Rob Schwartz, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, UCLA School of Law
The Law School
What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your law school this coming year?
As the youngest top law school in the nation, we’re excited that the law school continues to be innovative and responsive to both student interests and the ever-evolving legal profession! This year we are adding a number of new classes and clinics to our extensive selection of curricular and experiential courses.
In addition, UCLA will continue to offer a certificate in Trial Advocacy as well as a number of academic specializations including Business Law and Policy, Critical Race Studies, Media, Entertainment and Technology Law, Law and Philosophy, Public Interest Law and Policy, International and Comparative Law and Environmental Law. We also have several research centers on campus, including the Promise Institute for Human Rights; the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy; and more!
Exposure to such a breadth and depth of learning opportunities empowers students to tailor their legal education to their specific interests and customize their own professional identities.
The Admissions Process
What does the admissions process consist of and how is an application rated?
The review process consists of each file being assigned to and reviewed by several people on the admissions committee. After a file has been reviewed, a decision is made to either admit, deny, or waitlist an applicant.
Do you have an approximate hierarchy on what is most valuable for admissions: GPA, LSAT, etc?
In evaluating each applicant, UCLA Law places substantial weight on traditional measures of academic ability, namely grades and standardized test scores, specifically Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores and Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores. We also recognize in our evaluation that other factors and attributes contribute greatly to a person’s ability to succeed as a law student and lawyer. When assessing academic promise and achievement, the applicant’s entire file will be considered, including economic, physical or other challenges that have been overcome, scholarly achievements such as graduate study, awards and publications, the rigor of the undergraduate educational program undertaken, and letters of recommendation.
Beyond numbers, how does your school determine who are the “best fit” applicants?
UCLA Law also considers attributes that may contribute to assembling a diverse class. We place special emphasis on socioeconomic disadvantage in our evaluation. We also consider work experience and career achievement; community or public service; career goals; significant hardships overcome; the ability to contribute to law school programs and specializations; evidence of and potential for leadership; language ability; unusual life experiences; and, any other factors (except those factors deemed inadmissible by applicable law) that indicate the applicant may significantly diversify the student body or make a distinctive contribution to UCLA Law or the legal profession.
Are students who apply early in the cycle at an advantage over applicants who apply later?
It is possible that students who apply early are at an advantage. However, our general advice is to apply as early as possible with the best application possible. For example, it would be wise to apply with a high LSAT score later in the cycle than to apply early with a low LSAT score.
What is your view on multiple LSAT scores?
Our general policy is to consider the highest LSAT or GRE score attained, although we will take note of all scores. In the case of a significant discrepancy between scores, applicants are advised to address it in their application. It is always helpful for the admissions committee to be aware of any factors that may have adversely or positively impacted one’s performance on the LSAT or GRE.
Is a high LSAT score achieved on the second or third try viewed differently than a first-attempt high score?
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?
It is always nice to know that an applicant has personalized their application to speak to their specific interest in UCLA Law. However, failure to do so will not negatively impact an applicant’s chances of being admitted to our school.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants often have difficulty choosing and approaching potential recommenders. Can you offer some general advice regarding letters of recommendation?
We closely review every letter of recommendation, so it’s important for applicants to be thoughtful about who they ask to write one for them. Typically, the best recommendations come from people that know the applicant well, so applicants should begin building strong relationships with potential recommenders sooner rather than later. Also, we prefer for at least one letter to be from someone familiar with the applicant’s academic work, if at all possible.
Do applicants, especially those with numbers that fall below your law school’s medians, increase their chances of admission by applying Early Decision?
The early decision applicant pool is much smaller than the general applicant pool. Thus, applying early decision can increase an applicant’s chances of admission. While every application is assessed individually and holistically, we have found in recent years that the median GPA of students accepted in this program is similar to our overall median GPA; the median LSAT of students accepted to this program is often slightly below our overall median LSAT.
What is the typical size of the waitlist, and how deep do you usually go into the waitlist to admit students?
Typically, several hundred applicants are offered a place on our wait list, but not all will wish to accept it. Additionally, candidates will withdraw from the wait list over time. The extent of our wait list activity will vary from year to year, depending on the number of students we need to fill each incoming class. In some years, applicants admitted from the wait list have comprised anywhere from 10 to more than 20% of our entering class.