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Valparaiso University School of Law (cont’d)

Last year, applications for your law school increased by 69%. Are you seeing any early indications of how this year’s application volume may compare to the 2003-2004 season?

This year we anticipate receiving 3,000 applications, yet another significant increase in volume.  The demographic make-up of our applicant pool will remain national and international.

What general advice would you like applicants considering Valpo to know?

Apply early (before the end of January), and spend some time with your personal statement.  It should be written in a biographical manner highlighting the factors that distinguish you from others.  We admit people, not numbers, and the personal statement is your opportunity to tell us who you are and what you can bring to Valpo Law and the legal profession.

In 2003, 181 full-time students enrolled in your law school. This year, you are planning to lower the enrollment to 165. What is the reasoning behind this decision? Is the faculty size expected to be maintained and thereby drop the student-faculty ratio?

Incoming classes of more than 165 full-time students would create a student body that is larger than we desire.  By limiting our first-year class size, we keep our enrollment “right-sized” for our mission.  Even though we are doing so, we have added to our faculty four new faculty members in the 2004-2005 academic year.  Both actions have resulted in an even more attractive faculty:student ratio.

Are there any specific characteristics that you target in the applications to help you identify the ‘best fit’ candidates?

Well-rounded individuals; strong undergraduate majors; evidence of high academic ability; meaningful life experiences; maturity; and diversity of age, work experience, religion, and ethnicity.

Valpo was amongst the very first law schools to implement a pro bono graduation requirement. Now that so many schools have pro bono requirements, what has Valpo done to continue to distinguish its law school in this regard?

Valpo Law did not adopt a pro bono requirement for the purposes of creating a market niche.  We did so because we believed it was a best practice for a school with a mission such as ours – a mission that is grounded in the belief that law is a calling to service of others, especially those who are likely to go un-represented or under-represented. The program continues today, and has been totally embraced by the students.  In fact, most students volunteer for far more than the required 20 hours.

How important is an applicant’s LSAT score and what advice do you have for applicants who struggled with this exam?

The LSAT score, combined with undergraduate grade point average, is the primary indicator of academic success.  You must have the requisite academic ability to be considered for admission.  But we admit people, not numbers, so the numbers are only the starting point of our consideration.  We use a host of personal qualifications to create a balanced admissions decision.  However, applicants who struggle with the LSAT and post a questionable score have to realize that they carry a larger burden of proof in the admissions process.  We do not encourage taking the exam over and over again.  The score rarely changes significantly, and multiple scores within a range of 1-3 points make it more difficult to argue you had a bad day – it actually tends to bolster the validity of the applicants LSAT score.

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