Wondering how to get into Harvard Law School? We’ve got you! Harvard Law School is not only one of the most famous law schools in the world, but it is also one of the most competitive. As an Ivy League school with a worldwide reputation, a global network, and a rigorous yet flexible curriculum, you can understand why thousands of students prepare and submit applications to their law school programs every year. With that kind of competition, you need to know how to write a compelling law school personal statement and how to prepare your other application components in a way that stands out. In this blog, our law school admissions consulting professionals go through the admission statistics, requirements, and everything else that you need to know to be a competitive applicant and get into Harvard Law School. 


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Mission statement

Harvard Law School’s mission is ‘to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society’

Available programs & curriculum

Harvard Law School (HLS) has three main degree-bearing programs. The LL.M. (Master of Laws), The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.), and the Juris Doctor (J.D) program which is the one that this article focuses on. It is a three-year program, with a curriculum designed to reflect 21st-century law in the United States. Harvard does not give students the option of completing this degree on a part-time schedule.

During the first year, students are provided with a solid intellectual foundation on which to build their legal education, covering core principles and concepts, theory, and skills of legal practice and providing a thorough grounding in fundamental legal reasoning. As a first-year student, you will be required to take courses in civil procedure, criminal law, legislation and regulation, constitutional law, contracts, property, and torts, which collectively provide a foundation for understanding the governing structures of the U.S. legal system and the role of statutes and regulations within that system.

Furthermore, all first-year students are also expected to participate in the January Experiential Term. During this term, students enroll in one of several skills-based courses that emphasize teamwork, practical training, and self-reflection. These classes are designed to help bridge the gap between academic courses and the skills lawyers use in practice. For example, there is a legal research and writing course, which includes Harvard’s famous Moot Court Program and several other opportunities to practice the various forms of writing used in legal practice.

To build on the foundational knowledge obtained during the first year at Harvard law school, students are encouraged to pursue their own passions and think about how to take advantage of opportunities for advanced work during the upper years. Students are not required to pick a specialty or pick a specific area of study. However, since Harvard offers the highest number of law courses in the world, the faculty has developed “programs of study” to help guide students. Programs of study work the way some majors do during undergrad. They basically tell you which courses you need for foundational knowledge in a specific field, then what courses are recommended to expand on that knowledge, and so on. You do not sign up for any for specific programs; nor should you feel compelled to adhere to one. Instead, the programs of study reflect the best advice from faculty about how to approach particular subjects and potential careers. These are the seven programs of study at HLS: 

  1. Criminal Law and Policy
  2. International and Comparative Law
  3. Law and Business
  4. Law and Government
  5. Law and History
  6. Law and Social Change
  7. Law, Science, and Technology

Admission statistics

Harvard Law School’s overall acceptance rate:

Harvard Law school has one of the lowest law school acceptance rates in the country. This tells us that Harvard law school is highly selective. Additionally, the average GPA and LSAT scores of its most recent matriculants confirm that you need to have a strong academic background to be granted admission. In the most recent first-year class, the average GPA and LSAT scores were 3.92 and 174 respectively. Additionally, it is worth noting that 11% of the class holds advanced degrees. In terms of demographics, the most recent class was actually pretty diverse. 56% of students identified as students of color, 54% of the class is made up of women, and 17% of the student body identified as members of the LGBTQ+. 

Recommended courses

Like most law schools, Harvard considers applications from all undergraduate majors and does not have a fixed requirement with respect to the content of an applicant’s pre-legal education. However, they do mention that a broad college education is preferable to one that is narrowly specialized. Meaning that thorough learning in a field of your choice, such as history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature, or the classics (and many others), would be better than a concentration in courses that are primarily given as vocational training. 

Selection factors

Students are eligible to apply for the J.D program at Harvard if they have or will have a bachelor’s degree by August of the year they intend to enroll at HLS. The J.D. degree requires three years of full-time study beginning in the fall semester of each year exclusively.

In addition to the non-refundable $85 fee, you need the following application components: 

A strong application should show that you reflect the qualities that Harvard law school values and the skills that they are looking for. It’s essential to keep this in mind as you write your law school personal statement and fill out your background information in the application. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Craft a resume specifically for this application

Your law school resume should showcase your experience, accomplishments, and skills in a way that will stand out to the admissions board. Ideally, it will be a one-page document that is easy to read and provides only the most pertinent information. We recommend sticking to bullet point lists that convey the key achievements for each experience and project you worked on. Each bullet point should have a maximum of three lines to avoid cluttering the page.

Are you working on your law school resume? Check out this infographic for tips:

Get the right referees

Harvard asks for two letters of recommendation but allows students to submit up to three. You should make sure that at least one of the letters comes from an academic source. A former professor would be ideal. The other letters can be written by an employer, former supervisor, coach, or mentor. You should make sure it is someone that knows you well enough to speak about your qualities and skills, with concrete examples. You must submit the letters of recommendation through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Recommendation Service.

