How to Get Into Harvard Law School - Step by Step Guide


How to Get Into Harvard  Law School - Step by Step Guide

Some people refer to Harvard Law as a "lottery school" due to the challenge of gaining admission even with excellent credentials. While there's some truth to this, savvy applicants know they can improve their odds. Here’s an overview of Harvard Law School and some admissions tips to boost your chances. Learning how to get into Harvard Law is the first step; the rest depends on your efforts.

Harvard Law School’s Acceptance Rate

Harvard Law School is one of the most selective in the U.S., consistently ranked among the top law schools. Out of the 203 ABA-approved law schools nationwide, Harvard Law stands out. According to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Grad Schools rankings, Harvard is currently the third top law school in the country, following Stanford and Yale. Although its ranking may vary slightly each year, it remains a top-tier institution.

This prestigious status means Harvard Law is highly selective. For the class of 2022, Harvard Law received 7,419 applications and admitted 916 applicants, resulting in a 12% acceptance rate. The applicant pool for Harvard Law is more competitive than many top undergraduate programs. 

To be considered, applicants need excellent undergraduate grades and top LSAT scores. Most applicants will already have impressive academic records and LSAT scores, so you must demonstrate why the admissions office should include you in the incoming 1L class.

Required LSAT Score for Harvard Law School

All ABA-approved law schools in the U.S. and Canada require the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Excelling on this test is crucial for getting into Harvard Law. The LSAT, administered by the Law School Admissions Council, includes 100 questions across five subsections plus an essay. Scores range from 120 to 180, with a raw score of 99 to 100 equating to a 180. 

This test is significantly more challenging than undergraduate admissions tests and requires substantial preparation time.

For the class of 2022, Harvard Law's middle range of admitted students’ LSAT scores were:

25th percentile – 170

50th percentile – 173

75th percentile – 175

Achieving a high LSAT score is essential for Harvard Law admission. Early preparation is key. Unlike the ACT or SAT, the LSAT doesn’t test specific subject knowledge from your undergraduate studies. Instead, it assesses your ability to think, reason, use logic, write, and comprehend written material. 

Despite its difficulty, you can improve your LSAT score with practice and preparation by recognizing patterns in the types of questions asked and learning how to answer them effectively.

How do you prepare for the LSAT?

Preparing for the LSAT requires a strategic and focused approach. Unlike the ACT, SAT, or other standardized tests, the LSAT demands a unique way of thinking and a significant amount of preparation. Here are some effective strategies that worked for me:

Practice with Old LSATs:

Start by obtaining several old LSAT exams. Take and retake these tests multiple times. Carefully review your mistakes and analyze why you got each question wrong. By repeatedly practicing with old exams, you'll begin to recognize patterns and common question types. This familiarity will help you improve your accuracy and speed.

Consider a Private Tutor over Branded Test-Prep Programs:

While large, branded test-prep programs offer generalized tips for many students, they may not cater to your individual needs. I found more success with a private tutor, particularly one who had attended a top law school like Harvard, Stanford, or Yale. A private tutor can provide personalized strategies and insights tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, which can significantly impact your performance.

Avoid Underlining and Note-Taking During Reading Comprehension:

My tutor advised against underlining and taking notes while reading passages for the reading comprehension section. Since you won't have these notes available during the test, it's more effective to focus on internalizing the information as you read. 

By practicing this technique, you can improve your reading speed and comprehension, relying on your memory to retain key details. This approach helps you stay engaged with the material and enhances your ability to recall information during the test.

By following these tips, you'll be better prepared to tackle the LSAT and achieve a higher score.

What Undergraduate GPA Do I Need to Get Admitted to Harvard Law School?

