Which Law Schools Require Evaluations?
As you may have heard, starting this year LSAC is bringing you even more administrative headaches by way of the new evaluation service. You can now have professors do an online evaluation, which is entirely different than a letter of recommendation. Rather than actually having to take the time to put words down to describe you, LSAC evaluations are much more quantitative. Across 30 categories, your evaluator says where you fall on a scale ranging from “below average” to “truly exceptional.” The categories include intellectual curiosity, honesty, critical thinking, and leadership, among many other things. Law schools then look at all these ratings, which adds to the overall profile of your application.
Haven’t heard of this? Well, that’s not very surprising. The service is new, and it’s generally not required by schools. Before you had to check school-by-school to see if you needed an evaluation, but now LSAC has come out with a handy chart so you can see exactly which schools require them. So without further ado, the list of ABA-approved law schools that require evaluations:
Albany Law School – 2 required
University of Detroit Mercy – 1 required
University of Montana – 3 required
So unless you’re applying to one of these law schools, you don’t absolutely have to be getting evaluations. (Interestingly, if you’re applying to only Montana, you don’t need to even bother with letters of recommendation, which they neither require nor recommend you send in.)
But there are schools that recommend that you submit evaluations (usually 1-3, depending on the school), even if they’re not required. And guess what? It’s a lot of schools. In fact, over a quarter of ABA-approved schools think you should submit evaluations. What does that mean for you? It means you should probably submit evaluations. Go over the LSAC chart to check the schools you’re applying to, and if they think it would be a good idea for you to get an evaluation, you should think it’s a good idea, too. Even if most applicants don’t do it, it’ll set you apart that you did. And many schools that don’t recommend evaluations will still take them, and if you can get a great evaluation from a professor, that can only help.
Since these evaluations are so quantitative, you want to make sure you’re getting people who are going to be ticking the “truly exceptional” box a lot. Talk to professors before they do it to feel them out. You should be able to tell whether or not they’ll be singing your praises.