How To Get Into

Harvard Law School

Harvard Program Overview

The oldest continuously operated law school in the United States and one of the most famous in the world, Harvard Law School requires little introduction. Consistently ranked in the top 3 in the country, HLS is one of the most selective institutions in the United States, typically admitting less than 15% of applicants. Despite having some of the largest classes (over 500 JD candidates annually), the race for spots is highly competitive: Candidates need to demonstrate not only a stellar academic record (median GPA of 3.86), but also stand out in their personal statements, extracurricular activities and/or work experience.

The list of notable HLS alumni is certainly too long to enumerate, and the lucky graduates will join ranks with the likes of former President Barack Obama (and former First Lady Michelle), five out of the nine sitting Supreme Court Justices (Chief Justice Roberts and justices Breyer, Kennedy, Gorsuch, and Kagan – the latter coming in after a stint as Harvard Law School’s dean), leading politicians Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz, and many more.

HLS is located in Cambridge, MA, just a short subway ride from Boston, which – when students choose to leave the comfort of Harvard Square – provides easy access to the great history, food, and sports tradition the city offers. Additionally, the school is located in close proximity to dozens of other quality universities (including MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Brandeis, and many more), ensuring that there’s never a dull moment for students.

Harvard Law School

 Important Insights about Harvard Law School

Curriculum
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Despite Harvard Law School’s large class size, the school groups students in smaller classrooms to provide as much student-faculty interaction: While 1L classes are typically comprised of over 80 students, the majority of HLS’s 400 offered courses (more than any other law school in the country) have fewer than 25 students enrolled, including more than 75 seminars in which small groups of students work directly with a faculty member.

In addition to the many opportunities to learn from some of the best legal minds in the country (including Dean John Manning and Alan Dershowitz), HLS students can cross-enroll in other top-notch schools’ classes such as Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and even MIT.

While each student is free to enroll in any classes they wish, HLS offers optional programs of study, directing students to classes and faculty aligned with their specific areas of interest. The offered programs are in the fields of Law and Government; Law and Business; International and Comparative Law; Law, Science, and Technology; Law and Social Change; Criminal Justice; and Law and History.

Finally, to encourage collaboration between students and alleviate some concerns prospective students may have had about HLS’s cutthroat reputation, the school instituted an “honors”/“high pass”/”pass”/”low pass” grading system, and class rankings or curves are never published.

Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
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HLS offers a great variety of clinical programs, most instructed by practicing attorneys rather than HLS faculty, and all are open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLM students. Almost 80% of HLS graduates participate in at least one clinic, which give students not only invaluable hands-on experience, but also a way to satisfy the school’s requirement that students take on 50 pro bono hours.

Most clinics are conducted in a traditional setting, with the students engaging clients and supervisors directly, and meeting in a group later on to discuss the experiences and lessons learned. However, HLS offers other avenues to gain real world experience, including externship clinics across the country, independent clinical research anywhere in the world, and pro bono participation through one of many of the school’s student organizations.

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This is an opportunity for us to explore your background and start to help you cultivate a plan of action to get you into your top-choice law school. It’s free to get started.

 Important Facts about Harvard Law School

Deadlines
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Early Decision: Harvard does not offer an early decision application.

Deadlines: Applications must be received by February 1.

Harvard offers a Junior Deferral Program, allowing applicants to apply as juniors in college, and – if admitted – commit to defer their enrollment for a minimum of 2 years after graduating from college. The deadline for a Junior Deferral Program application is February 15.

Harvard reviews admissions on a rolling basis, meaning that they are reviewed roughly in the order they are received. Therefore, it’s in the applicant’s best interest to submit their application as early as possible.

Standardized Testing

LSAT: December is the latest date for first-time takers of the LSAT. However, applicants intending to retake the LSAT in February may inform HLS of their decision. The school will then wait until the scores are released before making a decision.

GRE: Harvard accepts the GRE in lieu of the LSAT. The school advises applicants to sit for the GRE no later than January 15. Applicants intending to retake the GRE may inform HLS of their decision (so long as they are not retaking the exam after March 16). The school will then wait until the scores are released before making a decision.

Multiple scores: HLS views all scores in a holistic approach, and does not average scores or consider only the highest or most recent scores.

Interview: HLS conducts a short Skype interviews with prospective students.

Notification: Because of the School’s rolling basis review, decisions are made anytime between December and May, depending on when the application was submitted.

Class Profile
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Class Size: 562

Women: 48%

Students of color: 45%

Median LSAT: 173 (low 170, high 175)

Median GPA: 3.86 (low 3.76, high 3.96)

Career Placement
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Bar Passage Rate (first-time test takers): 95.03%

Industries

  • Law Firms: 59.35%
  • Judicial Clerkships: 23.30%
  • Business & Industry: 4.93
  • Government/Public Interest: 11.22%
  • Education: 1.20%

Geographies

  • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 49.32%
  • Central: 4.93%
  • South Atlantic/Central: 24.86%
  • Mountain/Pacific: 16.67%
  • U.S. Territories/Foreign: 3.23%

 Harvard Law School Resources

Admissions Tips & Advice for Getting Accepted

Essay Prompts

Personal Statement

The personal statement provides an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, your ideas, and your qualifications to the Admissions Committee. Please limit your statement to two pages using a minimum of 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing.

The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement.

Optional Statement

The Admissions Committee makes every effort to understand your achievements in the context of your background and to build a diverse student body. If applicable, you may choose to submit an optional additional statement to elaborate on how you could contribute to the diversity of the Harvard Law School community.

Addenda

We encourage you to provide any relevant information that may be helpful to us in making an informed decision on your application. Any information that you believe to be relevant to your application is appropriate. Examples of information that may be relevant to individual cases include unusual circumstances that may have affected academic performance, a description or documentation of a physical or learning disability, an explicit history of standardized test results accompanying a strong academic performance, or a history of educational or sociological disadvantage.

If a close relative has attended HLS, you may attach this information in an addendum.

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