Applying in January: too late or just in time?

White_RabbitIs applying to law school in January too late or just in time?

It all depends on your numbers (GPA and LSAT score) and where you’re applying.

If you are applying to schools where both of your numbers are at, or higher than, the school’s median, then you’re fine. Apply.

If one of your numbers is higher than the school’s median, preferably at the school’s 75th percentile, you still have a shot. Apply.

But if both of your numbers are below the median for the schools you’re applying to, you should reconsider. You can still apply but just know you are likely to get wait listed or rejected this late in the game.

Now, some of you might be wondering, what is she talking about: medians, 75th percentile and whatnot?

First, if you’re applying to law school this year and you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to slap yourself on the forehead.

Kidding! Sort of…

Second, go to the ABA Statistics on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Under Enrollment, click on 1L Enrollment for the most recent year.

You will see the following data about every ABA-approved law school:

  • the 25th percentile (25% of the entering class fell below this number),
  • the median (it’s the middle, not the average, for the entering class), and
  • the 75th percentile (only 25% of the entering class had a number higher than this) for the last entering class’s GPA and LSAT scores.

This valuable data is all laid out for you!

NOTE: There are a few caveats to my last point about having numbers below the median. If you have diversity factors and/or work experience that are different from the majority, you still have a chance of getting in.

What do I mean by diversity factors? You are a member of a underrepresented ethnic group; you grew up, or still are, poor; you are the first in your family to attend college; etc. There are other ways one might differ from the majority–these are some examples to get you thinking.

What do I mean by work experience? I mean full-time work in the legal field and/or other fields where you developed valuable, transferable skills for law school. The more years of experience you have, the better.

To sum up, if you have the numbers (at least one) to make it happen, apply this month. But If your numbers aren’t close to the median and you don’t have diversity factors or years of work experience, consider applying in another season, after you’ve had time to improve your chance of admittance.

Questions about when you should apply to law school? I’d love to hear from you! I’m here to help. Post your questions below and I’ll respond.

White Rabbit illustration by Sir John Tenniel.