The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard Law School’s admissions policies over the last few years actively prefer applicants with work experience post-undergrad and pre-law school.
In the past, close to 50% of incoming HLS students were straight out of undergrad, but since 2009, that percent has been decreasing steadily. Now, ¾ of each incoming class has some type of post-undergraduate work experience.
This trend is likely to continue as law schools begin to focus on students who are self-directed and bring value to the law school class beyond a sharp mind. The Crimson quotes an admissions officer as saying, “[Work experience] is something we actively preference and look for in the application process.” The same admissions officers and professors point out that work experience is an additional asset when looking for post-graduation employment.
What are the takeaways from this trend? First, if HLS actively prefers applicants with work experience, then other top-tier schools will certainly follow (if they haven’t already). Second, it means that candidates with lower GPAs and LSAT scores can bolster their application with meaningful work experience.
If you are waiting to apply to next year, be sure to increase your chance of admissions by finding meaningful work. Furthermore, be sure that your personal essay emphasizes this experience and what you have learned.
Jessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She spent two years guiding students through the medical school application process at Columbia’s PostBacc Program and teaches writing at all levels.