Frequently Asked Questions
What should I study?
There is no particular major or curriculum that is required for admission to or
success in law school, and we find that a student body with backgrounds in a variety
of disciplines adds depth and breadth to the classroom dialogue. As a result, an
entering class at Michigan Law typically includes 55 or 60 different majors.
The majors perennially most common in our entering classes are political science,
history, economics, English, and philosophy; some atypical majors that we think
provide particularly good training for law school are computer science, mathematics,
engineering, and hard sciences, which disciplines make up about 15 percent of the
class; classics, seen relatively rarely, is also an excellent foundation for legal
study. But pursuing a particular major simply because you think it will give you
an advantage in the law school admissions process is an exercise in futility, since
you are less likely to perform well in a major that doesn't engage you. We recommend,
therefore, that you study subjects that are interesting to you. Because we seek
curricula that are both broad and deep, we also recommend that you take challenging
courses in whatever is your chosen core field, and that you branch out and test
yourself in areas outside your comfort zone. Classes that give you experience with
close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing
are always helpful.
From what schools does the University of Michigan Law School
We accept students from a wide variety of undergraduate schools, with more than
250 distinct institutions represented in the student body. While the strength of
an undergraduate institution is certainly a factor we consider in the admissions
process, our commitment to maintaining the excellence of our student body does not
limit the wide range of educational institutions from which our students hail. There
most assuredly is no accredited school whose graduates we would be simply unwilling
to admit. (And for the record, contrary to popular belief / persistent and intractable
rumor, students who attended the University of Michigan for their undergraduate
studies are not at any disadvantage over students from other schools. Go Blue!)
Now, we're all about visual aids, so below are a couple of fancy charts to illustrate
our point that we admit people from lots of different institutions.
First, this chart shows the distribution of undergraduate institutions within
the student body—in other words, each piece of the pie represents the number of
schools from which a certain number of people in the student body as a whole have
graduated. There are about 149 schools where only one person attended, and
that works out to about 54% of the total number of schools represented by
the student body. And so on.
Our second chart gets at the same question from another direction, asking:
how many people in the student body come from school(s) that send a particular proportion
of people? In other words, if you're the only person from School XYZ, how
many other people will also be from schools that only have one graduate represented?
In what activities should I participate? What groups should
As with majors, we have no preconceived list of "best extracurriculars." You should
pursue the areas that interest you. So, while as a general matter we like to see
some evidence of involvement and engagement in something outside your studies or
employment, we have no particular preference for the type of activity. It is helpful
if you give us some sense of the nature and extent of your involvement; further,
if the name of a group or organization is a little mysterious to the uninitiated
(e.g., the whacky-sounding Kalamazoo Moustache Society, which actually raises money
to combat domestic violence), it might be helpful to describe briefly the mission
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How does the University of Michigan Law School handle multiple
The LSAC report for an applicant who has sat for the LSAT more than once will show
every score or cancellation, as well as the average score. The ABA requires law
schools to report score information based on an admitted student's highest score,
and therefore, that is the score to which we give the most weight. We do,
however, consider the average score as well, because data provided by the Law School
Admissions Council suggests that it has the greatest predictive utility. The average
score becomes less useful, though, as the disparity between two scores increases;
for that reason, if you have a significant disparity between scores (six or more
points), it would be very helpful to address any explanation for the difference
in an optional essay or addendum.
What is the median LSAT score for accepted students?
We do not use an admissions formula or index system when we evaluate applicants,
nor is there a floor below which we will not consider a candidate. However,
University of Michigan Law School is very selective, and the LSAT is an important—though
not dispositive—factor in our consideration of an applicant. The median LSAT score
for the 2014 entering class is 168 (96th percentile) and the 25th and 75th percentiles
for the class are 165 and 169, respectively. Bear in mind that there is no statistically
significant difference within plus or minus three points of any particular LSAT
When should I take the LSAT?
There is no mandatory time to take the LSAT but conventional wisdom is that the
June exam prior to the year in which you wish to begin law school will allow you
the optimal amount of time for preparing your application. That said, the September/October
sitting is always by far the most popular. You should keep in mind that we
cannot begin to review your application until it is complete, which requires a valid
score report. Applicants who take the LSAT in February of the year in which
they're applying (and do not already have other score reports) may be at a disadvantage
because their score reports will not be available until early March, which is late
in the admissions season.
Applicants applying under our binding Early Decision Program must take the LSAT
no later than September/October of the year in which they're applying.
We will accept scores as old as June five years prior to the admission season.
So, for the 2014-15 season, a score from June 2009 is the oldest we can accept.
How does the Admissions Committee view canceled LSAT scores?
While one canceled score will not raise any red flags in an application evaluation,
a pattern of canceled scores may cause some concern. (For one thing,
it shows that you have been exposed to the test on multiple dates, and any subsequent
score needs to be assessed with that in mind.) It can be helpful if you provide
an explanation for your cancellation(s), but that is not required.
Beginning with the June 2009 exam, LSAC instituted a policy requiring people to
make test date changes at least three weeks in advance of the test. The reasons
for this are sensible; in the past, their very flexible policy (allowing for changes
even after the test had occurred!) meant a misallocation of resources—people
would not show up for the exam and there would be wasted space at a test center,
while meanwhile, other people would have to travel to a second-choice location,
sometimes at considerable expense and inconvenience. The current policy allows LSAC
to plan much more precisely.
