Summary List Placement
US News and World Report ranks New York University (NYU) School of Law sixth in the nation in terms of best law programs.
While not an Ivy nor the best school in its region, admissions consultant and former LSAT instructor Joseph Vijay Ingam, who’s helped students get into NYU, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and UCLA, said NYU’s “clawed their way up to their high ranking through excellent quality of education and career placement.”
According to public database Law School Numbers, NYU accepts only about 34% of applicants. Here’s what it takes to get into the prestigious program.
Location matters — and so does when you apply
In Ingam’s experience, out-of-state applicants may have an advantage over locals — a situation that he said is true for most private law schools.
“All other things being equal, it’s easier to get into NYU if you are from California than from New York,” Ingam said. “My New York clients are really unhappy to hear that.”
One tip he offered is to leverage the fact that NYU uses rolling notification — in other words, applications are sent to admissions in the order in which they’re completed. Ingam has seen that it can be advantageous to apply early.
Show a passion for international experiences, business success, or public service
NYU Law has a reputation for three specialties: an international focus, law and business offerings, and public-service opportunities.
“If applicants have experiences studying abroad or working overseas, it helps position them as a candidate with a global perspective and adds to their mission in developing legal talents that can make an impact in a fast-changing world,” Ingam said.
He also stressed that the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business trains students who have their eye on top positions in business.
“You can mention things such as, ‘I’ve noticed the importance of legal affairs and legal knowledge from working in the business world, such as healthcare and financial services, and that’s why I think pursuing education in law helps me advance my career,'” Ingam said.
Finally, he said, if you express an interest in a JD to “make the world a better place” or provide pro-bono legal services to underprivileged groups, “that’s a big plus.”
Riley Jones IV, class of 2020, said he talked about how the history of his family, having migrated from the South, “informed the unfortunate history of discrimination” in a place like Chicago, where he grew up.
“I talked about wanting to change that circumstance as quickly as possible,” Jones said. “I specifically said, ‘My journey to law school is not for me, but for the people before me who did not have this opportunity, and my peers who never will.’ I think NYU cared about that perspective more than a lot of other schools I came across.”
Make your resume sparkle
According to Ingam, your resume is particularly critical to get right.
“Academic resumes are longer and focus more on academic and community-service accomplishments,” he said. “If you want to actually get accepted by the school, it is important to have a good resume that is customized for the needs of an academic institution.”
Jones used his to talk about the technology company he started.
“We build software to improve employment outcomes for young people from low-income communities,” Jones said. “In my application, I talked about the work we had done on a national level, such as hosting an event at the White House in 2016 and conferences that attracted people from all across the country.”
He believes this approach helped reveal his commitment to the “common principle” of his entire application, which he described as “economic and educational opportunity.” It’s also what allowed him to eventually get financial support when the school created the NYU Law Venture Fund.
“All of that foundation was laid in my application,” Jones said.
Connect with affinity groups
Jones, a student of color without attorneys in his family, initially struggled to network with admissions staffers and professors. He said he eventually overcame this by getting in touch with affinity groups.
“Specifically, leaders of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) really took me under their wing to mentor me in my application process,” Jones said.
“I met two students, Alex and Mitchell, who mentored me through the process of applying and selecting a school. They invited me to spend time on campus with them socially and at professional development events that were happening so I could get a glimpse of what was going on,” he added.
Prepare a lot for interviews
Jones was also able to participate in the Jacobson Scholars Program, targeted for those interested in a career that intersects law and business.
Many of NYU’s scholarship opportunities require finalists to participate in an extremely competitive interview process. Ingam said he spends 10 hours on average preparing his clients and coaches them to spend about 20 hours preparing on their own.
“NYU looks for professionalism, maturity, compassion, passion for learning, and a strong interest in the law,” Ingam said. “You project these characteristics in an interview for admission or a scholarship program by discussing your motivations to become an attorney, who are your attorney mentors that inspire you and you admire, educational background, and law-related coursework, community service, and professional experience.”
He also suggested mentioning specific courses you’d like to take or specific student clubs you’d like to join and why they interest you.