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Do Law schools cut GPA slack to students at top tier undergrad?

studentathlete18studentathlete18 216 replies21 threads Junior Member
edited June 2019 in Law School
I just completed my first year at Harvard and my GPA was lower than I had hoped. I finished with a 3.7 and i know this is too low for the law schools I intend to apply to in the future. I plan to get it close to a 3.9, and I have always done well on standardized tests (like the LSAT hopefully). Do top tier law schools give preferential treatment to students at very difficult undergraduate schools relative to applicants from less difficult schools? Will they treat a 3.8 GPA from Harvard worse than a 4.0 from an average state school? My dream law school is Stanford Law, if that helps answer.
edited June 2019
47 replies
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Replies to: Do Law schools cut GPA slack to students at top tier undergrad?

  • bluebayoubluebayou 27992 replies204 threads Senior Member
    the short answer to the title is, No, no slack for those attending a top tier undergrad. (sorry). In its law school rankings, USNews does not consider undergrad rigor, so law schools don't care either.

    That being said, attending Harvard College is a plus factor for Harvard Law.

    btw: having a very small class, Stanford LS (and Yale LS) considers EC's in addition to top grades and LSAT.

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  • 3girls3cats3girls3cats 1998 replies6 threads Senior Member
    My understanding is that the LSAT is the most important factor in the mix. If you have a 3.7 from Harvard and a perfect LSAT, you will probably have a good outcome, though not necessarily Stanford.

    I know students with grades in that range from Harvard who were accepted to Harvard Law this year. While I don't know for sure, I am guessing that their LSAT scores were very high. That's where the "slack" for attending a top tier undergrad comes in: you likely have strong test taking skills and those skills will factor into your success.

    https://lawschooli.com/what-is-a-good-gpa-for-law-school/

    My advice would be to do your best, enjoy your undergraduate education and use the remaining three years to learn and stretch yourself, then make decisions about the next phase of your education when you are closer to that phase.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27992 replies204 threads Senior Member
    another thing to consider: all professional schools love work experience, so plan on taking the LSAT after you graduate. That way you can get another semester to boost your GPA, while doing something interesting to bolster your app.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30390 replies59 threads Senior Member
    No. However, a 3.7 isn’t going to keep you out of lawschool. There will be law schools happy to have you and will even give you tuition assistance, depending on your LSAT scores. But if you are talking about the top 14 or do las schools, no, they aren’t going to give you a beak on that gpa. Maybe, Harvard Law will give you consideration if something in your resume strikes them to do do. They do take more students from their own undergrad pool
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  • merc81merc81 11782 replies201 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Law schools have made formal GPA adjustments based on undergraduate college attended, at least in the past:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20000829094953/http://www.pcmagic.net/abe/gradeadj.htm

    You can see in this example that applicants from Harvard College were given a significant positive adjustment to their GPAs in comparison to applicants from many other colleges. Though this policy seems to have been challenged for its rigidity, looser forms of it may nonetheless exist at top law schools.
    edited June 2019
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5337 replies89 threads Senior Member
    Nice data find @merc81!
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 2000 replies38 threads Senior Member
    That is not current info. The Boalt practice of GPA adjustment ended shortly after the LA times article, 22 yrs ago.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7570 threads Super Moderator
    @merc81 Interesting on the date, 7/16/97. I'm not sure how much water it holds 20 years later. Harvard and Princeton are rated equally. And although Princeton officially ended its grade deflation policy, I'm not sure many would argue that the GPA ranges at HP are similar today.
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 700 replies59 threads Member
    Unless I'm reading the post incorrectly, this information is almost 22 years old and the process described was the subject of a complaint to DOE.
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  • merc81merc81 11782 replies201 threads Senior Member
    @skieurope and @crankyoldman: I posted that information with respect to the principle as to whether an applicant's undergraduate college may be considered in any form during the process of law school admission. Note that I did make reference to both the age of the information and the formal complaint along with the link. For a current source that relies simply on correlation, the OP will find Harvard among the twenty colleges listed through "Top Lawyer Producer Schools – Infographic."
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 700 replies59 threads Member
    You make, at best, a passing reference to the fact that the information is a generation old("in the past"). Its age, and the fact that it was subject to a discrimination complaint with DOE, makes it essentially worthless as a reference point.
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  • boudersbouders 2665 replies185 threads Senior Member
    I've just been following law school admissions for the past couple of years, but I've noticed that at the margins, a Harvard graduate does get a small boost in admissions prospects at HLS and its peers on the east coast. I'd estimate the boost only happens in the 3.8 range though to give H grads a similar likelihood of admission as someone at a non-Ivy with a 3.85. You can check out who's been admitted from which school on mylsn.info.

