What GPA Do You Need To Get Into Law School?

Ever wonder what’s the lowest GPA you can have and still get into a top law school?

I used to think that everyone who went to law school had top college grades. I figured at the very least, those who got into the top schools had straight As. As someone with a C+ average, I thought it was impossible to get in.

After all, that’s what my advisors told me.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

First a note to super ambitious applicants: If you want to get into a Top-3 program (Yale, Harvard, or Stanford) you’re going to need a college transcript full of As.

But if you’re okay with attending a slightly lower ranked school, you don’t need anywhere near a perfect undergraduate record.

Law Schools with Low GPA Requirements:

If you have low college grades, your best bets among the Top 14 schools are Northwestern, Georgetown, and Virginia. For the Top 25, they are Indiana U., WUSTL, Emory, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Washington & Lee, and GW. For the Top 50, they are George Mason & U. of Colorado.

Take a look at the below chart. All the data has been pulled from LawSchoolNumbers for this most recent cycle. (I’ve excluded URM data because their application results are unpredictable.)

What GPA Do You Need To Get Into Law School?
Rank School Lowest GPA Range*
1 Yale 3.70-3.81
2 Harvard 3.65-3.72
2 Stanford 3.70-3.80
4 Columbia 3.29-3.40
4 U. of Chicago 3.60-3.68
6 NYU 3.25-3.50
7 U. of Pennsylvania 2.90-3.30
8 Berkeley 3.50-3.64
8 U. of Michigan 3.10-3.22
8 U. of Virginia 2.70-3.10
11 Duke 3.15-3.40
12 Northwestern 2.70-3.20
13 Cornell 3.10-3.50
14 Georgetown 2.70-3.10

*these are the lowest 5 GPAs that were accepted in the 2015-16 cycle, excluding URMs

More Top Law Schools With Extremely Low Minimum GPA Requirements:
Tier School Lowest GPA Accepted**
Top 50 George Mason 2.10
Top 50 U. of Colorado 2.10
Top 50 U of Florida 2.32
Top 50 Southern Methodist U. 2.32
Top 50 Wake Forest 2.40
Top 25 Indiana U. 2.42
Top 25 WUSTL 2.48
Top 25 Emory 2.48
Top 25 U of Minnesota 2.48
Top 25 Notre Dame 2.48
Top 50 Washington & Lee 2.48
Top 25 George Washington 2.50

**URMs excluded

As you can see from the above, schools ranked in the Top 25 are generally in play with a 2.50+ and schools ranked in the Top 50 are generally in play with a 2.10+. Note that there are some schools that are relatively forgiving of GPAs (for example, Hastings has accepted someone with a 2.60) but I didn’t include them in this list.

Top 14 Law Schools That Are Most Forgiving of Low GPAs:

With all of the above information, it’s not difficult to see how one might find top law schools that accept low GPAs. (The list isn’t far off from those I included in my Splitter Friendly Schools blogpost.)

So as you can see, if you’ve got a B+ average (around 3.33) you probably won’t get into Harvard but you could get into Columbia, NYU, or Penn. And if you’ve got worse grades than that (below 3.00) you could still get into Virginia, Northwestern, or Georgetown!

Even if you have really, really, really bad grades, you could still get in. I had classmates at Northwestern Law who had GPAs in the low 2.0s.

There are, however, a couple of key things to keep in mind:

First, if you plan to get accepted with a low GPA, everything else about your application has to be strong. That likely means a very strong LSAT (above the school’s median or 75th percentile), high quality personal statements, recommendations, and essays, and a strong performance at your interview.

Second, even if your GPA falls a bit under the Lowest GPA range, don’t be completely disheartened. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible for you to get in. It does, however mean that you need to absolutely outstanding in every other way. LawSchoolNumbers data is completely self-reported, so every year there are a few people who get in with lower GPAs than LSN’s lowest reported grades.

The most important thing to take away from this information is this: Do whatever it takes to get a high LSAT score! The folks who are getting into NYU with a 3.25 or Virginia with a 2.80 have 170+ LSATs. The best way to get a school to disregard your poor college performance is to become a low GPA high LSAT splitter.

Once you’ve got that 170+ score in hand, you should check out my blogpost How To Get Into a Top Law School With a Low GPA.

And if you plan on applying to law school in the near future, sign up for my e-mail list to gain access to my free checklist 30 Tips for Law School Applicants with Bad College Grades.

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