Jenna Bowen Otokawa, JD, Senior Director for Admission and Financial Aid- Emory University School of Law
The Law School
What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your law school this coming year?
Right now, Emory Law is undergoing a dean search, and a new dean should be in place for fall 2019. I’m excited to see what experience, energy, and new ideas the new dean will bring to Emory, and the impact he or she will have here. Also, this is a good opportunity for us to highlight the work we have been doing and work together on our creative strategy moving forward.
The Admissions Process
What does the admissions process consist of and how is an application rated?
Emory Law’s application is submitted through LSAC. We participate in the FlexApp, and we have a few school-specific questions as well.
The application itself has two parts: the electronic application (“e-app”) and the credential assembly service (CAS) report. The e-app includes a resume and a personal statement – a two- page essay for which there is no specific topic or question. In addition, applicants can submit addenda or additional essays to explain any portions of their application or provide additional information. The CAS report includes the LSAT score, a sample from the LSAT writing portion, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation (we require two and we only accept two). We do not conduct admission interviews.
We review applications holistically, and we do not have a specific rating system.
Do you have an approximate hierarchy on what is most valuable for admissions: GPA, LSAT, etc?
Emory Law does not use a set hierarchy, and we evaluate applications holistically. Both the LSAT and GPA are important, as is the rest of the application. We look closely at the personal statement to assess writing ability, and we review transcripts to evaluate undergraduate academic performance. Letters of recommendation are also highly considered as they provide insight into key traits, including but not limited to class performance, writing ability, leadership, and community involvement.
We encourage applicants to focus on the entire application, and to review not only our median LSAT and GPA scores, but the 25th and 75th percentiles as well.
Beyond numbers, how does your school determine who are the “best fit” applicants?
Emory Law doesn’t define a “best fit” – we are looking for applicants who will excel academically, who will be leaders on campus, and who will have an impact on our community. We encourage all applicants to visit our campus to get a first-hand experience of our community and everything Emory Law has to offer.
Are students who apply early in the cycle at an advantage over applicants who apply later?
We are on a rolling admissions cycle, so we encourage applicants to submit their application as early as possible. However, we also advise applicants to submit the best application possible. We do not want applicants to feel rushed – they should prepare fully and feel confident when they submit their application.
Our application opens in August, and our priority deadline is March 1. We typically begin admitting students in January and continue through March. We encourage applicants to submit by December 31. This places applicants in a good pool for admission and scholarship decisions. However, it’s important to make sure you have the strongest application possible. For example, if you’re unhappy with your LSAT score in December and you want to take the LSAT again in January, you should weigh that against early application and determine when your best application will be ready.
What is your view on multiple LSAT scores?
Emory Law considers the highest LSAT score. Many of our applicants take the LSAT more than once, and even if your second score is lower, we still consider the highest. If there is a big increase or decrease in your score, we might reach out to you to discuss it, or this might be something you could explain in an addendum to your application. Otherwise, we aren’t concerned with multiple LSAT scores.
Is a high LSAT score achieved on the second or third try viewed differently than a first-attempt high score?
No, Emory Law doesn’t weigh any particular test date higher than others. Many of our applicants have multiple scores.
Could an applicant significantly improve his or her chances of admission by drafting a personal statement specifically for your school, as opposed to a general personal statement that briefly mentions your school, if at all?
Emory Law does not have a specific personal statement prompt, and no one topic is weighted more than others. We do not conduct admission interviews, so the personal statement is really the place for applicants to tell us more about who they are, why they are interested in law school, and how that fits into their goals. If there is a specific Emory Law clinic, professor, or area of scholarship you feel particularly connected to, you certainly can include that in your essay, but it isn’t required. Applicants could also consider adding an addendum of one to two paragraphs that discusses your specific interest in Emory Law.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants often have difficulty choosing and approaching potential recommenders. Can you offer some general advice regarding letters of recommendation?
Letters of recommendation are an important part of the application, and applicants should make sure they have the best letters possible. When choosing a recommender, the most important factor is how well that person knows you and not what that person’s profession or title might be. We are looking for letters that provide insight into key traits, including but not limited to class performance, writing ability, leadership, and community involvement. Therefore, you should choose a recommender who can really speak to those qualities. We encourage applicants to have at least one academic letter, but there is no requirement on the second letter. We have received exceptional letters from employers, coaches, commanding officers, non-profit organizations, and more.
Additionally, we recommend that students request letters of recommendation early in the application process. Often, letters are what keep an application from being complete, especially when they are requested from professors close to the exam period. In addition, when you are requesting a letter of recommendation, we encourage you to meet in person with your potential recommender, provide them with a resume, and stress the importance of the letter for your application.
Do applicants, especially those with numbers that fall below your law school’s medians, increase their chances of admission by applying Early Decision?
All applicants are eligible to apply through our Early Decision program; however, it is a binding commitment program, so applicants should review the information carefully to decide whether it is right for them. You should only apply through Early Decision if Emory Law is your top choice. Applying through Early Decision shows the admission committee your strong interest, but doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of admission.
What is the typical size of the waitlist, and how deep do you usually go into the waitlist to admit students?
Emory Law’s waitlist varies from year to year, depending on the needs of our incoming class. We typically have a robust waitlist, and we expect to admit students from it each year.