Some litigious Yale seniors will be sending more than Valentines next month.
A few Yale Law School applicants — whose applications are due by Feb. 14 — have already been accepted under the Law School’s rolling admissions program. But many will not find out their admissions fate until at least March or April at a school that last year boasted an acceptance rate of approximately 7 percent.
Law School Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Megan Barnett said each of the approximately 4,000 applications Law School officials expect to receive this year will be read “cover to cover” by either herself or former Dean of Admissions James Thomas. She said 800 to 1,000 of these applications will then be selected for the next stage of the admissions process, a review by three randomly selected faculty members.
“This is a very different model [than the admissions process at most law schools],” Barnett said. “[Here] the faculty is much more invested in the class. They really want to have a say in who comes, even though it’s very time-consuming.”
Barnett said faculty members will give each application a rating from 2 to 4 after reading it. Those applicants who receive combined scores of 12 from their three faculty reviewers will be admitted, and those with a combined score of 11 “generally get in,” she said.
Thirty one Yale College graduates entered the Law School’s Class of 2006 last year, Barnett said.
Marc Silverman ’03 LAW ’06 said applying to the Law School last year was “nerve-racking.” The school did not tell some applicants if they had been accepted until June, he said.
“Yale Law School more than any other is a gamble, no matter what your credentials look like,” Silverman said. “No matter how qualified you are, there’s an element of randomness to it because of the three reviewers.”
Barnett said that each of the more than 60 faculty members who review applications has a different perspective on what the most important qualities in an applicant are, resulting in a unique appraisal for each application.
“Some faculty members think the LSAT is the most important thing, others don’t think it’s important at all, and [some] give more weight to the personal statement,” Barnett said.
Taj Wilson ’04, who has already applied to the Law School and is waiting for a response, said he did not know of any applicant who felt assured of admission there.
“I know a lot of people who’ve applied, and most of the people I’ve known have really good GPAs and LSATs,” Wilson said. “[But] I don’t think I know of anybody who feels confident.”
Wilson said he believes more Yale undergraduates are admitted to the Law School than applicants from other schools, but he said this might be because many Yale undergraduates have connections with the Law School, and also because the Law School admits more students from top-tier schools than from others.
Barnett said there is no established system giving Yale students an advantage when they apply to the Law School, but she said there are a number of possible ways in which being a Yale undergraduate could benefit applicants.
“You have to think about the fact that it’s the [Law School] professors who are [reading the applications], and they have relationships with the professors at Yale,” Barnett said. “If they read a recommendation from a professor they know and respect, it’s more likely to make an impression on them than one from somebody they’ve never heard of.”
Barnett also said the fact that most applicants from Yale to the Law School have professors write their recommendations may help them out, since students at Harvard and other schools often have “tutors or graduate students” write their recommendations.
Barnett said the ideal candidates for Law School admission are good students who are fun to teach, possess intellectual curiosity, and demonstrate leadership potential. She recommended that undergraduates interested in applying to law schools develop relationships with their professors, pursue their academic interests as undergraduates, and treat law school admissions personnel with respect.
“Be nice to everybody in the admissions office,” Barnett said. “You never can tell when you might need the help of somebody in the admissions office.”