Ohio State Pre-Law statement and FAQs regarding COVID-19

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Scroll down for the link to the April 29th webinar "Law Schools in the Age of COVID-19" and related resources

Ohio State and universities nationwide are working to adjust to the rapidly changing situation in an effort to help law school applicants and pre-law students stay up-to-date.  We know many of you have questions about how the current pandemic is impacting the law school application process, including how law schools view Pass/Non-Pass grades.  The same questions have also been topics of discussion among Pre-Law Advisors, Law School Admission Offices, and others.  The short answer is there is no single policy across all law schools.  The slightly longer answer is that many if not most law schools understand the unique situation we are all in and do not plan to penalize students for things beyond students' control.  The ultimate answer is every law professor's favorite answer for any question, "it depends."  Be sure to contact your Pre-Law Advisor with any questions you have, however due to the added difficulty of remote advising please be patient with advisors who may not be able to respond right away.

To meet with a Pre-Law Advisor please follow whatever your college advising procedure is for scheduling remote appointments.  For those in Arts and Sciences you should either schedule an appointment via OnCourse or contact your pre-law advisor directly via email.  If you schedule via email, be sure to state the purpose (i.e. pre-law vs. major/other reason) and provide several times when you can be available as well as the best number at which to reach you.

All staff at Ohio State, including the pre-law advisors, are working to provide you and your colleagues with the best possible support given the unusual circumstances.  Be sure to check out https://keeplearning.osu.edu for up to date information and resources available to students.  To everyone, we encourage you to take all thoughtful precautions and hope that you are staying safe and healthy during this crisis.

Click on the following tabs for information regarding Pass/Non-Pass grading, the impact of COVID-19 on the LSAT, and other information related to the current situation.  As the nationwide Pre-Law Advising community works to share resources and information, some of the questions and answers below come from external sources including the Pre-Law Advising office at UMass Amherst and the University of Michigan Law School, edited for use by Ohio State.  This is a rapidly evolving situation with new information coming out all the time.  If you are a current law school applicant, the best answers to your questions will always come from the law schools to which you have applied.  Keep in mind they are also operating remotely which means communication and the time for a response could take longer than usual.

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Pre-Law FAQs and Information Related to COVID-19

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Are law schools extending their application deadlines?
Many application deadlines had passed before COVID-19-related measures went into effect, and are therefore not impacted by the pandemic.  For those with late March or April deadlines, check with the school directly - some may be extending the deadline with a blanket change while others may operate on a case-by-case basis.  If your ability to complete your application has been negatively affected by the current crisis, be sure to reach out to the particular law schools to ask about accommodations for late submissions. This includes those of you who were counting on applying with a March LSAT.

Are law schools extending their seat deposit deadlines?
If you’ve already been admitted to one or more law schools and are still trying to decide which offer to accept, you may face a more difficult situation with regard to the seat deposit deadlines.  It's a school-by-school decision with several extending their deadlines.  Even if you have applied to a school adhering to their original deadline, admissions officials may be open to considering extensions on a case-by-case basis.  If there are specific reasons your decision has been impacted by the crisis then definitely contact the schools to inquire about their flexibility.

One caveat - don't expect law schools to extend their seat deposit deadlines just because you haven't had a chance to visit.  Since that situation won’t change before you need to deposit, an extension wouldn’t help too much.  That said...

How can I make a decision when I can’t visit the law schools?
It’s of course true that law school visits are critical to the decision-making process.  Getting that “feel” for a school can be so important to your experience over the subsequent three years.  Now that visits to most schools are impossible, how do you research that “feel”? Many schools are offering virtual tours, and making faculty and current students available for video chats.  You can also ask admissions offices to put you in touch with current students, especially those that match your interests or background in ways that might make their perspectives particularly useful to you.

If I take one or more classes Pass/Non-Pass will that count against me in the law school admissions process?
Most if not all law schools will be understanding and choosing to take coursework PA/NP will not be penalized.  If you're genuinely worried be sure to check with law schools for information about their specific policy, however nationally we have not heard of any law school that might count PA/NP against you.  Generally speaking schools understand this is a wildly unusual situation plus many law schools are offering their own students a Pass/Fail-style grading this semester - it would be the height of hypocrisy for them to turn around and penalize applicants for the same.  More importantly there are still numerous other markers to evaluate - all the other semesters of grades, your letters of recommendation, your personal statement, etc.

