I apologize if this has been asked before, will you walk us through the admissions process? What happens from the moment my application is complete at a school in the HYS range?
Who looks at the file and makes the decision to schedule an interview? And does the interviewer have final authority on who gets in? How many people read a student's application?
Do admissions officers all sit at a table and debate accepting an applicant or does this happen only when an applicant is below median? Does the Dean gets involved? Professors? and if so, at what point?
Many questions, just curious how this important decision is made when one receives thousands of files to review.
The process really is different at every school, but basically here goes: Once your application is complete, it is usually sorted in some way (usually - but not limited to - LSAT/GPA). This usually done to make distribution of the reading load easier to manage for the admissions staff. It does not mean that if you are in one pile you are doomed and in another and you are in - all applications will be read eventually. Some piles are read quicker than others.
An admissions officer will read the file and recommend action, usually by assigning a score to the application. People who read the file vary from school to school, but it is a safe bet that there are more than one or two people reading thousands of files.
The interview is a part of the evaluation process, so it is an element that will be considered. The interviewer certainly has a voice in the process, but is not always the final decision maker.
There is sometimes a faculty admissions committee that plays a role in the decision making process, and this role varies drastically from school to school. It is rarely the case where they all sit around the table and discuss each and every application -- or even a large portion of applications. That would take an awfully long time. Decisions are made usually by a combination of the scores from each reader/interviewer, and the Dean of Admissions is usually the final decision maker (except Yale - their process is pretty transparent on their website).
The Dean of a Law School generally does not play a role in the admissions process at all.
Over the course of each year, I probably read about 1,500 - 2,000 files from October to May. I read most of them from home on nights, weekends and holidays, reading 30-50 files at a time (which is why I think a good personal statement can make a huge difference!). I think this is how most admissions officers read.
I hope this is helpful!