Panel Brings Law School Deans to Undergrads

Admissions heads spill the beans on how to get accepted

Reflecting a dramatic rise in the number of applicants to law school over the past few years, students crowded into Harvard Law School’s Langdell Hall Thursday to learn the secret to snagging an acceptance letter from one of America’s top law schools.

Admissions deans from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell and NYU law schools gave the eager prospective applicants tips on getting in without slapping on a bikini and making an application tape Elle Woods-style.

The deans hit on every aspect of the application process, including the LSAT score, GPA, transcripts, letters of recommendation, extra-curriculars and the personal statement.

Cornell Dean of Admission Richard R. Geiger said his school’s admissions committee considers the GPA in the context of what college the applicant attended.

He said the committee ranks schools based on the average LSAT score of the test-takers.


“Not all 3.5s are created equal,” he said.

Geiger said Cornell gives the LSAT a 20 percent weight in considering an applicant for admission.

He cautioned students not to take the LSAT a second time unless their performance the first time was impeded by extreme circumstances.

“Taking the test for the second time is like a second marriage—a victory of hope over experience,” he said.

Joyce Curll, Harvard Law School’s assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, said students who are planning to apply to more than one graduate program at Harvard will be judged independently by each school.

Curll said a student should not pick a school solely based on the immediate financial aid it offers, but should consider the loan repayment ability a student has coming from a prestigious program.

The deans advised that time off before school might be an attractive option.

Abigail S. Burger ’04 said she was not planning to apply this fall because she wants to leave her options open.

“I want to wait and see if I definitely want to get into law or if I would prefer the route of academia,” Burger said. “Through writing my thesis this year, this decision will become more clear.”

The deans also used the panel as an opportunity to tout their own programs.