In an interview with the Yale Undergraduate Law Review, Josh Rubenstein, Dean of Admissions at Harvard Law School, offers guidance for those interested in HLS. He touts the size of the school as an advantage, allowing for more opportunities, such as a larger faculty, huge number of courses, etc. Nevertheless, the school is still broken down into small “neighborhoods,” with smaller sections, reading groups, and clinics.
HLS also has strong support for public interest, including its low-income protection plan, and international law, with a new 1L Required Elective, study abroad options, and LLM program.
Regarding the admissions process, Rubenstein says they’re looking for two main things: “We are trying to get a sense of what your academic potential is and how you’re going to contribute to the intellectual community, and we are trying to get a sense of what leadership potential you have and what type of impact you have in the greater world, going forward.” Your academic potential includes all your transcripts, not just your GPA. Letters of recommendation hold a lot of weight, and it’s key to find someone who knows you well to write yours. Rubenstein recommends to “sit down with the person who is going to write your recommendation and remind them of who you are.” Then the LSAT comes into play, mostly as a “confirmatory variable.” When reading the personal statements, the best ones express why law school is a good fit for you, but do so implicitly.
Rubenstein emphasizes that there is no prototype for an HLS student, and that “we love people who have a passion, who have a strong interest, have sort of an established reason why law school make sense for them and what they are going to do something with that degree.” Your interest doesn’t have to be unique—just convey your passion and why you’re drawn to it, and why law school is the right choice for you.