    Stanford is a very particular admit. They tend to admit those have have it all GPA >4.0, high LSAT, great work experience etc.

    I don't know how H calculates their GPAs, but make sure you are using the LSAC conversion to get an accurate GPA for law school admissions.

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  • sorghumsorghum 3655 replies116 threads Senior Member
    Do top tier law schools give preferential treatment to students at very difficult undergraduate schools relative to applicants from less difficult schools?

    But Harvard isn't very difficult.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23463 replies308 threads Senior Member
    When law schools were more transparent on their admitted students (8 years ago), I found both Harvard and Yale admitted a lot more of their own students and top tier schools than lower tier schools. Now they only list which UG schools are represented - it could be 1 or 50.
    I don't think 3.7 is going to preclude OP from many of those top tier schools if his/her LSAT is in the high 170s. Law schools do consider splitters, especially from Harvard UG.
    D2 tells me most of classmates are from top tier UG schools.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23463 replies308 threads Senior Member
    Most students have lower GPA freshman year and it generally improves. I wouldn't surprised if you end up with 3.8-3.9 by the time you graduate. My older daughter, as a STEM student, started with 3.5 and ended with close to 3.8 by the time she graduated.
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  • damon30damon30 1147 replies5 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Nice data find @merc81!
    @Mwfan1921
    Agreed. Its thread apropos historical data from archive.org (aka "The Wayback Machine"). LOL/SMH at the some of the tut-tut-ing.
    edited June 2019
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27992 replies204 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Nice data find

    oh, gosh no. After that hit the fan, Boalt had no choice but to change their practice. (And the reason was obvious -- it basically says that Boalt would not admit anyone from a Cal State or a community college transfer. Not only does that hinder diversity goals, it is a direct violation of the mission of the University of California. Heads rolled.)

    I can't believe folks are still looking at 20-year-old stuff.....
    edited June 2019
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  • CU123CU123 3708 replies77 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    @bluebayou not sure much has changed.

    From UCB law website.

    120 undergraduate schools represented. Most predominant are UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UCSD, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Northwestern, UC Irvine, University of Michigan, Yale, and Washington University.


    Interesting that two private Chicago schools are listed as predominant along with Yale and Georgetown. Also, interestingly, these 4 schools had a Boalt rating of 80 or above; just because something is officially dead doesn’t mean it isn’t unofficially still a factor.
    edited June 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30390 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Many universities give their own grads a bit of a leg up on law, med and business school apps. Enough to give the stats a bit of a boost. But the top law schools do not tend to do this for other colleges. They also give little or no adjustment for difficulty of undergraduate courses, something that hurts STEM majors.
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  • Wje9164beWje9164be 1312 replies8 threads Senior Member
    My daughter just completed the law school admissions cycle with a 3.88 LSAC GPA and a 172 LSAT and she attended a top 20 undergraduate school. It is impossible (for us anyway) to know for sure but it does seem as if the most elite undergraduate schools do receive some very minor boost in terms of GPA. By "very minor" I mean maybe between 0.05 and 0.1. It is going to be the combination of your GPA and your LSAT score which influences which law schools admit you. For Harvard Law you are going to need an extremely strong LSAT score as they are notoriously focused on the numbers and keeping their LSAT median at 173 really does not give them much latitude in admissions decisions. The LSAT is fundamentally different than tests like the ACT or the SAT so as you get closer to taking the LSAT you should probably take a diagnostic test to better understand how much test prep will be required. It is extremely difficult to predict Stanford Law admissions decisions. Stanford and Yale both have relatively small incoming classes and they have scores of 175+ LSAT / 4.0 students to pick from. When you look at the profiles of students admitted to Stanford Law you do see more variance in terms of both GPA and LSAT score. I don't pretend to know what Stanford Law is looking for but it is something more than just strong GPA and strong LSAT

    Money and career plans factor into many law school students ultimate decisions on where they go to law school. It is very common for students to apply to many, many law schools to "blanket the T14" as the saying goes. When you do this with strong stats your going to find scholarship offers of $120K to full tuition+ at lower ranked T14 schools vs. full price at other schools. It is important for you to understand what limitations the law school you attend might have on your future career and to weigh that against the net cost of attendance. My daughter was forced to chose between NYU at sticker ($300K), Columbia with $65K scholarship (net $235K) and Duke with $120K scholarship (net $150K) in the final decision

    Long winded answer but provided your GPA is not well below a law schools median or 25th percentile its the combination of GPA and LSAT that will really matter. There are not many doors closed to you if you had a 175 LSAT to go with your Harvard 3.7. If you scored 170 on the LSAT you're going to have a touch time getting into some of the T6 schools with that 3.7 GPA. If you score 165 on the LSAT you might struggle to get into any T14 schools.
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