To maximize your chances of being admitted to Harvard Law School, it is essential to achieve excellent grades during your undergraduate studies. According to the 2022 class profile for Harvard Law School, the middle 50% of students had the following undergraduate GPAs:

25th percentile: 3.79

50th percentile (median): 3.89

75th percentile: 3.96

Aim for a GPA at the upper end of this range to strengthen your application. Here are some tips for achieving high grades:

Consistent Hard Work:

There is no substitute for hard work. Strive to excel in every class by staying disciplined and committed to your studies. Sacrificing short-term pleasures, like social outings, for long-term academic goals can significantly impact your future.

Seek Help Early:

If you're struggling in a class, get help immediately. Utilize your professor's office hours, join study groups, or hire a tutor. Understanding foundational concepts early on is crucial, as they often build the basis for more advanced coursework.

Build a Strong Academic Foundation:

Focus on gaining a deep understanding of your subjects. This preparation will not only help you achieve high grades but also prepare you for the rigorous academic environment at Harvard Law.

Do You Need a Particular Undergraduate Degree to Get Into Harvard Law?

Harvard Law School does not mandate any specific undergraduate major for admission. The school welcomes applicants from a wide range of academic backgrounds. Harvard prefers students who have a broad, well-rounded education rather than those who have taken courses primarily aimed at vocational training. 

Admissions officers look for high-quality coursework and strong academic performance in your chosen field of study, whether it's mathematics, government, science, philosophy, classics, economics, history, or any other discipline.

STEM Background Considerations

Harvard Law does not have a preference for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) backgrounds over other fields. However, if you have a STEM degree, gaining a couple of years of work experience in your field before applying can be beneficial. Harvard Law offers a program of study in law, science, and technology, which might be appealing if you're interested in the intersection of these areas.

By focusing on these guidelines and maintaining a high GPA, you'll position yourself as a strong candidate for Harvard Law School.

Who should write my letters of recommendation for Harvard Law School?

Harvard Law School requires J.D. program applicants to submit two letters of recommendation. At least one of these letters should come from a professor or academic advisor who can attest to your scholarly and academic abilities.

Key Tips for Managing Your Letters of Recommendation:

Plan Ahead:

Don't procrastinate on obtaining your letters of recommendation. Failing to plan ahead can lead to missed opportunities. If you wait until your final year or after graduation to secure recommendations, you might struggle to find someone who can provide a detailed and personal endorsement.

Identify Potential Recommenders Early:

If you know early in your undergraduate program that you want to attend law school, start identifying professors who could write strong letters for you. Choose professors whose classes you excel in and whose subjects you enjoy.

Build Strong Relationships:

Take multiple classes with these professors, attend their office hours regularly, and consider becoming a teaching assistant. Building a genuine relationship ensures that they know you well enough to provide a thorough and compelling recommendation.

Provide a Detailed Resume:

When you ask for a letter of recommendation, give your recommender a detailed, tailored resume. Even if you've taken multiple classes with them, include specific information to jog their memory about your work and achievements. Professors interact with many students, so providing detailed context can help them write a more personalized and impactful letter.

Include Detailed Accomplishments: Instead of listing bullet points, provide detailed descriptions of your accomplishments. For example, if you led a project, describe your role and the outcomes. This helps your professor recall specific examples of your work and highlight your strengths.

Understand the Impact:

Well-crafted letters of recommendation can set you apart from other applicants. They offer a unique perspective on your academic abilities and character, providing Harvard Law School's admissions officers with valuable insights.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your letters of recommendation are strong and supportive, enhancing your application to Harvard Law School.

What should I write in my essays for Harvard Law School?

Harvard Law School requires all applicants to submit a personal statement and offers the option to submit an additional statement. Here’s how to approach both:

Personal Statement:

This is mandatory and should be a compelling narrative showcasing your unique experiences, motivations, and insights. Avoid simply listing accomplishments or reiterating information found elsewhere in your application.

Optional Statement:

Submit this only if it adds significant new information about your background and motivations for pursuing a law degree. It should not be a continuation of your personal statement or a summary of your resume.

