Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Team College Learners
Admission to law school is very competitive. Consider Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge Law School. I offer this hypothetical as an example of what happens at law schools generally. What I’m going to say here about Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge could be said about every law school in the country.
Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge is a good school, ranked 87th in the nation (out of 187 law schools). Each year, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge has an entering class of about 500 law students. For those 500 seats in its first-year law class, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge receives over 7,000 applications. About 1,400 (20%) of the 7,000 applicants will be admitted, since some people will be accepted at many law schools and will turn down Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge’s offer of admission.
Now, imagine that I’m a member of the Admissions Committee at Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge Law School. My job on the Admissions Committee is to accept only those applicants about whom I can make a reasonable prediction of satisfactory performance in law school. But how can I make such a prediction? What information about an applicant will most reliably tell me he or she will succeed in law school?
If I look at personal statements, for example, most of those will try to convince me that a given applicant will be the best law student anyone could ever want. That is, it’s highly unlikely a personal statement will reveal anything about an applicant except the most flattering information. And the same can be said about letters of recommendation.
So, after looking at personal statements and letters of recommendation, I’m still left with the same 7,000 applications with which I began.
How do I weed out all but the most promising 1,400?
Suppose I look at college grade point averages. They indeed might give me some reliable information. How a person has performed academically in the past might accurately predict how he or she will do in the future. So I might adopt a strategy of first admitting all those people with 4.0 GPAs and then work backward from 4.0 until the entering law-school class is filled.
But there’s a problem with this strategy. The 7,000 applicants have attended more than 250 different colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. How do I know that a 4.0 GPA at one college represents the same level of academic achievement as a 4.0 at another college? One college might have very high academic standards, while another might not. So an “A” at one school is not the same as an “A” somewhere else. Also, one student with a 4.0 GPA might have majored in basket weaving, while another 4.0 student from the same college majored in a far more difficult field. So, two 4.0 GPAs of students from the same school may not represent comparable academic achievements. Thus, even using GPA, I can’t be 100% sure about selecting the incoming law-school class.
What else is left? The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). This is an examination every law-school applicant must take, which is graded uniformly across all applicants. Scores on the LSAT range from a low of 120 to a high of 180. In other words, a person can take the LSAT and get all the questions wrong, but still receives a score of 120. Another person getting all the questions right receives a 180.
In theory, the LSAT is a consistent measure for an admissions officer to compare all 7,000 applicants with each other.
Indeed, look at how much Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge relies on the LSAT. The information below represents the LSAT scores for those applicants to Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge recently who had a 3.5 GPA or better. In other words, these are the most promising applicants in terms of their academic performance in college.
|LSAT Score Percent Admitted|
These statistics clearly reveal how important the LSAT is to law-school admissions.
Now consider some national statistics. Of all people who apply to law school nationally, about 55 to 60 percent are accepted at one or more schools. In other words, about 40 percent of all applicants to law school aren’t able to go because they aren’t admitted anywhere.
In comparison, of all applicants to law school from the urban public university where I teach, about 30 to 35 percent are accepted at one or more schools. In other words, almost two out of three applicants to law school from the City University of New York (and other colleges and universities like it) are rejected everywhere they apply.
Why do public college and university students not have as much success getting into law school as students nationally? Remember that the national average includes students attending elite colleges and universities like Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, where 80 or 90 percent or more of their students are accepted to law school. Thus, the national average is just that – an average.
So what should public college and university students who want to go to law school do? Change schools? Those who can be admitted to a Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge or a Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge and can afford the annual cost of $35,000 or more to go there may be well advised to do just that. But most public college and university students don’t have that option. Also, transferring to another public college or university won’t help much because many public schools (as well as private ones) don’t have substantially better success in law-school admission than CUNY.
Keep in mind that a significant number of public college and university graduates do in fact go on to law school. The point is that those students who want to go to law school need to be careful, especially with regard to the LSAT. Earning a high GPA isn’t enough. As the Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge Law School statistics indicate, even those with a 3.5 GPA or better who don’t do well on the LSAT have only about a four-percent chance of admission.
