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Law schools are choosing substance over LSATs, admissions dean says

Posted May 16, 2013 6:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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According to the rumors, it’s a lot easier to get into a good law school nowadays.

The Careerist asked the admissions dean at the University of Michigan Law School whether the rumor is true. Sarah Zearfoss, the school’s dean for admissions, financial aid and career planning, acknowledges that more options are available to would-be law students because of a decline in applicants. “People who had two or three schools to choose from in the past are now choosing among six to seven,” Zearfoss says.

Zearfoss tells the Careerist that applicant numbers are “dramatically down” on a national level, and down by about 3 percent at the University of Michigan Law School. “I'm very conscious that there are fewer great people in the pool,” she says.

Zearfoss concedes “there's been an arms race with LSATs and GPAs” among top law schools seeking the best students. “I think the shrunken pool has forced admissions officers to think about what we really need in our class, and it's not just the LSAT,” Zearfoss says. “I think we are choosing substance over LSATs.”

The Careerist suggests that “substance over LSAT” is a radical concept. “I don't thinking focusing on scores is the way to go,” Zearfoss responds. “It's not fair to the individual. It's not fair to the institution.”

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