That said, there may be reasons not to take the Pass/Non-Pass option.  Keep in mind that if you had been struggling academically prior to this semester, that will be what law schools see - they will not assume you suddenly did significantly better this semester without proof.  If you feel that you are in a position this semester to improve your GPA and help your application, it could be beneficial to stick with graded courses.  Moreover, if you would not otherwise take the Pass/Non-Pass option, ask yourself why would you now?  If you are comfortable with online instruction and feel that you will be able to finish the semester in confidence, do you need PA/NP?  Are you only considering it so you can have an easier time of things even though it's not necessary in your situation?  If you can't decide, feel free to reach out to your Pre-Law Advisor to discuss it.

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If I take one or more classes Pass/Non-Pass will that count against me in the law school admissions process?
Most if not all law schools will be understanding and choosing to take coursework PA/NP will not be penalized.  If you're genuinely worried be sure to check with law schools for information about their specific policy, however nationally we have not heard of any law school that might count PA/NP against you.  Generally speaking schools understand this is a wildly unusual situation plus many law schools are offering their own students a Pass/Fail-style grading this semester - it would be the height of hypocrisy for them to turn around and penalize applicants for the same.  More importantly there are still numerous other markers to evaluate - all the other semesters of grades, your letters of recommendation, your personal statement, etc.

That said, there may be reasons not to take the Pass/Non-Pass option.  Keep in mind that if you had been struggling academically prior to this semester, that will be what law schools see - they will not assume you suddenly did significantly better this semester without proof.  If you feel that you are in a position this semester to improve your GPA and help your application, it could be beneficial to stick with graded courses.  Moreover, if you would not otherwise take the Pass/Non-Pass option, ask yourself why would you now?  If you are comfortable with online instruction and feel that you will be able to finish the semester in confidence, do you need PA/NP?  Are you only considering it so you can have an easier time of things even though it's not necessary in your situation?  If you can't decide, feel free to reach out to your Pre-Law Advisor to discuss it.

If you opt for one or more classes Pass/Non-Pass, are planning to apply to law school this coming autumn, and are worried that your application won't show your continued progress academically (especially if you are working to recover from a bad GPA earlier in your college career) you may want to consider whether delaying your application by a few months would be useful - applying in December/January instead of September/October.  For some the additional Autumn 2020 grades could provide the boost that Spring 2020 grades won't if you opted for Pass/Non-Pass this term, however that's a decision that you can make later.

I hear what you're saying about grades not being make-or-break, but my circumstances this semester were truly awful, and I want to be able to provide context for why I opted for Pass/Non-Pass [or for why my letter grades were not reflective of my abilities].  How can I do that?
If you want to share your circumstances, you are welcome to provide an addendum. (In fact, in general, we routinely invite applicants to explain why their application metrics—LSAT and/or undergraduate GPA—are not reflective of their abilities.) Our advice is to make this about a paragraph, and as dispassionate as possible—trying to attain some emotional distance, and keeping it brief, will let you provide the most clarity. Your goal is to add critical context, but not to make this the centerpiece of your application. Remember, too, that there will be many, many heartbreaking stories from this period; if possible, demonstrate your recognition of that perspective.  

For those of you who aren't inclined to share: You certainly shouldn't feel compelled to. Be true to your own instincts.

Will law schools take into account how the pandemic has impacted test prep and might impact test experiences going forward?
Definitely.  Remember that the admissions process is never just a numbers game, even as the LSAT and GPA weigh heavily in decision-making. Admissions committees really do engage in holistic reviews of applications, taking into account all the many factors that have gone into shaping applicants and their experiences, perspectives, and so on.

If you were planning to take the LSAT in March or April as your first test for the application process this fall, the question will be whether to take the LSAT-Flex (information below), the regular LSAT in the summer (assuming testing resumes as planned) or wait until autumn to take it.  All are viable options, it's a matter of what will work best for you.

