The law school admissions calendar

If you decide to apply to law school, it is important to understand the admissions calendar. While most law schools begin accepting applications for the next year’s entering class on September 1, intensive review of these applications usually does not  begin until October. The first round of the application process runs from October through December, and there are good reasons to apply during this round. First, application readers have more time to read admission files and learn about each applicant. Second, there is more scholarship money available to applicants admitted in the fall. Your chances of admission will be greatest if you take the LSAT no later than October and apply no later than the end of November.

The second round of application review runs roughly from January through March. Competition for admission at all law schools becomes more difficult and scholarship money is depleted. By the end of this round, most top-tier schools will have selected their entering class. Applicants who might have been admitted in the first round may find themselves on deferred consideration or waiting lists as law schools monitor responses to offers they made to earlier applicants. Students placed on waiting lists can improve their chances for admission by submitting supplementary information or by retaking the LSAT and achieving a higher score.

The third round of law school admissions runs from April to June. This is when schools give final consideration to the overall composition of their entering classes to adjust for lower-than-expected yields among applicant groups. Wait-listed students who are hoping for admission may need to submit a deposit to hold their place in an entering class. These deposits are usually non-refundable.

At lower-tier law schools, the third round of admissions runs through the spring into the summer. While most law schools expect applicants to take the LSAT no later than February, some are willing to wait for the results of the June LSAT. This means that it is possible to apply to some law schools in early July and be admitted for August classes. However, this won’t work at many schools, and you risk the possibility that scholarship money has run out. If a merit scholarship is important, waiting for the fall to apply may be the better choice if you have not applied by summer.