Gould School of Law was ranked No. 10 last week among the top 50 most difficult U.S. law schools to get into by USA Today. The ranking used an index made by 24/7 Wall Street based on information from the American Bar Association, taking into consideration the schools’ acceptance rates as well as the median GPA and LSAT scores of the incoming Fall 2019 class.
Gould received 5,648 applications for Fall 2019 and had a 17.7% acceptance rate, a median undergraduate GPA of 3.8 and median LSAT score of 166 out of 180 for the incoming class. Gould has an 86% passage rate for the bar exam.
“Obviously, a low acceptance rate is reflective of the strong desire there is for an education [at Gould],” said David Kirschner, associate dean of admissions at Gould. “It requires an ability to kind of try and discern from that huge pool, including far too many who are admissible.”
Barry Croxen, a first-year Gould student, said he believes the ranking demonstrates Gould’s status as a top law school due to the merit of the students.
“A lot of us work really hard to get here, so it’s good to get some national recognition on that scale,” Croxen said. “Everybody works really hard to get into law school so I think it’s an accomplishment just to be here.”
Kirschner said that the acceptance rate has dropped nearly in half in the last few years from a 34% admittance in 2016. The 2019 entering J.D. class comprises 40% students of color and 57% women.
“We’re really proud of that commitment to diversity, so selectivity has definitely not come at the expense of diversity in any sense of the word,” Kirschner said. “I think that’s a testament — we wouldn’t be able to get those students to choose to enroll [at Gould] if we didn’t offer both the educational opportunities they’re looking for and the outcomes that they’re looking for.”
Kirschner said Gould has consistently brought in more students with work experience and varied backgrounds. Of the 204 first-year students in the Class of 2022, 40% came from outside California, and 17% identify as having low socioeconomic status.
“I don’t necessarily celebrate the acceptance rate [in being] the 10th most difficult law school to get into,” Kirschner said. “It is nice being mentioned in the same breath as [the other schools listed in the USA Today article]. But more than that, I think it’s reflective of the understanding of the quality and strength of a legal education here.”
Kirshner said Gould is constantly evolving and redoubling the commitment to public service and public interest. Kirschner also added that Gould’s location in Los Angeles has been particularly advantageous in recent years, with its proximity to the entertainment industry and technological advances that are reflected in the school’s courses.
“On the curricular front, there are tremendous options,” Kirschner said. “Our business law curriculum has added even more depth to it. Our media entertainment and technology program has grown even stronger with the advent of all the creative content that’s now produced for the internet.”
Samantha Dyar, a first-year Gould student, said she chose the school because of the strong community and alumni network. She said the alumni mentorship programs are one of the resources that make Gould a top law school.
“[Gould alumni] have mentor lunches that they offer,” Dyar said. “Our first-generation professionals are also set up with a mentor to help them navigate the legal profession, and then a bunch of us just had mock interviews with [alumni].”
First-year law student Erin Joslin said that the ranking is well deserved because of Gould’s strong curriculum and invested professors.
“I really liked the clinics that are offered here, like the Post-Conviction Justice Project,” Joslin said. “The professors here are truly top-notch. Every single teacher is so invested in us learning and is really at the top of their field, which is super impressive.”
Madeleine Messinger, a second-year Gould student, said she was surprised by the selective ranking because it is significantly higher than Gould’s No. 17 national law school ranking from the U.S. News & World Report. However, she agreed the school’s excellence is exemplified by its student body.
“[Gould has] really high quality students,” Messinger said. “It doesn’t surprise me that it’s a really hard school to get into — who wouldn’t want to go here?”