Why It’s Getting Harder To Get Into A Top Law School

Harvard Law School

The top law schools have received a historic volume of applications this past year, forcing admit rates down and causing schools to report record-breaking test scores and grade point averages for their incoming classes this fall.

Just take a look at the latest stats from Harvard Law School which welcome its most diverse class of J.D. students in the school’s history on Aug. 27th. As applications swelled to nearly 10,000 for 560 seats, average undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores rose to historic highs, at 3.92 and 174, respectively.

Harvard received a total of 9,993 applications, up 33% over the 7,505 applications received a year earlier. The school admitted 685 candidates to get to its enrolled incoming class of 560 students for an acceptance rate of 6.9%, well below the 12.9% admit rate last year. The surge in applicants made Harvard Law School more popular than its business school which saw apps rise just 5% to 9,773 and has an admit rate estimated at 9% this year.


For the first time, 56% of the members of the Class of 2024 at Harvard Law identify as people of color, and 54% identify as women. The Class of 2024 includes 19 Fulbright Scholars, five Schwarzman Scholars, four QuestBridge Scholars, three Posse Scholars, two Truman Scholars, one Marshall Scholar, two Rhodes Scholars, and two Gates Millennium Scholars, among many other awards and honors. Current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including members of the U.S. Special Forces, are also represented in the highest numbers at HLS since the mid-20th century.

“I am delighted to welcome the truly extraordinary group of students who are joining our community this fall,” says Haarvard Law Dean John Manning in a statement. “I look forward to meeting them and am so glad they have come to HLS to learn to be the great lawyers and leaders I know they will be!”

The 560 members of the incoming J.D. class hail from nearly every U.S. state plus Guam, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, and 18 international locations. Students attended 171 undergraduate institutions, and represent 62 distinct undergrad majors, including 12% with STEM degrees. First-year students also bring more than 40 language skills to HLS, including American Sign Language, Catalan, Chamorro, Igbo, Massachusett, Persian, Thai, and Yoruba.


Prior to attending law school, incoming students worked as teachers, performing artists, writers for comedy shows, political campaign managers, an NFL football coach, and podcast hosts. Collectively, the class of 2024 has served 73 members of the U.S. Congress.

“There was exceptional talent in the application pool this year,” added Assistant Dean for Admissions Kristi Jobson  “Our entering students represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds and life experiences, adding to the richness and depth of our campus community. I am really proud to be matriculating such an outstanding class of students,” says Jobson. “It is an honor to have them at Harvard Law School.”

Harvard reported that 82% of the incoming class was at least one year out of college, while 63% were two or more years out, and 19% were four or more years from their undergraduate experience.

Class of 2024 by the Numbers
150 Phi Beta Kappa inductees
73 members of Congress served
67 undergraduate STEM majors
37 collegiate mock trial competitors
34 Division 1 varsity athletes
26 editors-in-chief
25 current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces
25 debaters
19 Fulbright Scholars (Argentina, Armenia, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, UK (2), Russia, South Korea, Spain (2), Taiwan)
17 AmeriCorps Members
15 thespians
13 company founders and CEOs
13 teachers
11 podcast hosts
11 students with Top Secret security clearance
9 scuba divers
7 embassy staffers (Dominican Republic, Ghana, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, South Korea)
6 wilderness first responders
5 stand-up comedians
5 student body presidents
5 Schwarzman Scholars
5 Teach for America corps members
4 hip hop dancers
4 QuestBridge Scholars
4 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
3 Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes
3 Posse Scholars
2 Truman Scholars
2 Rhodes Scholars
2 Gates Millennium Scholars
2 taco enthusiasts
1 beekeeper
1 Marshall Scholar
1 set of identical twins

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