We know our prospective law students have many questions about law school in general and about Michigan Law in particular.
We hope this FAQ can answer most of yours. If you have other questions that are not answered on our website, or if you have questions about your specific circumstances, you are welcome to email the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 734.764.0537.
Frequently Asked Questions
Preparation for Law School
What should I study?
There is no particular major or curriculum that is required for admission to or success in law school, and we find that a student body with backgrounds in a variety of disciplines adds depth and breadth to the classroom dialogue. As a result, an entering class at Michigan Law typically includes 65 or 70 different majors. The majors perennially most common in our entering classes are political science, history, economics, English, and philosophy; some atypical majors that we think provide particularly good training for law school are computer science, mathematics, engineering, and hard sciences, which make up about 15 percent of the class. Classics, seen relatively rarely, is also an excellent foundation for legal study. But pursuing a particular major simply because you think it will give you an advantage in the law school admissions process is an exercise in futility, since you are less likely to perform well in a major that doesn't engage you. We recommend, therefore, that you study subjects that are interesting to you. Because we seek curricula that are both broad and deep, we also recommend that you take challenging courses in whatever is your chosen core field, and that you branch out and test yourself in areas outside your comfort zone. Classes that give you experience with close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing are always helpful.
From what schools does the University of Michigan Law School accept students?
We accept students from a wide variety of undergraduate schools, with almost 300 distinct institutions represented in the student body. While the strength of an undergraduate institution is certainly a factor we consider in the admissions process, our commitment to maintaining the excellence of our student body does not limit the wide range of educational institutions from which our students hail. There most assuredly is no accredited school whose graduates we would be simply unwilling to admit. (And for the record, contrary to popular belief / persistent and intractable rumor, students who attended the University of Michigan for their undergraduate studies are not at any disadvantage over students from other schools. Go Blue!)
In what activities should I participate? What groups should I join?
As with majors, we have no preconceived list of "best" extracurriculars or work experience. You should pursue the areas that interest you. So, while as a general matter we like to see some evidence of involvement, engagement, or work in something outside your studies, we have no particular preference for the type of activity or work (and it certainly doesn't have to be legal-related). It is helpful if you give us some sense of the nature and extent of your involvement; further, if the name of a group or organization is a little mysterious to the uninitiated (e.g., the whacky-sounding Kalamazoo Moustache Society, which actually raises money to combat domestic violence), it might be helpful to describe briefly the mission or purpose.
How does the University of Michigan Law School handle multiple LSAT scores?
The LSAC report for an applicant who has sat for the LSAT more than once will show every score or cancellation, as well as the average score. The ABA requires law schools to report score information based on an admitted student's highest score, and therefore, that is the score to which we give the most weight. We do, however, consider the average score as well, because data provided by the Law School Admissions Council suggests that it has the greatest predictive utility. The average score becomes less useful, though, as the disparity between two scores increases; for that reason, if you have a significant disparity between scores (six or more points), it would be very helpful to address any explanation for the difference in an optional essay or addendum. And if you sit for the test three or more times, an explanation for that can also be useful to file readers.
When should I take the LSAT?
With LSAC now offering test administrations nine times a year, you have lots of good options. It's helpful to take the test early enough so that if something goes horribly wrong, you will have enough time to take it again prior to the admission season really heating up—that means that taking the test by November of the admissions season in which you are applying is the safest possible choice. The January exam (and those later) place you at a bit of a disadvantage because the score will not be released until about the time of our application deadline. (Although we can't review an application without an LSAT score, simply submitting your application by our deadline is enough to satisfy our deadline.)
How old can my LSAT score be?
LSAC will produce score reports as old as June five years prior to the admission season. So, for the 2019-20 season, a score from June 2014 is the oldest we can accept.
How does the Law School view canceled LSAT scores?
While one canceled score will not raise any red flags in an application evaluation, a pattern of canceled scores may cause some concern. (For one thing, it shows that you have been exposed to the test on multiple dates, and any subsequent score needs to be assessed with that in mind.) Depending on the circumstances, an explanation for your cancellation(s) can be helpful.
I registered for an LSAT sitting but then a conflict arose. I tried to change my test date, but missed the deadline for doing so. What should I do?
LSAC requires people to make test date changes at least three weeks in advance of the test. That means that people who have very good reasons for postponing can't do so if they don't learn of the conflict in the necessary timeframe. What to do?
First, if the conflict is with the date itself—e.g., you're scheduled for surgery—your only option is not to attend. There will be a notation on a subsequent score report showing that you were absent for the test. A single absence is simply not a big deal at all, and you shouldn't worry about it. A pattern of absences may be a red flag, however, and so you would be wise to be careful to keep your calendar free for your next test registration date, or to be sure to postpone within the timeframe prescribed by LSAC. If you're really worried about the notation of an absence, you're more than welcome to submit a couple of lines in explanation along with your other application materials, but it truly is not necessary.
Second, if your conflict is not with the test date itself but with the necessary preparation (e.g., you're a paralegal and were unexpectedly asked to participate in a trial for the two weeks prior to the test), you have two choices: (A) take the test and roll the dice with the score, or (B) take the test and cancel the score. (For information about canceled scores, see the prior FAQ.) Only you can know which option makes the most sense for your situation—but rolling the dice tends to be a pretty low-cost risk. Schools report the higher score, so if you retake and do better, that's the score that will carry the weight. And there's always a chance you'll do well and be done!
What if I don't feel ready to take the LSAT?
We, like most law school admissions offices, operate on a rolling basis, meaning that application files are reviewed in the order of their completion (although we don't necessarily reach a decision on an application in the order in which it is read; some decisions simply take longer than others). This means that there is some advantage to applying earlier in the process (when more seats remain to be filled) rather than later. It is also true, though, that it is to your advantage to have the highest possible score on the LSAT—so you shouldn't take the test until you're ready for it. Applicants will need to take these competing considerations (application timing versus getting the optimal score) into account for themselves. Consider, though, that you can always reapply in a future year and overcome the disadvantage of a late application, but you cannot erase a low LSAT score.
