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by Vault Law Editors | June 23, 2009


A recent article from the Chicago Tribune discloses email communications that shed light on admissions decisions at the University of Illinois Law School. In 2005, State Senator Chris Lauzen wanted a student admitted to the law school. Dean Heidi Hurd didn’t seem enthusiastic about the request, writing “She won't hurt us terribly, but she certainly won't help us...She will almost certainly be denied admission if the process unfolds as we predict. But she can probably do the work. If you tell me we need to do this one, we will. We'll remember it though!" This less-than-welcoming review was apparently enough. "Please admit," the chancellor replied. "I understand no harm."

The emails, uncovered under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal what most of us probably already knew or suspected. Namely, that people with power (including former governor Rod Blagojevich) can use their influence to get students admitted. Even if it’s not clear that such students would gain entrance without help. After all, George W. Bush, the man who declared “I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together,” is a graduate of Yale and attended Harvard Business School.

Make no mistake; you will almost certainly observe this phenomenon as you embark on the road to a legal career: the law school student who gets an A in contracts because his father is on some board of directors, the first-year associate who gets more and better assignments because she’s attractive. The list goes on and on.

The bottom line is that, wherever there’s a queue, somewhere there are people who want to skip it and someone else who will help them do it. And we all love this moment when it happens to us. (Come on, you know you’ve gotten free tickets to a concert because Roy was working the door, or received a $5 DVD because Suzy works for Sony). But, oh, does it rub us the wrong way when it’s not us who’s doing the line jumping.

So does this mean you should spend less time getting a great GPA and scoring well on the LSAT and more time cultivating relationships to get into law school? Probably not. The truth is that while such relationships are great if you have them, there aren’t nearly enough clout-heavy politicians to go around as there are (somewhat) deserving students who would like to have strings pulled for them. And the nice thing is that, sooner or later, hard work and merit really do (usually) get noticed

So rant about the unfairness of it all, but don’t close those books because a great LSAT score and high GPA can be just as effective in getting you to law school as a phone call from Blagojevich. And perhaps, considering his recent activities, even more

Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint Test Preparation.

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