Welcome to 7Sage's new weekly advice column, "Dear AO"! It's a "Dear Abby"-style column where you can ask any question to former law school admissions officers. Each week, we'll publish our answers to a couple of our favorite questions. Submit questions here.

Dear AO,

Generally speaking, how do you view the candidacy of an older prospective student that graduated from UG more than 5 years ago and their UG GPA is weak? Other than a strong LSAT score, are there any other things the candidate may do to strengthen their application?



Dear NonTrad,

First, thank you for your questions!

In general, a weak undergrad (UG) GPA will vary from law school to law school. Using the 25th percentile GPA for a particular school is a good rule of thumb to determine if you are a weak, or weaker, candidate for a particular law school’s applicant pool. With this numerical measure, the age or graduation date of an applicant does not matter.

To help strengthen the application of an applicant who has a weaker UG GPA and who graduated 5 years or more ago, you can take several steps. One, you can include a GPA addendum in which you can cover the circumstances of the poor UG performance and how you have grown since college. In that statement, you can also highlight some intellectual accomplishments you have achieved as a professional. Two, your résumé should be inclusive and detailed, highlighting professional work experience, leadership, and accomplishments in the professional arena. Third, if possible, obtain at least one letter of recommendation from a professor and one from a supervisor in your current company. If it is not possible to obtain an LOR from a professor, have two supervisors from current and previous workplaces submit one.

Ultimately, you want to highlight your strengths now as a professional and show how you have changed since UG. These steps should allow you to showcase this.


Dr. Riley

Hi, NonTrad—just to tack on to Dr. Riley’s response, in addition to the steps he shared, another way folks often demonstrate a stronger readiness after being out of undergraduate school is by pursuing a graduate or professional degree. Though a graduate school GPA is not the reportable metric, your academic performance in grad school can give us a sense of your commitment and mindset in a more recent program––it’s also another opportunity to gain academic LORs. Hope this helps! -taj

Dear AO,

For character and fitness, most schools only ask about academic/disciplinary actions in college. However, I received one asking about high school. Is this odd, and should I disclose it to all schools even if sealed?



Hi CFCurious,

Thank you for your question!

Every school has reasons for the way their application questions are posed, which often incorporate school policies and values, guidance from the local state bar office, and common inquiries from admissions committee members. There isn’t anything odd about including high school in a question asking about academic/disciplinary actions––while many schools do limit questions regarding academic suspension, probation, discipline, honor code, and the like to college, often the character and fitness questions surrounding other aspects extend to a candidate’s full history. If nothing else, having the questions apply to the same timeline makes things more consistent.

For schools that do not extend their question into high school, it’s not required that something from high school be disclosed, so it’s important to be responsive to the question as it is asked––each school is going to have theirs worded differently, so you may need to have an academic/disciplinary C&F statement that addresses the entire span of your academic history and a second version that only addresses college and beyond (grad school, etc.).

If you have a “yes” response to the question posed, and the language of the question does not provide exceptions for sealed/expunged information, then disclosure is required. Exceptions to disclosure should not be assumed if they are not explicitly provided.