Law-School Admissions Workshop

Twenty-five SHSU students just moved closer to enrolling in law school, thanks to an appearance by Ricky Kaplan at the LEAP Center’s first-ever “law-school workshop.”  Kaplan, a consultant and instructor for Kaplan Testing, also served as Legislative Counsel for the state of Oregon, Assistant Attorney General for the state of Illinois, and Assistant Attorney General for the state of Texas.  He also has a BA from U of Minnesota, a Masters from Northwestern, and a law degree from U of Minnesota.  He knows about law.

And he shared it with SHSU students last week, kicking off the workshop with the major factors that law schools look at when deciding whether to admit a student.  The factors are:

  1. LSAT
  2. GPA
  3. Personal Statement
  4. Letters of Recommendation
  5. Resume
  6. Background

He purposefully led with LSAT because, whatever its flaws, “it is the only measure the law schools have that is consistent across every student in the US, and it does a pretty good job of predicting first-year law school success.”


The LSAT and GPA guide students in which law schools to apply.  If a law school, say Texas Tech, has a mean LSAT of 155 and a mean GPA of 3.4, then a student with a 156 and 3.5 is probably going to get in.  A student with a 149 and a 2.9 probably won’t.

While the numbers for schools vary from year to year, the following numbers generally reflect the law-school “means” of Texas law schools:

UT: 165, 3.65
SMU: 161, 3.6
Baylor: 160, 3.5
UH: 159, 3.5
TX Tech: 155, 3.4
TAMU: 154, 3.3
South TX: 150, 3.1
St. Mary’s: 150, 3.0
UNT: 148, 2.9
TSU: 145, 2.9

While these two measures (LSAT and GPA) are the most important factors in getting into law school, the personal statements, letters of recommendation, and the resume can also make a difference in a close case.  His advice for the personal statement was to be genuine, to emphasize narratives, and to emphasize the positives about yourself.  When stuck with writer’s block, he encourages students to forget they are writing a personal statement and write four-five stories about their life.  These often reveal something meaningful about the person and can subsequently form the basis of a compelling personal statement.


For personal statements, go with people who know you and your work.  Professors are probably best, but for people out of college for several years, employers can write the letters.  Avoid “friends of the family” or folks you think are important but aren’t directly familiar with your critical thinking, writing, and communication.

After arming us with advice, Kaplan took a break and then worked with individual students on their personal statements, answering questions about addenda to the applications, and how best to prepare for the LSAT.

Such advice may not get students into the University of Minnesota or Northwestern, but it will maximize the chances they have of getting into the best law school available to them.




Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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