If I got a low score the first time, should I retake the LSAT?
If your score was significantly different from your practice tests (and you are confident that you were accurately timing yourself), and if you can identify something in particular that might have negatively affected your score the first time (you didn't prepare; you were sick; there was a marching band outside the exam site), you should seriously consider retaking the test. In the absence of both of those factors, though, odds are that a second score will not be a substantial improvement; the vast majority of people who retake the LSAT get a score that is only a couple of points higher—or even a couple of points lower. It would probably make more sense for you to put your energy into making sure the other elements of your application are the best that they can be. Some matters to take into account when considering taking the test again: there is no statistically significant difference within plus or minus three points of any particular LSAT score, so a reviewer is unlikely to view small differences as important; although we give the most weight to the highest score, we also consider the average score (see also our discussion above, about how to handle multiple scores); and, most horrifyingly, there is always the possibility that you will receive a lower score on a subsequent test—a possibility that, statistically speaking, becomes more likely when the initial score is 165 or higher.
I am re-taking the LSAT. If I submit my application prior to re-taking the LSAT, but with a previous score on record, will my application be reviewed prior to the release of my new score?
If you are comfortable with all your other application materials, we encourage you to submit your application now rather than waiting for a new LSAT score to send everything—and to make sure to let us know the new score is en route. Because we have a rolling admissions process, there is some advantage to being reviewed earlier rather than later, and if you submit all your materials only after receiving your score, your application will not be complete and ready for review until several additional weeks later. If you submit all your other materials in advance though, then when the score arrives we can complete your application file immediately and submit it for review, rather than just beginning to process it at that time.
While we do not universally hold applications in limbo while we await a new score, our reviewers will see that you are registered for a future LSAT. If we feel that a new score could be a decision-making difference, we will set the application aside and re-review it once the new score arrives. But if we are comfortable admitting you without seeing the new score, we will go ahead and do that; by the same token, if we are sure that an increased LSAT score would not alone lead to a different outcome, we will issue a final decision before receiving the score. If that happens, you are welcome to request that we reconsider your application in light of new information.
I have a learning disability that I believe would allow me to receive extra time on the LSAT. Should I apply for accommodation? Will my file be evaluated differently if I have an accommodated test score?
If you think you may be entitled to accommodation on the LSAT, whether extra time for a learning disability or some adaptation for a physical disability, you should certainly apply to the Law School Admissions Council; forms are available on the LSAC's website. Often applicants worry that accommodation will reflect negatively on them in the application process, but accommodated scores are not "flagged," and whether you received accommodations will therefore not be evident to admissions offices. (And in any event, it would certainly never be the case at Michigan Law that an accommodated score would be looked at with a jaundiced eye.) Further, if you are entitled to accommodation and do not utilize it, it is likely that your score will be negatively affected; while we would take into account any contextual information you provide about why the score may not be predictive for you, you would nonetheless be better off simply to have a more favorable score in the first instance. For detailed information on the subject of accommodated testing, visit the LSAC's website. Please be aware that the accommodation process can be time-intensive, and it would be to your benefit to apply for accommodation well in advance of when you intend to sit for the test.
If you apply for accommodation but LSAC does not grant it, we would encourage you to provide us with any information that you think would allow us to more accurately gauge your score. Likewise, we encourage you to provide us with any information about your disability that you think is relevant to an evaluation of your academic background, work history, or any other element of your admissions materials.
- How do I request information about the Law School?
How should I send in my application?
You should apply electronically via the LSAC FlexApp. As you complete the FlexApp, it can be useful to refer to our annotated screenshots of the FlexApp questions, where we provide guidance on the information we are hoping to elicit. It may also be helpful to refer to a PDF of the application in the format in which our reviewers will see the answers you submit via the FlexApp.
What supporting materials need to be submitted with my application?
We need a completed application (that is, the filled-out FlexApp along with answers to our questions about your work and outside activities), the LSAC report (with transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended, LSAT scores, and recommendation(s) if using LSAC's Recommender Service), personal statement, optional essays (if any), recommendation(s) (if sending directly to us rather than via LSAC), and application fee ($75) or fee waiver. Note: one recommendation is required, but three are allowed and suggested. If there is any information in your application you wish to clarify—for example, your undergraduate record or gaps in employment—you may submit that information in the "Attachments" section under "Addendum." You may submit as many addenda as you need.
Does Michigan offer application fee waivers? If so, how can I get one?
We offer several types of application fee waivers. First, we give application fee waivers through LSAC's Candidate Referral Service (CRS). These fee waivers are sent to highly qualified applications who have registered for CRS, and will appear automatically in the application checkout on LSAC. (We send letters and emails to recipients to make them aware they've been selected.)
We also waive the application feed of candidates who meet any of the bulleted criteria below:
- U.S. military members and veterans
- Corps members and alumni of City Year, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America
- Applicants who demonstrate financial need (including candidates who receive an LSAC Fee Waiver)
If you meet any of the criteria listed above, please review the "Application Fee" section on this page to verify your status and request a fee waiver.
How are foreign transcripts processed? What is the LSAC JD Credential Assembly Service?
Foreign transcripts for postsecondary work outside the United States (including its territories) or Canada should be submitted through the LSAC JD Credential Assembly Service. For international undergraduate work, a Foreign Credential Evaluation will be compiled by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, which will be incorporated into your CAS report. To get started, log in to your online account and follow the instructions for registering for the service. Be sure to print out a Transcript Request form for each institution and send it promptly to them. Questions about the JD Credential Assembly Service can be directed to LSAC at 215.968.1001 or LSACinfo@LSAC.org.
Be aware that there can be significant delays in processing foreign transcript requests.
If you completed foreign work through a study abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such on your home campus transcript, then you do not need to provide copies of the foreign transcript.
I studied for a year (or less) at an international institution on an independent basis-i.e., not through a study-abroad program. LSAC says I don't need to send along that transcript, but do you want to see it?
