For students enrolling in law school beginning in the fall of 2018, Harvard Law School won’t make you take the LSAT. Instead, students can choose to take the GRE — all in the hope of making the process of applying to law school easier, to encourage students to apply. While applications for college admissions seem to rise at the vast majority of highly selective colleges each and every year, the same has not been the case in recent years at the vast majority of highly selective law schools. If the running joke is that there are too many lawyers, well, a correction has been taking place these last few years.
But the March announcement that applicants to Harvard Law School won’t have to take the LSAT isn’t the latest admissions announcement coming out of Elle Woods’ alma mater. Ok, Elle didn’t go there…we know. The latest announcement is that the school is expanding its deferral program — meaning that students will be able to defer their admission for two years provided that they graduate college if they’re admitted as juniors. As Elizabeth Olson reports for “The New York Times” in a piece about the Harvard Law deferral program, “Harvard Law’s latest step allows college graduates to broaden their experience while knowing they have a secure law school berth, said Jessica L. Soban, the school’s associate dean for admissions and strategic initiatives. ‘This allows students to go and do something they love, and not to feel they have to build their résumé,’ Ms. Soban said. ‘One of the students, for example, has a martial arts background and now is working in Hollywood as a stunt double. She supports herself working as a paralegal, but this program gives her flexibility to pursue something she loves.’ So far, Ms. Soban said, other students accepted under the pilot program have been working in voting rights initiatives, think tanks and start-ups. The admissions deferral generally lasts two years but can be extended on a case-by-case basis, she said.”
We always encourage our students to avoid going straight from college into law school. Highly selective law schools like Harvard Law do indeed admit students right out of college. We work with those students just about every year. But we work with more students who choose to work and gain some real-world experience in between college and law school…and highly selective law schools love interesting work experience. It helps these students stand out. So we applaud Harvard Law School for encouraging students to defer their enrollments, to get that very kind of real-world experience. It will serve these students well.