But it also means that people who have very good reasons for postponing can't
do so if they don't learn of the conflict in the necessary timeframe. What to do?
First, if the conflict is with the date itself—e.g., you're scheduled for surgery—your
only option is not to attend. There will be a notation on a subsequent score report
showing that you were absent for the test. A single absence is simply not a big
deal at all, and you shouldn't worry about it. A pattern of absences may be a red
flag, however, and so you would be wise to be careful to keep your calendar free
for your next test registration date, or to be sure to postpone within the timeframe
prescribed by LSAC. If you're really worried about the notation of an absence, you're
more than welcome to submit a couple of lines in explanation along with your other
application materials, but it truly is not necessary.
Second, if your conflict is not with the test date itself but with the necessary
preparation (e.g., you're a paralegal and were unexpectedly asked to participate
in a trial for the two weeks prior to the test), you have two choices: (A) take
the test and roll the dice with the score, or (B) take the test and cancel the score.
(For information about canceled scores, see the prior FAQ.) Only you can know which
option makes the most sense for your situation—but rolling the dice tends to be
a pretty low-cost risk. Schools report the higher score, so if you retake and do
better, that's the score that will carry the weight. And there's always a
chance you'll do well and be done!
What if I don't feel ready to take the LSAT?
In general, law school admissions offices operate on a rolling basis, meaning that
application files are reviewed in the order of their completion (although we don't
necessarily reach a decision on an application in the order in which it is read;
some decisions simply take longer than others). This means that there is some advantage
to applying earlier in the process (when more seats remain to be filled) rather
than later. It is also true, though, that it is to your advantage to have the highest
possible score on the LSAT—so you shouldn't take the test until you're ready for
it. If you're considering the February LSAT in connection with an application for
the same year, bear in mind that the score will not be available until early March,
meaning that the file will not be ready for review until sometime after that - putting
the applicant at a disadvantage in the admissions process, as we will have already
filled the majority of available seats. Each individual applicant will need
to take these competing considerations (application timing versus getting the optimal
score) into account for him- or herself. Consider, though, that you can always reapply
in a future year and overcome the disadvantage of a late application, but you cannot
erase a low LSAT score.
If I got a low score the first time, should I retake the
If your score was significantly different from your practice tests (and you are
confident that you were accurately timing yourself), and if you can identify something
in particular that might have negatively affected your score the first time (you
didn't prepare; you were sick; there was a marching band outside the exam site),
you should seriously consider retaking the test. In the absence of both of those
factors, though, odds are that a second score will not be a substantial improvement;
the vast majority of people who retake the LSAT get a score that is only a couple
of points higher. It would probably make more sense for you to put your energy into
making sure the other elements of your application are the best that they can be.
Some matters to take into account when considering taking the test again: there
is no statistically significant difference within plus or minus three points of
any particular LSAT score, so small differences are unlikely to be viewed as important
by an admissions committee; multiple scores are averaged, and although we consider
the highest score, we also consider the average score (see also our discussion above,
about how to handle multiple scores); and, most horrifyingly, there is always the
possibility that you will receive a lower score on a subsequent test—a possibility
that, statistically speaking, becomes more likely when the initial score is 165
or higher. For a longer discussion of that last point, visit the
I am re-taking the LSAT in December. If I submit my
application prior to re-taking the LSAT, but with a previous score on record, will
my application be reviewed prior to the release of my new score?
If you are comfortable with all your other application materials, we encourage you
to submit your application now rather than waiting for the December LSAT score to
send everything—and to make sure to let us know the new score is en route. Because
we have a rolling admissions process, there is some advantage to being reviewed
earlier rather than later, and if you submit all your materials only after receiving
your score, your application will not be complete and ready for review until late
January or early February. (For that reason, if the December test is your first
sitting for the LSAT, we do recommend that you submit all your other materials in
advance, so that when the score arrives we can complete your application file immediately
and submit it for review, rather than just beginning to process it at that time.)
While we do not universally hold applications in limbo while we await a new score,
our reviewers will see that you are registered for the December LSAT. If we feel
that a new score could be a decision-making difference, we will set the application
aside and re-review it once the new score arrives. But if we are comfortable admitting
you without seeing the new score, we will go ahead and do that; by the same token,
if we are sure that an increased LSAT score would not alone lead to a different
outcome, we will issue a final decision before receiving the score. If that happens,
you are welcome to request that we reconsider your application in light of new information.
I have a learning disability that I believe would allow me to receive extra time
on the LSAT. Should I apply for accommodation? Will my file be evaluated differently
if I have an accommodated test score?
If you think you may be entitled to accommodation on the LSAT, whether
extra time for a learning disability or some adaptation for a physical disability,
you should certainly apply to the Law School Admissions Council; forms are available
LSAC's website. Often applicants worry that accommodation will reflect negatively
on them in the application process, but due to changes in LSAC practices, accommodated
scores will no longer be "flagged," and whether you received accommodations will
therefore not be evident to admissions offices. (And in any event, it was certainly
never the case at Michigan Law that an accommodated score was looked at with a jaundiced
eye.) Further, if you are entitled to accommodation and do not utilize it, it is
likely that your score will be negatively affected; while we would take into account
any contextual information you provide about why the score may not be predictive
for you, you would nonetheless be better off simply to have a more favorable score
in the first instance. For a detailed FAQ on the subject of accommodated testing,
LSAC's website. Please be aware that the accommodation process can be time-intensive,
and it would be to your benefit to apply for accommodation well in advance of when
you intend to sit for the test.