Your file will be considered complete in our office once we receive your LSAC report, which will include all transcripts required by LSAC. So the short answer is, no; it is not necessary to send us any transcripts that LSAC doesn't require. However, our reviewers prefer to have as much information as possible when reviewing an application, especially in cases where there are courses taken (and perhaps grades earned) that will not appear on the degree-granting transcript. (With a formal study-abroad program, we get more information than a simple listing of total credits transferred.) If our reviewers read your application and have unanswered questions about your time spent at a foreign institution, that conceivably could have a negative effect on the decision. Other schools are likely to have a similar take—so if you decide you would like us to see your foreign transcript, we suggest that you send it to LSAC, rather than to our office. That way, it will be included as an attachment to your LSAC report for all law schools to which you are applying.
When should I apply?
We begin accepting applications for first-year admission by September 1, and we begin making decisions around early November. Due to our rolling admissions process, in which files are reviewed as they are completed and decisions are made on a continuous basis, it is to your benefit to apply as early in the season as you comfortably are able. The application deadline is February 28, and submitting the FlexApp alone is sufficient to meet the deadline.
We recognize that scores from the January LSAT may not arrive until after our February 28 deadline, and that is not a problem for the applicant in satisfying the deadline.
For our Early Decision program, applications must be submitted by November 15. That means all application components, including letters of recommendation and the LSAC report must be received by the Admissions Office by this date (with the exception that the LSAC report and LSAT score may not be available until later if applicants take the October LSAT).
Applications for transfer and visiting students will be accepted between May 1 and July 10.
Is it okay to apply before I've taken the LSAT?
While we can't review your application without an LSAT score, it is perfectly acceptable—indeed, a good idea!—to send the application and other materials as soon as you comfortably are able. That way, the rest of your application file can be processed and prepared while we wait for your score, and your application can be completed and submitted for review immediately after scores are released.
Should I reapply if I was denied in a previous admissions season?
Please be assured that your previous application does not place you at any disadvantage. You are on equal footing with all of the applicants in this admissions cycle. To reapply, you must submit a new application and re-register with LSAC, even if you are not retaking the LSAT, so that we can order a new CAS report for you. If you completed any additional coursework since your previous application, all new official transcripts should be sent to LSAC. Any previous application materials submitted to us within the last year will automatically be added to your new application when it arrives, but if there is something in your previous application that you'd like us to pay particular attention to, please note that in a cover letter with your application. While we recommend that you submit a new personal statement and recommendations, we will review your previous personal statement in lieu of a new version if you direct us to do so, and will automatically consider any previous letters of recommendation to satisfy our recommendation requirement.
What should I write about in my personal statement/optional essays?
The personal statement is your chance to give a brief monologue to the file readers, so the best judgment about a topic is necessarily yours—only you can know what is most relevant about your background for purposes of admission to law school. To quote our application, "There is no formula for a successful personal statement, and different individuals will find different topics to be well-suited to them." Spend some time thinking about what it is that you would tell an admissions officer if you had ten minutes of undivided attention—perhaps about what led you to law school, about unusual challenges you've overcome, about your religious, political, cultural, or sexual identity, about unusual experiences or travel, or simply why you'd be an interesting person to have in the class. Whatever topic you choose, your statement will be evaluated on both content and construction, so your goal should be to write about something interesting and write about it well. We also offer nine optional essay topics, from which you can choose to write up to two additional essays, in order that our decision will be based on as much information about you as possible. These essays are truly optional, and many people are admitted without submitting additional essays beyond the personal statement; at the same time, we often find that they add extremely helpful depth and perspective.
If I reveal something confidential in my application, how confidential will it really be?
During the admissions stage, the only people to see applications are members of the Admissions Office, all of whom understand the importance of and are accustomed to keeping the contents of the files confidential. Unless you check the box of our application asking us not to, however, we will often pass on to particular student groups the names and contact information of admitted applicants who have self-identified as being potential members of those groups. Admitted applicants who self-identify as African American, therefore, may be contacted by the Black Law Students Association, admitted women applicants may be contacted by the Women Law Students Association, admitted BYU grads may be contacted by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and so on.
If you are admitted and you matriculate, your application file will be transferred to the Records Office, and another set of eyes will have access to the materials. The privacy of current students, however, is protected under federal law by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.
Is it okay to submit a letter of recommendation from an employer? What about from a teaching assistant?
We require only one letter of recommendation for your application to be considered complete, but we suggest that you submit up to three. (In general, we find that submitting more than three tends to result in unhelpful repetition of information—but that said, of course, additional letters may make sense in an individual case.) For most applicants, an academic recommendation is the most useful. It can be from an undergraduate or a graduate institution, and it need not be from a professor. The best advice is to select recommenders who know you the best and can speak in the most detail about your potential contribution, and for many candidates, that recommender will be a teaching assistant or graduate student instructor. We also find it very useful to hear from employers or others who have supervised your work (whether in a volunteer or for-pay capacity). For some candidates, a helpful recommender might be more idiosyncratic, such as a coach. The only recommendations we usually find unhelpful are those from people who have themselves attained impressive accomplishments but who have little detailed knowledge of the candidate, and those from relatives, who may know the candidate quite intimately but—we naturally attribute a certain bias.
I've submitted my application, but I just realized my résumé/essay contains an error! How can I fix this?
We know this feeling all too well; one of our Admissions team members (who shall not be named to shield them from further embarrassment) recently clicked "Send" on an email only to realize it was addressed to the wrong person! Admissions officers are human, too, and we understand that even the most eagle-eyed proofreaders might miss a typo occasionally. Please rest assured that one typo will not dash your chance of admission. If we're talking about a small typo or two, chances are that you can leave it alone; our reviewers will simply brush off the error—or they might not even notice it!
However, if you believe the error is truly glaring or if you'd like peace of mind, you can email an addendum to email@example.com to identify the error you'd like to correct. Please be aware that we cannot substitute materials that have already been submitted; we can only supplement.
I've already submitted my application, but I'd like to update my résumé or submit supplemental materials. How may I do this?
We're always happy to receive updates and supplemental materials, and you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know I'm a Michigan resident; why does your office think I'm not?
