Direct Admission to Law School: What You Need to Know | Law Admissions
Law school applicants often lament the time and effort it takes to study for the LSAT. Many desperately want a shortcut to getting into law school without taking the test.
The American Bar Association may soon grant that wish. Just a few years after allowing accredited US law schools to accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, the ABA is considering scrapping the test requirement altogether.
The move would allow law schools to accept more applicants who have not taken the LSAT or GRE. Currently, ABA-accredited law schools can only waive the testing requirement for a maximum of 10% of incoming students, provided those students meet certain conditions.
Many law schools are eager to remove the test requirement, which can be an unfair barrier to entry. While there are many free and inexpensive test prep options, there is no doubt that some test takers are able to invest more time and resources in studying for the test than others.
Even if law schools drop testing requirements, change is likely to happen gradually. Many applicants and admissions officers will likely continue to regard standardized testing as a reliable and proven indicator of academic potential in law school, whether required or not.
Law School Direct Admission Basics
Direct admission programs allow eligible undergraduate students to apply directly to the law school of a partner institution, usually within the same university.
Like typical JD applicants, direct admission applicants must submit their resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. However, instead of the LSAT or GRE, they submit their SAT or ACT scores, which generally must be at or above the 85th percentile.
The admissions process for direct admission programs tends to resemble the process for accelerated BA-JD programs. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program within the same university or at a partner institution.
Applicants must have high undergraduate grades, although some programs are more forgiving than others. Indiana University – Maurer Law School in Bloomington requires direct admission applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.8, while the requirement for the Robert H. McKinney Law School at the University of Indiana – Indianapolis is 3.5.
Applicants who are no longer undergraduates have few direct admission options. A rare exception is the Master of Legal Studies program at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, which allows high-achieving students in the program to transfer to the regular JD program without taking the LSAT or GRE.
Advantages and disadvantages of direct admission to law school
Direct Admissions programs are ideal for undergraduate applicants who meet the admission requirements, want to stay in the same field, and want a shortcut to law school without having to study for the LSAT or submit multiple applications to law School.
Some direct admission programs offer substantial scholarships and other benefits like academic guidance.
However, direct admission is not a good choice for those who want a range of law school options. It can be difficult for applicants to know in advance which law school will offer the best opportunities for their interests, the best location for their career, or the best financial aid package for their budget.
If you are considering direct admission, make sure you don’t feel too limited to only have one option for law school. If you’re going to put all your eggs in one basket, make sure it’s the right one.