Use your personal statement wisely

Harvard does not have a prompt for the personal statement, which means that the topic of your essay is up to you. We recommend using this essay to provide more context on how your experiences and strengths could make you a valuable contributor to the Harvard and legal communities, highlight your intellectual background and interests, and clarify or elaborate on other information in your application. If you’re not sure what to include in your statement, you may want to consider investing in law school admissions consulting as the consultants can help you through the brainstorming, writing, and editing process. Harvard requires that your personal statement be two pages long, using a minimum of 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing.

Ace your standardized tests

All applicants to the J.D. program are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test. LSAC reports all LSAT scores from the past five years. Similarly, applicants who choose to submit a GRE General Test score (instead of, or in addition to the LSAT) are required to report all valid test scores from the previous five years. While there is no minimum score required to apply, you need to remember that Harvard Law School is highly competitive and that the average LSAT score of its current first-year class is 174. You should aim to get a similar score or higher to improve your chances of admission.

Are you getting ready to take the LSAT exam? This video is for you:

Write an addendum

If there is any information you believe to be relevant to your application but did not have the room to include in the rest of the application, you can write a law school addendum to relay it to the admissions board. This can include unusual circumstances that may have affected your academic performance during undergrad or descriptions of a physical or learning disability that you may need accommodations for. This information will allow the admissions committee to get a better sense of who you are, giving them a clearer picture to work with. You should limit your optional statement to one page, double spaced, using a font size that is comfortable to read (we recommend 11 or 12 points).

Interviews

During the application review process, you may be invited to interview. Harvard law school interviews happen throughout the admissions cycle, starting in November, and are conducted using Zoom. You do not need to request one, the Admissions Office will contact you directly to set up an interview. It would be best if you started preparing yourself for a video interview before you receive an invitation from the admissions office. If you’re not sure how to prepare for a law school interview, we recommend that you start by reviewing common law school interview questions and preparing your answers ahead of time. You may also invest in the services of an admissions advisor to help improve your performance during the interview.

Tuition and financial aid

For a standard nine-month academic year, students should expect to pay at least $70,430 for tuition fees at Harvard Law School. This does not include the cost of mandatory Student Health Fee, the Harvard University Student Health Insurance Plan, Books and Supplies, rent and utilities, food, and transportation. All of which can add up to $35,000 or more depending on the person. Bringing the total cost to over $100 000 per academic year.

Financial aid is available at Harvard Law, but it is exclusively need-based, meaning that there are no merit scholarships available. All students, domestic and international alike, who demonstrate financial need according to a combination of federal and institutional guidelines are eligible to receive financial assistance to complete their course of study. However, applicants may not begin to apply for financial aid at HLS until they receive an offer of admission.

Additionally, The Low-Income Protection Plan (LIPP) is a loan forgiveness program that many Harvard law graduates can qualify for. This program helps relieve the burden of repayment of educational loans for J.D. graduates who choose to work in lower-paying jobs. You can qualify for this program if you take a full-time job in a non-profit organization, government, academia, or in certain law-related jobs in the private sector.

Acceptance and waitlist

Applicants can follow the progress of their application once it has been received from LSAC through the Harvard Law School admissions website. They can view received and outstanding application components, but the admissions decision will be communicated to them directly by early April. Candidates will either be offered admission, put on the waiting list or rejected. If your application has been rejected, you may apply again the following year. That said, Harvard Law School has a policy that prevents applicants from applying to the J.D. program more than three times in a row.

Need a visual reminder of the application components required by Harvard Law School? Check this out:

Contact information

Harvard Law School:

Website: https://hls.harvard.edu/

Email: [email protected]

Mailing address: 2nd Floor Austin Hall

Cambridge, MA 02138

FAQs

1. How hard is it to get into Harvard law school?

Getting into Harvard Law School can be difficult because it is such a selective school and there is a lot of competition. On average, for every 100 applications that Harvard receives, only 7 applicants are admitted. 

2. What LSAT score do I need to get into Harvard law?

There is no minimum score cut-off but 50% of the current first-year class had a score of 174 or higher, so you should aim for a similar score if you want to get into Harvard Law School.

3. Can I apply to Harvard law school with a GRE instead of the LSAT?

Yes, You may. Harvard accepts both of those standardized tests. Some students even take both tests and submit both scores in their application. 

4. How much does it cost to go to Harvard law school?

Harvard Law School can cost upwards of $100 000 per academic year, but the school does offer many generous financial aid options. 

5. Is Harvard law school worth the money?

Harvard Law School offers the highest number of law courses in the United States, it has a solid global network that all alumni automatically become a part of and a curriculum that is designed to prepare graduates for practice. In short, it is a great school, but it is not the only great school out there. You will need to research the school yourself and find out if it is the right place for you. 

6. What GPA do you need to get a scholarship to Harvard law school?

Harvard law school currently doesn’t offer merit scholarships, but it does offer other types of financial aid.  

7. Does Harvard law school offer financial aid for international students?

Yes, it does! Both international and domestic students are eligible to apply for need-based financial aid at Harvard Law School. 

8. How can I increase my chances of getting into Harvard law school?

You can increase your chances of getting into this prestigious school by taking the time to research the school, studying for and acing the LSAT or GRE, and working with a law admissions consultant to create compelling application components. 

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up-to-date information. You are responsible for your own results. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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