Writing Your Personal Statement

Be Authentic and Vulnerable:

The admissions officers read thousands of essays, so stand out by being genuine. Avoid bombast and resist the temptation to cram in all your achievements. Instead, focus on being vulnerable and honest.

Tell a Compelling Story:

Your goal is to write a narrative that showcases your writing skills, ability to be succinct, and capacity for deep insight. Choose one topic that demonstrates a moment of self-reflection and shows who you are at your core.

Stay Focused and Succinct:

Given the two-page double-spaced limit, be clear and concise. Express who you are in a compelling way within this short space.

Show Depth of Thought:

Harvard Law values students who can think deeply and understand the broader implications of the law. Your essay should reflect your ability to think critically and create an emotional connection with the reader.

Practical Tips for Writing

Start Early:

Begin working on your personal statement well in advance. This allows ample time for reflection, writing, and revising.

Write Multiple Drafts:

Expect to write several drafts. Each revision will help you refine your narrative and improve the overall quality of your essay.

Seek Feedback:

Have trusted individuals review your essay and provide constructive criticism. Be open to their suggestions and be prepared to make changes.

Be Honest and Personal:

Show your weaknesses and your journey towards self-awareness. An emotional connection with the admissions officer can be a decisive factor in your favor.

By following these guidelines, you can craft a personal statement that not only highlights your qualifications but also presents you as a thoughtful, introspective, and genuine candidate.

When should you start preparing to apply to Harvard Law School?

If you aim to attend Harvard Law School, start preparing as early as possible in your undergraduate career. Even if you're uncertain about your future plans, excelling academically will open doors to various opportunities, whether in a career, graduate school, or law school.

  1. Academic Excellence: Prioritize Your Grades from Day One: Treat every class as crucial, starting from your first semester. Strive for A’s in all courses and seek help promptly if you struggle in any subject.
  2. Develop Relationships with Professors: Focus on building strong connections with professors, especially those in subjects you enjoy. This will be valuable when you need letters of recommendation.
  3. Consider Retaking Courses if Needed: If you’ve received any less-than-stellar grades, consider retaking those courses to improve your GPA.
  4. Engage in Enriching Activities
  5. Participate in Research and Teaching: Take advantage of opportunities to participate in research projects and apply for teaching assistant positions.
  6. Pursue Internships: Gain practical experience through internships in your field of interest.
  7. Challenge Yourself: Push yourself intellectually and academically throughout your undergraduate years.

Preparing for the LSAT

  1. Start Early: Begin LSAT preparation as early as your junior year. Working with a private tutor can help you identify test patterns and develop effective strategies.
  2. Consistent Practice: Regular practice and thorough preparation are key to achieving a high LSAT score.

The Harvard Law School Interview

Interview by Invitation

Invitation Only: Harvard Law School interviews applicants by invitation only. Interviews are conducted online, and you will be notified by email if you are selected.

Essential for Admission: While not all applicants are interviewed, an interview is required for admission.

Interview Preparation

  • Preparation is Crucial: Prepare diligently for the interview. Seek advice from individuals who have undergone the process and practice with sample questions.
  • Professional Appearance: Dress professionally for the online interview. While a suit is not necessary, wear something neat and appropriate.
  • Punctuality and Attentiveness: Log in on time, listen carefully, and avoid interrupting the interviewer.
  • Conduct During the Interview
  • Be Thoughtful and Authentic: Answer questions thoughtfully and be genuine. Show your true self and make a positive impression.
  • Stay Relaxed: Maintain a calm demeanor to convey confidence and professionalism.

By following these guidelines, you can enhance your application to Harvard Law School and increase your chances of admission. Start preparing early, focus on academic excellence, engage in meaningful activities, and be thorough in your LSAT and interview preparation.

Should You Visit Harvard Law School to Increase Your Chances of Admission?

If you aim to attend Harvard Law School, demonstrating your genuine interest is crucial. One effective way to show this is by visiting the campus. Here’s why:

Demonstrate Interest and Knowledge:

Visiting the campus allows you to gain firsthand experience of Harvard Law School’s environment, programs, and community.

