HarveyBirdman wrote:this is an excellent point and is in the neighborhood of what i am trying to get across here. it seems like a lot of posters here are focused on the all-mighty list of law schools, not on their own personal abilities. what is stopping us from doing anything we want? ourselves. not our schools.
i know what it takes to get into a top ranked law school, but for me the universe began collapsing on itself when i started wondering "what does a high LSAT score mean? how is it relevant to law school or working in the law profession?" as well as the same questions regarding GPA, extra-curriculars, recommendations, etc etc.
and then there's the questions of "why is a particular law school better ranked than another?" and "should i blindly follow these rankings trying to claw my way to the top?"
it might be evident why harvard law is a much better school than hollywood upstairs law school, but when you compare two schools like harvard and cincinnati that have both been around forever and obviously neither are run by idiots, what is the tangible difference here? biglaw firms from across the country will recruit at harvard but not at cincinnati? why? because they don't have the resources to go to every mom and pop law school or because they honestly think students from those law schools will make inferior employees compared to the harvard ones?
hypothetical situation: hard working student from 4th tier law school is recruited by biglaw firm, offered huge starting salary compared to what his classmates get. he's a proven hard worker even if he didn't have the money or LSAT/GPA numbers to get into a top school. to me it would seem like that person would be so thankful for that opportunity he would work his ass off at that firm and be the most loyal employee they could hope for.
anyway, back to what law admissions people are looking for...some people here made good points that they are aiming to increase their rankings and add diversity to the class. but if i were to call a top law school's admissions office and bluntly ask them "what do you look for in an applicant?" and they said "good LSAT scores, GPA, etc" and then i said "why do those things matter?" what would be the answer to that?
High LSAT: You're good at reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logic. All skills that are pretty good and dandy when studying law.
High GPA: You had the combination of talents/work ethic(/gradeinflation/easycourseelection/etc.) to not do poorly in undergrad. You are more likely to pull the same off in law school than someone who flunked undergrad(there are exceptions, systems are never designed for the odd exception, nor should they be).
Extracurriculars: You have done things in your life besides play video games! You have possibly accomplished things outside of the classroom that can demonstrate important skills for success (leadership, involvement, a propensity to do something besides sitting around...)
Recommendations: Demonstrate that you're not such a totally insufferable twat that even your professors hate you!
Big Law prefers top schools for several reasons:
1) They're mostly alums from there.
2) They do believe that the average Harvard student is going to be better than the average T4 student. Sureee there might be an exception, but it is impractical and inefficient to do an exhaustive search for an exception, when you could just do a narrow search to find many people who are good enough for your needs.
Law firms aren't the only ones to do this. Consulting companies, finance companies, etc. do this as well at the undergrad level.