The best T14 schools for splitters are, ranked in order:
- Northwestern (They appear to have no GPA floor. According to their admissions people, LSAT score is incredibly important. Like I mentioned earlier, I knew someone in my class who had a 2.2 GPA.)
Focus your energy on splitter friendly schools. You can find out which schools like candidates fitting your specific profile by reading public statements made by law school admissions officers.
What do I mean by focusing your energy? Spend more time crafting and customizing your essays. Try to talk to their admissions people at law school fairs. If they offer interviews with their admissions committee people, go for it even if it means you have to pay for an airplane ticket. If they don’t offer interviews, ask them and see if you can get one anyways. And if you feel strongly about attending, consider applying through a binding early decision program.
The conventional wisdom is that schmoozing or building relationships with admissions people won’t help you get into law school. And for the most part this is absolutely true. However, remember–much of law school admissions is a black box. You have to try everything. I also read that schmoozing wouldn’t work–but then again, I also had some information that it *could* work. For example, I read that superlawyer John Keker got into Yale Law by sitting down with the dean of admissions for a short interview. No review of grades, no review of LSAT. Just a conversation. To be fair Keker was a highly unusual case–he was a Vietnam war veteran who lost his arm in combat. But it does illustrate that sometimes, an exception to the general rule applies.
Does applying through early decision help your chances of getting in? There’s no conclusive answer out there, although some have studied admissions results and found that it only helps for certain schools. However, despite the lack of concrete evidence, I believe applying ED does set you apart even if your application is deferred into the general pool.
When I applied Early Decision to Northwestern, I was kicked into the general pool, then placed on the waitlist, then placed on a “shortened summer waitlist.” Even though that wasn’t a “good” outcome, I was still able to say in my letters of continued interest (see below for more details on LOCIs and waitlist strategies) that Northwestern was my first choice law school and that I would attend if accepted. I’m sure anyone could say the same thing, but I could prove it because I applied through binding ED.
Early Decision Strategy: Through researching splitter strategies for getting into the T14 I found that there’s a specific Early Decision splitter/T14 strategy you can employ that maximizes the number of Early Decision/Action applications you can send out. It goes something like this:
- Apply to splitter-friendly UVA through their non-binding Early Decision program. UVA has a quick turnaround time, so you’ll know your result pretty soon.
- Simultaneously apply to Cornell through their non-binding Early Action program.
- If you’re not accepted to UVA, then you can apply ED to Michigan, Penn, or Georgetown.
- Note that this strategy prevents you from applying ED to Northwestern, since their ED program prohibits you to apply through other ED programs.
I can see this making sense if your numbers suggest that you’ll probably get into Michigan, Penn, or Georgetown. However if your GPA is in the low 2s, I would just put all my eggs into the Northwestern basket and apply there ED.
Scholarships: In the past, getting into a school through ED meant you were out of luck for scholarships. However, given the decline in law school applications, I’ve been seeing some anecdotal evidence of success in negotiating scholarships even if you get in through ED. I don’t have any experience with this (I didn’t receive or negotiate for any scholarships) so your mileage may vary.
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.