Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make: #8


This post continues our 10-part series of posts on the Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make.

The #8 Top Ten Mistake That Law School Applicants Make every year is…

Diversification can help you with so many things: with picking a more successful investment portfolio, with achieving a higher bowling score by bowling with a diverse set of balls (different weights and styles for picking up different pins)*, and with having more success in law school admissions.

When I say “diverse” for law school applications, I mean diversity in terms of the school’s entering class GPA and LSAT. Here’s the breakdown that I recommend.

  • 10% SAFETY SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at, or a little higher, than the schools’ 75th percentile
  • 50% SOLID SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at, or very near, the schools’ median
  • 40% STRETCH SCHOOLS: your LSAT/GPA are at the schools’ 25th percentile

Unless you’re extremely limited by location, I recommend that most people apply to 6-8 schools. So, for example, if you were to apply to eight schools, you’d choose one safety school, four solid schools, and three stretch schools.

What does 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile mean?

The 25th percentile means that 25% of the students that entered that year had a GPA or LSAT that was at that point or lower.

The median is the GPA or LSAT score that’s right smack dab in the middle. It does not mean the mean or average GPA or LSAT score, just what’s in the middle.

The 75th percentile means that 25% of the students that entered that year had a GPA or LSAT that was at that point or higher.

What if I have a high GPA and low LSAT? Or a high LSAT and low GPA?

You’re what we call a “splitter.” Don’t worry. It’s more common than you think. If you’re in this situation, I recommend choosing schools based on your LSAT score. It’s not an exact science and it’s hard to know how each school will assess your numbers (some may value the GPA more than the LSAT and vice versa); thus, I recommend applying to 10-15 schools instead of 6-8. Also, choose two safety schools, rather than just one.

How do I find these stats?

To see a school’s stats for GPA and LSAT, go to each school’s website and/or visit the ABA Standard 509 Reports site. I use this site all the time. Pick the school you want, the year (select the most recent), and then click on “Generate Report.” You can then view or save a handy PDF report that lists the school’s 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile for GPA and LSAT, as well as other helpful data for that entering class.

Law school admissions is partially objective and partially subjective. You don’t know all the people on each admissions committee and you don’t know who is going to react more favorably to your application. Don’t shut yourself out of having more viable choices by only applying to one or two schools or only applying to your very top schools.

Diversify your list and you’ll thank yourself later when you’re admitted to a good mix of schools!

Photo Credit: tom.leuzi via Compfight cc

Make the Most of a Law Fair or Law Forum

business-people-B&WLaw fairs and forums are great opportunities to talk to admissions deans, directors and recruiters for various law schools. These people are the gatekeepers for their respective law schools so treat them with courtesy and respect.

Follow these step-by-step tips and you’ll learn valuable information about each of your prospective law schools at the fair, while also making a great impression on the admissions reps.


  1. Check the law fair’s web site to see which schools will be at the fair and make a list of the schools you’re thinking of applying to. I recommend a diverse list of 10 schools: 2 safeties, 5-6 targets and 2-3 dreams.
  2. Get a 8.5”x11” notepad or a spiral notebook. Write the name of one school at the top of each page. Write down 2-3 questions that you want to ask each school. You usually don’t have time for more than a few questions. Leave enough space in-between each question so you have room to jot down answers.
  • DO NOT ask questions that are already answered on the law school’s web site.
  • DO NOT ask what their median LSAT and GPA are, whether they give out application fee waivers, or what kinds of classes they offer. All of these should be posted on the school’s site.
  • DO ask questions that are open-ended.
  • DO ask questions about things you researched on their site but you still aren’t clear about.

Some ideas for questions to ask:

  1. How would you describe the student culture at your school?
  2. What does your school have in place to foster collegiality between students?
  3. How does the dean communicate or meet with students? How often?
  4. What programs or services does your career center have in place to help your graduates gain an edge in the job market?
  5. What program or services does your school have to support students who are (fill-in-the-blank)…?
  6. (If the law school is located in a different city/state) What do you like most about (city)? What do you like least about (city)?

The following question can be helpful to ask if you are a “splitter”: low GPA/high LSAT or high GPA/low LSAT.

I’m majoring in _________. My GPA is ____ and my LSAT score is ____. I know you can’t tell me if I’ll get in or not but I wanted to get your advice on my situation. What do you think? Any tips?


  1. Pick out your favorite business casual outfit and shoes.
  2. Iron your clothes. Polish your shoes. Wear nice but comfortable shoes—avoid brand-new shoes.
  3. Pack a nice-looking and good-sized tote bag, purse, or messenger bag with your notepad, bottle of water, mints, phone, wallet, keys, and two pens. I don’t recommend backpacks because you want to use an easy-access bag that’s easy to get in and out of, and that can carry all the swag you’ll receive from law schools.


  1. Eat breakfast and brush your teeth after. Don’t drink coffee or smoke after you brush!
  2. Leave early and remember your bag or purse. Give yourself lots of time for arriving, parking, and walking to the event.


  1. Check-in at the front desk and get a map of the fair/forum. Start with your safety schools first.
  2. SMILE, shake hands with the rep, and introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Peg. Nice to meet you.”
  3. As an ice breaker, the rep will likely ask you what you’re majoring in and what year you are in school. While you’re conversing, avoid taking too many notes. Stay in the present, engage, listen, and make eye contact.
  4. I recommend only asking your top two questions if there are people in line behind you. If no one’s in line, then feel free to ask more questions.
  5. Write down the rep’s name or get his or her business card.
  6. At the end of your conversation, shake hands, SMILE again, and thank the rep. “Thank you–you were very helpful. It was nice meeting you.”
  7. After you’re finished conversing, step away from the table. Find a spot away from the crowd and quickly jot down anything that’s memorable on your pad. Do it NOW while your thoughts are still fresh. Take time to do this! You will be glad you did.


  1. Within 24 hours, send an email to each of the reps that you met. Let him or her know that you enjoyed meeting him or her. State briefly what you appreciated learning from him or her. If you have any other questions, include them in your email. If you are going to apply to this school, let the rep know that.
  2. Revise your list of schools. It’s normal to change your mind about some schools after attending a law fair or forum. Sometimes schools you didn’t consider very seriously end up being a top pick and a dream school ends up turning you off. Feel free to revise and adjust your list of schools—it’s all part of the process.

Want all of these tips in a printable check list? Click here.

Business people by Karen Arnold.