If you mark "yes" for in-state tuition on your application and we send you an e-mail telling you that you have to apply for it, it doesn't mean the Admissions Office thinks you're not eligible. All it means is that something in your record has triggered, under preset criteria, a need for you to apply. We understand this can be frustrating for people who have no doubt that they qualify, but the In-State Tuition Guidelines are complex and comprehensive and in order to ensure that they are fairly implemented, review of additional information by the experts in the Residency Classification Office is required in many cases—perhaps because you have been employed outside the state, or because you attended a college outside the state, or for one of many other possible reasons.
The guidelines and application can be found at ro.umich.edu/resreg.php, or you're welcome to contact the Residency Classification Office with your questions, in person or by mail at 1210 LSA Building, 500 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382, by email at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734.764.1400. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Be assured that your JD application will not be held or delayed during the residency classification process. While you should apply for in-state tuition as soon as you can, we do not wait for the official determination to review your JD application; we just give you the benefit of the doubt.
How many applications do you receive and what is the size of the incoming class?
We typically receive between 5500 and 6000 applications for a target entering class of 300 - 320.
Do you have a rolling admissions policy?
The Law School uses a modified rolling admissions process, meaning that applications are reviewed as they are completed, but admissions decisions are not necessarily made in that order. Applicants are encouraged to apply and complete their files as early as they comfortably are able, because the later they wait in the application cycle, the fewer the seats that are available.
I have an LSAT of X, and a GPA of Y. What are my chances of admission?
Because we receive so many highly competitive applications and base our decisions on a wide variety of factors, it is very difficult to judge an individual applicant's chances of admission. Even if we have all of the relevant information for an applicant, admissions decisions are made within the context of the entire applicant pool—and we receive about 5500-6000 applications for a target class of 300-320. That said, the median LSAT score for the 2020 entering class was 169 and the 25th and 75th percentiles for the class were 164 and 170, respectively. The median GPA was 3.77 with the 25th and 75th percentiles at 3.56 and 3.88, respectively.
This vlog episode contains more insight into how LSAT and GPA medians factor into admissions.
If you sent me an invitation to apply, am I more likely to be accepted?
We send invitations to apply only to those people who, through the information they provide to LSAC's Candidate Referral Service, seem like they would be competitive applicants. However, the information we have available to us through the Candidate Referral Service is limited: LSAT, GPA, major, undergraduate institution, and so forth. An invitation to apply cannot be a guarantee of admission, because, as described above, we take many other factors into account that are not reflected in the summary data provided by CRS. Historically, however, receiving an invitation does indicate a greater likelihood of admission.
Bear in mind that it's very difficult, for you or for us, to estimate your chances of admission (and that, as they say in the stock market, past performance is not a guarantee of future results). Typically, more than half of our applicant pool has numbers that are at or above our median scores for the previous year's incoming class, which is almost three times the number of people we can actually admit. Consider, too, that "the numbers" are merely a starting point for our evaluation of which candidates will make up the best possible entering class. If you want to increase your chances of admission, please take care with your application, and be sure to provide us with all the relevant information you can about your experiences, activities, and background and how you might be a good fit for our community.
Does the University of Michigan have an early decision program?
We have a binding Early Decision program; by applying to it, you agree to come if we make you an offer. For a fuller discussion, complete with deadlines, please visit our website.
How long will it take for me to get a decision?
We often get semi-frantic emails and calls from people who are concerned that their applications are not complete, or that their failure already to have received a decision spells certain doom. In an effort to allay some of these fears, we provide this detailed guide to what goes on in the Admissions Office once we receive your application materials, and what you can expect in terms of timing.
First, when we receive the initial application materials from you, we immediately send you an email letting you know we've received them. This email does not mean that the application is complete, but it also doesn't mean it's not complete. It simply means we've received your initial materials. We then begin processing your application, which involves checking our files to see whether we have already received some submission from you or from your recommenders in advance of the actual application, printing your CAS report, performing considerable and time-consuming data entry, arranging the materials in our file folders, and printing labels and comment sheets for the readers. This takes a fair amount of time for each individual file, and it is not unusual for us to receive 150-200 applications a day, particularly in December and January.
You will receive an email from our office approximately 5-7 business days after we receive your application, with your University of Michigan ID and a link to our Online Status Check. Once we have received and processed all your application materials, we mark your file as complete, and our Online Status Check registers the status change. Those files are parceled out for a first read, and then a second read. A file might receive a decision immediately or may proceed to further review. We are cautious in our decisions, either to admit or to deny, and do not like to proceed hastily. While we're sensitive to the stress law school applicants are under, we take our responsibility of composing a top-notch class extremely seriously, and that is to your benefit; you can be assured your application materials are receiving a thorough review. We typically finish our initial decisions before the end of April.
How is my application evaluated?
We view our student body as one of our greatest assets, and our goal is to admit a group of students who, individually and collectively, are among the best applying to American law schools in a given year. We seek a mix of students with varying backgrounds and experiences, who will respect and learn from each other. Our most general measures are an applicant's LSAT score and undergraduate GPA, and, as measured by those statistics, Michigan is among the handful of the most selective law schools in the country. However, each of these measures is far from definitive. Even the highest possible scores will not guarantee admission, and quite low scores will, likewise, not automatically result in a denial, as both circumstances may have significant offsetting considerations. We evaluate the strength of the personal statement and recommendations, the rigor of an applicant's undergraduate curriculum, significant work and life experiences, and community involvement, among other things. For more information about how applications are reviewed, please refer to Dean Zearfoss's article, Admissions of a director. It's old but accurate!
How does residency affect my chances of admission?
Michigan residency is a factor in admissions, but it is only a small part. We are a public institution, but we are also highly selective. We are fortunate enough to receive so many highly qualified applicants from Michigan that our incoming classes are composed of about 20 percent in-state residents. Our office makes only preliminary determinations of residency based on the answers that you provide in your application and the guidelines given by the University; if you have detailed questions about residency guidelines, please contact the University of Michigan's Residency Classification Office at 734.764.1400.
Are interviews part of the admissions process? If not, why not?
