Your Burning Questions Answered
So, rather than do a traditional "Ask Asha" post this round, I thought I would answer some of the questions -- and correct some of the off-base answers -- which have been circulating in the online forums. Yes, we do read them. And yes, it's not hard to figure out who some of you are. Please be on your best cyber behavior. (And by the way, you guys have way too much time on your hands.)
@ r6_philly: We do not have GPA/LSAT cutoffs. I am on application #2011. I read Every. Single. One. Regardless of numbers. As I've mentioned before, a weak number does usually need extremely strong everything else to make it through to the faculty, which is why I have to read through the whole thing, including the recommendations. Actually, a better topic for discussion might be what would keep someone with really strong numbers from being passed on... which happens with surprising frequency. It might be because the writing is really, really bad (have I mentioned not writing poetry for your 250?), or there is just something that doesn't fit -- like why does the person have only one academic reference (out of three) if s/he got a 4.0 all through college? Or maybe the recommendation has a big red flag like, "Sometimes Johhny's comments can border on arrogance, but usually he adds to the discussion." So, just like lower numbers don't mean you won't get a faculty review, good numbers don't keep you from getting automatically rejected, either.
@ crackberry: Numbers do not become irrelevant just because you get passed onto the full faculty review. It really depends on the faculty members reading your file. Some faculty are sticklers for the LSAT or your undergrad GPA. Some are more into your story. Some care only about what your recommenders say, because they feel that every other part of your application has been doctored. Some read every LSAT writing sample, and swear by it. It really depends on the combo of faculty reviewing your application which factors matter most. That's why our system produces such an interesting class...because the people who get the required scores have some core elements that three very different faculty members agreed on without even having to discuss them. Unfortunately, neither you nor I will ever know what those elements are.
@ Pausanias: There is no correlation between when you are admitted and whether you were a presumptive admit or read by faculty (I really don't see why this would make any difference once you are admitted, but anyway). Both I and the members of the faculty are reading files from early fall into April. So, it's entirely possible for an application to make it through a round of three faculty readers by December, just as it is possible for me to admit someone directly in the spring (it would be kind of odd, wouldn't it, if a must-have applicant applied on February 15 and I had no choice but to send the person to the faculty gamble?). In fact, I believe two years ago the very very very last file I read was a presumptive admit. Again: your chances of admission remain the same regardless of when you apply.
@ notanumber: Speaking of presumptive admits and numbers, the purpose of admitting someone directly is not to game the system so that we keep our 75th percentile high, or whatever the suggestion was. Someone who is admitted automatically is just a must-have applicant in every way. Academic promise is one part of it, but you don't need a perfect score or GPA to demonstrate academic promise. I can't really define what would make someone so compelling, since the people who fall into this category are so different, but just trust me when I say that we really use the numbers the way they are meant to be used: to predict their academic performance in law school. Beyond that, we try to put together the most diverse and talented class possible. How the numbers fall out once we do that is not something we are trying to control, though between my picks and the faculty's we do end up with an upper quartile with very high scores and GPAs.
@ Ben J: I probably do miss some typos. However, I catch a fair number of them, and whether they are fatal to your application really depends on the overall strength of your application and the egregiousness of the typo (as in, are you just sloppy, or does it call your literacy into question?). I saw some scuttlebutt about how applying late might suggest you are not really serious about YLS. We don't really interpret the date you choose to apply as having any correlation with your interest (in fact, it might suggest that you chose to spend more time applying to us than to anyone else!). On the other hand, even a typo in the "just sloppy" category might call into question how serious you are about Yale. Also, a typo will pretty much guarantee that you're out of the running for being a presumptive admit, and so even if I let it pass, you're then thrown in with the sharks for a faculty review (and I can't say how the faculty who read your application will look at it). Bottom line, please take the time to review your application for mistakes. I'll do a post this fall about the major mistakes I've seen -- I'll spare you all the list since most of you have already submitted your apps and I see that our Twitter posts are already causing you hypertension.
I hope this is helpful. Please discuss.