As a new blogger (well, THIS is a new blog for me) I am fascinated by the statistics that WordPress keeps for my blog. I am slowly getting more hits and comments, some of which aren’t spam (Yay!!). Today I saw an interesting search that showed up on my stats page: Is it hard to get into Texas Wesleyan Law School? I have to admit, it made me think.
My first thought was I wish I knew why someone would search using that query. Were they looking for a law school that would be easy as in, they take anyone? Or do they REALLY want to go to Texas Wesleyan and are trying to gauge their chances? I think I’d have a different answer depending on the motivation behind the question.
For example: According to this blog nearly 79,000 people applied to law school last year. The same site quotes an approximate 25% of these applicants failed to get into at least one ABA-accredited law school. So, 1/4 of applicants who wanted in, didn’t get accepted.
I don’t know how these numbers came about, nor how accurate they are. What seems clear is that there are way fewer seats than there are people waiting to take them. That fact alone means that it is difficult to get into any law school. And, depending on what one is looking for in a law school, some are more competitive than others.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here: Just because there is more competition to get into one school over another doesn’t necessarily mean that the former is better for you. There are many considerations: Cost, location, reputation, types of programs offered, atmosphere, alumni network etc. Moreover, at some level you have to decide what it is you want to do because not all law schools produce the same types of lawyers.
For instance, in Texas, several law schools have “reputations” for their approach to teaching the law. One school might be known for its emphasis on trial skills and so they produce some great litigators. Another school is known for its emphasis on a philosophical approach to the law and its graduates often become law professors and scholars. That’s not to say that great litigators and scholars don’t come from OTHER Texas law schools, just that certain law schools seem to focus on a particular approach and as a result, lawyers with a forte in that skill set come out in the end.
Texas Wesleyan Law just celebrated its 20th birthday in 2009, so we’re relatively young compared to other Texas law schools. I don’t know that we yet have a “reputation” as storied as some other schools. However, I can confirm that our school has a tremendous focus on good legal research and writing skills which are essential for any area of law in which you want to practice. If I had to venture a guess as to what Wesleyan’s reputation is locally I’d have to say it’s based on the level of expertise its students have in the areas of legal research and writing. I know for a fact (through personal experience and by hanging around certain circles privy to this information) that some of the “best” law schools in Texas are generally known to put out poor legal researchers and writers.
Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, all law schools are going to give their students the basic general legal education, but if you go to a school where they focus more on philosophy or trial advocacy, other skills will necessarily defer accordingly. I’m not trying to bash any law schools, it’s just the reality of 3-4 years in law school and not enough time to teach everything about everything. There are certain courses that law schools must teach in compliance with the American Bar Association, many of which are necessary for passing the bar, but the other course offerings provided by a law school tend to reflect its focus and so the cycle that feeds THAT school’s reputation, perpetuates itself.
At Wesleyan we take many more required legal writing/research classes than several other schools in Texas. We also offer a really good assortment of upper-division practicum classes where you get hands on experience in the nuts and bolts of lawyering like drafting documents, making oral arguments, and conducting trials etc. I think all law schools obviously have a little bit of all this, but at Wesleyan it is a big deal. It’s all well and good to know “book law,” but learning how to apply the law and do the work is so much more educational when you can get your hands dirty.
So, back to the search query that inspired this blog entry: If you’re searching for “Is it hard to get into Texas Wesleyan Law School” because the other schools you’re considering require one extra essay or their class profile seems more welcoming of your “average” LSAT score or GPA, perhaps you should reconsider whether you really ought to begin such a journey if ease and comfort are your main focus. If what you’re looking for is “easy,” I hate to be the one that breaks it to you (not really, it’s kind of fun, actually!), but law school, ANY law school, is not it. Law school is demanding, time-consuming, life-changing, and requires your utmost attention at all times. You will, for 3-4 years, sacrifice your personal time, your family, your friends, your health and well-being, but if it is truly what you were meant to do, it is so worth it.
If, on the other hand, you’re searching for, “Is it hard to get into Texas Wesleyan Law School,” because this is where you want to be more than anything. I wish you the best. You could not find a more welcoming and nurturing environment in which to grow into a fine lawyer. Some people get all hung up on a law school’s ranking or tier, but I tell you this—-your law school experience is what YOU make of it. No matter where you go to law school, we all take the same bar exam and get the same license.
Lastly, the most enlightening advice I ever got about law school came from a wise woman and mentor of mine: You have to decide whether your goal is to go to a particular law school or whether the goal is to become a LAWYER. The two goals are not the same.
Comments? Questions? Leave me a reply or see Texas Wesleyan’s Law Student blogs and read what others think of their experience.