While evaluative interviews are not a part of our process, our admissions counselors are happy to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about the Law School or the admissions process. We also occasionally contact applicants to get clarification about certain elements of an application. We choose not to interview because social science research suggests that interviews offer no information helpful to the decision-making process; further, anecdotal evidence suggests that many fantastic and talented people do not always make a great first impression, particularly if the meeting takes place under the stressful circumstances of an evaluative interview. Interviews also present opportunities for discrimination on the basis of academically irrelevant personal characteristics, which we would prefer to avoid. And, to tell the truth: Dean Zearfoss is a bit of a control freak and doesn't like the idea of delegating the interviews.
It is worth noting that schools that do employ interviews typically do so not because it enhances their selection of candidates, but because it enhances their ability to select people who are committed to attending the institution. In other words, they believe that if you are willing to attend an interview, you are much more likely to attend the school if you are admitted.
I applied in September, and now it's February, but I haven't received an answer. What is going on?
You went to great lengths to apply early in our season, and now you're disappointed—or, well, irritated—that you haven't received an answer yet. We understand how you feel, but we nonetheless ask for your patience. Once the Online Status Check shows that your file is complete, your application is reviewed within a week by a first reader, and is then sent on to a second reader—but even after getting two people's input, we can't always make a decision right away. Simply put, some decisions are more difficult than others. A delay doesn't mean we've forgotten about you; it just means we have a lot of applications to read and decisions to make. If you apply early in the season and we find we are unable to reach a decision quickly, we will contact you to let you know we're still considering your application. We routinely and frequently review the files of applicants for whom we couldn't make an immediate decision, in an effort to balance our sensitivity to your stress levels—which, honestly, we are very conscious of!—with our mission of making the best possible decisions.
If my numbers are above your medians and you don't admit me, doesn't that mean that you're "yield protecting"? (i.e., you didn't admit me because you're sure I wouldn't come?)
Such questions deeply underestimate the confidence of this Admissions Office, which tends to assume that everyone who is admitted to Michigan Law will want to come to Michigan Law. Okay, okay, we know—not everyone comes, and people who are admitted to lots of other top law schools are the ones least likely to come. But if this yield-protection allegation were true, then we'd be implementing our nefarious plans very poorly; every year, the school with which we have the highest overlap for admitted candidates is Harvard. We never deny someone because we think, by virtue of their LSAT and GPA, that they will be unlikely to accept our offer of admission. Most people with high numbers will be offered admission—but it is also true that people with very strong numbers will often not be admitted. Like all top law schools, we simply receive far more applications from prospective students with high numbers than we could possibly admit—and we look at many, many factors apart from the numbers. No matter how strong a candidate you are numerically, it is worth putting effort into your application to ensure that you are portraying yourself as well as possible.
What can I do on a visit to the Law School?
Normally we love welcoming visitors to the Law School for tours, class visits, and appointments with admissions counselors. However, to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the Ann Arbor community during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to arrange visits at this time. We look forward to resuming campus visits and will update this page as soon as we are able to welcome visitors again. In the meantime, you're always welcome to email us if you have questions or would like to schedule a phone appointment with the Admissions Office staff.
Do a lot of Law Students come straight from their undergraduate institutions?
Typically, three-fourths of our student body spend one or more years off before enrolling in the Law School; most take five or fewer years off.
What was the average age of the 1L class?
The mean age of the 2020 entering class is 25; ages range from 20 to 37.
Where do law students live?
Michigan Law students have numerous on-campus and off-campus housing options. Explore housing opportunities on our housing page.
Are most Michigan Law students from the Midwest?
Our students come from all over the country and all over the world. About 20 percent come from Michigan and another 20 percent or so come from the other 11 states that compose the Midwest. A majority of our students come from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and West Coast.
What is Ann Arbor like?
Ann Arbor is an exciting and vibrant city of about 120,000. Because it is, in many respects, the quintessential "university town," it offers many businesses and services geared towards students' needs, therefore making it a great place to be a student. Yet Ann Arbor is also remarkably sophisticated, offering a plethora of cultural activities—theatre, dance, popular and classical music, films—as well as restaurants specializing in a wide variety of cuisines, innumerable coffee shops and bookstores. And, of course, the sports venues—both college and professional—are unsurpassed. Athletes, in addition to spectators, will also love what Ann Arbor can offer in terms of running, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and workout facilities. If you're moving to Ann Arbor with family, the city has great public schools as well as parks and an award-winning public library.
Some useful websites to introduce you to Ann Arbor are:
What about the weather?
It is our impression that, perhaps due to some fundamental geographic confusion, many people imagine the weather in Ann Arbor to be much worse than it actually is. Protestations from us, however, end up sounding a bit pathetic. So instead, we say judge for yourself—check out the average temperatures and snowfall in Ann Arbor, Boston, New York and Chicago. And bear in mind: it's always a balmy 70 degrees in the library.
What time zone is Ann Arbor in?
We are at the western edge of the Eastern time zone, so we have the same time as our friends on the East Coast, but it is light for about an hour later in the evening—a particularly welcome fact during December afternoons.
Undocumented Students and DACA
If I am undocumented, can I be considered for admission?
The University of Michigan generally, and the Law School in particular, are committed to supporting undocumented and DACA students. All undocumented individuals are eligible for admission to any degree program at the Law School. When you are completing the FlexApp, for "U.S. Visa type, if any," simply write "none" or "N/A."
What about financial support?
Undocumented applicants are eligible to apply for a fee waiver based on financial need. (For information about application fee waivers, see the answer to "Does Michigan offer application fee waivers? If so, how can I get one?" in this FAQ.) All undocumented admitted students will be considered automatically for merit-based awards and are also welcome to apply for need-based grants, regardless of whether they have been granted DACA status. In addition, applicants who meet specific criteria (such as attending school in Michigan, and graduating from a Michigan high school) may also qualify for in-state tuition through the Residency Classification Office.
Do you have any other resources you can point me to?