If you apply for accommodation but the LSAC does not grant it, we would encourage
you to provide us with any information that you think would allow us to more accurately
gauge your score. Likewise, we encourage you to provide us with any information
about your disability that you think is relevant to an evaluation of your academic
background, work history, or any other element of your admissions materials.
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How do I request an application and viewbook?
You may download our viewbook as a
or you may request a paper copy through our
website, by email to
by calling the Admissions Office at 734.764.0537.
As for the application, there are two electronic application options, discussed
below, or you may fill out and print a
PDF version of the application (including our attempt at helpful commentary).
If you prefer to complete an application on paper, but do not have access to a printer,
we will be happy to mail a printed copy of the PDF version of the application to
email us your request.
How should I send in my application?
We have no preference from among the various available application forms. You can
apply electronically via the
Alternatively, you may download the
PDF application, which you can fill out on the screen and print. (You may want
to take a look at the PDF irrespective of which form you use, as it contains some
insider tips for particular questions.) Please mail your completed application to
us at the Admissions Office (701 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-3091).
What supporting materials need to be submitted with my application?
We need a completed application (that is, the filled-out form along with answers
to our questions about your work and outside activities), the LSAC report (with
transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended and LSAT scores,
and recommendation(s) if using LSAC's Recommender Service), personal statement,
optional essays (if any), recommendation(s) (if sending directly to school), and
application fee ($75) or fee waiver. Note: one recommendation is required, but three
are allowed, and suggested.
I am applying online via LSAC, and at checkout I have the
option to view and print the Certification Letter. Do I need to sign this
letter and send it to Michigan?
When you apply online via LSAC, you will electronically certify your application
by filling in the date next to the signature line. (If you are applying for
Early Decision, you will need to complete the date twice—once to certify your application,
and once to certify the terms of the Early Decision application process.)
At the checkout screen, you will have the option to view and print a PDF version
of the Certification Letter, but it is not necessary to send us this letter.
If you choose the "Pay the School Directly" option at checkout, you will be prompted
before the checkout screen to print out and sign the Certification Letter to send
to us—please note this is not necessary. LSAC's website indicates that we
require you to submit this letter, but that is not the case.
If you submit your application without certifying it, which happens very rarely,
please rest assured that we will contact you via email to let you know we need your
We have two types of fee waivers, need-based and merit-based, available for
students who qualify.
Merit-based waivers are given out based on information that we obtain from the Candidate
Referral Service (CRS) via LSAC. CRS fee waivers are automatically sent to highly
qualified applicants who have registered for CRS, and will appear automatically
during the LSAC checkout.
A limited number of need-based waivers are given to applicants demonstrating financial
hardship. Generally speaking, if you are eligible for an LSAC need-based waiver,
then you'll be eligible for our application fee waiver as well. Our fee waiver application
available online as a PDF you can complete and print.
send us an
email and let us know your Teach for America status, along with the grade and
school you teach (or taught). We'll get back to you right away!
Foreign transcripts for postsecondary work outside the United States (including
its territories) or Canada should be submitted through the LSAC JD Credential Assembly
Service. For international undergraduate work, a Foreign Credential Evaluation
will be compiled by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions
Officers, which will be incorporated into your CAS report. To get started,
log in to your online account and follow the instructions for registering for the
service. Be sure to print out a Transcript Request form for each institution
and send it promptly to them. Questions about the JD Credential Assembly Service
can be directed to LSAC at 215.968.1001 or LSACinfo@LSAC.org.
Be aware that there can be significant delays in processing foreign transcript requests.
If you completed foreign work through a study abroad, consortium, or exchange program
sponsored by a US or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as
such on your home campus transcript, then you do not need to provide copies of the
Your file will be considered complete in our office once we receive your
LSAC report, which will include all transcripts required by LSAC. So the short
answer is, no; it is not necessary to send us any transcripts that LSAC doesn't
require. However, our reviewers prefer to have as much information as possible
when reviewing an application, especially in cases where there are courses taken
(and perhaps grades earned) that will not appear on the degree-granting transcript.
(With a formal study-abroad program, we get more information than a simple listing
of total credits transferred.) If our reviewers read your application and
have unanswered questions about your time spent at a foreign institution, that conceivably
could have a negative effect on the decision. Other schools are likely to
have a similar take—so if you decide you would like us to see your foreign transcript,
we suggest that you send it to LSAC, rather than to our office. That way, it will
be included as an attachment to your LSAC report for all law schools to which you
When should I apply?
We begin accepting applications for first-year admission—both summer and fall—on
September 1, although we are not able to begin reviewing applications until early
November. Due to our rolling admissions process, in which files are reviewed as
they are completed and decisions are made on a continuous basis, it is to your benefit
to apply as early in the season as you comfortably are able. The application deadline
is February 15 and filing of the application form alone is sufficient to meet the
Early Decision applications (binding, matriculating in the summer only) must
be completed by November 15; all application components, including letters of recommendation
and the LSAC report must be received by the Admissions Office by that date. The
Law School will send a decision no later than December 15.
Applications for transfer and visiting students will be accepted between May
1 and July 17.
While we can't review your application without an LSAT score, it is perfectly acceptable—indeed,
a good idea!—to send the application and other materials as soon as you comfortably
are able after September 1. That way, the rest of your application file can be processed
and prepared while we wait for your score, and your application can be completed
and submitted for review immediately after scores are released.
