Last year's interview with Brandon Hamilton, the Dean of Admissions here at U of L Law, was one of the most-read posts in the two years that I've been writing this blog. And with the law school admissions cycle in high gear (the official application deadline is today), I thought it might be useful to do a second interview with Dean Hamilton. If you have a question that isn't covered below, send me a private message and I'll do my best to get it answered.
2L at U of L: Louisville recently rejoined the nation's Top 100 law schools in the annual rankings published by USNews & World Report. Did the school do anything different to improve its reputation, and how much of an impact will this have on the admissions process?
Hamilton: The law school did not develop a specific strategy for moving back into the top 100. Yes, it will probably affect admissions as a good percentage of students use US News & World Report as a guide for making their decision. Included is an interesting, recent article that discusses rankings in more depth. The article is written by Malcom Gladwell and published in The New Yorker.
2L at U of L: As I recall, last year the school received a record number of applications. How is this year's class shaping up?
Hamilton: Yes, last year U of L Law received a record number of applications. This year, applications will be down from last year, but if we were to look at the number of applications received from 2008 and 2009, we will be up.
Nationally, applications are down approximately 11.5%.
2L at U of L: What's the biggest factor driving admissions right now? Is it still the economy?
Hamilton: The economy and the cost of financing a legal education are driving admissions. Students are concerned about how they will pay for law school and if they will be able to get a job after graduation.
2L at U of L: When do you expect to make all of your decisions and offers to incoming students, and how many students do you expect in the Class of 2014?
Hamilton: Our application deadline is April 1. I hope that all applications will receive a first review by the first week of May.
2L at U of L: With the economy still being soft for law jobs, what do you tell students who ask about their job prospects?
Hamilton: While the job market is tight, I believe it’s improving. Job growth has been seen in the health, environmental, technology, and intellectual property areas of law. In addition, there is also growth in the public sector.
UofL has done an excellent job with placing students. About 96 – 97% of students have employment within 9 months of graduation.
If a student follows our professional development formula, there is no reason why a student should not obtain a position. Network » start early with public service placement » network » work after your first year (do something!) » get involved in student organizations, moot court, journals » network » obtain an externship, work in the clinic, continue involvement » work after your second year » network » obtain position.
2L at U of L: What about the cost of tuition? Is it going up?
Hamilton: We enjoy affordable, low public tuition rates. Kentucky residents are paying approximately $15,000 per year—which is a bargain for a legal education. Non-residents pay approximately $30,000 per year—which is still much lower than the majority of schools tuition, especially private schools.
There will be a slight tuition increase. The percentage has not yet been determined.
2L at U of L: Where are most of the school's applications coming from this year? Any particular trends that stand out?
Hamilton: One third of the applicant pool is from Kentucky. The majority of applicants have taken one, two, or more years off before applying to law school. The median age is 23.
2L at U of L: Is there an average LSAT score and/or grade point average that you are shooting for this year in terms of accepting students?
Hamilton: There isn’t a magic grid, but we do like our median LSAT and GPA to be similar to the prior year.
2L at U of L: What are the biggest selling points at U of L in terms of curriculum and skills opportunities?
Hamilton: Our law clinic and the school's strong performance in moot court competitions are two areas that stand out.