Early offers to Harvard law school on the rise

| Staff Reporter

As the last semester of college begins for the class of 2010, many seniors are making plans for after graduation, whether work, relaxation or further education. Among those planning to further their education, law school is one of many options.

For some members of the senior class, receiving early letters of admission from top law schools around the country has meant more security for the future. Among the early admissions are seven undergraduates who received acceptance letters from Harvard Law School.

While data for the previous year’s class of law school admittances is not yet available, two years ago, 16 Washington University graduates were accepted at Harvard Law School. Assistant Vice Chancellor Mark Smith, director of the Career Center and a pre-law adviser, said that what was unusual this year was not the number of acceptances, but rather how early the students were notified.

“To have many students get into law school before going home for winter break—before Thanksgiving break—that’s huge,” Smith said.

Most law schools around the country use rolling admissions, which means that they review applications as they receive them and extend offers of admissions accordingly. Dean Kristin Kerth is a four-year adviser as well as a pre-law adviser. She said that four or five admission offers came in on one day before Thanksgiving.

“I think our numbers are increasing at top law schools,” Kerth said. “I think the caliber of our students continues to increase, so it’s no surprise. They are applying intelligently, both in terms of timing their application and being prepared for the application process. But also because they are smart people that have done well. They’ve written interesting personal statements because they are interesting people who have something to say. And they’ve thought about it.”

Molly Jennings is one of the seven undergraduates who received an offer of admission from Harvard Law School. Jennings, an English major and biology minor, decided to pursue law because it was a way to combine a scientific way of thinking with an artistic way of thinking.

“One of the things about Wash. U. is that I think a lot of people come here and work really hard because we really want to prove ourselves,” Jennings said.

For those students considering law school after graduation, Kerth and Smith both encourage students to attend the information sessions held throughout the year for all classes, including the information session for sophomores on Jan. 26 in Danforth University Center 234.

Kerth said that there are plenty of extracurricular opportunities for students to gain exposure to the legal field, such as volunteer opportunities with the American Civil Liberties Union or Legal Services of Missouri.

Smith also encouraged students to conduct informational interviews in order to find out what lawyers actually do. “You can never do enough informational interviewing,” Smith said.

But most important, he said, is for students to find what they are passionate about and pursue it. “Major in whatever you want, and do well,” Smith said.