We very frequently have applicants send along pieces of their application
prior to formally applying, and we have a great system for keeping track of it all.
Unfortunately, however, we aren't staffed in a way that allows us to check on those
individual pieces. Once you've submitted the application itself, you'll receive
an emailed acknowledgment from us, and about a week thereafter, you'll receive an
email about logging into our Online Status Check system. If at that time, you're
still concerned about whether we've received some element of your application (because
your application is showing as "incomplete"), please feel free to contact us. And
as a general proposition, it is extremely rare that we encounter a situation where
something has been mailed but never received by us; if you know you mailed something,
or if your recommender tells you he or she mailed something, it is our experience
you can feel pretty confident that all is well.
Should I reapply if I was denied in a previous admissions
Please be assured that your previous application does not place you at any disadvantage.
You are on equal footing with all of the applicants in this admissions cycle. To
reapply, you must submit a new application and reregister with LSAC, even if you
are not retaking the LSAT, so that we can order a new CAS report for you. If you
completed any additional coursework since your previous application, all new official
transcripts should be sent to LSAC. Any previous application materials submitted
within the last year will automatically be added to your new application when it
arrives, but if there is something in your previous application that you'd like
us to pay particular attention to, please note that in a cover letter with your
application. While we recommend that you submit a new personal statement and recommendations,
we will review your previous personal statement in lieu of a new version if you
direct, and will automatically consider any previous letters of recommendation to
satisfy our recommendation requirement.
What should I write about in my personal statement/optional
The personal statement is your chance to give a brief monologue to the file readers,
so the best judgment about a topic is necessarily yours—only you can know what is
most relevant about your background for purposes of admission to law school. To
quote our application, "There is no formula for a successful personal statement,
and different individuals will find different topics to be well-suited to them."
Spend some time thinking about what it is that you would tell an admissions officer
if you had ten minutes of undivided attention—perhaps about what led you to law
school, about unusual challenges you've overcome, about your religious, political,
cultural, or sexual identity, about unusual experiences or travel, or simply why
you'd be an interesting person to have in the class. Whatever topic you choose,
your statement will be evaluated on both content and construction, so your goal
should be to write about something interesting and write about it well. We also
offer eight different optional essay topics, from which you can choose to write
up to two additional essays, in order that our decision will be based on as much
information about you as possible. These essays are truly optional, and many people
are admitted without submitting additional essays beyond the personal statement;
at the same time, we often find that they add extremely helpful depth and perspective.
If I reveal something confidential in my application, how
confidential will it really be?
During the admissions stage, the only people to see applications are members of
the Admissions Office and, on occasion, the faculty committee, all of whom understand
the importance of and are accustomed to keeping the contents of the files confidential.
Unless you check the box of our application asking us not to, however, we will often
pass on to particular student groups the names and contact information of admitted
applicants who have self-identified as being potential members of those groups.
Admitted applicants who self-identify as African American, therefore, may be contacted
by the Black Law Students Alliance, admitted female applicants may be contacted
by the Women Law Students Association, admitted BYU grads may be contacted by the
J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and so on. One exception to this rule: if an admitted
applicant comes out in his or her application, the Admissions Office will email
him or her before passing along contact information to the Outlaws, our LGBTQ student
If you are admitted and you matriculate, your application file will be transferred
to the Records Office, and another set of eyes will have access to the materials.
The privacy of current students, however, is protected under federal law by Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.
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I know I'm a Michigan resident; why does your office think
If you mark "yes" for in-state tuition on your application and we send you a letter
telling you that you have to apply for it, it doesn't mean the Admissions Office
thinks you're not eligible. All it means is that something in your record has triggered,
under preset criteria, a need for you to apply. We understand this can be frustrating
for people who have no doubt that they qualify, but the In-State Tuition Guidelines
are complex and comprehensive and in order to ensure that they are fairly implemented,
review of additional information by the experts in the Residency Classification
Office is required in many cases—perhaps because you have been employed outside
the state within the last three years, or because you attended a college outside
the state, or for one of many other possible reasons. The guidelines
and application can be found at
or you're welcome to contact the Residency Classification Office with your questions,
in person or by mail at 1210 LSA Building, 500 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI
48109-1382, or by telephone at 734.764.1400. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5
Be assured that your application will not be held or delayed during the classification
process. While you should apply as soon as you can, we do not wait for the official
determination to review your application; we just give you the benefit of the doubt.
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How many applications do you receive and what is the size
of the incoming class?
We typically receive about 5000 applications for an average entering class of about
315. Each entering class is divided into four equally sized sections, one of which
begins in the summer. All first-year students have one core class divided into small
sections of about 40 students; that small section is divided in half again for Legal
Practice (the required legal writing and advocacy course), making that class about
How long will it take for me to get
We often get semi-frantic emails and calls from people who are concerned that their
applications are not complete, or that their failure already to have received a
decision spells certain doom. In an effort to allay some of these fears, we provide
this detailed guide to what goes on in the Admissions Office once we receive your
application materials, and what you can expect in terms of timing.
First, when we receive the initial application materials from you, we immediately
send you an email letting you know we've received them. This email does not mean
that the application is complete, but it also doesn't mean it's not complete. It
simply means we've received your initial materials. We then begin processing your
application, which involves sending acknowledgments to recommenders, checking our
files to see whether we have already received some submission from you or from your
recommenders in advance of the actual application, requesting your CAS report, performing
considerable, and time-consuming, data entry, arranging the materials in our file
folders, and printing labels and comment sheets for the readers. This takes a fair
amount of time for each individual file, and it is not unusual for us to receive
150-200 applications a day, particularly in December and January.
