Quest for the JD: A Complete Guide to Getting Into a T14 Law School

According to the American Bar Association, there are more than 200 accredited law schools in the US alone.

That number may be intimidating if you’re applying to law school in 2021. But if you’ve got your sights set on a T14 school, you’ve narrowed down that list by over 90%.

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What is a T14 school and why should new applicants strive to get into one? Keep reading for the answer to those questions and more!

Why Is Getting Into a T14 Law School Important?

A T14 law school is one that consistently ranks in the top 14 of all JD degree-granting institutions. The US News & World Report is usually the most authoritative ranking body when it comes to T14 schools. As of this writing, the 2021 T14 law schools are:

  • Yale
  • Stanford
  • Harvard
  • Columbia
  • University of Chicago
  • NYU
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Virginia
  • Northwestern
  • UC Berkeley
  • University of Michigan
  • Duke
  • Cornell
  • Georgetown

JDs who graduated from these top 14 law schools tend to have better job prospects. T14 lawyers work for the government, major US law firms, or even serve as counsel for Fortune 100 companies.

Another reason why T14 law schools are so sought after? For decades, law schools have been lowering their admission standards, leading to a huge influx of students. That means there are more JD-holding graduates today than ten years ago.

With so much competition out there today, law school graduates need to set themselves apart. One of the best ways to show you’re the cream of the crop is to attend a highly reputable school. That’s where the T14 law schools come in.

How to Get Into a Top Law School

The application process for getting into a top law school is much the same as the process to get into any law school. The difference? Your preparation for a T14 law school should begin before you ever receive your college degree.

Step 1: Get a College Degree

In order to even apply to law school, you must first hold a bachelor’s degree but law schools don’t require any specific major. They do require you to achieve a high GPA, though. For example, the lowest GPA in Yale law school’s class of 2022 was 3.32.

Your law school may encourage you to go through a pre-law program if it’s offered. This program will prepare you for some of the courses you’ll take in law school.

Otherwise, the following majors were the most popular degrees held by 2019 law school applicants:

  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • History
  • English
  • Economics

Keep in mind that, when it comes to law school, you won’t be evaluated based on your grades alone. Extracurricular activities and leadership in college are excellent ways to help your stand out from the stack.

Step 2: Take the LSAT

The second most important component of your law school application is your LSAT exam scores.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) was implemented in the 1940s. Top law schools Yale and Harvard were among the creators of the LSAT. Today, law schools use the LSAT to predict a prospective student’s success in law school.

The LSAT is a standardized exam consisting of five sections. Each section contains 35 multiple-course sections. Two sections are on logical reasoning, one section is reading comprehension, and one section is analytical reasoning.

The LSAT also includes a writing section but that section and one of the five multiple-choice questions are always unscored. However, law schools do receive copies of applicants’ essays for admissions considerations.

Your LSAT score will be another factor law schools will use to determine if you’re a good fit. Scores can vary from 120 at the lowest to a high score of 180. For your reference, the lowest-scoring law student in Yale’s class of 2022 scored a 155 on the LSAT.

Step 3: Select Your T14 Schools

Ideally, this step should come before you ever take your LSAT exam. After all, the LSAT score you should strive for will depend on the schools you want to attend. If your goal is getting into a T14 school, you already have your shortlist.

Two additional factors to consider when narrowing down your list of top schools are geography and area of practice.

As a law school graduate, your job prospects are only as good as your network. That’s why it’s important to choose a law school in the area where you want to practice. T14 law school graduates have some flexibility here, though – top law school grads are more likely to practice beyond their region than grads from lower-tier schools.

All T14 law schools offer excellent educations. Still, some applicants will want to attend a school that offers programs that fit with their career plans. For example, Yale is well-known for producing legal academics while NYU law school is better known for its focus on international law.

Step 4: Compile Your Application

Your LSAT scores and GPA are about 25% of your total application. That means you still have to write your personal and diversity statements.

Your personal statement is perhaps the most important part of your application. It’s a 2 to 3-page essay describing why you think law school is the next best step for you. The personal statement should also show who you are as a person and what matters to you.

The diversity statement is similar, but it will focus on a prompt given by the law school. Still, all diversity statements fall into one of either of the following two categories: broad or narrow.

Finally, you’ll need to compile your recommendation letters and polish your resume.

Most law schools require three letters of recommendation. Ideally, these should be from at least one undergraduate professor plus two other professional recommendations.

Compiling a resume for law school is much the same as creating a resume for a job. Just make sure to limit yours to one page or less. Also, don’t forget to highlight any research or critical thinking skills you developed.

More Law School Application Advice

T14 law school admissions are competitive for a reason – these schools are your ticket to the legal big leagues. But getting into a top law school is no small feat.

Earning a high GPA in college and getting a good score on your LSAT is only the beginning. To get accepted to the T14 school that best fits your career path, you also have to write stellar personal and diversity statements, get the best recommendations, and compile an impressive resume.

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