When will I hear about an admissions decision?
Many schools practice rolling admissions which, for applicants, translates into: the earlier you get your application in, the sooner you'll hear back. This also means that there is no "set" timetable for when you will hear back from the law schools you apply to, but there are certain date ranges when you will definitely hear about a decision if you haven't heard from a certain school:
- Early Decision or Early Action applicants will get an admissions decision anywhere from mid-December to early January.
- Regular Admissions applicants will get an admissions decision by mid-May or earlier.
- Waitlisted applicants will get an admissions decision usually by mid-summer.
What should I do if I'm waitlisted or if my application is held?
If you are waitlisted or held, and you know that the school is one that you would definitely like to attend, there are a number of things you can do:
- Send a LOCI, or Letter of Continued Interest. In this letter, reiterate the specific reasons why you want to attend XYZ school, and enthusiastically state that XYZ school is your top choice. This should be sent shortly after receiving notification of your waitlist or held status.
- Send an updated résumé or update letter. However, this should only be sent if you've gotten a new job, changed your contact information or address, or won a new scholarship or fellowship.
- Be very careful with LOCIs and updates. Do not become "that person" that sends in a letter every week, or calls the admissions office every other day. The idea behind the LOCI and update is to keep the admissions office informed of changes in your application and let the Admissions Committee know (when they open your file during waitlist deliberations) that you are still very much interested in attending their school. Occasional, reasonable updates are good—weekly emails are not.
- Be kind to other applicants on the waitlist. If you decide to accept a seat at another university, drop a note or call the admissions office of the university that waitlisted you and let them know they can release your spot—that might allow someone else to get a seat in a school they might not have otherwise been accepted to. After all, you'd want everyone else to do that for you, right?
If you are rejected, you can always petition for reconsideration by the admissions committee, but the success rate for this approach is minimal without some significant change or addition to the application. If you are committed to attending a particular school that didn't accept your first application, you might consider reapplying the following year—just be sure that you've improved on your original application as much as possible, perhaps with more work experience, new recommendations, or, better yet, a higher LSAT score.
Consider Retaking the LSAT
Two of the most important facets of your application are your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score. For many law school applicants, it's a bit too late to significantly alter one's GPA, but thanks to new admissions policies, there has never been a better time to improve on one's LSAT score. Until recently, law schools generally considered the average of all of a students LSAT scores. Now, however, almost every school looks at a student's highest score. So if you got waitlisted or rejected the first time around, retaking the LSAT might be the best way to strengthen your application.
What is involved in deferring law school?
Many law school applicants have heard of deferring, but few know anything about the practice. In order to make applicants more aware of this process, we have outlined exactly what deferring is, how it works, and what you should know about it.
What is Deferring?
Deferring is a process by which accepted law school applicants can delay matriculation to a law school for a year or longer, without having to reapply when they are ready to begin taking courses. By deferring admission to a law school, applicants effectively accept the admissions offer, delay their first year of classes, and guarantee that their space is held for them until the following year.
How Deferring Works
The typical process of receiving a deferment is outlined below:
1. You must be accepted for admission at the law school in question. Note: your admissions offer must still be valid at the time of your deferment request. For example, if the deposit deadline to hold your seat passes and you have neither paid the deposit nor made a deferment request, the option to defer or even enroll is typically no longer valid.
2. While holding a valid admission offer from the school, you make a formal written request for deferment to the school's admissions office. This request must include a valid reason for deferment, such as sickness, personal issues, employment commitments, delays to a degree currently in progress, or financial constraints.
3. Your request for a deferment is not automatically granted by the school, and your request can be rejected. If the request is rejected you have two choices: either enroll for the upcoming semester, or relinquish your hold on a seat and reapply when you are ready to start school. If your deferment request is granted, you must typically take the following steps:
- Make a non-refundable seat deposit. This deposit usually ranges from $300-$1000.
- Pay a non-refundable processing fee (this varies somewhat by school).
- Sign an agreement stating that you will not enroll at another law school, accept a deferment offer from another law school, or apply to another law school.
- Students who are granted a deferral request will typically be allowed to defer for only one year; very few schools allow longer deferments.
- Students who are accepted off of a waitlist typically do not have the option to request a deferment.
- Receiving a deferment is rare in most cases; in fact, some schools offer only 5 to 10 deferments per year.
- Accepting a deferment and then applying to another school or enrolling at another law school is looked upon as unethical and can cause serious problems during your State Bar review and inquiry.
- If you choose to defer for a year or more, make productive use of the time off. Focus on something that will help clarify your legal career goals. For example, if you are interested in environmental law but are not unsure as to whether you would enjoy it as a long-term career, get a job related to environmental law in order to clarify your objectives in law school.
- If you know that you are going to attempt deferment to pursue further work experience, hold off on applying until you are actually ready to attend school. An applicant who has some post-graduate work experience is generally viewed as more stable and worldly than a graduating senior, thereby giving the working applicant a better chance of admission.