Review Process and Timeline

admissions timeline+ Click to enlarge

Applications for admission as a first-year J.D. student become available on September 1 of each year. The deadline to apply is February 1 of the following year.

The Review Process

We encourage you to complete your application file as early as possible. You are responsible for ensuring that your completed application reaches our office by the deadline. We do not accept late applications.

Files are reviewed as they become complete. For information about the criteria used for reviewing applications, you may refer to the Faculty Policy Governing Admissions. An overview of some of the main admission factors that we consider follows:

Grade Point Average
When evaluating your GPA, we will consider your overall undergraduate academic record, including the age of the grades, exceptionally high grades, the difficulty of coursework, time commitments while attending college, grading patterns at the school attended, and grade trends or discrepancies. Graduate work is considered a “plus factor.”

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
When evaluating LSAT scores we may consider whether similar tests have under-predicted your academic performance in the past. For example, if you can document that you have earned exceptionally high undergraduate grades but performed badly on the SAT, then this may be taken into account in evaluating your potential to succeed in law school. Be sure to document your test-taking history by including a copy of your SAT or ACT scores with your application.

Personal Statement
A personal statement is required of all applicants. The statement can be up to four double-spaced pages. There is no required topic for the statement. It is your opportunity to describe the subjective qualities that you will bring to the study of law at Berkeley. See more information here.

Letters of Recommendation
We suggest that you provide recommendations from 2-3 academic sources who are familiar with your classroom performance and who are able to assess your potential for the study of law. These may be from either professors or teaching assistants. If you have been away from academia for some time, a recommendation from a work supervisor or colleague may be substituted. We reserve the right to review your application without recommendations if waiting longer for them will hinder your admission chances. We do not use the LSAC evaluation grid system.

If you apply as a transfer student, we require recommendations from two law professors with whom you have studied.

Sign the waiver form if you wish to waive your access to any of your recommendations. When evaluating your recommendations, no weight is given to whether or not you waive access to them.

Optional Socioeconomic Questionnaire
If you have experienced disadvantages that adversely affected your performance in the past, and if you have successfully overcome such disadvantages, then this information will be considered when assessing your potential to contribute to the educational process and the legal profession. To this end, you are invited to complete the socioeconomic questionnaire included on the application form. Completion of the questionnaire is optional. If the questionnaire is completed, the information will be used to augment the other factors considered during the evaluation process.

Other Factors
Although substantial weight is given to the undergraduate GPA and LSAT score, many other factors also are considered.  However, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin are not used as admission criteria. No weight is given to your political or ideological views, how you intend to use your legal education, nor to your need for financial aid or employment during law school.

Application Status Notification

We will take no action until your application is complete. Applications are considered complete when the following items are received and processed: An application form, an application fee (or fee waiver), a CAS transcript summary, an LSAT score (the most recent one reported on your application), a resume, and a personal statement. Completion of your file may require additional action on your part, such as payment to LSAC for sending CAS reports.

Once your file is complete, you will receive an email confirming that your application is under review and instructions on how to access an online status checker to monitor your application’s progress and disposition.

Due to the large number of applications we receive, some time may elapse between your submitting an application, receipt of notification that it is under review, and a final decision. Until you receive notice that your file is under review, you should assume that it is incomplete and that no action is being taken.

If you have questions, contact us at admissions@law.berkeley.edu rather than calling the office. Inquiries other than those prompted by a special concern only delay the processing of applications.

Administrative Review
Once an application file is complete, it is evaluated on the basis of the admissions criteria by the Dean of Admissions. He admits a certain number of applicants who, under the governing criteria and on the basis of his experience, would have a high likelihood of admission if referred to the Admissions Committee. Similarly, applicants who would have a high likelihood of being denied if referred to the Committee are denied by the Dean of Admissions.

Committee Review
The remaining applicants are given more extended consideration by the Admissions Committee, which is composed of faculty and students.

The student role is consultative and the faculty members’ decisions are final. Only students who are members of the Admissions Committee are permitted to read files. You may indicate on the application form whether or not you consent to have your file read by a student member of the Committee. In the evaluation of your application, no weight is given to whether or not you consent to student review. In every case complete confidentiality of all materials is maintained.

As a result of the Committee’s consideration, some applicants are admitted, some are placed on a waiting list, and the remaining applicants are denied. The total number admitted is that which experience has indicated will fill the places available in the entering class. If the number of admitted students who accept an offer of admission falls below the number necessary to fill the class, then the waiting list is used to fill the remaining places.

Decision Notification

Decision notifications are sent to applicants as decisions are made. For the majority of applicants, this is usually by mid-March. An admitted applicant has several weeks to respond to the offer, but in no case is an applicant required to respond before April 1.

Acceptance/Seat Deposit

Berkeley Law School does not require an acceptance deposit. Instead, we rely on the good faith of those whom we admit to provide candid and honest responses about accepting our offer of admission.  The absence of a deposit may necessitate reconfirmation of an accepted applicant’s declaration to enroll.

Reconsideration

Once an applicant has been denied admission the decision is final. There is no reconsideration. Exceptions are made only in unusual cases in which an error for which the applicant was not responsible, and which the applicant promptly brought to the law school’s attention, may have affected the decision. Because files are considered on a comparative basis, reconsideration would lay open the possibility of unfairly granting attention to individual applicants. It is therefore avoided.

Deferment of Admission

Students are expected to enroll for the year for which they have been admitted. However, deferment requests may be granted at the discretion of the Dean of Admissions. Some reasons a deferment might be granted include admission to a concurrent degree program, serious illness in the family, award of a fellowship, or some other extraordinary opportunity.

Contacting Applicants

Our concern for confidentiality precludes discussion of individual files with anyone other than the applicant. If you expect to be unavailable at any point during the review process, please appoint someone to act on your behalf and inform the Admissions Office via email of the appointee’s name and contact information.