Selecting Law Schools
For information on the concentrations of different law schools, consult this chart. You can find even more information in LSAC's Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools or Gary Munneke's Careers in Law.
If possible, apply to six to ten law schools, as this will increase greatly the likelihood that you will be admitted and have a choice as to where to attend. One of the biggest mistakes applicants make is applying to too few schools.
A sound approach to selecting schools to which you will apply is to group schools into categories based on a realistic assessment of your qualifications and an evaluation of the likelihood of admission. Apply to schools in each category, as suggested below:
- Two to three "reach/dream" schools: Schools that are at the top of the list of where you would like to attend, but where the likelihood of admission is relatively low. Always go for your dreams. However, it is usually advisable to have no more than a few schools in this category.
- Two to four "realistic" schools: Schools that you are interested in attending and that are likely to be interested in admitting you.
- Two to three "safety" schools: Schools that you can "live with" and that are very likely to accept you for admission. One cannot overemphasize the importance of applying to "safety" schools. More than one-third of all applicants do not get into law school, often because they apply to just a few schools. Don't let this happen to you.
Comparing your LSAT score and your undergraduate GPA with those of students admitted to particular schools is a common means of identifying "reach," "realistic," and "safety" schools. The following table shows the LSAT scores and GPAs of students at the 25th and 75th percentiles of various law schools' entering classes; that is, the middle half of the entering classes fell within the ranges shown.
If your LSAT score and GPA are below the 25th percentile of a particular school, consider it to be a "reach" or "dream" school. If your numbers fall well within a school's ranges, it is a "realistic" school. If you are at or above the 75th percentile, the school is a "safety" school.
The following table represents scores for ALL applicants to local-area schools that Loyola students generally apply to in the largest numbers; you can compare your own GPA-LSAT combination against these national percentiles.
|Institution||LSAT 25th percentile||LSAT 75th percentile||GPA 25th percentile||GPA 75th percentile|
Source: ABA/LSAC Official Guide (2013)
Data on all U.S. and Canadian law schools can be found in the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, which is available in print and on-line from the Law School Admission Council.
Important words of caution are in order. First, LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs are by no means the only things law schools take into account when making admission decisions. Therefore, falling within or exceeding the above ranges does not guarantee admission; similarly, falling below the 25th percentile does not disqualify you from admission. Use these data only as a guide to selecting schools to which you will apply. Second, do not select a school based only on its LSAT and GPA data. You should consider a variety of other factors as well, among them keeping your options open. For example, consider attending a law school in another part of the country. Many Loyola students apply only to law schools in the Chicagoland area. That's fine, but 96% of the accredited law schools in America are out-of-state. Law school is a new chapter in your life, and it might be exciting to begin again in another region of the country. With a degree from an ABA-accredited law school you are eligible to apply to the bar in any state in the union; you are not restricted to practicing law in the place where you studied it. And because law schools seek to admit a broad mix of students, you might be a bit more attractive to a school if you come from far away. Finally, you should consider the possibility of taking a year or two off before you go on to law school. More and more successful applicants have work experience after college before they are admitted to law school. Doing something interesting for a couple of years can be a shrewd strategy to make yourself stand out from the crowd in the competitive race for a slot at a good law school.