The University of Wisconsin Law School seeks to admit a talented, engaged, diverse class that will go on to serve the legal profession in Wisconsin, across the nation, and throughout the world. Admission to the University of Wisconsin Law School is very competitive, and we understand that you, as a prospective applicant, are interested in knowing how best to present your application and whether you have a reasonable possibility of acceptance. The following information is designed to help answer those questions.
When we receive your file, we begin our review with three main priorities in mind, seeking applicants that have:
- Strong academic credentials (including cumulative undergraduate grade point and LSAT score);
- A likelihood of success in law school demonstrated in other ways (including through leadership activities, extra-curricular experiences, or evidence of strong writing skills);
- Experiences or backgrounds that will add to the diversity of the law school or legal profession.
We only accept those we judge to be fully qualified academically. Cumulative undergraduate grade point average and LSAT score are the two main numerical markers of academic credentials. We do not, however, consider academic credentials in isolation or out of context. A number of factors affect how we evaluate grades and test scores.
We examine transcripts individually. If an applicant has clearly taken an unusually easy or difficult pattern of courses, we try to take that into account. While an occasional college pass-fail grade does not affect our evaluation of the GPA, a heavy load of pass-fail work undermines whatever GPA remains and creates a need for careful and candid letters of evaluation from college instructors. Though difficult to measure, the quality of the institution where the applicant earned an undergraduate degree is also a relevant factor. We consider any convincing evidence, such as numerical indices supplied by CAS, or information supplied by the applicant.
We also consider the trend of college grades and extenuating factors that may have affected them. An applicant who started very poorly in college but performed strongly in later college years may be judged more favorably than another with the same GPA but a level or declining record. Strong recent graduate work plus strong LSAT may also overcome weaker college grades. In close cases, we consider how a heavy workload outside of classes may have affected a student’s grades.
Other Indicia of Excellence
We recognize that grades and test scores are not the only indicators of success in law school, and we welcome other indicia of excellence. Letters of recommendation can help in this regard. A careful, thoughtful letter from a teacher or employer may tell us enough about the intellect, imagination, or diligence of an applicant so that we may judge the applicant's prospects for academic success better than mere numerical factors might suggest.
We also consider an applicant's writing. The LSAT includes a short spontaneous essay that is sent to law schools. Writing is so important to law study that we may give weight to this sample if it shows exceptional writing skill or weakness.
An applicant's extracurricular experiences or graduate study may also inform our review. Work, volunteer activity, or an interesting background of graduate study may all be favorable factors.
We have some evidence that applicants at least a year out of college, especially those with strong recent LSAT scores, will have a better academic record in law school than their numerical credentials suggest.
Acceptance at the UW Law School is valid only for the year for which accepted even if the circumstances preventing attendance were beyond the applicant's control. However, if circumstances beyond the applicant's control prevented enrollment, this fact will be one factor in the applicant's favor on subsequent application.
Experiences & Background
Having students with a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives fosters the robust exchange of ideas vital to legal training and strengthens the legal profession by enabling it to represent and engage with all segments of society. We invite applicants to explain in their personal statement how they would contribute to the diversity of the law school or legal profession.
We look forward to hearing about you, your unique story, and what you hope to accomplish as a future lawyer.