Law School Admission Process
It’s important to understand the admissions process before you apply to law school. While law schools may set an application deadline for April or May, admissions actually take place on a rolling basis. As a result, law schools may fill their entering classes well before the stated deadline, meaning that some people who apply before the school’s deadline will not receive consideration. This was especially true for those who applied for Fall 2021 admissions.
While most law schools begin accepting applications for the next year's entering class around 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; this is usually the best time to apply. Scholarship offers are likely to be highest during this time, and demographic quotas will not have been filled yet. Your chances of admission will be greater if you take the LSAT no later than September of the year prior to that in which you intend to start law school.
The second round of application review runs roughly from January through March, so you will need to take either the November or January LSAT. In this round, admission becomes more competitive and scholarship money less available. Many positions will already be filled, and admissions offices may prioritize certain applicant groups to balance their entering class. By the end of this round, top-tier schools will have selected most, if not all, of the students they will admit. Applicants who would have been accepted in the first round might be placed on waiting lists or even rejected. 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 may be required to submit a statement of continued interest in order to remain under consideration for admittance. While many law schools allow you to apply during this round, it is possible that they will already have filled their entering classes, so the odds of being admitted to a highly-ranked law school are minimal if you wait until spring to apply.
At lower-tier law schools, the third round of admissions runs through the spring and into the summer. 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 their scholarship money will have run out. If you haven’t applied by April, your best option may be to wait until the fall to apply for the next year’s entering class.