If You Didn’t Get the LSAT or Law School You Dreamed Of

This is for everyone who didn’t get the LSAT score they wanted. Or were not admitted into their absolute dream school – basically most people. Perhaps right now, as you are reading this, it is with a sense of rejection or desperation. I wanted to write this blog because I want you to know that:

  1. I have been there. Indeed, we all have at some point.
  2. I have now seen thousands of aspiring law students in the same exact position get to exactly where they planned and dreamed to be in their career.

But there is even better news. To points (1) and (2) above I can say this with absolute sincerity – if you really have a dream, a greater purpose, and you stay upbeat and use any setbacks as extra motivation – you will get there and there is a 100% chance of it. Actually, it isn’t even “chance.” It’s as simple as this – I have never seen an aspiring law student fail to get to where they want if they simply worked hard and stayed positive. Let me tell you about one.

In 2001, I admitted Justin Ishbia to Vanderbilt Law School. He was the last person we admitted that year and had an LSAT score that was 15 points below our median. Put another way, there were likely 1000+ people on the WL that we didn’t admit that had higher LSAT scores than he. We admitted Justin because when I met him he never flinched when he told me his LSAT score, in the lower 150’s. Of course he wanted a higher score – of course he worked tirelessly toward that in countless hours of preparation. His score, was, I am sure, a huge letdown from where he wanted it to be. But I never got a sense of that. He never brought me down with what must have felt like desperation to him. He was unflappable, upbeat, and optimistic about his legal career. He knew Vanderbilt was a long shot (and surely wasn’t his dream school, which was likely one of the top 10 schools), but he believed in an upbeat and confident manner that he could compete if fortunate enough to be admitted.

We did admit Justin, and he absolutely thrived despite the fact that his LSAT was so much lower than he had hope for, lower than anyone else in his class, and despite the fact that we were not his dream school. We were a backup that took a chance on him. After his first year, Justin could have easily transferred up, but he had grown to like where he was and kept doing well. So well, in fact, he graduated top 10% of his class and took a job in “BigLaw” at one of the most highly acclaimed law firms in the world, Kirkland Ellis. But even that wasn’t where Justin stopped. Today, he runs a major private equity firm that he founded. He is on Vanderbilt Law School’s Board and has dedicated considerable resources toward helping current Vanderbilt Law students in their careers.

That is one story. I have thousands of others from my career. People who scored in the 140’s and are now GC’s at companies or with major sports teams. People who went to schools they never thought they would even apply to, thrived there, and many of whom transferred up to their dream school. All of these people shared one simple thing in common: they didn’t let a test say a thing about them – or a denial from a law school cause them to alter their path in the slightest of ways.

Be unflappable and upbeat. We will all face rejection in life hundreds of times over. That matters almost nothing long-term. Rather, it is how we handle that challenge that ultimately determines who we will be. Stay positive and upbeat -- the world needs more people like that and I promise if you do, you will come out on top of this life.

I wish you the absolute best in your law school and legal careers!

Mike Spivey