You will receive an email from our office approximately 5-7 business days after
we receive your application, with your University of Michigan ID and a link to our
Online Status Check. Once we have received
and processed all your application materials, we mark your file as complete, and
our Online Status Check registers the status change. Those files are parceled out
for a first read, and then a second read. A file might receive a decision immediately,
or may proceed to further review before a committee. We are cautious in our decisions,
either to admit or to deny, and do not like to proceed hastily. We take our responsibility
of composing a top-notch class extremely seriously, and that is to your benefit;
you can be assured your application materials are receiving a thorough review. We
try to be sensitive to the stress law school applicants are under and we hope you
will be patient with our efforts.
You went to great lengths to apply early in our season, and now you're disappointed—or,
well, irritated—that you haven't received an answer yet. We understand how you feel,
but we nonetheless ask for your patience. Once the Online Status Checker shows that
your file is complete, your application is reviewed within a week by a first reader,
and is then sent on to a second reader—but even after getting two people's input,
we can't always make a decision right away. Simply put, some decisions are more
difficult than others. A delay doesn't mean we've forgotten about you; it just means
we have a lot of applications to read and decisions to make. If you apply early
in the season and we find we are unable to reach a decision quickly,
we will contact you to let you know we're still considering your application.
We routinely and frequently review the files of applicants for whom we couldn't
make an immediate decision, in an effort to balance our sensitivity to your stress
levels—which, honestly, we are very conscious of!—with our mission of making the
best possible decisions.
Does the University of Michigan have an early decision program?
We have an Early Decision program for summer starters only; it is binding, which
means that in applying, you agree to come if we make you an offer. We recommend
that applicants to the Early Decision program submit their materials by early November
in order to be assured that we receive all the necessary components by our November
15 deadline; we will make all decisions by December 15. If an applicant is not admitted
under Early Decision, his or her application will be rolled over into the regular
decision pool. Typically, a little less than half of the summer section is admitted
as part of the Early Decision program. Note: if you apply Early Decision, and we
do not make you an offer on December 15, but roll your application into the regular
pool, you could then receive an offer for either summer or fall.
The Law School uses a modified rolling admissions process, meaning that applications
are reviewed as they are completed, but admissions decisions are not necessarily
made in that order. Applicants are encouraged to apply and complete their files
as early as they comfortably are able, because the later they wait in the application
cycle, the fewer the seats that are available.
How is my application evaluated?
We view our student body as one of our greatest assets, and our goal is to admit
a group of students who, individually and collectively, are among the best applying
to American law schools in a given year. We seek a mix of students with varying
backgrounds and experiences, who will respect and learn from each other. Our most
general measure is a composite of an applicant's LSAT score and undergraduate GPA
and, as measured by those statistics, Michigan is among the handful of the most
selective law schools in the country. However, each of these measures is far from
definitive. Even the highest possible scores will not guarantee admission, and quite
low scores will, likewise, not automatically result in a denial, as both circumstances
may have significant offsetting considerations. We evaluate the strength of the
personal statement and recommendations, the rigor of an applicant's undergraduate
curriculum, significant work experience, significant life experiences and community
involvement, among other things. For more information about how applications are
reviewed, please refer to Dean Zearfoss's article,
Admissions of a director.
It's old, but accurate!
We require only one letter of recommendation for your application to be considered
complete, but we suggest that you submit up to three. (In general, we find that
submitting more than three tends to result in unhelpful repetition of information—but
that said, of course, additional letters may make sense in an individual case.)
For most applicants, an academic recommendation is the most useful. It can be from
an undergraduate or a graduate institution, and it need not be from a professor.
The best advice is to select recommenders who know you the best and can speak in
the most detail about your potential contribution, and for many candidates, that
recommender will be a teaching assistant or graduate student instructor. We also
find it very useful to hear from employers or others who have supervised your work
(whether in a volunteer or for-pay capacity). For some candidates, a helpful recommender
might be more idiosyncratic, such as a coach. The only recommendations we usually
find unhelpful are those from people who have themselves attained impressive accomplishments
but who have little detailed knowledge of the candidate, and those from relatives,
who may know the candidate quite intimately but to whom we naturally attribute a
Do you participate in LSAC's evaluation service?
We accept the LSAC evaluation form, but we do not require it. Evaluations
function only as a supplement to your letter(s) of recommendation, and it should
be from someone other than your recommendation letter writer(s). Evaluations
cannot fulfill our letter of recommendation requirement, as we generally find them
to be lacking in important detail.
I have an LSAT of X, and a GPA of Y. What are my chances
Because we receive so many highly competitive applications and base our decisions
on a wide variety of factors, it is very difficult to judge an individual applicant's
chances of admission. Even if we have all of the relevant information for an applicant,
admissions decisions are made within the context of the entire applicant pool—and
we typically receive about 5000 applications for about 315 spots. That said, the
median LSAT score for the 2014 entering class was 168 and the 25th and 75th percentiles
for the class were 165 and 169, respectively. The median GPA was 3.74 with the 25th
and 75th percentiles falling at 3.57 and 3.83, respectively.
