When to Apply to Law School

The Reason You Should Ignore Application Deadlines

Even though most law school application deadlines fall in February and March, you should ignore them. Most schools use a form of rolling admissions. This means that the school will make offers to students before the application deadline. Potential students who get their applications in early enough will often get their answer in the late fall or by the end of January, before many students even apply. Some schools have specific deadlines for getting an early decision. Make sure to check with your schools to see whether the early decision date is for a binding decision or just early notification.

Getting an early decision is useful because it leaves time to add schools to your application list. More importantly, however, applying early gives you another advantage—Law schools (statistically) accept a larger portion of the applications early in the process. As the class fills up, the school becomes more selective in the students it admits. Applications that are presumptive admits early in the process might get waitlisted or rejected later in the year. Those who would have been considered, might be rejected. Taking advantage of this process by filing your application in the fall gives you an important edge.

When to Consider “Early Action” Admissions

Early action admission is different than a binding early decision from a law school. Though the terms vary by school, the main distinction is that an early decision application is binding. This means that you agree in advance to accept an offer if it is extended, and you must immediately withdraw all your other applications. Also, you cannot apply to more than one school under a binding program unless you have already been released from the binding agreement by one school. Then you would be free to apply under a binding program to a school who allows "second wave" early decision applicants.

DO NOT consider rejecting an early action offer to accept a different schools offer, you will probably lose both offers. For instance, if you put in for an early admission and are accepted at NYU, and Yale later offers you a seat, blowing off NYU is not an option. The schools communicate, and Yale would withdraw its offer if you tried to accept.

Consider early action only if it’s available for your #1 choice and if scholarships are not part of your consideration. In other words, be sure you couldn't be lured away if another school offered you money.