It provides tangible evidence that you’ve taken the initiative to learn about the school, which can strengthen your application.

Explore the Community:

A campus visit helps you determine if Harvard Law is the right fit for you.

Interacting with current students, faculty, and admissions officers can provide valuable insights.

Engage with the Institution:

Take advantage of tours, attend in-person and online events, and explore clinical programs.

Engaging with the school in various ways shows your commitment and enthusiasm for becoming part of its community.

Enhance Your Application:

Use your experiences and observations from the visit to make a compelling case for why you want to attend Harvard Law.

Incorporate specific details about what you learned and how it aligns with your goals in your application essays.

What Harvard Law School Looks for in Applicants

Harvard Law School seeks applicants who exhibit the following qualities:

Intellectual and Academic Excellence:

Superior grades and test scores are essential.

Demonstrated intellectual curiosity and a strong academic record are crucial.

Strong Character and Ethical Standards:

Law schools expect applicants to have high moral standards and strong character.

Honesty about any disciplinary records, accompanied by explanations, is important.

Resilience and Stress Management:

The ability to handle the rigorous academic environment and pressures at Harvard Law is key.

Show that you can manage stress both inside and outside the classroom.

Contribution Potential:

Highlight how you will contribute to the school and its community.

Demonstrate that you have unique insights and experiences that will enrich classroom discussions and the overall student body.

Holistic Review:

Your undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, and personal essays should collectively showcase your motivation, hard work, and intellectual depth.

Convey your potential to positively impact the legal field and society in the future.

By visiting Harvard Law School and engaging deeply with the institution, you can enhance your application and demonstrate that you are a well-rounded, motivated, and committed candidate.

How should you prepare to apply to Harvard Law School?

By now, it should be evident that preparing to apply to Harvard Law School as early as possible is crucial. Another key aspect of this preparation is staying organized. You'll need to manage your time effectively to balance studying for your classes, participating in extracurricular activities, completing internships, and handling other responsibilities.

Tips for Staying Organized:

Use a Planner:

Utilize a physical planner or a calendaring app to track your tasks and deadlines.

Plan out your semesters with specific goals and break them down into smaller, manageable steps.

Set Goals:

Create a roadmap with milestones to track your progress.

Regularly review and adjust your goals to stay on target.

Stay Motivated:

Keeping a visual record of your achievements can help maintain your motivation.

Celebrate small victories along the way to your ultimate goal of getting into Harvard Law School.

How to Apply to Harvard Law School

1. Application Process:

Electronic Application:

Complete the application through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website.

Submit the application electronically, or mail the certification page and application fee to the school if you choose to submit a paper application.

2. Required Tests:


Harvard Law School accepts both the LSAT and GRE, but the LSAT is more universally accepted by ABA-approved law schools.

Practice with old LSAT exams and consider working with a tutor to maximize your score.

List Harvard Law School when registering for the LSAT so your scores will be sent directly to the school.

3. Credential Assembly Service:

Register with LSAC:

Pay the required fees to use LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

Submit all undergraduate and graduate transcripts and letters of recommendation to LSAC.

LSAC will send your assembled documents to Harvard Law School.

4. Application Submission:

Documents to Submit:

Submit your completed application, resume, and personal statement to LSAC.

LSAC will transmit your documents to Harvard Law School.

Pay the application fee of $85.

5. Deadlines:

Application Timeline:

The application opens in the fall.

The final deadline to submit your application is February 3. Applications close on February 28.

Submitting by February 3 ensures a decision by April 1, while submissions between February 3 and February 28 will receive a decision by May 1.

Final Tips for Success

Gaining admission to Harvard Law School is challenging, but with dedication and strategic preparation, you can significantly enhance your chances. At Going Ivy, we have helped many students gain admission to elite schools. By following these tips and staying organized, you can better position yourself for success in your application to Harvard Law School.

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