Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Applying to Law School Series: The Magic Number – How Many Law Schools Should You Apply To?

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Is there a magic number for law school applications?  The rule of thumb is typically no more than fifteen, but don’t let this magic number be the end-all-be-all to your decision-making.  You may not need to apply to fifteen schools; it’s a lot and the price of applications easily adds up!
First, narrow the list of schools to which you apply. This one is obvious, of course, but it’s easy to fall into a trap of “just one more!” If you’re confined to a certain location, this will help narrow your list to only schools in that area.  Create a limitation by using school reputation.  If you’ve already decided on a specialized area of practice, only apply to schools that will help you reach that goal.  Consider that each application represents a definite, significant fee. Unless you’re truly interested in attending that law school, and will happily attend, don’t apply!
If you’re not sure, then the answer is “No.” Don’t spend your money on fees if you’re not even sure you would attend—and you should be certain you would attend if you’ve done your research.
Law schools give you the admission statistics of previous years’ classes, including the median LSATs and GPAs. This is helpful in determining your odds of admission before you apply. To find the probability of your admission, offers a free program that calculates these results. Once you enter your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA, the program will show your likelihood of acceptance into each law school.
Also, U.S. News provides the 25th percentile and 75th percentile statistics for each school to help prospective students decide their likelihood of admission. These results will save you money on needless application fees and LSAC charges—but of course we often don’t like seeing that our chances to our “dream” school are low. If there are schools beyond your reach that you would still hope to attend, the factors described in Chapter 3 of my book can increase your likelihood of acceptance.
As to “safety schools,” there are two trains of thought: the first is that you should apply to several, so that your time and efforts will not have been wasted. The contrary view, however, is that a safety school might be a bad bet. This is so precisely because it is a safety school: as a rule, the easier it is to get in, the lower the school’s reputation, and thus the less valuable is that school’s degree. So, be sure that you should attend that school, using the research we’ve discussed, if you’re going to apply.
Finally, save money by researching application fee waivers. Some schools offer application fee waivers if you apply electronically instead of by paper application. Other schools offer waivers if you apply before a certain deadline. There may be waivers available for those who are in financial need and for those who are active in the military or certain public service organizations. If you received a waiver from LSAC, some law schools will honor that waiver and will also waive their application fee, but may also require a separate application for you to receive the waiver. Be aware of these deadlines and separate applications because, although it may only be a $50 to $75 waiver, it adds up when you apply to multiple schools.  Besides, if the bulk of the schools you apply to have their fees waived, then you can afford to cast your net a bit wider.

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey

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