I went to a U of Maryland Law School event in downtown San Francisco yesterday. Had a talk with some of the students, faculty, and admissions officers about the school. The denial about the job market from the staff was expected, but one faculty member was asked by a prospective about the curve. His response? You shouldn't worry about the curve because, as he puts it: 2/3 of the class is either lazy or lacks direction in law school so if you're not like that you'll be in the top 1/3. I was shocked that a faculty member would insult the bulk of the student body like that. Is what he says true at many law schools?
I followed up to make sure my correspondent was reporting first-hand information, i.e., he wasn't just passing on what another prospective student at the event said he or she had heard a faculty member say, and got this reply:
No, I heard him make these comments myself. We were at a table; two other prospectives and myself were talking to him, and one of the others asked him about the curve. I did follow up and ask what he was basing this on, and he said "12 years of observation". I was stunned at his comments. Every law student I've talked to - regardless of their respective school's tier/ranking - has told me that everyone in law school takes it seriously and works very hard. If I had more time I would have gone to ask the current students what they thought of his statements, but I had to leave early.Speaking of bad advice, the admissions dean for UIUC is trolling for applicants on TLS, and counseling people to think carefully before retaking the LSAT:
I also asked him about the fact that only 47% of the C/O 2011 for Maryland were able to obtain FT bar-required jobs. He was in complete denial and I had to show him the ABA Report on my phone for him to accept the statistic, to which he subsequently said again it's because many people go to the school not knowing what they want to do, and also a lot of students want to go into policy or consulting jobs in DC.Unfortunately the other two prospectives at the table were completely buying what he was selling.
All, I know that many of you received your LSAT scores last night. And that some of you may be considering retaking the exam in December. There are two points to consider.Later in the thread the dean reveals this interesting piece of information:
First, we review applications on a rolling basis. The order in which your application is reviewed is determined by the date that application is completed. If we see a pending LSAT score, your application is not complete and it will not be placed in the queue for review until we receive that LSAT score, assuming we have all other materials.
Second, most people do not change their LSAT score by a significant margin by retaking the exam unless there were extenuating circumstances before or during the first exam (e.g., getting mugged on the way to the exam --happened to a friend of mine).
With these two pieces of information, I would encourage those applicants considering retaking the exam in December to weigh the likelihood of increasing the score by 4 or 5 points against being later in the admissions cycle. Only you know how hard you prepared for the first exam and whether you're willing to put in MORE work to retake the exam.
Thirty seconds of intrepid googling by your faithful correspondent uncovers the following -- three-year-old -- description of LSAC data: (The linked blog post apparently contained a now-dead link to actual LSAC numbers. I would also expect that re-taking has become much more common over the past three years, since LSAC stopped requiring schools to average scores of matriculants just six years ago):NR3C1 wrote:How many applications have you gotten so far this year vs. the same week last year? If you do not have a number, can you give us an estimate if more or less vs. last year?
NR3C1: Applications are down again this year -- nationally, regionally, and at the College of Law.
Interestingly, the numbers are pretty consistent across the board. When people do swallow their pride and take the LSAT again, they generally improve by about 2 to 3 points and roughly 70% of students are able to improve their score.Now, is a two or three point LSAT improvement "significant?" (Of course if 70% of re-takers are improving and a typical improvement is two or three points, this means a whole lot of people will improve by more than three points). Consider that, last year, the difference between the 25th and the 75th LSAT percentile of matriculants at Michigan and Cornell was three points, while at USC it was only two points. Just three points on the LSAT, in other words, can easily make the difference between getting or not getting into a much higher ranked school than an applicant would otherwise, and, just as important, getting or not getting a significant break off the sticker price of admission.
Update: Here's some hard data from LSAC, which indicate that several-point improvements by re-takers are in fact very common. (h/t ajax at TLS).
Note that contrary to a set of assertions in the thread following Friday's post, law schools do not "average" multiple LSAT scores from applicants, since any school that would do so would be hurting its ability to admit high-scoring students (schools are only required to report a matriculant's highest LSAT score when reporting the entering class's all-important "numbers.").
Note further that UIUC was one of 28 of the top 50 ranked law schools which were more than happy to be accepting applications -- at least from applicants sporting high LSAT scores -- in the last week of July 2012, for admission to the fall 2012 class. Given that law school applications are apparently still in free fall, the assertion that candidates would be better off not taking the December 2012 LSAT in the pursuit of a higher score, because this would supposedly "disadvantage" them in a rolling admissions process, is flatly absurd. Like a lot of other schools, UIUC is going to be begging for anybody with a high LSAT score and not too many serious felony convictions to be applying to it this cycle, and for the admissions dean to suggest otherwise does no favors to the reputation of an institution which ought to be in no position to be misleading prospective applicants.