in the scholarship section of the application and essays should be 1-2 double-spaced pages in length.
Please be aware that you must apply by December 15th to qualify for BLOS.
If you wish to explain anything in your application (e.g. trend in grades, academic record, health issues, gaps in education, multiple LSAT scores, etc.) you may attach an addendum. (350 word maximum)
We recommend submitting 2 academic letters of recommendation and one from a non-academic source (work experience, volunteer, etc.). Applicants who have been out of school for a number of years (usually 5+ years) may substitute professional letters of recommendation for academic letters. You may submit a maximum of 4 letters of recommendation total. Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service. Check out this quick video for everything you need to know about letters of recommendation:
We do not offer merit-based waivers.
A need-based fee waiver program is administered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). If you obtain an LSAC fee waiver, our application fee will be waived automatically when you apply.
In addition, Berkeley Law offers a separate fee waiver program for applicants who participated in a program that is included in one of the three broad categories listed below. If you believe you qualify, submit a Berkeley Law Fee Waiver Request Form and be sure to attach proof of your participation:
- Honors/Research (e.g., Fulbright, Truman, Rhodes, Marshall)
- Public Service (e.g., Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, current military or veteran)
- Educational/Socio-Economic Disadvantage (e.g., CYDL participant, Gates Scholar, Pell Grant recipient)
Details and a list of qualifying programs are found on the form. If your request does not fall under the categories above, please see the form for further instructions.
Students who wish to examine the law in an interdisciplinary context may arrange to pursue a J.D. degree at Berkeley Law School and a master’s degree in certain other schools or departments within or outside of U.C. Berkeley. Dual degree seekers must apply separately and be admitted to each program. The application and review process are the same for dual degree seekers. For more information and FAQs, see our Concurrent and Combined Degrees Programs page.
We will take no action until your application is complete. Once your file is complete, you will receive an email to confirm that your application is under review and instructions on how to access an online status checker to monitor your application’s progress and disposition.
Due to the large number of applications we receive, some time may elapse between your submitting an application, receipt of notification that it is under review, and a final decision. Until you receive notice that your file is under review, you should assume that it is incomplete and that no action is being taken.
Once an application file is complete, it is evaluated on the basis of the admissions criteria by the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. She admits a certain number of applicants who, under the governing criteria and on the basis of her experience, would have a high likelihood of admission if referred to the Admissions Committee. Similarly, applicants who would have a high likelihood of being denied if referred to the Committee are denied by the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.
Other applicants are given more extended consideration by the Admissions Committee, which is composed of faculty and students. Only students who are members of the Admissions Committee are permitted to read files. You may indicate on the application form whether or not you consent to have your file read by a student member of the Committee. In the evaluation of your application, no weight is given to whether or not you consent to student review. In every case complete confidentiality of all materials is maintained.
The review process can take anywhere from two weeks to several months, but most applicants receive an admissions decision within 6-8 weeks. Some applicants are admitted, some are placed on a waiting list, and the remaining applicants are denied admission. If the number of admitted students who accept an offer of admission falls below the number necessary to fill the class, then the waiting list is used to fill the remaining places.