Paul L. Caron

Thursday, July 26, 2012

William & Mary Dean on 'Late' Law School Applications

William & MaryFollowing up on yesterday's post, 28 of the Top 50 Law Schools Are Still Accepting Applications for Entering 1L Class:  William & Mary Dean Davison M. Douglas agreed to let me share his response:

I read your blog today citing the Campos blogpost about law schools still seeking applications.

From where I sit, this story is completely overblown.

Here at William and Mary Law School, we’ve had the following statement on our website for years (we never take it down):

 “March 1: Application deadline. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed, but your chances of being offered admission may be significantly decreased.”

Many schools have similar language.

Do we typically receive a few applications after March 1? Yes, a handful. Do those applicants gain admission? Occasionally. An example might be the spouse of an active duty member of the military who gets transferred to one of our nearby military bases in late spring. The spouse, who was set to attend another law school, applies late to our law school so that he won’t have to live apart from his wife. The person is a strong candidate and we accept him.

Do we actively seek out applicants after our March 1 deadline? No.

Are we still trying to attract applicants here at William and Mary for the incoming class of 1Ls? No. Our class is set.

What Campos missed is that the willingness of law schools to accept applications after the stated deadline is pretty standard. It says nothing about a law school’s actual enrollment needs. My guess is that he never noticed that language on law school websites before.

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At this point, many/most/almost all law schools have lost their credibility when it comes to self-reporting their internal operations (one look at the long, long, long overdue ABA placement stats tells you that).

The correct response when dealing with the untrustworthy ("caveat emptor") is to *grill them* for *specific facts* - no vague evasions allowed anymore.

(Or so implies one judge who recently had a say in the matter)

So the correct response to Dean Douglas is to ask a series of *specific* questions:

How many students have you admitted already?

What was their median LSAT?

How does that compare to previous years LSATs?

How many students have you admitted after the stated deadline?

How does that compare to previous years?

Studied silence or calculated evasion will be res ipsa loquitur, another legal cliche.

From here on out, anybody dealing with law school administrative personnel are going to have approach it with the mindset of a hostile cross-examination of a suspected criminal.

Posted by: cas127 | Jul 28, 2012 9:56:18 PM

I asked Douglas yesterday by e-mail what number "many schools" encompassed. I didn't get a response and I'm not going to check every law school's website for this purpose, but I looked at quite a few when putting together the post and didn't see that sort of language anywhere else.

Posted by: Paul Campos | Jul 27, 2012 11:40:17 AM

My guess is that he makes his living being sensationalist.

Posted by: anon | Jul 27, 2012 8:09:19 AM

Dean Douglas makes a good point. I think a lot of this "law schools in crisis" stuff is overblown.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 26, 2012 5:28:16 PM