Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow

What should an undergraduate do during college to get into Harvard Law School?

I often respond to questions from readers on the law school admissions process. Here is a question I recently responded to: 


Q: What should an undergraduate do during college to get into Harvard Law School?

A: As a Harvard Law School graduate who also worked for 5 years as a law school admissions counselor for Kaplan and Harvard College before and during law school, my personal insight into the way Harvard Law School admissions works is that the ranking order of importance of each component of the application is as follows:

  1. Grades
  2. College major – perceived rigor and difficulty
  3. LSAT
  4. Recommendation letters – personalization and strength of the recommendation
  5. Personal statement
  6. Extracurricular activities – leadership experience and track record
Consequently, I would spend my undergraduate years perfecting each of these things in that specific order of importance to be maximally effective at increasing my odds of admission into HLS. To be sure, if you have “blemishes” at one or more of these things, it is certainly still possible to get in — you just have to be able to craft a good story to present yourself as a compelling candidate.
Be sure to check out our law school admissions guide “How to get into Harvard Law School (whether you have the highest scores or not)” for in-depth tips and strategies on admission to elite law schools!
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Andrew C.

Andrew Chen is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He was admitted to Harvard on his first attempt at applying – in the very first round of applicants. He was also admitted to the law schools at Stanford, Columbia, NYU, and Chicago among others – also all in their first rounds. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.