Consider some additional statistics. The average score nationally on the LSAT is about 152. That is what’s known as the 50th percentile. Differently stated, half of all people taking the LSAT across the nation receive a score of 152 or higher. The average score for CUNY students taking the LSAT is about 142. Now, at just 10 points below 152, 142 doesn’t seem like much of a difference from the national average. But the important comparison is between percentiles. An LSAT score of 142 is about the 20th percentile. In other words, approximately 80 percent of all people taking the test around the country do better than 142.
Thus, the big problem for most public college and university students who want to go to law school is performing well on the LSAT. How can students prepare for it?
The LSAT doesn’t measure knowledge about the law or other legal matters. So taking law-related classes (like business law or constitutional law or criminal law) doesn’t necessarily prepare students better for the LSAT than other courses. Rather, the test is designed to measure people’s ability to think critically and analytically, because that’s what a successful career in law school and in the practice of law requires.
Some years ago, a survey was sent to law-school deans (the “presidents” of law schools). One of the questions on the survey was what majors the deans recommended students have in college in order to prepare effectively for law school. The four majors most frequently recommended by law-school deans were (in alphabetical order) English (sometimes called literature), history, philosophy, and political science (sometimes called government). Thus, my recommendation to those students wanting to go to law school is that they major in one of those fields. Moreover, if English turns out not to be the major selected, then it should be considered seriously as a minor because writing well is absolutely essential to success in the law.
More generally, I advise students to take the most demanding courses with the most demanding professors, because they are the ones who will help develop the analytical thinking skills so necessary for success on the LSAT.
There’s no way to prepare for the substance of the LSAT. But one can prepare for it procedurally by developing familiarity with its format through taking practice exams based on actual questions asked in past LSATs. One ought not to be surprised when taking the LSAT by the kinds of questions asked. The general type of question asked can be familiar to you by taking an LSAT-preparation course or by means of the practice books available at bookstores.
LSAT-prep courses may improve exam performance – although some scholars question whether there’s evidence of a reliable connection between coaching and test results. Nonetheless, the classes are expensive, costing up to $1,000 or more. People who teach the courses think the coaching is particularly helpful to students who are not self-disciplined and need the structure of a class. Yet students who are focused may do just as well with practice books (Cracking the LSAT by the Princeton Review is highly regarded) and the official LSAT tests that include the explanations of answers to questions. Often, taking timed practice exams isn’t enough in itself. Students should also understand how and why they make mistakes on the test. In any event, be aware that effective studying for the LSAT usually takes at least 50 hours.
Equally important is your psychological and emotional preparation for the exam. Take it at a time when other stresses in your life are at a minimum. If you walk into the LSAT with the attitude, “What I do today will affect the rest of my life! Oh, my God!” then you’ll not do as well as when you’re cool and collected.
Some people who take the LSAT and don’t do as well as they would like decide to take it again. If they improve their performance the second time around, they think the first score doesn’t count. That’s not necessarily true. My understanding is that many law schools will average the two scores, and as a result, the earlier, lower score does in fact count to some degree. So I don’t recommend you take the exam with the expectation that the first time will be just a trial run for a later, more serious round.
Although the undergraduate GPA and LSAT score(s) are typically the most important factors relied on by the admissions committee in determining an applicant’s admissibility, other factors may play an important role in admissions decisions as well. Therefore, the admissions committee encourages applicants to submit other information that would be of assistance in evaluating the applicant’s aptitude for the study of law and likely contribution to the academic and community life of the Law Center. A small sampling of such factors might illustrate the applicant’s:
- Academic performance and accomplishments;
- Evidence of significant leadership and/or public service;
- Professional and/or military service; and,
- Cultural and/or experiential background.
A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university is required for admission.