If you sent me an invitation to apply, am I more likely
to be accepted?
We send invitations to apply only to those people who, through the information they
provide to LSAC's Candidate Referral Service, seem like they would be competitive
applicants. However, the only information we have available to us through the Candidate
Referral Service is limited: LSAT, GPA, major, undergraduate institution, and so
forth. An invitation to apply cannot be a guarantee of admission, because, as described
above, we take many other factors into account that are not reflected in the summary
data provided by CRS. Historically, however, receiving an invitation does indicate
a greater likelihood of admission; we admit about one fifth of the overall pool,
but we admit more than half of the applicants who were invited to apply.
Bear in mind that it's very difficult, for you or for us, to estimate your chances
of admission (and that, as they say in the stock market, past performance is not
a guarantee of future results). Typically, more than half of our applicant pool
has numbers that are at or above our median scores for the previous year's incoming
class, which is almost three times the number of people we can actually admit. Consider,
too, that "the numbers" are merely a starting point for our evaluation of which
candidates will make up the best possible entering class. If you want to increase
your chances of admission, please take care with your application, and be sure to
provide us with all the relevant information you can about your experiences, activities,
and background and how you might be a good fit for our community.
If my numbers are above your medians and you don't admit
me, doesn't that mean that you're "yield protecting"? I.e., you didn't admit me
because you're sure I wouldn't come?
Such questions deeply underestimate the confidence of this Admissions Office, which
tends to assume that everyone who is admitted to Michigan Law will want to come
to Michigan Law. Okay, okay, we know—not everyone comes, and people who are admitted
to lots of other top law schools are the ones least likely to come. But if this
yield-protection allegation were true, then we'd be implementing our nefarious
plans very poorly; every year, the school with which we have the highest overlap
for admitted candidates is Harvard. We never deny someone because we think,
by virtue of their LSAT and GPA, that they will be unlikely to accept our offer
of admission. Most people with high numbers will be offered admission—but it is
also true that people with very strong numbers will often not be admitted. Like
all top law schools, we simply receive far more applications from prospective students
with high numbers than we could possibly admit—and we look at many, many factors
apart from the numbers. No matter how strong a candidate you are numerically, it
is worth putting effort into your application to ensure that you are portraying
yourself as well as possible.
How does residency affect my chances of admission?
Michigan residency is a factor in admissions, but it is only a small part. We are
a public institution, but we are also highly selective. We are fortunate enough
to receive so many highly qualified applicants from Michigan that our incoming classes
are composed of about 20 percent in-state residents. Our office makes only preliminary
determinations of residency based on the answers that you provide in your application
and the guidelines given by the University; if you have detailed questions about
residency guidelines, please contact the University of Michigan's Residency Classification
Office at 734.764.1400.
Does the Law School defer admission?
Yes, but deferrals of admission are harder to get than offers of admission and are
granted solely at the discretion of the Dean of Admissions. Considerations include
your strength as a candidate relative to anticipated future applicant pools, and
your reason for deferring. It is rare that we will grant a deferral for an endeavor
that does not have a defined time limit. If you know you do not intend to
matriculate in the year for which you're applying because you already have a commitment
to do something else, then we strongly encourage you to postpone applying.
But things come up! And if some golden opportunity (or difficult situation)
presents itself after you're admitted, please contact us to discuss.
As a Teach for America partner school, Michigan Law automatically grants deferrals
for TFA corps members who are or will be in the process of completing their term
Are interviews part of the admissions process? If not, why
While evaluative interviews are not a part of our process at Michigan, our admissions
counselors are happy to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about
the Law School or the admissions process. We also occasionally contact applicants
to get clarification about certain elements of an application. We choose not to
interview because social science research suggests that interviews offer no information
helpful to the decision-making process; further, anecdotal evidence suggest that
many fantastic and talented people do not always make a great first impression,
particularly if the meeting takes place under the stressful circumstances of an
evaluative interview. Interviews also present opportunities for discrimination on
the basis of academically irrelevant personal characteristics, which we would prefer
to avoid. And, to tell the truth: Dean Zearfoss is a bit of a control freak and
doesn't like the idea of delegating the interviews.
It is worth noting that schools that do employ interviews typically do so not
because it enhances their selection of candidates, but because it enhances their
ability to select people who are committed to attending the institution. In other
words, they believe that if you are willing to attend an interview, you are much
more likely to attend the school if you are admitted.
What can I do on a visit to the Law School?
If you are
planning a visit to the Law School, we would be happy to help arrange a tour
or a class visit. Please visit our
Online Scheduling System for a list of classes for which the professors have
given permission to have visitors attend, as well as a list of scheduled tour times.
In addition, the Admissions Office staff is available for appointments, and would
be delighted to meet with you. The best time to visit the Law School is on a weekday
when classes are in session. Although
the Law School buildings are open on weekends, classes are not held and the Admissions
staff is not in the office.
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How do I apply as a transfer?
The University of Michigan Law School accepts
students for the fall semester only. Candidates for transfer admission must
have completed the equivalent of the first year of law school (at least 28 credits).
Transfer students do NOT have to register for the CAS service (although they may
choose to). They must complete the application and provide five items: A complete
first year transcript; if that transcript does not include class rank, a letter
indicating the applicant's class rank; the first page of the applicant's CAS report;
a letter of good standing from the dean; and a letter of recommendation from a professor
at their current law school. For a detailed checklist and more information, see
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What are the advantages of starting in the summer?
