SLS isn't an Ivy, both schools actively blog about their admissions process (though SLS is not as transparent as Yale, which is arguably the MOST transparent of the top schools), and neither school sends mass dings via email like most of the rest of the T14.
Huh? Just because they blog about the functional process doesn't make it transparent.
They don't tell us (and it's certainly not obvious from the outside) what they're looking for in an applicant, or even that they're consistent in their judging of applicants.
The Yale process isn't transparent in the sense that you mean, but we at least know what form the process takes. We know that the YLS admissions office reads all applications in their entirety; we know that the YLS admissions office directly accepts about 50-60 applicants and directly rejects most of the other applicants; we know that the applications that are neither directly accepted nor directly rejected get forwarded to three different faculty members for review; and we know that each faculty reviewer assigns the applicant a score of 2 to 4.
No, we don't know exactly what they're looking for in an applicant--with 60 different faculty members participating in the review process, how could we?--but we do have a relatively clear understanding of the process. With SLS, by contrast, we have little idea. How many people look at each app? Are faculty involved at all in the review process? If faculty are involved, what is their role? Does SLS require that each application be read in its entirety, or does it reject certain applications based purely on inadequate numbers?
I'm not trying to give SLS a hard time. Like most schools, it doesn't talk openly about its admissions process. But YLS does, and that makes it unique in my experience. It's possible that other schools are similarly open about their process (Berkeley comes close), but I don't know of any.