Coronavirus and Law School Admissions: How the Process is Evolving

Padya Paramita

Coronavirus and Law School Admissions: How the Process is Evolving

If you’re hoping to apply to law school later this year, the COVID-19 pandemic may have already disrupted your LSAT plans. As the outbreak continues and people maintain social distance, you might be wondering about how much the situation has impacted the behind-the-scenes process of JD programs. So understandably, you’re curious to learn more about the Coronavirus and law school admissions landscape.

It’s clearly a confusing time — and naturally you may have a lot of questions regarding whether your application preparation should operate any differently in the time of COVID-19. In this blog, we have detailed how the circumstances have affected law school operations and current JD students, how much the actual admissions process will change, what the disruption in LSAT dates means, and what your next steps should be because of the pandemic. We will continue updating this page on the status of Coronavirus and law school admissions as more decisions are made.

Impact of the Coronavirus on Ongoing Legal Education

Before diving into how the actual application process will shift in case of the Coronavirus and law school admissions, let’s take a look at the state of class sessions and the bar examinations for prospective and current law students as of this week:

  • College closures: If you’re an undergrad, your courses have moved online. This might mean that your school has implemented a pass/fail grading policy. As you adjust to the changes, make sure you ask your professors any questions that might be on your mind, whether they are technical or related to the way courses will operate. Law school admissions offices are aware of these changes and will read your application with this context in mind.
  • Law school closures: Due to the introduction of social distancing, all law schools have also transitioned their classes to virtual instruction for the rest of the spring semester. Harvard Law, for instance, asked students not to return to campus after spring break, and attend classes through Zoom. UChicago Law School’s spring quarter starts on March 30, when students will move to remote learning. For the ongoing cycle, law programs that still have students left to interview are conducting these meetings via video conference.
  • Law school visits and events:  JD programs are no longer hosting events, tours, or information sessions for prospective students or admitted candidates. Depending on the school, admitted student days have either been canceled, postponed, or arranged to be conducted in a virtual format for the rest of the academic year. NYU Law, for example, announced the cancelation of events for incoming first years that were originally scheduled for March 26-27 and April 16-17.
  • Bar examinations: Because this is a global pandemic, state courts have granted law schools’ appeals to allow law students enrolled in JD and LLM programs who have attended online classes to sit for the bar examination if they are otherwise eligible. The American Bar Association has confirmed with the deans of ABA-approved law schools that the organization fully supports law schools’ decision to switch to remote instruction for the rest of the semester.

Changes in LSAT and GRE Dates

  • LSAT: Due to the bans on large gatherings, the LSAC canceled the March 30 LSAT. The organization automatically registered those registered for the March test to take the exam on April 25th. The team is continuing to monitor the situation and will update registrants in case the April date is also canceled. LSAC is further looking for alternative ways for students to take the LSAT through remote proctored tests and introduction of more dates. The LSAC is also working with law schools to see whether they can be flexible with score submissions for students who have applied this ongoing cycle.
  • GRE: Those of you who wish to take the GRE instead of the LSAT may have questions about how the test will operate. ETS, the organization behind the GRE, has introduced a take-at-home version of the GRE general test for students during COVID, using an online proctor. The exam will be available for students starting Friday, March 27.

Impact of the Coronavirus on the Law School Admissions Process

You might be wondering about changes surrounding the Coronavirus and law school admissions process itself. Since you have to apply through the LSAC and send your transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other documents through its Credential Assembly Service, the entire system already operates online. As a result, the way your applications are delivered and actually processed by admissions officers will not be significantly impacted. 

However, since there have been disruptions in the LSAT test dates and GRE administrations, the timeline and deadlines may change slightly over time. If the pandemic is still an issue during the fall and winter, law school admissions officers can conduct interviews as well as hold deliberations and committee meetings over Zoom. Admissions officers are aware that students are going through these disruptions and will read applications in context of the circumstances.

Should You Apply to Law School During a Pandemic?

You may be having second thoughts about whether you should apply to law school during such a time. COVID-19 has interrupted test dates and created disruption in students’ learning — and the average age of law school applicants is 24. Gap years before law school aren’t unheard of, and in fact, they’re more and more common. 

However, remember that all candidates are going through this so admissions officers will read applicants with the COVID-19 context in mind. Considering that there are already — and will likely continue to be — economic issues due to the outbreak, the immediate future could be an ideal time to be in law school instead of on the hunt for jobs. There will also be a demand for lawyers as conditions recover, as many industries will need stronger policies. 

If you were already planning on making the jump and applying this coming year, don’t let the pandemic stop you unless you have a strong reason to do so. Since other candidates could also bring a similar mindset and apply in hopes of avoiding the workplace during a possible recession, the number of applications to law schools could increase. So you need to bring your A-game when approaching your application components!

As you can see, there have been a few changes when it comes to the Coronavirus and law school admissions, particularly in standardized testing. Once you’ve ensured that you’re safe and created a schedule for yourself, continue working on your profile and studying for the LSAT. We’ll keep updating this page as the situation develops and hope you have a smooth transition as you remotely strengthen your application.

Hear Christina Chong, a Former Admissions Officer from Harvard Law School and NYU School of Law, discuss Coronavirus and law school admissions in this webinar:

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