Best Time to Apply to Law School Explained

when do i apply to law school

Applying to law school can be an exciting but overwhelming process. One of the most important considerations is timing. Knowing when to submit your applications can greatly impact your chances of admission.

Law schools operate on a rolling admission cycle, which means they review applications and make decisions as they receive them. To help you navigate this process, let’s explore the ideal timing for applying to law school.

When is the best time to apply to law school? The general consensus is to apply early. The ideal window for submitting applications is between September 1 and the end of November. Applying during this time gives you several advantages, including being among the first applicants considered and increasing your chances of admission.

However, if you’re unable to apply early, don’t worry. Applying on time, from December to January, is still acceptable for most law schools. This timeframe allows you to meet the application deadlines and ensures that your application receives thorough consideration.

It’s important to note that applying after February is considered late in the cycle and may decrease your chances of acceptance and scholarship opportunities. Late applicants face the risk of spots being filled, making it more competitive to secure a spot in law schools.

Now that we’ve discussed the best time to apply, let’s take a closer look at the advantages of applying early, as well as the implications of applying on time and late.

Key Takeaways:

  • Applying early, between September and November, is generally considered the best time to apply to law school.
  • Applying on time, from December to January, is still acceptable but may have more limited availability.
  • Applying after February is considered late and may decrease your chances of acceptance and scholarship opportunities.
  • By applying early, you can increase your chances of admission and have more time to explore financial aid options.
  • It is crucial to submit your applications by the appropriate deadlines to maximize your chances.

Advantages of Applying Early (September–November)

Applying early to law school, between September and November, offers several advantages. Law schools operate on a rolling admission cycle, meaning they review applications and make decisions as they receive them. Applying early increases your chances of admission because law schools fill their classes and accept students throughout the cycle. Early applicants are more likely to secure scholarship opportunities and have a higher likelihood of acceptance compared to late applicants with similar qualifications.

Here are the key benefits of applying early:

  • Higher Chances of Admission: By applying early, you are among the first applicants considered, giving you an edge over students who apply later in the cycle. Law schools have more available spots and are more open to accepting early applicants. This increases your chances of getting admitted to your desired school.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: Many law schools allocate a significant portion of their scholarship funds early in the admission cycle. By applying early, you have a better chance of securing scholarship funding to help finance your legal education.
  • Holistic Application Review: Law schools have more time and flexibility to review early applications thoroughly. They can take a holistic approach, considering not only your LSAT score and GPA but also other factors such as your personal statement, recommendation letters, and work experience. This comprehensive review process may benefit your application if you have compelling non-academic achievements and experiences.
  • Financial Aid Options: Applying early gives you ample time to explore financial aid options. You can research and apply for various scholarships, grants, and loans to support your law school journey. Having a head start allows you to carefully consider and compare different financial aid packages before making a decision.

By applying early, you maximize your chances of admission, increase scholarship opportunities, and benefit from a more comprehensive review of your application. It is crucial to take advantage of this prime application window to position yourself for success in the competitive law school admissions process.

Applying on Time (December–January)

Applying on time, from December to January, is still considered acceptable by most law schools. This time frame allows applicants to complete their applications and ensure they meet the application deadlines. It is essential to begin the application process early, research and finalize your school list, request recommendation letters, and start drafting your personal statement and supplemental essays. Taking the LSAT during this period is crucial for timely submission. Applicants should also arrange for their official undergraduate and graduate transcripts to be sent through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

Application Checklist:

  • Research and finalize your list of law schools during the late summer and early fall.
  • Request recommendation letters from professors, employers, or individuals who can speak to your qualifications for law school.
  • Begin drafting your personal statement, which should showcase your motivation, experiences, and goals for pursuing a legal career.
  • Start working on supplemental essays, such as diversity statements or specific program inquiries.
  • Prepare for the LSAT by enrolling in a prep course or studying independently to achieve your target score.
  • Review LSAT test dates and select an exam date that aligns with your application timeline.
  • Submit your official undergraduate and any graduate transcripts through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to ensure they reach the law schools you’re applying to.

By following these steps and meeting the application deadlines, you can position yourself for success in the law school admissions process.

