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When and Where to Apply

Applying to law school is a costly and time-intensive process, but the time spent doing careful and thoughtful research has the potential to influence not only an applicant’s likelihood of acceptance, but ultimately their post-graduate employment prospects, as well. This process should begin with research and careful consideration of why a career in law is the right path for you, and should not be rushed to meet application deadlines. For some applicants, this means taking a gap period to ensure that they are able to make the most of the law school application cycle.

The Application Timeline

Law-school applications become available around the beginning of September, and deadlines typically fall between February 1 and June 1. Because most law schools have a rolling admissions policy, applicants should strive to complete their application package as early in the application cycle as possible. Ideally, you should begin the application process approximately a year and a half before the fall during which you intend to enroll in law school. However, this timeline may differ by applicant. Law-school applications should be finalized, polished, and submitted as early as possible but should not be rushed at the cost of a polished, competitive application package.

Preferably, the LSAT should be taken no later than the summer or fall exam administrations of the year in which you intend to apply. The application cycle will commence a full year before fall enrollment. Generally, you should not submit your application before receiving your finalized LSAT score. Applications will not be reviewed until all components have been received, including the LSAT score under consideration. Submission of your application before receiving your LSAT score may cause you to miss the opportunity to provide an explanation about your score, should one be prudent.

Early Decision Deadline

The Early Decision application is an opportunity to submit an application under the binding agreement with the school that, should the applicant be admitted, they will attend the school and withdraw all applications from other institutions. Early decision applications are typically due between late October and early December. This means all components of the application must be completed and submitted by the deadline, including LSAT scores, letters of recommendations, and finalized drafts of all essays.

It is important to note that scores for the December LSAT will not be released in time for most early decision deadlines, so applicant should plan accordingly. If you do not feel adequately prepared by the October exam, you should speak with a pre-law advisor about your law school application timeline.

Choosing a Law School

The decision of where to apply to law school should be based upon careful consideration of variables that will provide a compatible learning environment and will best station you for post-graduate opportunities. Law school preferences will differ from person to person, and will depend on career goals, geographic preferences for legal practice, opportunities for practical experience and specializations, post-grad bar passage and employment rates, school and local “fit,” and cost.