Will law schools treat LSAT-Flex scores differently than the "normal" LSAT?
No.  Law schools have long been close partners with the Law School Admission Council and have faith in LSAC's ability to ensure their traditional high levels of security, validity, and reliability.  LSAT-Flex will be composed of genuine LSAT questions that have been developed and tested in accordance with LSAC's rigorous standards and processes, and all test takers will be remotely proctored.

*Go to the LSAC section below for additional information on LSAT-Flex*

My internship has been cancelled—how will this affect my application?
First, remember that internships are not the make or break of a law school application.  In fact, admissions committees are not generally too concerned with whether you’ve completed such an internship or job—rather, they’re interested in learning more about whatever you’ve done, and what you’ve gotten out of it.  So if your summer internship has been cancelled, don’t worry about it having an impact on your application.  Instead, pursue whatever opportunities are still available to you and are meaningful to you.  That might mean finding an ad hoc job to replace some of your lost income, or volunteering to help folks more seriously impacted by the pandemic, or caring for family members. Whatever it is, it will add to the overall portrait you’ll be able to present to the admissions committees. 

But many opportunities are important for helping you decide whether a legal career is right for you. If a Summer 2020 internship was going to be the thing that helped you decide whether to apply in Fall 2020, you might want to consider pushing back your application to the following cycle. There are few if any downsides to working for some period of time between college and law school, and for those of you who really aren’t sure yet whether this is the right path, a post-grad job could help you decide.

I had a great job lined up for after graduation, and now I've been laid off.
Law schools saw this happen in the wake of the 2008 recession and know that it will be harder for everyone, but particularly recent college grads, to find gainful employment.  Admission officers expect to see that, and will account for it in the review process.  If you're in that situation, your job is to make clear in your application -either on the resume or separately in a brief addendum- what you are doing with your time.  Looking for a job, volunteering at a nonprofit, helping out a family member, learning some new skill, perfecting an old one?  Help law schools understand how you're spending your time, and have confidence that they aren't viewing the lack of paid employment as a mark against you.

I'm not applying to law school for a few more years. Will they still remember what it was like right now when this is all over?
Absolutely.  Not only are Law Schools undergoing the same far-reaching adjustments that are hard to forget years down the road, the Law School Admission Council will be adding a letter to the application file (Law School Report) of every candidate who was enrolled in college in the Spring of 2020, reminding reviewers of the circumstances.

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As of April 29, the March, April, and June LSAT test administrations in North American have been cancelled.  For those test dates LSAC is offering an "LSAT-Flex" in May and again in June for those who were affected.

Click here for the LSAT-Flex Information Page

From the Law School Admission Council:

"In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we are offering an online, remotely proctored version of the LSAT — called the LSAT-Flex — during the week of May 18 for test takers who were registered for the April 2020 test. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely and will make other LSAT-Flex test dates available this spring and summer if the situation warrants. We plan to resume the in-person LSAT once conditions allow, in strict accordance with public health authorities and using all necessary health and safety measures. In the meantime, the remotely proctored LSAT-Flex will provide candidates with the opportunity to earn an LSAT score even if the COVID-19 crisis makes it impossible to deliver the test in-person. 

The May LSAT-Flex will be administered during the week of May 18, 2020. We expect that most test takers will test on either Monday, May 18, or Tuesday, May 19, with a small number of tests occurring later in the week based on specific remote proctoring requirements. 

The scheduling sign-up process will open [Wednesday April 22], so that May test takers can select the time that works best for their schedules from the available options.

May LSAT-Flex scores will be released on the same day for all test takers, regardless of when they test during the week of May 18. Currently, we are targeting Friday, June 5, as the score release date, and we will update that as needed."

"All test takers who were currently registered for the June 8 test in the U.S. and Canada are eligible to take the online, remotely proctored LSAT-Flex, which we have created to provide candidates the opportunity to earn an LSAT score even though in-person testing is not possible due to the pandemic.

The June LSAT-Flex will be administered during the week of June 14. Most test takers will test on either Sunday, June 14, or Monday, June 15, with a small number of tests occurring later in the week based on specific remote proctoring requirements.