Applicants must have good moral character. Good moral character includes honesty, trustworthiness, and other traits relating to the role of a lawyer in society and the legal system. Admission is contingent on the accuracy of information received. Failure to fully disclose information may result in the revocation of an admissions offer or in disciplinary action by the Law Center or bar disciplinary authorities. Admission to the Louisiana State Bar has similar requirements. Different states may require character and fitness investigations prior to admission to the State Bar. Please contact the appropriate State Bar for information.
An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a score of at least 600 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 250 on the computer-based TOEFL or 100 on the internet-based TOEFL. This is a test designed to evaluate proficiency in English and is administered at testing centers overseas and throughout the United States. Information regarding this test may be obtained by writing to TOEFL, Education Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, 08541.
Getting Into LSU Law School
LSU Law School Overview
The Paul M. Herbert Law Center in Baton Rouge, La., commonly known as LSU Law, is part of Louisiana State University, so it is a public law school. The LSU Law School opened its doors in 1906 and became part of the Association of American Law Schools in 1924.
The law school’s name comes from Paul M. Herbert, who served as a civilian judge in the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II. His knowledge and expertise in international legal scholarship have shaped LSU Law School into a global leader in legal scholarship.
What sets LSU Law apart from many other law schools in the country is its mixed curriculum that teaches both civil and common law. It’s also the only U.S. Law School offering a combined degree that awards successful students with both a J.D. and a Diploma in Comparative Law.
From 1970 to 2015, LSU Law was an autonomous unit within the larger LSU campus. During this period, the law school expanded its campus to include the Louisiana Law Institute and Louisiana Judicial College, among others. However, since 2015, the law school has integrated back into LSU, allowing students to take advantage of the University’s facilities.
LSU Law School provides an environment where students can learn everything they need to succeed once they graduate. Many students take advantage of the summer program in Lyon, France, to expand their studies and gain a multicultural appreciation of the law. This collaboration between French and American schools makes LSU Law one of the most internationally oriented law schools in the country.
In addition to a combination of common and civil law training, students at LSU Law can focus on one of four areas of study through the four clinics located at the school. These clinics allow students to specialize in Immigration, Family Mediation, Domestic Violence Protection, or Juvenile Representation.
LSU Law boasts an engaged and attentive faculty that is willing to meet with students one-on-one and provide advice on all aspects of their studies. Students actively participate in a wide variety of student-led activities, including a very competitive moot court program and several student publications, notably the Louisiana Law Review and the Journal of Energy Law and Resources.
In addition to providing students with the education they need to succeed, LSU Law also provides students with the tools they need to excel in a real-world environment. The school offers extensive field placements and pro bono opportunities for all students and encourages them to become familiar with a competitive workplace environment.
This dedication to real-world preparation pays off, as LSU students make up the bulk of named partners in Louisiana-based law firms. In fact, LSU produces more named partners than all the other Louisiana law schools combined. Graduates can expect exciting career prospects once they leave school.
The LSU campus, considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation, sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. Students can enjoy a break under one of 1,200 live oak trees near several lakes on-campus or spend their time in the city of Baton Rouge.
The campus is just 90 miles from lively and historic New Orleans. Baton Rouge itself boasts an exciting nightlife and plenty of daytime activities. The law school also hosts entertaining events during the year, ensuring that students maintain a healthy work-life balance during their studies.
LSU Law School Rankings
A law school’s rankings depend on several factors, including the institution’s selectivity, median undergraduate GPA, faculty resources, and placement success. The higher a law school’s ranking, the more likely its graduates are to find high-quality jobs after graduation.
Higher-ranked schools will also, in general, provide better education, given that students have access to more faculty resources. Students who receive more attention will thrive more than students who don’t.
LSU Law has steadily been moving up in rankings, rising eight spots in 2019. The latest U.S. News and World Report ranked LSU Law 88th out of the 194 schools evaluated. The law school consistently stays within the top 100 schools in the country, making it an appealing choice for many prospective law students.
