Not everyone from the Department of Political Science at Western Michigan University who wants to go to law school is accepted. How your application fares depends on how your record compares to other applicants to your law schools. There are more than 175 ABA accredited law schools. Many accept students with less than stellar records.
There are strategies for borderline students to improve their chances of acceptance. Becoming a resident of a state can put a candidate in a different pool for state-supported law schools. Taking a year or two off for service or to work allows you to include your final semester’s grades and gives you a broader range of experience that may appeal to admissions committees.
If your GPA is really hurting your chances, taking several years off can help. The more distance you put between you and your undergraduate GPA, the lesser its negative impact on your application. If your GPA is low, but your LSAT is high, you might want to consider this option seriously. Letters of recommendation from professors who attest that your ability is not reflected in your overall GPA may also help.
If your LSAT score is poor, but your GPA is high, you may be able to convincingly argue that your standardized test performance is unreliable. Assuming your SAT scores were also low, you may compare your predicted undergraduate performance based on those SATs to your actual performance. Showing that your SATs were a poor predictor of your college success may help convince some admissions committees to discount your poor LSAT performance. Retaking the LSAT and scoring higher will boost your average. Some schools will consider your higher score rather than just your average; it might be wise to apply to schools with that policy.
Night law school may be an option for some students. Some law schools are less stringent in accepting night students; some students may need to explore night school because they will need the income of full-time employment. Night students receive the same degree as day students, although it takes longer, and the students may not have the same opportunities at law reviews, moot court, clinics and other activities. Perhaps the most famous night law school graduate was Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Another option offered by some schools to first-year students is mid-year or summer entry. The competition then may not be so steep; check with the law schools for information about your prospects.