Here is a list of external resources that may be some help:
- United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation and seeks to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. They believe that by empowering immigrant youth, they can advance the cause of the entire community—justice for all immigrants. United We Dream also runs programs to advocate for access to higher education, stop the deportations of undocumented youth and their parents, and strengthen alliances and support for DREAMers at the intersection of queer and immigrant rights.
- MyDocumentedLife.org is dedicated to providing up-to-date information and resources for undocumented immigrants. Here, you will find the latest on scholarship opportunities, immigration news, ways in navigating the educational system, and more.
- TheDream.US is a new multimillion dollar National Scholarship Fund for DREAMers, created to help immigrant youth who've received DACA achieve their American Dream through the completion of a college education.
- Immigrants Rising is dedicated to empowering undocumented people to pursue their dreams of college, career, and citizenship in the United States. They provide direct support, leadership and career development, community outreach and education, creative expression, and advocacy.
- U.S. Department of Education: Resource Guide Supporting Undocumented Youth: A Guide for Success in Secondary and Postsecondary Settings.
When evaluating essays from applicants from non-English speaking countries, do you give more leeway to the language quality of the essay, or do you apply the same standards as you would to the writing of a native speaker?
We do expect to see essentially an equivalent level of mastery of written English. We expect to see certain types of minor mistakes—e.g., problems with plurals—with non-native speakers, but in terms of overall skill level, we expect full fluency. Applying this standard is to the benefit of the applicant, because this is the level of skill an applicant will need in order to succeed here.
May a foreign applicant who does not write well in English use a professional editing service to edit for language and style?
We expect that essays are the work of the applicant. It's one thing to show them to a friend or two for input, but we definitely frown upon a professional service. This is true whether the applicant is a native speaker or not; all too often, U.S. natives will hire "admissions consultants" to actually pen their personal statements, and we view that too as a violation of our expectation that all the work is that of the applicant. You'd be surprised how easily we are able to detect these professionally polished essays. We will often compare the writing style of the LSAT essay with that of the personal statement, for example, and when there's a stark contrast, we'll know why.
Is a TOEFL score required for the JD program?
We do not require TOEFL scores for the JD application as the LSAT is an adequate measure of English proficiency.
For a foreign applicant who, following an undergraduate degree from overseas, has completed a graduate degree in the U.S., will their graduate GPA from the U.S. institution be given more weight than their undergraduate GPA from abroad?
We don't have a formula, but it will certainly play an important role in the evaluation.
I've earned an LLB from abroad and am applying to your JD program. Would you prefer that I explain in an essay why I need another first law degree (instead of an LLM)? What if I've earned both an LLB and LLM from elsewhere?
For the first scenario, we wouldn't at all be surprised to see someone seeking a JD rather than an LLM; the two degrees have very different purposes and functions. If someone has already earned an LLM in the U.S., however, it would be useful (though not mandatory, by any means) to include a discussion of what additional value the JD will provide.
For applicants from non-English speaking countries, do you favor those who majored or minored in English? What if the applicant has completed a graduate degree in an English-speaking country?
We definitely expect all our JD candidates, including those for whom English is not the native language, to be fluent in English; to that end, being able to demonstrate significant English language background will be helpful. Majoring, however, is certainly not necessary. Any level of schooling in an English-speaking country would be a helpful indicator of English preparation but again, it's not required. Often we see students who have worked for U.S. companies or firms, albeit in another country, and that too can be a good way to indicate strong English proficiency.
Will a recommendation letter from a professor who does not write well in English hurt my chances?
It definitely won't hurt you—we won't attribute your professor's relative lack of English ability to you!—but it simply won't be a weight in your favor. If we have trouble understanding the letter, we will most likely simply ignore it. That said, it is important to have at least one strong letter of recommendation from someone who is able to communicate easily in English.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see in applications by candidates from China or other countries? What other suggestions and advice do you have for international applicants?
The biggest hurdle for the international applicant is often the personal statement. We really look for something personal; not something secret or scandalous, but something that only you could have written, and something that really gives us insight into what you would be like to have in the student body. U.S. culture likely trains U.S. folks to do this relatively easily, but it can be a more uncomfortable exercise for people from many other cultures.
Will I be penalized for having P/F grades in the Winter/Spring 2020 term?
Absolutely not—whether because your school has mandated pass/fail across the board for every class, or because your school has allowed professors to choose the grading for individual classes, or because your school has employed an optional P/F system (at the University of Michigan, undergrad grades for the Winter 2020 semester were presumptively P/F, but a student could choose to "unmask" the grade), or because there is some other system out there we don't know about; whether you have a single P/F designation or a semesterful of them. First, we are absolutely mindful of the stresses—the uncertainty and adversity—you were likely undergoing. Thus, whether you opted for P/F grades or your school made that choice for you, we fully understand that the surrounding circumstances made P/F an absolutely appropriate outcome.
Bear in mind that there are excellent schools in this country that never use letter grades, and their graduates routinely get admitted to law school!
I was counting on the Winter/Spring 2020 term to bring my GPA up, and I couldn't do so.
Whether you weren't able to produce a semester of stellar grades because everything became P/F or you still had letter grades but just weren't able to perform in March and April the way you did in January and February, please remember that grades are but one factor among many, and one semester's grades are but one-eighth of that one factor. They simply are never make or break.
Bottom line, it would be the woefully incompetent admissions person who would let a single semester of grades earned under—oh, we hate to use this word for the 10,000th time, but here we go—unprecedented circumstances be treated as a critical factor in the scope of an entire law school application.
What about the people who have grades, while I will only have P/F to show? How can I possibly compete?
We completely understand this mindset, but please allow us to assure you that this isn't how law school admissions work: We don't take two applicants and compare them head to head. Moreover, again, grades are but one factor in any school's holistic admissions process, and one semester is only one-eighth of that factor. We have yet to see a candidate for whom our decision hinged, for good or for ill, on a single semester of grades. Finally, please remember that the students at [the relatively small number of] schools where there wasn't a change of grading were still going through all the strain of the pandemic, just like the rest of us. It is unlikely that there were many people viewing this time as a golden opportunity to increase their GPAs relative to students at other schools.
