Most law schools offer what is called “rolling admissions.” The application cycle begins or “opens” in early fall, likely September 1, and remains open until early spring, usually sometime in March or April. Applicants can submit their application anytime during this period, and schools email decisions on a “rolling basis.” Thus, if you apply in September, you could receive your decision in six to eight weeks, if not sooner.
When is the best time to apply to law school for YOU?
So, how does an applicant decide when the best time to apply is? Generally, those in law school admissions will advise “the earlier the better.” However, it’s essential to consider when an applicant can submit their STRONGEST application – because THAT is the best time to apply.
Early is best, but rushed is worst.
Applicants do themselves a disservice when they rush to apply in September or October to meet a deadline that doesn’t truly exist. The only fall deadlines that are firm are those for early decision rounds. No matter when you choose to apply, the process should not be rushed. Attention to detail is paramount throughout the application process, and there are many components to an application that require attention. This is something to keep in mind throughout your legal education and ultimately into your legal career, too.
Admissions professionals notice rushed applications. These submissions generally have proofreading mistakes, particularly in personal statements and resumes. Similarly, letters of recommendation that are hastily written because a professor or employer was asked at the last minute don’t do anyone any favors. Rushed applications are often followed by emails from applicants expressing apologies for submitting the wrong personal statement and asking the adcom to please only look at a new attached copy. In such cases, committees will read the new version, along with the original with errors, and the email with the candidate’s desperate plea for a second chance – not exactly the strongest case for admission, right?
Timing counts, but a strong application submitted later in the cycle is better than a rushed September submission. To increase your chances of submitting a solid application, you’ll want to do the following:
- Map out enough time to study comprehensively for the LSAT to achieve your best score.
- Seek letters of recommendation early so your recommenders are not rushed – or annoyed – and are able to confidently state that you are prepared and conscientious.
- Carefully proofread your personal statement, resume, and any other written material you are submitting.
- Make sure your personal statement and other application materials get a second look and opinion – this is a great time to work with one of us at Accepted! Be sure to leave yourself enough time to assess and implement any suggestions you receive.
- Make sure that you are answering every question asked in your target school’s application and that you are not submitting general answers that gloss over what Law School X is asking with an essay that you are also submitting to Law Schools Y and Z.
Why do mistakes matter so much in your law school application?
When applications are being reviewed, law school admissions readers often ask themselves, “Would I hire this future lawyer?” Careless mistakes in someone’s application do not build confidence in the reviewer. As an applicant, you don’t want the person evaluating your application to have any doubts. Law schools often receive so many applications that the applications that don’t engender doubts – and don’t have mistakes in them – have a major edge.
So, when should you submit your law school application?
The answer to this question is simple: submit your application when you are convinced it is the best representation of you. Keep in mind that you might reach this point at a different time than another applicant would.
If after reading this, you are still aiming to apply to law school later in the admissions cycle and want to target a date that won’t negatively affect your admissions chances, think about submitting no later than mid-January, when spots are still largely available.
This will leave enough time for you to plan and submit an application that says “accept me immediately.” But don’t wait too long, and be sure you map out a timeline to study for the LSAT; draft, rewrite, edit, and proofread your application components; and then submit your strongest application.
Sadie Polen has more than ten years of experience in higher education. She reviewed statements of purpose, personal statements, and resumes for political and public service opportunities and made candidate selections for elite programs at Harvard University. She also has experience advising individuals on their career and post-graduation plans. Sadie holds a BS from UC Davis, an EdM from Harvard, and a DEI certificate from Cornell. Want Sadie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!