Most top law schools still accepting applications for fall classhttp://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... pting.html
A couple of days ago a commenter noted that it appeared the University of Illinois might still be accepting applications for the fall class, more than four months after the school’s formal application deadline of March 15th, and less than a month before the start of 1L orientation.
This piqued another reader’s interest, who proceeded to call the admissions office of every top 50 law school, to see whether any of these schools were still accepting applications for the incoming class of 2012.
At the same time yet another reader, who was planning to start law school in 2013, but who began to rethink that plan, in part because he got a very high score on the June LSAT, emailed a number of high-ranked schools, inquiring if they might entertain an application at this late date from someone with his impressive credentials. He forwarded me some fascinating responses, and I asked him to email the rest of the top 50 as well. (In the wake of the responses he got he has decided not to apply, but not for the reasons one might assume).
The results of these inquiries are eye-opening. Given that part of a school’s USNWR ranking is determined by its yield rate – that is, the proportion between total applicants, total acceptances, and total matriculants – it would seem in a school’s interest to have a late application deadline (in addition, application fees are a source of revenue).
But this ignores the extent to which law schools use application deadlines as status-signaling devices. With a couple of exceptions, application deadlines are closely correlated with hierarchical status: high-ranked schools all have formal application deadlines in February or March, or at the latest early April, while low-ranked schools usually have much later deadlines. (The two exceptions to the former rule are Alabama and Indiana-Bloomington, which extend their formal application deadlines late into the summer).
As we are about to see, the key word in the previous paragraph is “formal.” Here is a list of top 50 schools who were still accepting applications for the 2012 class as of July 24th (The date next to the school’s name is the deadline for applications according to the school’s web site):
George Washington (4/5)
Boston U (3/30)
Washington & Lee: (3/1)
Alabama: (8/8, i.e., formal deadline hasn’t passed)
Indiana-Bloomington: (7/31, i.e., formal deadline hasn’t passed)
Arizona State: (2/1)
William & Mary: (3/1)
George Mason: (4/1)
Brigham Young: (3/1)
Wake Forest: (3/15)
So 28 of the 50 top schools – including eight of the top 17 -- are still accepting applications for 2012. In all but two cases they’re doing so four to six months after their formally announced deadlines, and in some instances just three weeks before the beginning of the fall semester.
But the real story is more complicated, and more troubling. Ten of these 28 schools told my correspondent who called the admissions office that they were not accepting applications (This person, unlike the e-mailer, gave no information about his qualifications). These ten schools are Chicago, Michigan, Texas, UCLA, George Washington, Emory, Boston U, Arizona State, Fordham, and George Mason. (In addition, Wisconsin told the caller the answer was no, but that the school “might consider an exception.”).What does all this tell us?
(1) Times are already harder in even the high-rent districts of legal academia than I would have guessed. What answer do you suppose somebody would have gotten two years ago if he had contacted Chicago and Michigan six months after their application deadlines and asked, can i still haz a look frm yr adcom plz?
(2) Do As I Say Not As I Do, Chapter 734. Law schools go on endlessly about “ethics” and “honor codes,” and “professional responsibility,” and the Rule of Law, but are once again willing to fold, spindle and mutilate their own rules with extreme prejudice should they find those rules in any way inconvenient to their own immediate interests. And again, lawyers can get in big trouble when they’re caught doing similar things.
(3) If you were on the wait list on one or more of these schools, how aggravated would you be to discover that your spot in the class might be taken by somebody who missed the application deadline by half a year?
(4) These sorts of shenanigans illustrate yet another unfair advantage possessed by people with enough cultural capital to understand that even at high-status institutions The Rules aren’t really the rules if you know how to work the system.
(5) Does this behavior raise any potential legal liability? My correspondent who called the schools wonders if at least the public institutions in the group who told him he couldn’t apply, while telling the e-mailer he could, might be violating certain procedural norms to an extent that could be actionable. (There’s a nice little con law hypo).
Leaving aside questions of strict legality, this kind of thing just smells bad. How hard is it for a law school to simply tell potential applicants the truth, even about something as supposedly straightforward as its application deadline? The answer to that question is both revealing and depressing.