I won't be applying for several more years. Will you actually still remember what it was like during the pandemic when all this is long over?
Why yes, actually, we think we will! While many aspects of our daily life are uncertain now, we feel pretty confident that we will remember this period for many, many years to come. But no need to trust the imperfections of human memory. The Law School Admissions Council will be including, in perpetuity, a note with any Law School Report that has a transcript from this term, reminding reviewers of the circumstances. Further, many (if not most) colleges will have a designation on the transcript itself.
I hear what you're saying about grades not being make-or-break, but my circumstances in the Winter/Spring 2020 term were truly awful, and I want to be able to provide context. How can I do that?
If you want to share your circumstances, you are welcome to provide an addendum. (In fact, in general, we routinely invite applicants to explain why their application metrics—LSAT and/or undergraduate GPA—are not reflective of their abilities.) Our advice is to make this about a paragraph, and as dispassionate as possible—trying to attain some emotional distance, and keeping it brief, will let you provide the most clarity. Your goal is to add critical context, but not to make this the centerpiece of your application. Remember, too, that there will be many, many heartbreaking stories from this period; if possible, demonstrate your recognition of that perspective.
For those of you who aren't inclined to share: You certainly shouldn't feel compelled to. Be true to your own instincts.
I had a great job lined up for after graduation, and I was laid off. Will this have a negative impact on my application?
This is familiar territory for those of us who were reading applications in 2008 and years immediately following: It will be harder for everyone, but particularly recent college grads, to find gainful employment. We will expect to see that, and will account for it in our process. If you're in that situation, your job is to make clear in your application—either on the resume or separately in a brief addendum—what you are doing with your time. Looking for a job, volunteering at a nonprofit, helping out a family member, learning some new skill, perfecting an old one? Help us understand how you're spending your time, and have confidence that we aren't viewing the lack of paid employment as a mark against you.
Will you treat LSAT-Flex scores differently than the "normal" LSAT?
Nope. We have a lot of faith in the Law School Admissions Council's ability to ensure their traditional high levels of security, validity, and reliability. LSAT-Flex will be composed of genuine LSAT questions that have been developed and tested in accordance with LSAC's rigorous standards and processes, and all test takers will be remotely proctored.
June 17, 2021: With the passing of our second deposit deadline on June 15, we have evaluated our enrollment and are in a position to give five offers from our waitlist. We will be calling potential candidates and hope to give offers by early next week.
We are well aware that participating in the waitlist process can be very trying, and we truly appreciate your patience. Our waitlist plans can change quickly, so we will keep you updated on this page about our plans and progress throughout the season. As always, you are welcome to contact us with questions or additional information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do you have a waitlist?
Every year, we use historical data to predict how many offers we need to make in order to fill the class—but unfortunately, historical data are imperfect predictors. We maintain a waitlist in order to cushion ourselves from these unanticipated vagaries in response rates.
When do people get offers? When does the greatest movement from the waitlist usually occur? When will you make waitlist decisions?
We have no set timeframe for making waitlist decisions, because we may learn of unexpected withdrawals at any time between May and August that require us to fill a seat. (We do not anticipate making any offers to waitlisted candidates prior to late April.) That said, important triggers are our two deposit deadlines, April 30 and June 15. Shortly after both of those dates, we have much more solid data about how many students plan to join us, and we accordingly use that information to make offers and/or to release people from the waitlist.
Why can't you make all your waitlist decisions early in the summer, which would allow people more time to plan?
Again, while we have historical data about how many people typically withdraw or request deferrals, sometimes these patterns change. In other words, the problem with administering a waitlist is the amount of uncertainty in the admissions process. Because the behavior of our admitted students is to a great degree unpredictable, so is our waitlist.
When is the latest I would receive an offer?
We try to be very sensitive to your need to finalize your law school plans, but it is always possible that we will have unexpected no-shows at the time of orientation, and that we may therefore call waitlist participants as late as August 23. We do everything we can to avoid that, but it has happened on a couple of occasions. If everyone we expect to have join us comes to orientation, we release all remaining waitlist participants immediately by email.
If it's any comfort, please remember that ultimately, control is in your hands. You should withdraw from consideration whenever you pass the point where the potential benefit of being admitted is not worth the cost of the uncertainty and stress.
How do you decide to whom to make an offer? Is the waitlist rank-ordered? Is the waitlist broken into priority groups or tiers? How large is the waitlist?
We do not invite anyone to join our waitlist unless we think they would be an excellent addition to our incoming class. Our initial set of waitlist invitations is broad, but a large number of candidates decide not to participate in the waitlist process. Accordingly, the number of people on the waitlist is never static, however, since applicants are still choosing whether to participate through late May, and/or withdrawing their names from consideration throughout the summer. To maintain a realistic size for the waitlist, we also release candidates if it becomes clear that we will not be able to give them offers. Because the waitlist is small and the number of people on it is always changing, and because we consider them holistically whenever we make offers, it is not ranked.
How likely is it that I will receive an offer? How many people will get an offer?
When making offers to waitlisted applicants, we evaluate our waitlist pool in much the same way we approach our overall applicant pool—taking all application factors into account. But as far as likelihood goes, the waitlist experience can vary enormously; in recent years, we've made a low of 5 offers and a high of 83. So—we cannot make any predictions of any particular waitlisted applicant's chances of getting an offer.
If you are considering making an offer, how will you communicate with me? Will you call me, email me, send me a letter?
Since time is of the essence in the waitlist process, for both applicants and Admissions, we will attempt to reach you by telephone. (We will also follow up by email.) If we do not reach you and do not hear back from you within 24 hours, it is likely that we will need to move on to another applicant.
I will be outside of the US, traveling, etc. Would this be a problem if you try to reach me? Can I leave my mom/dad/roommate in charge of handling things in my absence? Do I need to do anything formal to give permission for them to act on my behalf?
When we call to make offers from waitlisted candidates, we are working within difficult time constraints, so yes, it will be a problem if we can't reach you. If you find yourself in this situation but would like to be considered for the waitlist, please call or email so we can discuss your particular circumstances. If you do not make arrangements with us, it is unlikely that we will be able to make you an offer of admission.
