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Low GPA? How to Get Into Law School Anyway

Dec 21, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 4 Comments

If you have a low GPA and want to get into law school, you may be facing an uphill battle. Admissions officers at the top law schools put a lot of value on GPA’s, and even students with high LSAT scores may not win admission to top-tier schools if their grades are not within the range of what admissions personnel want to see.

For undergraduates planning to go to law school, the stakes are fairly high. A low GPA could mean acceptance to no law school at all—statistics show that about 40% of all law school applicants are not accepted anywhere. Or, it could mean acceptance only to bottom-tier schools. A law degree from a bottom-tier school could mean more difficulty finding a job when you graduate—on top of as much as $100,000 in student debt.

However, you do have some options when it comes to acceptance. If you have a low GPA and want to go to law school anyway, here are a few things you can do.

Score high on the LSAT

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Getting into law school isn’t easy for anyone—but particularly not for applicants with low GPA’s.

Your possible scores on the LSAT range from 120 to 180. If you have a low GPA, scoring well above average on this test—in the range of 160 or better—will definitely help your chances of getting into a good law school. It can also help to research the average LSAT scores of admitted students in the top law schools on your list. If you can score higher than their average, you may have a good chance of admission even if your GPA is low.

Earn a Masters degree

When you’ve just graduated from a four-year Bachelor’s program, admissions officers have little other information with which to gauge your readiness for law school—other than your Bachelor’s-level GPA. If you go back to school to earn a Master’s degree, however, law schools have more to look at. If you can get into a good Masters program in a related topic and earn good grades there, you’ll strengthen your application for law school considerably.

Get some work experience

Maybe you can’t afford to go back to school and work on a Master’s degree. But work experience can help you get into law school too. Getting a job in an area similar to the area where you’d like to practice law can help. It can also help to demonstrate how your law school ambitions fit into your pre-existing career. If you’ve done well in a career for a few years, your low GPA scores may not make as much of a difference to law schools.

Talk to the admissions office

If you have strong LSAT scores and are struggling to get into law school with a low GPA, call the admissions offices at the law schools you’d like to attend. Explain your situation to the admissions officers and ask for suggestions as to how you can improve your application. Chances are the admissions officers can give you specific advice on what their schools like to see, conditions under which they admit students with low GPA’s, and other options available to you.

Getting into law school isn’t easy for anyone—but particularly not for applicants with low GPA’s. However, there are several things you can do to strengthen your application. Go back to school and earn a Masters degree—and get very good grades in your Masters program. Score above the average on the LSAT’s—and know the average scores of students admitted to the law schools you want to go to, not just the national averages. If possible, get a few years of work experience under your belt as well. If you do, you’re more likely to get into your personal top law schools.

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Comments:

Doc Holliday Over a year ago

One has to wonder what the point of going to law school is?

I worked in the legal field for 10 years. I am not an attorney. I made as much or more than first or second year associates. And I didn't have to go do motion hearings in court every morning, (pointless, nothing but an excuse to bill defense clients), or sit at endless boring depositions at which you will say, and learn, absolutely nothing. (Paralegals will analyze the depositions, anyway. Then regurgitate the important parts to the partner handling the case.) I worked for myself, when I wanted and took only the cases that interested me.

I made more money with my knowledge in unrelated fields - medicine, products liability, rescue practices, etc. - and sharing that with partners than most associates would ever make.

And I retired at 45, while only about 10% of the associates made partner and had any hope of ever retiring.

In law, like most anything else, follow the money. For me, it wasn't in law school...

davisesq212 Over a year ago

I had many of the issues described in your post so I certainly can relate. My GPA was below 3.0. My LSAT scores weren't stellar. I desperately wanted to go to law school. I applied straight out of college and didn't fare well. I ended up going to Graduate School for Masters. I also worked during Graduate School.

After 1 year of Graduate School, I reapplied to law school and got in! I completed my Masters after finishing law school.

My recommendations are to intern as much as possible during college at any possible law-related company, Judge, non-profit or government agency. I did multiple internships during college and although it didn't get me in initially, the internships plus one year of Graduate School and some work experience did get me in.

I also pushed hard for a face-to-face interview. I interview well so I knew that would help me. The Dean actually interviewed me and meeting me, he said, was the clincher.

I also recommend that if you don't get into the school you want but you have your heart set on attending law school, go to the best school you were accepted to for one year. Do well that first year. Transfer. I did it. No one knows where I went my first year. It wasn't a great school but my diploma lists a Tier 2 school. I never would have dreamed of having a diploma from the school I graduated from during college. However, once you get in, people tend to try and move up after a year and slots open up.

Lastly, and I know this is not possible for most people but I if you can pay for your first year and not rely on financial assistance, I believe you have a better shot at getting in or even transferring. Law School is a business. The school wants their money, all of it, and they want it right away.

shirley pebbles Over a year ago

Wow my niece has been wanting to get into law school but has been having trouble. I never thought of some of this stuff. I am sending this article to her. Thanks.

Angela1221 Over a year ago

What was your job title in the legal field. I really don't want to have to go through law scool but absolutely love law!

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