LSU Law School Admissions
A law school’s acceptance rate depends on several interconnected factors. To ensure an optimal balance between students and faculty, most schools control the number of students accepted each year. The fewer students it takes in, the more competitive the school will be.
Law school rankings also affect acceptance rates. Higher-ranked schools are generally more desired and therefore receive significantly more applicants than lower-ranked schools. This increase in applications makes acceptance by these schools more challenging.
Popular schools may receive thousands of applicants yearly, of which they can only accept a small percentage. Most of the top law schools in the U.S. have acceptance rates in the single digits because of desirability and limited spaces.
LSU Law has a relatively high acceptance rate of 59%, making it one of the less competitive law schools in the nation. The national average acceptance rate is around 45%, placing LSU in 165th place in terms of selectivity.
While this low acceptance rate might imply that LSU Law will accept just anybody, that’s not the case. LSU Law maintains stringent standards, and its high acceptance ratio is mainly attributable to a low number of applications each year. For the fall 2019 entering class, the Law Center received nearly 1,000 applications, of which they enrolled 206 students. During the 2020 application year, the school only received 715 applications, of which 423 received offers of acceptance.
This high acceptance rate makes LSU an appealing target for students who are uncertain about their academic prospects. Students still need to have a relatively good LSAT and GPA to get in, but if they meet these requirements, they have a good chance of getting in.
LSU Law school students consistently do better on the bar exam than predicted by their original LSAT scores, according to the National Jurist and preLaw Magazine. The National Jurist even considers the LSU Law the 8th best school providing value for money in a national ranking.
If you’re worried about your low LSAT or GPA scores but still want a top-quality education, LSU Law may present a very appealing first option.
What is the LSU Law School Acceptance Rate?
|Class of 2023||715||423 (59%)||172 (24%)|
|Class of 2022||61.5%|
LSU Law School LSAT Percentiles
2019 Entering Class Profile
|Number of Students||534|
|% Students of Color||9.0%|
|% Enrolled Directly After College||N/A|
What is the Tuition for LSU Law School?
What are the Living Expenses at LSU Law School?
What are the Housing Options at LSU Law School?
Bar Passage Rates at LSU Law School
When will the LSU application materials be available?
LSU Law School uses the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) online application process. Potential applicants can access LSAC online at any time.
When does LSU begin accepting applications, and when is the deadline?
LSU Law School’s application deadline is July 1 for Fall 2020. LSU works on a rolling admission process—those who apply early will receive a decision sooner. LSU Law starts to send decision notifications in late fall and continues to do so throughout the year preceding the year of entry.
How are applications to LSU submitted?
LSU uses the LSAC system for its application submissions. To apply, a prospective student needs to sign up and submit the relevant documentation online. The LSAT is connected through to application, and applicants can link their transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other necessary documents to their portfolio.
Does LSU have an “early admission” or “early decision” process?
No—all applications are evaluated on a rolling basis.
How much is the application fee?
LSU Law School has an application fee of $50, which it waives for applicants who submit their applications before March 2. Applicants after this cut-off date will pay the non-refundable fee. Please note: Dates provided are for Fall 2020 applications; please contact the LSU Admissions Office for the 2021 deadlines.
|Early Decision Deadline||N/A|
|Regular Decision Deadline||July 1, 2020|
Does LSU grant interviews?
While LSU Law admissions officers are happy to discuss the law school experience with prospective students, they do not hold evaluative interviews as part of the application process. In the rare event that the applications committee desires an evaluative interview, the committee will send a request to the applicant.
Employment Prospects After LSU Law School
|Median Salary Private Sector||$91,368|
|Median Salary Public Sector||$55,722|
Over 90% of 2019 graduates from LSU Law find employment after graduation. 64% of graduates moved into private practice, while 11% went into judicial clerkships, 10% into business/industry, 11% into government, and 3% into public interest. 1% of students pursued academic careers.
The majority of graduates (67%) stayed in Louisiana, while 16% moved to Texas and 3% to Georgia.