How can I increase my chances of getting an offer? What should I do to let you know that I am interested? Is there anything I can do to make myself a stronger candidate?
While it's not in any way necessary to contact us on a frequent basis, indicating continuing interest and availability is a good way to stand out when you're on a waitlist. If you receive any new honors, awards, or grades, or get a new job or a promotion or take on a volunteer position, you should definitely let us know. If you look at your application and realize there may be questions left unanswered (gaps in employment, for example), submitting clarifying information can be helpful. If you would like to have an additional letter of recommendation submitted, that can be helpful as well. If nothing in your life has changed, but you want to indicate your ongoing interest, that alone can be noteworthy; feel free to send us an email. Again, because of the time constraints inherent in a waitlist, the last thing we want is to make a call to someone who is no longer interested in being called. (To that end, if you decide you are no longer interested in being considered, we greatly appreciate your letting us know that.)
I'd like to submit another letter of recommendation. Do I need to go through LSAC?
In the interest of time, your recommender is welcome to send their letter to us directly, either via email or regular mail. It’s not necessary to have the letter processed by LSAC, though you are certainly welcome to do so.
Will you interview me?
You are certainly welcome to email if we can answer any questions. We do not, however, perform evaluative interviews of any applicant, even those on the waitlist. Likewise, we will not be able to give you an estimate of the likelihood that you'll ultimately receive an offer.
What about visiting? Should waitlisted candidates visit?
In accordance with COVID-19 protocols, the Law School is currently closed to visitors, and we are unable to offer tours or in-person counseling appointments. We look forward to reaching the point when we can welcome visitors to the Law School again and will update this FAQ if we are able to coordinate visits safely.
In any matter, even in non-pandemic times, we're sensitive to the fact that travel-related expenses may be a burden for some, so please do not feel like you need to visit, especially if the sole purpose of your visit is to express your interest in attending. As it happens our reviewers find emails expressing interest to be more effective than visits because our waitlist files are reviewed by multiple staff members and there is just no substitute for our reviewers reading candidates’ own words about why they wish to attend Michigan Law (see supra for ideas!).
On the other hand, if you are comfortable traveling, it can be a good idea to visit when the purpose of your visit would be to see Ann Arbor and the Law Quad to help you to decide whether you are interested in remaining on the waitlist.
Will you provide any information about the waitlist on your website?
Absolutely. We will provide frequent updates on this page.
Now that I have been waitlisted, can I contact the Financial Aid office to start gathering some numbers?
If you want, you are more than welcome to submit any or all financial aid paperwork to our Office of Financial Aid in advance of receiving an offer; please contact them directly to discuss your situation and what would be most useful. If you do receive an offer, you will then receive a financial aid award more quickly. If you're not comfortable sending that information in without knowing that you'll receive an offer, that's perfectly fine, too. Unfortunately, however, the Office of Financial Aid cannot give you an estimate of any grant until you have received an offer and you have submitted your paperwork.
Candidates who receive offers from the waitlist receive consideration for need-based and outright grants on exactly the same terms as those admitted earlier in the season.
If I'm on the waitlist and Michigan Law is my first choice, should I withdraw from other law schools and reapply next year?
This is a very risky strategy, because it is impossible to know now whether next year will be more or less competitive than this year. If you feel that you put your application together in a hurry, or applied at the last minute, or did poorly on the LSAT because you didn't prepare or were sick, then it's quite possible that you could submit a much stronger application in a subsequent year and be admitted; that is not an uncommon occurrence. But going this route is definitely a risk, because you might end up with the same outcome, or even with a denial, simply because the subsequent year could be even more competitive. We recommend that you talk with a prelaw advisor at your undergraduate institution for some counseling about your options.
I was on the waitlist, but not offered admission. Will that help or hurt my chances if I apply as a transfer student?
The fact that you were offered a spot on our waitlist means you were a competitive applicant. Participating in our waitlist process will in no way hurt your chances for future transfer admissions.
I'm currently accepted at schools A & B. Will informing you that other schools want me help my candidacy at Michigan Law?
If you are on our waitlist, we are already well aware that you are an appealing candidate with much to comment you, so telling us that other schools also think that will not help your candidacy.
If I get an offer from the waitlist, how much time will I be given to accept or decline?
It depends on the timing of the offer, but in general, we try to allow those receiving an offer a week to ten days in which to respond. If we're calling you any time after early August, however, we may have to ask for a shorter response time-and if we're calling you on the first day of orientation, we'll have to ask you for an immediate answer.
If I get an offer from the waitlist, can I still defer?
If you know you want to defer and enter in a later year, we would encourage you to email us at email@example.com and let us know; we may be able to make you a deferral offer for the next year's entering class. (We typically make about 10 such offers a year.) Please don't request a deferral unless you feel certain that beginning at Michigan a year from now is your first choice for your legal education; it is our policy that a deferral is binding, and because we have a limited number of slots for deferred admission, we necessarily need to get an answer from you in a relatively short amount of time-which means you won't have a lot of time for a visit or similar investigation. Also, please don't wait to let us know about your interest in deferring until we call you with a waitlist offer for this year's entering class; because our priority at that time will be filling our current needs, the answer to your deferral request is much more likely to be no.
To be clear, a deferral offer would be in lieu of an offer for this year's entering class; you cannot receive and accept a deferral offer from us and still continue to be considered for admission-once you have accepted our deferral offer, we would remove you from consideration for this year's class. Please note, too, that if you request a deferral, you need to provide us with details of what you plan to do during your deferral year.
Sometimes our waitlisted applicants are on the fence about deferring: they have an option for something interesting to do during a deferral year, but in an ideal world, would prefer to begin law school right away. Should they ask for a deferral or not? If you find yourself in that situation in mid- to late June or later (that is, after our second deposit deadline has passed, and we have more information about what our immediate waitlist needs are likely to be), and would like a little counseling, please feel free to email us. We'd be happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of making the request.
Finally, if you request a deferral but are not granted one, we will still consider you for admission for the current year if you remain interested.