The incoming GW Law School first-year class came from the most selective applicant pool the admissions committee has ever considered, an official in the school said in August.
The incoming class has a 3.79 mean GPA, up .02 from the class that entered in 2009.
“This is a record year for the law school,” said Gregory Maggs, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the law school. “We tried for the highest LSAT scores and [what we got] was the highest mean GPA scores we’ve ever had.”
Anne Richard, the law school’s associate dean of admissions and financial aid, confirmed the 525 students enrolled in the three-year Juris Doctor program had the best mean undergraduate grade point average of any class in the program’s history.
“In recent years, we had an average LSAT score of 167 and that stayed the same this year,” Richard said. “But it is the mean undergraduate grade point average that is at its highest ever, at a 3.79.”
The record numbers come amid a slew of changes at the law school.
In April, the school reclaimed its No. 20 spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best law schools in the country – eight spots higher than it had been ranked in 2009, at No. 28. Numerous school officials at the time attributed the drop to a controversial change in the methodology of collecting data for the rankings.
In the same month, the school announced the six-year combined Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate program had been terminated, after failing to attract enough students in the program’s five-year history.
“It was a good experiment,” Maggs said. “But it was too much administrative work when not enough students would commit.”
In July, the law school’s Dean Frederick Lawrence announced he was leaving the University after being appointed President of Brandeis University, a private liberal arts university near Boston.
“The biggest thing we have to look forward to this year is our search for a new dean,” said Maggs, who will serve as interim dean when Lawrence leaves in mid-November. Lawrence begins his tenure at Brandeis in January.
Maggs said a selection committee composed of professors and administrators at the law school and the University at large will be created Sept. 3. Throughout the year, this committee will interview prospective candidates for the position. When the committee decides on the best candidates, it will present the findings to University President Steven Knapp, who will make the final decision.
Maggs – who has been working for Lawrence for the past two years – said although the school is transitioning in certain ways, it is in a solid position to select a new dean. Maggs noted that Lawrence’s predecessor, Dean Michael Young, was appointed president of the University of Utah after serving at the GW Law School from 1998 to 2004. Lawrence was hired in 2005.
“Looking at what our past deans have accomplished, I think we are a very attractive school to dean candidates,” Maggs said.