Monday, September 10, 2007

Did a Law School Offer you an Application Fee Waiver?

I always learn something while reading Brian Leiter's Law School Reports blog and rankings site and here's a fact he posted about U.S. News Rankings that got my blood boiling (but for once I'm angry at the law schools and not at the ranking-fallacy issue):

"2.5% of the overall score [US News Ranking] is the acceptance rate for students. Highly Manipulable. . . . many schools inflate their "selectivity" by giving fee waivers to applicants who have no chance of getting in. NYU is reported to have pioneered in this arena, but many others have followed suit."

So many of my clients get excited and e-mail me when a school offers them a fee waiver. I don't like that law schools are preying on the hope and vulnerabilities of law school applicants (especially my applicants) and this makes it very easy to fight back -

If your numbers aren't in the realm of realistic possibility for a school and they offer you a fee waiver without knowing anything about you, don't get sucked in. It's a silent protest, but a worthwhile one.


  1. Hi Ann,

    I posted on this awhile back here

    The more I read about rankings out there, the more I realize that the schools are far from innocent in the whole rankings game.

    Schools seem pander to the rankings in ways such as these, but at the same come out and denounce them.

    If schools were serious about denouncing rankings, why don't they boycott the rankings?

  2. Thanks Austin - as usual, you're ahead of the game.
    Why don't they boycott? Because even 4th tier schools have a love/hate relationship with the rankings. It's a lot of free publicity and a lot of people find out about their schools that wouldn't otherwise. And the top schools won't boycott because they love to say they're at the top (even while they talk out both sides of their mouths about how they're not "top enough" and should really be higher up....)
    As always, thanks for your quality contribution!
    I heartily recommend CALI PreLaw Blog to all law school applicants.

  3. Thanks and you're welcome, Ann.

    I agree. I've always thought the top-tier schools won't take a hard stance against rankings (a hard stance being refusal to participate, not the "don't look at these rankings over definitely don't consider them!" stance they currently take) because it is too good for business to see their names at the top of the list every year.

    And all other schools would risk being pushed into complete irrelevance if they dropped off the rankings map because so many prospective students use the rankings.

    So really, like all things law school, it would be up to these top schools to make the first move and, basically, bite the hand that feeds them.

  4. I agree that it can be discouraging to know that you're a pawn in a game, but if you can turn it into an advantage for you, why not?

    In my case, for example, I was happy to receive a waiver from a school that fits my needs in many ways and is also one that I have a competitive shot of being admitted to. But I also received waivers from a school beyond my league as well as one well below my league. In all three cases, I am applying because the relatively small $12 fee for an LSAC report is worth it to me just to see how I fare at these three different schools.

    Thus, though I may be benefiting the law school, I also gain benefit from this practice.

    Now if only ALL the law schools offered fee waivers!

  5. I understand that it sucks being taken somewhat advantage of by the top tier schools when they offer a fee waiver, but in all reality, I hope every top tier school offers me a fee waiver. Because if they don't, there is no way I could afford to apply to all the schools I would love to attend. By taking advantage of the fee waiver atleast I am able to get my application in the door and perhaps fill a spot that they is empty. And in the end, it is not costing me anything. So I say, BRING ON THE FEE WAIVERS!!

    As for the law school rankings, I believe there is a remarkable difference between the top 15-20 law schools, but after that most law schools are very comparable (as long as they are within the top 100). I think it all comes down to where a student wants to study and live not about getting into the higher ranking school.