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How to Find the Right Reach School

When applying to law school, most experts recommend applying to three target schools, at least three reach schools, and three safety schools.

But what should you look for in a reach school—and how do you even know if a law school is a reach? Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently broke down everything applicants need to know about reach law schools and offered insight into what you should be looking for in a dream school.


To determine whether a law school is a reach or not, start with the statistics. Kuris recommends looking at the median GPA and LSAT score for each law school, as well as the 25th and 75th percentiles.

“It’s certainly possible to get into a law school if you are a ‘splitter,’ with either your GPA or LSAT below median,” Kuris says. “However, if both these statistics are well below a school’s 25th percentile, then the school may be out of reach.”


While grades and test scores are important in admissions, law schools also consider each applicant’s unique background, interests, and goals. Take some time to figure out what your strengths are and consider which law schools are the best match.

“For example, some law schools explicitly prefer candidates with substantial work experience, while others care more about academic achievements,” Kuris says. “A law school with a center on national security law or a clinic assisting service members may be especially open to applicants who are veterans. A law school with a strong social justice mission may accept students with experience overcoming discrimination or bias, or promoting diversity and inclusivity, even if they had an uneven academic path.”


Law schools love to see applicants who are enthusiastic about attending, but steer clear of any desperate calls of eagerness.

“Writing a heartfelt plea to law school admissions officers that you have always dreamed of attending their law school is unlikely to move the needle for a reach school,” Kuris says. “Law schools seek students who are enthusiastic about attending, but there is little boon for extraordinary eagerness.”

To show your enthusiasm, it can help to demonstrate a personal connection to the law school such as ties of family or geography. Use these to your advantage.

“Many law schools favor students from their local community or students with family members who have attended or worked at the law school,” Kuris says. “Public law schools often have an explicit mission of serving in-state residents and may especially value applicants from neglected rural, low-income or Indigenous communities within the state. If you are religious, you might also consider a private law school with a religious mission aligned with your own.”

Sources: US News, Juris Education

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