Most law schools subscribe to the concept of “rolling admissions.” The application cycle begins or “opens” in early fall, likely September 1, and remains open until early spring, usually March or April. Applicants can submit their application during this time period, and schools will email decisions on a “rolling basis.” Thus, if you apply in September, you potentially could receive your decision in roughly six to eight weeks, if not sooner.
When is the best time to apply to law school…for YOU?
Given that information, how does an applicant decide when is the best time to apply? Over the nine years I worked as Associate Director of Law School Admissions at Boston University School of Law, I heard many of my admissions colleagues respond by stating, “The earlier the better.” I myself would always expand on that principle and respond, “The earliest that you can submit your STRONGEST application 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 just to meet a deadline that doesn’t truly exist (unless of course you are applying through an early decision program, then deadlines in the fall exist and I will discuss the merits of early decision programs in a later blog post, but the rest of this post still holds true so keep reading!). The application process should not be rushed. So many components need attention, and the concept of “attention to detail” is paramount throughout the application process, and should be adhered to through your legal education and ultimately, into your legal career.
Admissions professionals notice rushed applications. These submissions generally have proofreading mistakes in personal statements and resumes. Hastily written letters of recommendation – because you asked a professor or employer 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 requesting to please only look at this new attached copy. Well, committees will read the attached copy, and the original with errors, and your email with a desperate plea for a second chance… Not exactly the strongest case for admission, right?
Timing counts, but a strong application later in the cycle is better than a rushed September submission. For a solid application, you’ll want to:
- Map out enough time to study comprehensively for the LSAT to achieve your best score.
- Seek letters of recommendation early so that your recommenders are not rushed – or annoyed – and are able to confidently state that you are prepared and conscientious.
- Proofread your personal statement, resume, and any other written material that you are submitting.
- Send your personal statement to someone like me or my Accepted colleagues for a second, experienced opinion, and do so with enough time so that you can implement any suggestions we make.
- Make sure that you are answering every question asked in a specific application – 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 mistakes matter so much in your law school application
When I read applications, I would ask myself, “Would I hire this future lawyer?” If there were careless mistakes in the application, I would have second thoughts. And you don’t want the person evaluating your application to have second thoughts and doubts. Realize that with so many applications competing with yours, the applications that don’t engender doubts have a major edge.
So, when should you submit your law school application?
When you are convinced it is the best representation of yourself.
But, if after reading this, you are still aiming to apply to law school later in the admissions cycle and want a date to target without harming your admissions chances, I recommend submitting no later than mid-January for the best chances of spots (not to mention scholarship funds) still available.
Between now and January, there is enough time for you to plan and submit that “accept me immediately” application. But don’t wait forever – study for the LSAT; draft, rewrite, edit, and proofread your application components; and then submit your strongest application.
Need help getting it all done – and done well! – in a timely fashion? Explore our Law School Admissions Consulting & Editing Services for more information on how we can help you GET ACCEPTED!Want Christine to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement, a free guide
• Why Timing is Everything in Law School Admissions
• How to Develop Your Law School Admissions Strategy