When I applied to law school in 2006, I submitted applications to 18 schools. In retrospect I should have applied to even more schools–probably somewhere around 25-30 schools. It was painful since application fees alone cost me over a thousand dollars. But, there are ways to keep costs low–for example, you may have received an fee waiver from a top law school inviting you to apply without having to pay an application fee. Fee waivers exist to keep law school applications high (so schools will look more selective). They are offered only to certain candidates, such as those who scored high on the LSAT.
(I remember receiving one such fee waiver from Columbia Law School. Incidentally, I ended up NOT applying there because I didn’t think I could get in, which in retrospect, was a dumb decision. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Do not turn down a free application.)
Why apply to so many schools if the odds of getting in are low? Well the truth is, you really don’t know if someone on the admissions committee will take a liking to you. Based on my review of applicant data on LSN, I figured I had little to no shot at a school like Duke which at the time virtually never accepted any splitters. Yet they didn’t reject me outright. They put me on the waitlist which was great news because it meant I still had a shot at getting in. I have stories like this from plenty of other schools. Based on historical data I had little to no chance of getting into Emory. I would have been ecstatic with a waitlist. Yet Emory accepted me outright. You really never know.
Some will say that applying to so many schools makes no sense because certain schools have minimum GPA floors. And to some extent that’s true. For example, we know that Yale and Stanford rarely reach below 3.8, and Harvard rarely reaches below 3.7. For applicants with low GPAs, Columbia doesn’t seem to reach below 3.23 and NYU doesn’t seem go below 3.15. However, the key thing to remember is that these floors are NOT absolute. It’s possible–even likely–that a school won’t reach below its GPA floor for 99% of applicants. But how do you know you’re not in the 1%? How do you know that your application will be the one exception that gets accepted? There is anecdotal evidence out there of people getting into law schools despite having GPAs below the floor. A few examples:
- When I applied, the lowest GPA accepted into Northwestern on LSN was someone with a 2.66. However, once I got in, I learned that one of my classmates was accepted with a 2.2 GPA.
- “I got in off the WL to a splitter unfriendly T14 with a GPA below their floor. My advice to future splitters is don’t avoid applying to a school where you’re below their GPA floor, as these floors may no longer hold true with the decline in apps.”
- Berkeley Law, a school notorious for having a high GPA floor (3.7) and being unforgiving of low GPAs, lets in a white male (non-URM) splitter applicant.
- UCLA Law, a school also for having a relatively high GPA floor and for being unfriendly to splitters, accepted a non-URM with a sub 3.0 GPA with a 170+ LSAT
Examples abound. So don’t let conventional wisdom prevent you from placing lots of bets. You really never know.
If you’re a high LSAT low GPA splitter, remember to check out my post on How To Get Into a Top Law School with a Low GPA.