Hack Law School Requirements &
Get Into Law School

You already know what the basic law school requirements are for admissions (at least at most schools; online law schools and unaccredited law schools are their own beasts entirely): (1) undergraduate GPA, (2) LSAT, (3) law school personal statement, (4) recommendations; (5) some other miscellaneous, pointless papers about your work history like a law school resume; and (6) a check for $50 or $100 or something.

But not all of these law school requirements were created equal.

To "hack" admissions (that is, getting into law school with the least amount of effort), you have to know the relative importance of these requirements.

Lucky for you, hacking law school admissions is a bit easier than hacking college admissions.

With college, it is hard to know what schools are looking for. For instance, I get tired of hearing how, every year, Harvard gets more applicants with perfect SATs and perfect high school grades than it can accept. But what this means is that Harvard needs to rely on other "warm and fuzzy" factors to cut through all of these perfect students: a great college essay, cool activities, being Natalie Portman, killer recommendations, etc. can all you get in and can even trump sub-standard SAT scores or GPA.

Not so with law schools: a high LSAT score and high college GPA will get you into all of the top ranked law schools (except maybe Yale Law School, which would probably reject Jesus, Einstein and Confucius if they had applied, just to keep up its reputation for exclusivity).

They could care less about your great essay, cool activities, or the fact that you are Natalie Portman (but Natalie, if you are reading this, um, I totally care about you).

So that's it: LSAT score and undergraduate GPA.

Now, as with any "simple" thing, there is more to law school requirements than that.

In some circumstances, LSAT and GPA can be trumped.

So here are the truly important law school requirements for admissions, in order of importance:

I. Two absolutely key law school requirements

(1) High LSAT - This is the most important of the law school requirements--kicking a** (apparently this is a family site) on the LSAT is the single best way to hack the law school system because (a) it takes less time to do well on the LSAT than to do well in college or get into a college; and (b) it is the single most important criterion. Here is how you can tell: a very high LSAT score can at most law schools offset a fairly substandard GPA, but the reverse is not true (a perfect GPA will not offset a mediocre or bad LSAT score).

Now, the LSAT is not a measure of innate intelligence or even how good a lawyer or law student you will be. It is an excellent measure of . . . how good you are at taking the LSAT. Nothing else. You can totally study for the LSAT and rock it as I will explain elsewhere.

(2) Undergraduate/college GPA This is the second most important factor. With a decent but not outstanding LSAT score, you can get into most places if you have an outstanding undergraduate GPA.

If you have just started college or are still early on (freshman or sophomore year), and your only goal is to get into a top ranked law school, my suggested hack is to take super easy classes to and get all As.

Of course, if you have a soul or have any natural curiosity about things whatsoever, then study what you love (you'll do better) and do the best you can. There is more to life than getting into a good law school. Unless you don't have anything better in your life, in which case, you should just take really easy classes.

II. Three law school requirements that help
(if your LSAT and GPA are at least ballpark)

(3) Connections. If you know the right people at a law school, or you are the child of a famous lawyer, or better yet you are the child of a famous lawyer who donates tons of money to the school, your connections can push you over the top if your LSAT and GPA are at least ballpark or not much below.

(4) Diversity. The right background (i.e., black, Hispanic or native American) can offset a decent but lackluster LSAT and, to a lesser extent, undergraduate GPA. You still have to be "ballpark" in terms of LSAT and GPA to get into one of the elite law schools, but this factor can help a lot.

(5) Prestige of undergraduate school/college. Now, this can help offset a decent but not outstanding LSAT score and decent but not outstanding GPA (I know this from personal experience). That is, law schools tend to think that a 3.4 grade point average at MIT is more impressive than a 3.4 GPA at a community college. This isn't crazy. Now, there may not be much you can do now about where you went to college (unless you are reading this as a high school student, in which case I would urge you to go get a life and come back in a couple of years).

III. These law school requirements are only important if you screw them up

(6) Law school personal statement. This is extremely important to your application if you write a terrible essay--it will kill your chances of getting into to law school. But if you write a barn-burning, palm-moistening, multiple-orgasm-inducing, Hemingway-topping, New York Times-bestselling personal essay, it won't matter at all unless you got a good LSAT score and have a high undergraduate GPA.

In short, write something good, but if you've made a real effort, don't stress about it any more than that.

Do, however, say something specific and non-cliche about why you want to go to law school (I have counseled law school applicants who forgot to do that!).

(7) Recommendation letters. Unless you know someone who falls into the category of a "major connection" (see above item 4), or you worked for a famous law professor or lawyer as an undergraduate, your recommendation letters will not count for anything at all. (I had a famous, now infamous, CEO of a company write me a letter of recommendation, and it did not help me at all). Your letters can hurt if your recommenders lie to you and write horrible things about you, but other than that, don't worry too much about this--get someone to do these and stop worrying.

(8) Law School Resume/Work History. While this is always one of the several law school requirements, I don't think your work history ultimately matters much for getting into law school: an unimpressive work history won't matter if you have a good LSAT and grades.

For instance, one of my classmates worked at a GNC store before law school. He looked like it too--he always dressed up as The Rock for Halloween. And he was smart as hell.

On the flip side, having an impressive work history will not really boost your changes of getting into law school. This seems disappointing and counterintuitive, but it is true as far as I have seen.

Return from Law School Requirements to Law School Hacker Home


Manny Recommends:

Here are my personal recommendations for products and services that I have reviewed that can improve your results in law school.  This list is short because I include only my top picks.  

7Sage Law School Prep  - Get top grades in law school. 
Planet Law School - Understand the law school game.


Or, sign up below to my free newsletter and as a bonus get a free 70-page ebook on law school success.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Law School Hacker.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.