Persuading Elite Law School Admissions Decision Makers

High grades from a respected college or university, plus an LSAT at 167 or above, are a powerful opening hand in the competition for winning an elite (say, top 15) law school admission offer. But high numbers alone are not certain to carry the battle. Nor are lower numbers automatically disqualifier, although you are certainly better off with higher numbers.

Understand that elite law schools are looking for applicants who have persuaded them that they can become respected lawyers at the highest levels of the legal profession, or lawyers serving disadvantaged people or otherwise contributing to the public interest, or those who may become contributors to legal scholarship, as professors or otherwise as prominent lawyers, or those who have the talent to become organizational leaders in the many associations that serve and govern legal professionals.

Elite law schools want to see examples of outstanding personal and academic achievement. They are reasonably open- minded regarding how one’s personal and academic achievements are accomplished.

In considering how you might meet the challenge of persuading such decision makers, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can we argue that you have a history of outperforming the expectations associated with specific standardized test score(s)?
  2. Has your life’s progress so far been adversely affected by some obstacle or tragedy, one that we ought to share with the law schools?
  3. How would you describe your potential contribution to the intellectual life of your law school class?
  4. How would you describe your potential contribution to the social life of your law school class?
  5. Is there an argument that we can make that derives from your curriculum choices, such as a broad range of courses, an unusual breadth to your studies, or a particularly advanced focus?
  6. Are you unquestionably a master of something?
  7. Can you offer an unusual perspective, based on extraordinary experiences in your life?
  8. How can we best inform the law schools about your drive, your ambitions, and your energy level?
  9. Elite law schools are sometimes willing to reward work for legal services organizations, work in third-world countries, teaching in troubled schools, military service, success in business, graduate study, or athletic/physical achievements. Do you have a story to tell in any of these areas?
  10. Are you a non-US citizen, or a new citizen? Are your parents US citizens?
  11. Is your ethnic background one that might interest an elite law school seeking to have broad racial, ethnic or other background diversity in each incoming class?
  12. From your life experiences and achievements, what demonstrates that you will be a significant and positive contributor to the classroom setting in an elite law school?

Think about these factors as you develop drafts of your personal statement and other documents for the law schools. Weave your answers to these questions into your written work. Don’t simply assert your position directly. Convince these decision makers by allowing them to conclude the right answer to these questions, based on the story you tell.

Are you certain that you are on the right path to an elite law school?  Sometimes you have to have help, in order to know that you need help.  Send an e-mail to or call him at 703.237.8531 to get the help that may make all the difference in your campaign for an elite law school.

Copyright 2009 Brad Dobeck, Esq.,


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