June test registrants have been instructed to visit their LSAC accounts and submit the online form to confirm their interest in taking the June LSAT-Flex or to receive a coupon for any future test between July 2020 and April 2021. Any affected registrants that we do not hear from will be automatically registered for the June LSAT-Flex."

LSAC had previously announced that for candidates who were registered for the March or April 2020 test date and who had a cancelled score from a previous LSAT, the those students would have the opportunity to review the cancelled score and restore that cancelled score if interested.  This affected only a very small number of Ohio State test takers, all of whom were contacted by LSAC about the opportunity.

For now all test dates in July and beyond are proceeding as planned, however LSAC will send out information if the situation changes.

LSAC information on COVID-19 related developments can be found here.  This webpage will be updated as needed.

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AccessLex Institute has posted information and resources regarding COVID-19 and the impact on student loans and financial aid.  As some of you may know, part of the Stimulus Bill working it's way through Congress focused on student loans and potentially delaying payments for a time (*please note this bill has not been signed into law - until it happens and we know what the final legislation looks like, students should -not- make any assumptions regarding student loan payments and timing).

Information on student loans and financial aid:
  • COVID-19 Updates and Resources page;
  • MAX Pre-Law, which now includes a document containing links and guides for changes to law school admissions and financial aid processes;
  • @AccessLexInst, where we share legislative updates; and,
  • Higher Ed Policy Roundup, our weekly blog focused on policy news.
Using the MAX Pre-Law link above, students can also sign up for free remote coaching with accredited Financial Counselors®.
 
AccessLex has also expanded their webinar offerings including topics on Financing Your Legal Education, Applying to Law School: A Strategic Approach for Underrepresented Students, and more.  Check out the schedule here.

Finally, the residential component of LexScholars by AccessLex has been cancelled, however the free LSAT preparation and law school admissions counseling are still available - the application deadline for this diversity pipeline program has been extended to June 1.
  • The first 50 eligible applicants to submit all required documents will receive a Kaplan online LSAT course and comprehensive law school admission counseling.
  • The next 200 eligible applicants to submit all required documents will receive a Kaplan online LSAT course.
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For those of you considering taking the GRE, whether for Law School or another program, COVID-19 has closed numerous test centers around the country and the world.  In response, there is now a Test-at-Home option for the GRE General Test.  While ETS account holders should have received an email inviting you to register to take the test at home, those without an existing account can learn about the availability of the at-home test at: www.ets.org/s/cv/gre/at-home.  The link includes contact information for those who are registered at a physical test center but want to switch to the at-home test. 

From ETS:

"Testing will be conducted through the use of live remote proctoring serviced by ProctorU®. This high-touch, real-time human monitoring of test sessions limits the number of seats available. Students can register beginning today.  ETS is taking every precaution to ensure that the tests students will take from home meet our high standards for validity, reliability and security. We are employing multiple best-in-class security measures that use both real-time human monitoring and artificial intelligence technology:

  • Live proctors will ensure constant vigilance, including confirming the test taker's identity and scanning their home environment before testing begins, flagging any suspicious activity and intervening if necessary.
  • Artificial Intelligence technology — such as facial recognition, gaze tracking and video recording of the entire session — will guard against malicious activity. Examples of test taker activities that AI will flag as possible cheating incidents include attempts to open a new browser, run unpermitted software and use unpermitted objects such as a cell phone. 

Find more details about security measures and answers to other questions you may have on the GRE web page dedicated to this purpose.

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For those who could not attend the April 29th webinar "Law School in the Age of COVID-19" here are the links to the recorded video and resources discussed by the panelists:

Recording of the Webinar: https://vimeo.com/413330559

Law School Transparency site.  Additional resources include:

After the JD: (American Bar Association - largest empirical study of career trajectories of U.S. lawyers ever undertaken that follows the graduating class from year 2000)

Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment (American Bar Association)

Why So Many Lawyers? Are They Good or Bad?” (Former Harvard Law School Dean Robert Clark)

What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession” (OSU Moritz College of Law Prof. Deborah Jones Merritt)

Foundations of Practice, a survey of more than 24,000 lawyers asking, “What makes a new lawyer successful?” (University of Denver)