Please visit our
page for a detailed discussion of our summer start,
in which students graduate a half year earlier than would otherwise be possible.
Statistically speaking, applying for both summer and fall semesters gives the file
reader more seats for which to consider the applicant in any given year. However,
if you cannot attend for the summer term, please apply for fall only, since the
slight statistical boost is not worth it if you cannot actually attend, and term
switches are not guaranteed.
How does being a summer starter help or hurt my career prospects?
By the time that a summer starter would begin a summer internship with a law firm
or public service employer, the student will have had three semesters of law school,
which means that they are already halfway through their legal education. Students
should communicate this to employers, as many employers will consider this quite
beneficial. For an extended discussion of this topic, please visit the
The other distinction for summer starters is the fact that most will graduate
in December and will sit for the February bar exam. After that, many will take advantage
of the time they have to do a short-term, post-graduate internship with a nonprofit,
either in the United States or abroad (Michigan Law School students may apply for
Bates Fellowship, which funds work/study abroad). Others may use the time to
travel, and still others will decide to start working in March, rather than wait
until September when most new associates begin their jobs.
Should I apply through the Early
Is your heart set on Michigan? If you've considered all of your options and
know this is the place for you, applying Early Decision is a great way to demonstrate
a high level of interest in Michigan Law as well as to ensure that your application
will be among the first to be reviewed. In return for the Law School's commitment
to give you a decision by mid-December, you must commit, at the time of application,
to attend the Law School if admitted under the Early Decision program, and to withdraw
and/or not initiate applications at other law schools (that means you may not simultaneously
apply under the binding early decision programs of other schools). The Early Decision
program at Michigan is limited to those applicants wishing to begin in the summer
term: the Early Decision option will advantage summer-start candidates by enabling
them to begin planning a few months earlier for the early June starting date.
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What is the tuition at the University of Michigan Law School?
The tuition and fees
for the 2014-15 academic year are $51,398 for Michigan Residents and $54,398 for
Nonresidents, and estimated living expenses are approximately $18,030. A tuition
estimate for the 2015-2016 academic year will be available in February.
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Do a lot of Law Students come straight from their undergraduate
Between two thirds and three fourths of our student body spend one or more years
off before enrolling in the Law School; most take five or fewer years off.
What was the average age of the 1L class?
The mean age of the 2014 entering class is 24.3; ages range from 20 to 40.
Where do law students live?
Michigan Law students have numerous on-campus and off-campus housing options. Typically,
a little less than half of the first-year class has chosen to live on campus in
the Lawyers Club, which is part of the Law Quadrangle.
Club recently reopened after extensive renovations, thanks in large part to
a generous donation by
Charles T. Munger. The Lawyers Club offers furnished single rooms with private
or semi-private bathrooms, and a meal plan is included in the resident fee. Another
on-campus option is our graduate and family housing on North Campus—called
Community Apartments—which is just a short, free bus ride away from the law
school. Finally, as of this writing, the
Munger Graduate Residence Hall is under construction, due to be open in Fall
Approximately two thirds of our students live off campus in apartments and houses,
most within walking distance of the law school. The
Off-Campus Housing Office has an extensive website that includes listings of
apartments, rooms, co-ops, parking spaces, and a roommate matching service. It also
includes maps and a list of landlords and management companies who have met certain
criteria for inclusion. Popular neighborhoods close to campus include Angell, Bach,
and Burns Park, which encompass Downtown, Kerrytown, the Old West Side, and the
area immediately south of the law school. Check out Arborweb's
guide to get a better sense of which part of town is right for you.
Law students also have the option of living at The Kent Inn House of Phi Delta
Phi, known as the Phid House, which is very
affordable and just a block from the law school.
Are most Michigan Law students from the Midwest?
Our students come from all over the country and all over the world. As the chart
demonstrates, only about 40 percent come from Michigan and the other 11 states that
comprise the Midwest, and an almost equal number come from the East and the West
What is Ann Arbor like?
Ann Arbor is
an exciting and vibrant city of about 115,000. Because it is, in many respects,
the quintessential "university town," it offers many businesses and services geared
towards students' needs, therefore making it a great place to be a student. Yet
Ann Arbor is also remarkably sophisticated, offering a plethora of
dance, popular and classical music, films—as well as restaurants specializing in
a wide variety of cuisines, innumerable coffee shops and bookstores. And, of course,
the sports venues—both college and professional—are unsurpassed. Athletes, in addition
to spectators, will also love what Ann Arbor can offer in terms of running, canoeing,
cross-country skiing, and workout facilities. If you're moving to Ann Arbor with
family, the city has great
public schools as well as parks and an award-winning
Some useful websites to introduce you to Ann Arbor are:
What about the weather?
It is our impression that, perhaps due to some fundamental geographic confusion,
many people imagine the weather in Ann Arbor to be much worse than it actually is.
Protestations from us, however, end up sounding a bit pathetic. So instead, we say
judge for yourself—check out the average temperatures and snowfall in
New York and
Chicago. And bear in mind: it's always a balmy 70 degrees in the library.
What time zone is Ann Arbor in?
We are at the western edge of the Eastern time zone, so we have the same time as
our friends on the East Coast, but it is light for about an hour later in the evening—a
particularly welcome fact during December afternoons.
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When evaluating essays from applicants from non-English
speaking countries, do you give more leeway to the language quality of the essay,
or do you apply the same standards as you would to the writing of a native speaker?
