Western Law Admissions Response to COVID-19 Issues

We appreciate there is some uncertainty among applicants who have not yet received admission decisions as to how we will assess applications in light of changes to universities’ grading policies for the winter 2020 term.  The following is intended to clarify this for you, depending on whether you are a first-year applicant, Western combined-degree applicant, an upper-year applicant, or will be applying to Western Law in the future. 

Regardless of what course evaluation or final assessment model is implemented at your institution this term, we strongly encourage you to put forth your best effort and do as well as you can in your courses, so that you lay a strong foundation for future legal study. 

First-Year Applicants

As a first-year applicant in the 2020 application cycle, if you are still in school and have not yet received an admission decision from us, you may be relying on the strength of your winter 2020 grades for your law school application.  Indeed, some of you will receive a communication from us that we are deferring our admission decision until we receive an updated transcript in May. 

You may also be studying at an institution that has implemented a pass/fail (P/F) or credit/no credit (CR/NCR) model for this term, or some variation of that, on an optional or mandatory basis.  Alternatively, you may have the option to receive grades on an aegrotat basis, or delay your final examination until a future date.  Please be aware that performance in one semester, standing alone, rarely “makes or breaks” an application considering the weight we place on other factors as part of our holistic admissions process.   Rest assured that, with respect to your winter 2020 courses:

  • you will not be disadvantaged in the application process if your institution mandates a P/F or CR/NCR model;
  • we will not draw an adverse inference if you elect the P/F or CR/NCR model, where that election is offered (for one or more courses);
  • if you do elect to receive grades (where that election is available), or you receive aegrotat grades, we will include them in our assessment of your academic performance;
  • if a final grade is deferred until a final exam or other evaluation is completed in the future, then realistically we are not in a position to include that course in our assessment this year.

We recognize the challenges students are facing under the circumstances and we will be taking that into consideration.  If you are experiencing an extraordinary or unusual challenge relating to COVID-19 that you would like us to consider, you may submit an addendum to your application in a Word or PDF file (not to exceed 1000 characters), with supporting documentation where applicable (e.g., medical), through the Secure Applicant Messaging (SAM) tool in the OLSAS portal.

Western Combined-Degree Applicants

Application Deadline

The application deadline of May 1 remains in place.

Academic Performance

Our response to COVID-19 issues that may impact your law school application are covered under “First-Year Applicants”, above.  Please review that information in detail.  Information relating to the OLSAS portal does not apply to you because you will apply to us directly.  Please visit our Combined Undergraduate Applications webpage for more information on the application process.  We will be receiving all applications via regular mail or email during this cycle.

If you are experiencing an extraordinary or unusual challenge relating to COVID-19 that you would like us to consider, you may submit an additional paragraph in your personal statement (not to exceed 1000 characters), with supporting documentation where applicable (e.g., medical). 

Law School Admission Test

At this point in time we have no information that would suggest the June LSAT will be cancelled.  Therefore, if your plan is to write in June, you should continue to prepare as if the June test will be proceeding.  The deadline to apply for the June test is April 24, 2020.  See www.lsac.org for more information.  If the June test were to be cancelled, then we would accept a July 2020 score for this application cycle.  We will continue to monitor the situation and update this page as new information becomes available.         

Upper-Year Applicants

The OLSAS deadline for upper-year applications is May 1.  We recognize that many law schools have moved to a pass/fail (P/F) model, or some variation of that, for the winter 2020 term, which may affect students differently depending on whether your courses are full-year or semestered.  Alternatively, you may have the option to receive grades on an aegrotat basis, or delay your final examination until a future date.  Rest assured that, with respect to your first-year law courses:

  • you will not be disadvantaged in the application process if your law school mandates a P/F model;
  • we will not draw an adverse inference if you elect the P/F model, where that election is offered (for one or more courses);
  • if you elect to receive grades (where that election is available), or you receive aegrotat grades, we will include them in our assessment of your law school academic performance;
  • if a final grade is deferred until a final exam or other evaluation is completed in the future, then realistically we are not in a position to include that course in our assessment and it could impact your application. At the very least  in order to be considered for admission, we need confirmation that you have successfully completed first-year Law by July 2020. 

Typically, we give greater weight to law school grades (rather than undergraduate performance) in our admission decisions for upper-year applicants.  Unfortunately, our ability to do that in this application cycle will be affected, which means that undergraduate grades and first-term law school grades may be more relevant to our assessment than in the past.  Of course, all other components of your application will also be considered, which has always been the case.    

We recognize the challenges students are facing as a result of COVID-19 and we will be taking that into consideration.  If you are experiencing an extraordinary or unusual challenge relating to COVID-19 that you would like us to consider, you may submit an addendum to your application in a Word or PDF file (not to exceed 1000 characters), with supporting documentation where applicable (e.g., medical), through the Secure Applicant Messaging (SAM) tool in the OLSAS portal.

Future Applicants

We recognize that different universities have different options for evaluation and assessment in the winter 2020 term, including implementing a pass/fail (P/F) or credit/no credit (CR/NCR) model, on a mandatory or optional basis.  Alternatively, you may have the option to receive grades on an aegrotat basis, or delay your final examination until a future date.  If you are still in university and planning to apply to law school in the future, we recognize this reality, which is beyond your control.  

Please be aware that performance in one semester, standing alone, rarely “makes or breaks” an application considering the weight we place on other factors as part of our holistic admissions process.   Rest assured that, with respect to your winter 2020 courses:

  • you will not be disadvantaged in the application process in the future if your institution mandates a P/F or CR/NCR model;
  • we will not draw an adverse inference if you elect the P/F or CR/NCR model, where that election is offered (for one or more courses); 
  • if you do elect to receive grades (where that election is available), or you receive aegrotat grades, we will include them in our assessment of your academic performance;
  • if a final grade is deferred until a final exam or other evaluation is completed in the future, then we will expect to see that grade on your transcript at some point during the 2021 application cycle review process and it will be included in our assessment.

Please be aware that since a GPA cannot be attributed to “pass” or “credit” notations on a transcript using the OLSAS grade conversion chart, those courses cannot be included in the calculation of your GPA (cumulative or “last two”) for the purpose of our future assessment of your undergraduate performance.

The 2021 OLSAS application will not become available until late August 2020.  We are considering changes to our application that may give you the opportunity to explain any extraordinary or unusual challenges you are facing with respect to the COVID-19 situation in your 2021 application.  Decisions in that regard will be made before the application opens later this year.