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Exclusive! Most common applicant mistake? “They submit the same personal statement to UNC that they are submitting to every other school they are applying to.” Interview with Michael J. States, Assistant Dean for Admissions at University of North Carolina School of Law. Click here to read the full, 3-page transcript free of charge!

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Law School Admissions Becoming Increasingly Competitive

Applications to top programs have hit record highs. While this is not good news for aspiring lawyers, it does make sense. For one thing, the economy is down and law school provides 3 years of safe harbor. For another thing, the average starting salary for top graduates going into private practice is $125,000. Not too shabby, huh?  For more information, please visit our article on application volumes.

However, while application levels have risen, acceptances have remained even. According to recent data by the ABA, enrollment for first-year law students was flat for the fall of 2007. The number of men enrolled fell by 2 percent and the number of women rose 2.4 percent.

Total enrollment for J.D. programs rose by 2.9%, from 141,031 to 141,433 students attending the 196 law schools accredited by the ABA. First-year minority students enrolled in J.D. programs increased 0.9%, but as a percentage of the first-year class, they dropped from 22.4% to 22.3%. Among all students enrolled in J.D. programs, 75,383 were men and 66,050 were women.

While it should remain possible for the “traditional” applicant to gain admission right out of college, it is becoming increasingly important that each applicant demonstrate their overall potential through such avenues as part-time employment and extracurricular activities. Relying on great GPA and excellent LSAT scores isn’t enough to guarantee admission to the top law schools in the country.

Your Starting Point

Please be sure to check out our top 10 admission tips. Among other things, you may learn that a large number of graduates quickly leave the law field because they realize it is not for them.

Even if you know that law is your calling, you still need to take the time to articulate why this is the case. We interviewed an admissions officer at University of Pennsylvania as research for this website and she told us that approximately half of the applicants she gets to know have inadequate reasons for wanting an education. Needless to say, these applicants receive rejection letters from Penn.

The Selection Process

We believe there is a program for virtually every applicant. If you are not going to be comfortable in an ultra competitive atmosphere like Harvard, then don’t apply there. It’s not just 3 years of your life, it’s also true that you will learn more and earn the highest possible grades in a program better suited for your personal tastes, interests, and future career goals.

Are you still insisting on applying to schools based solely on their rankings? Well, perhaps then you should consider that your chances are indeed lower at those schools where you are not a good fit to their program. Consider this quote from an admissions officer at Northwestern1:

“In my position I very often refuse great applicants because I know that our school is just not the right place for them and that both of us would be happier if they went to one of their other choices. This does not mean that they are bad students; it just means that we think they would be better served elsewhere.”

1Quote supplied by AdmissionsConsultants, Inc.