Also, why does Boalt choose to admit a weaker class than they could? What are they looking at? Are the denying people that are more qualified than a certain level?
Yes, they do admit a weaker class intentionally, and for a reason: affirmative action is illegal in California. So what Berkeley does is lower the bar for their entire class by effectively ignoring the LSAT-- basically all you need is a 160+ score to be considered. The LSAT has a slight correlation with race (meaning minorities have historically scored lower on average), so Berkeley hopes to admit a more diverse class without specifically practicing
affirmative action, by simply changing their overall admissions standards.
So the end effect is that, by largely eliminating the LSAT, they only use one numeric metric for admissions: GPA.
Of course, this has been absolutely disastrous for their rankings, because they've cut off half of likely attendees. To see why, let's take a look at the three extreme types of "good" T14 candidates:Category 1:
A+ GPA, A+ LSAT
Sure to get into Harvard, Columbia, or NYU. Admitted to Boalt, but extremely unlikely to attend.Category 2:
B+ GPA, A+ LSAT
Sure to get into Michigan, Virginia, or Penn. Not admitted to Boalt because of aforementioned policies, but would have seriously considered attending.Category 3:
A+ GPA, B+ LSAT
Sure to get into Cornell, Duke, or UCLA. Admitted to, and will likely to attend Boalt.
Because of their policies, Boalt only admits categories 1 and 3. Category 1 is highly unlikely
to attend, given that they will probably be admitted to a "best of the best" program (Yale, Chicago, etc.). This is actually shown quite clearly in their LSN graph:http://www.lawschoolnumbers.com/graphs.php?&cycle=3&school_code=4833
Notice the stars (which mean accepted and attending) are only on the left side. Not a single person on the right side of the graph matriculated, because they had both
a high GPA and LSAT, and thus were likely accepted into an elite program. Also notice that almost nobody with below a 3.6 was admitted, regardless of LSAT score-- you don't see the downward slope in GPA as LSAT gets higher, as you do in every other school. It's just a fuzzy, straight line.
The result? Ranked #11 in USNews, Berkeley's LSAT average is 161-168. Compare that to Fordham, ranked 16 spots lower at #27: 163-167. UCLA, the "#2" UC school, is 163-168.
So, look again above-- Berkeley is ignoring Category 2, one of the two categories most likely to attend if admitted. That also happens to be the category that is neither perfect across the board, nor likely to be a minority, so... ding!
...and there you have it, folks. The admissions policy of Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.