We do expect to see essentially an equivalent level of mastery of written English.
We expect to see certain types of minor mistakes—e.g., problems with plurals—with
non-native speakers, but in terms of overall skill level, we expect full fluency.
Applying this standard is to the benefit of the applicant, because this is the level
of skill an applicant will need in order to succeed here.
May a foreign applicant who does not write well in English
use a professional editing service to edit for language and style?
We expect that essays are the work of the applicant. It's one thing to show them
to a friend or two for input, but we definitely frown upon a professional service.
This is true whether the applicant is a native speaker or not; all too often, U.S.
natives will hire "admissions consultants" to actually pen their personal statements,
and we view that too as a violation of our expectation that all the work is that
of the applicant. You'd be surprised how easily we are able to detect these professionally
polished essays. We will often compare the writing style of the LSAT essay with
that of the personal statement, for example, and when there's a stark contrast,
we'll know why.
We do not require TOEFL scores for the JD application as the LSAT is an adequate
measure of English proficiency.
How does Michigan Law evaluate the undergraduate GPAs of
international applicants from countries that have a different grading system than
the United States? Will a foreign applicant be at a disadvantage if her college
does not grade-inflate as much as some American undergraduate institutions might,
especially if the foreign college does not rank its students? If the foreign college
does rank its students, what percentile/rank do you typically look for?
Thanks to our LLM program (to which we admit almost exclusively foreign-trained
lawyers), we have a great deal of institutional knowledge of the grading practices
of various countries and colleges in those countries, and are able to evaluate transcripts
with a great deal of nuance. Further, bear in mind that although some U.S. colleges
do engage in a shocking degree of grade inflation, we get information about that
from the Law School Admissions Council, and assess records from those schools accordingly;
i.e., students from grade-inflating schools are not themselves at an advantage.
There is no cutoff for class rank, and we don't target a particular performance;
we evaluate the transcript with an eye toward the strength of the institution and
the rigor of the curriculum. We also look at how long ago the grades were earned,
and whether the applicant has since acquired some interesting work experience or
a graduate degree.
To what extent does the name recognition of one's undergraduate
institution affect Michigan Law's admission decision? Presumably American law school
admission officers are more familiar with the reputation and relative strengths
of American colleges, and are less familiar with foreign colleges. Are you willing
to admit students from foreign colleges that are less well-known internationally
(but nevertheless well respected domestically)?
We certainly do evaluate the caliber of the undergraduate institution, and consider
the applicant's record in light of the strength of the school. But as mentioned
above, we have perhaps more in-house knowledge about a wide variety of international
institutions than do many law schools.
For a foreign applicant who, following an undergraduate
degree from overseas, has completed a graduate degree in the U.S., will her graduate
GPA from the U.S. institution be given more weight than her undergraduate GPA from
We don't have a formula, but it will certainly play an important role in the evaluation.
If an applicant has already earned an LLB from abroad and
is applying to your JD program, would you prefer that she explain in her essay why
she needs another first law degree (instead of the LLM), or would you treat her
application no differently than applications from students who majored in a subject
other than law? What if the applicant has already earned both an LLB and an LLM
For the first scenario, we wouldn't at all be surprised to see someone seeking
a JD rather than an LLM; the two degrees have very different purposes and functions.
If someone has already earned an LLM in the U.S., however, it would be useful (though
not mandatory, by any means) to include a discussion of what additional value the
JD will provide.
For applicants from non-English speaking countries, do you
favor those who majored/minored in English over those who have not received a rigorous
training in the English language? What if the applicant has completed a graduate
degree in an English-speaking country?
We definitely expect all our JD candidates, including those for whom English
is not the native language, to be fluent in English; to that end, being able to
demonstrate significant English language background will be helpful. Majoring, however,
is certainly not necessary. Any level of schooling in an English-speaking country
would be a helpful indicator of English preparation but again, it's not necessary.
Often we see students who have worked for U.S. companies or firms, albeit in another
country, and that too can be a good way to indicate strong English proficiency.
Will a recommendation letter from a professor who does not
write well in English hurt my chances?
It definitely won't hurt you—we won't attribute your professor's relative lack of
English ability to you!—but it simply won't be a weight in your favor. If we have
trouble understanding the letter, we will most likely simply ignore it. So long
as you have one strong letter of recommendation from someone who is able to communicate
easily in English, you need not be concerned.
Currently, what percentage of the applications you receive
is from international students, i.e., those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent
residents, regardless of where they attended college? Do you expect this number
to rise in the next few years? Will Michigan admit more international students in
response, or is there a somewhat fixed number of seats allocated to international
A relatively small number of applicants are neither citizens nor permanent legal
residents of the U.S.—about 300 a year, out of the 5000 applications we typically
receive, or about 5 percent of our pool. We have no fixed number of seats allocated
to international students; the number we admit will depend on the quality of the
international pool, taken in the context of the quality of the pool overall. Our
goal is to admit the best law school applicants in the world in any given year,
so as the pool grows and improves, the number we admit will grow as well.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see in applications
from China or other countries? What other suggestions and advice do you have for
The biggest hurdle for the international applicant is often the personal statement.
We really look for something personal; not something secret or scandalous, but something
that only you could have written, and something that really gives us insight into
what you would be like to have in the student body. U.S. culture likely trains U.S.
folks to do this relatively easily, but it can be a more uncomfortable exercise
for people from many other cultures.
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