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University of Virginia School of Law

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Each year, the number of applicants for admission to the Law School is approximately ten times the number of spaces available. The admissions process aims to select from the applicant pool an entering class of students who will contribute to the Law School during their three years of residency here, to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to the nation. To that end, the admissions committee considers many factors. These include not only intellectual aptitude and academic achievement, but also geographical, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological diversity, as well as individual traits and experiences, such as dedication or a constructive response to adversity, that predict success.

Applicants are sorted in the first instance by a numerical index that combines LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. No one is admitted or denied admission solely on this basis. Rather, each application is reviewed personally by an admissions professional. That review involves assessment of personal characteristics and achievements, as well as letters of recommendation. Typically, it is also based on a personal interview. The Law School tries to accommodate each applicant who wishes to be interviewed personally, and many do.

Based on their review of the entire file, admissions professionals take one of three actions. If an applicant's admissions index exceeds a very high level (which may vary with the pool), he or she may be admitted by the unilateral action of an admissions professional or may be referred to a faculty committee. If an applicant's admissions index falls short of a very low level (which again may vary with the pool), he or she may be rejected by the unilateral action of an admissions professional or may be referred to a faculty committee. If an applicant's admissions index is neither very high nor very low, it must be referred to a faculty committee.

Ultimately, the great majority of decisions to admit are made by committee members. At least two readers consider each file. Each reader, whether an admissions professional or a faculty member, is instructed to assess each applicant as an individual. This assessment takes account of LSAT scores and undergraduate grades but also includes a number of other factors, including the strength of an applicant's curriculum, the nature and quality of any work experience an applicant may have had, the nature and quality of any graduate study that the applicant may have undertaken, the personal qualities displayed by the applicant, and any hardships or difficulties that the applicant may have had to overcome. Additionally, the committee members seek diversity of all sorts, including racial and ethnic, as well as geographical, ideological, and socio-economic.

Each reader makes a recommendation on each file. These recommendations include not only admit and reject but also "hold for comparison." If there is disagreement between the initial two readers, the file is sent to a third. At the end of the process, the Dean and Associate Dean of Admissions meet with members of the committee and work toward a consensus ranking of the remaining applicants.

In this process, no quota is set for any classification of applicants, save Virginia residents. No quantitative advantage is given to any classification of applicants. Every application is considered against every other application on the same terms. Finally, no separate track or special admissions procedures apply to any classification of applicants, again excepting Virginia residents. Every application is weighed against every other application in an effort to meet the goal of admitting a class of students who serve the Law School, the Commonwealth, and the nation.

Links to news articles online, April 25, 2002:

April 26, 2002

May 2, 2002

May 7, 2002

May 14, 2002

May 15, 2002

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