Prestigious Awards Don’t Guarantee Admission to Top Law Schools | Law Admissions
Some people have the mistaken impression that law school admissions are like the Olympics, a competition with set rules in which the “best” or “smartest” applicants come out on top.
In reality, law school admissions committees have several purposes beyond finding smart, highly qualified applicants. They also want to build a balanced class made up of students with varied backgrounds and interests.
They want students with the maturity and life experience to handle the rigors of law school, which is one reason law schools may be wary of first-time college graduates. They vigilantly weed out applicants who may act shamefully or disrespectfully toward others—not all academic overachievers have the professional composure required by law school.
Because of all these factors, many applicants who look good on paper, with perfect LSAT scores and transcripts and even “easy” factors like extracurricular achievements, are nonetheless rejected by top faculties. by right.
If these applicants apply to a wide range of law schools, they are unlikely to come out empty-handed. But individual schools may reject them for reasons that seem arbitrary to someone unable to see the full pool of applicants.
Even candidates who have received prestigious accolades should not rest on their laurels. Graduating from college summa cum laude, earning a rare honor like the Rhodes or Marshall Scholarship, or performing at the top of the pack in an athletic or artistic endeavor will dramatically increase your chances of admission. But they won’t open all the doors. While there are plenty of Rhodes Scholars in the ranks of top law schools, there are many who have been turned down outright.
This was especially true last year, when law school applications surged, resulting in over-enrollment in classes.
What this means for law school applicants
Rather than viewing law school admissions as a Darwinian competition or an impenetrable game of chance, think about how to impress upon law schools that you will make a valuable contribution to their class. Think about the skills and experiences you bring to the table. Show that you are committed to the legal field.
Show law school admissions officers that you take the admissions process seriously by giving thought to your personal statement, resume, and other documents. Review your application for careless errors.
Whether or not you have won a prestigious award or other high honor, focus on demonstrating to law school admissions officers why you should be accepted rather than expecting to be rewarded or punished for your achievements or their absence.
Many resources are available to help you make this pitch, including informational websites, pre-law counselors, admissions consultants, and special preparatory programs for underrepresented or first-generation applicants.
As a bonus, these efforts will help you practice skills useful to your legal career. After all, even lawyers who win the biggest awards, work in prestigious law firms, or earn national press for winning major cases cannot sit back and rest on their laurels. They still have to get back to work and show current and potential customers how helpful they will be.