Application Tasks December January
Research and finalize law school choices
Request recommendation letters
Draft personal statement
Work on supplemental essays
Prepare for the LSAT
Select LSAT test date
Submit official transcripts

Applying Late (February–June)

Applying to law school after February is considered late in the application cycle. It is generally recommended to avoid applying during this period unless there are compelling reasons, such as a unique program that accepts late applications or personal circumstances that necessitate a later start. Applying late can significantly decrease your chances of acceptance, as most spots in law schools may have been filled by earlier applicants. Late applicants may also face limited scholarship opportunities.

While it is important to note that some law schools do accept late applications, these are often limited to a select few and may have different admission criteria. It is crucial to research and identify which law schools might still consider applications past the regular deadlines.

Additionally, late applicants may receive their admissions decisions closer to the start of the school year, making it challenging to plan logistics and secure housing. It is essential to be prepared for a potentially accelerated timeline and quick decision-making process if applying late.

If you find yourself applying late, it is crucial to have a strong application that highlights your qualifications, experiences, and passion for law. Be sure to thoroughly review and revise your personal statement, supplemental essays, and any other required documents to make a compelling case for admission.

Key Points Considerations
1. Applying after February – Decreased acceptance chances
– Limited scholarship opportunities
2. Some law schools accept late applications – Different admission criteria
– Limited availability
3. Admissions decisions may be closer to the start of the school year – Challenging logistics and housing planning
4. Submit a strong application – Thoroughly review and revise personal statement and supplemental essays

Timeline for LSAT Preparation

LSAT preparation is a crucial step in your journey towards law school. To achieve your best possible score, it is important to create a comprehensive study plan and allow enough time for preparation. Most students require three to six months of dedicated study time for effective LSAT preparation.

Starting your LSAT preparation in January provides ample time to assess your baseline through LSAT diagnostic exams and select a suitable LSAT prep method. Aim to allocate a minimum of 100 days for preparation to ensure significant score improvement. Consider the following timeline for LSAT preparation:

January – March:

  • Take an LSAT diagnostic exam to gauge your current abilities and identify areas for improvement.
  • Research and select a study plan that aligns with your learning style and schedule. Consider resources such as LSAT prep books, online courses, and LSAT tutors.
  • Begin studying the fundamental concepts and question types tested on the LSAT.

April – May:

  • Focus on individual LSAT sections, practicing timed drills to improve speed and accuracy.
  • Complete practice sections and full-length LSAT practice tests to simulate test conditions and build endurance.
  • Strategize and develop techniques for approaching different question types.

June – August:

  • Continue practicing full-length LSAT tests under timed conditions.
  • Analyze your performance, identify weak areas, and target them for improvement.
  • Seek additional support from LSAT prep resources or tutors as needed.

Remember that the LSAT test dates can vary throughout the year. It is advisable to take the LSAT between June and August, allowing room for a retake if necessary. By following a structured timeline and staying committed to your LSAT study plan, you can maximize your score potential and enhance your chances of admission to your desired law school.

Essay Preparation and Letter of Recommendation Timeline

The law school application process involves crafting compelling essays and obtaining strong letters of recommendation. To ensure a successful application, it is crucial to follow a well-structured timeline for essay preparation and recommendation letter acquisition.

Essay Preparation Timeline

Beginning your essay preparation around six months before the application deadline is highly recommended. This timeline allows for ample time to brainstorm ideas, develop drafts, and seek feedback for improvement. Many applicants find it beneficial to work on their essays concurrently with LSAT preparation, as it allows for a comprehensive approach to the application process.

Key steps in the essay drafting timeline:

  1. Start brainstorming ideas and reflecting on your unique qualities as early as possible.
  2. Create an outline for your personal statement and diversity statement.
  3. Develop multiple drafts and refine them through revisions.
  4. Seek feedback from trusted mentors, advisors, or writing centers.
  5. Finalize and proofread your essays for submission.

Remember: Personal statements and diversity statements play a crucial role in demonstrating your passion for law and showcasing your unique perspective and experiences. Multiple rounds of revisions are essential to ensure that your essays effectively convey your story and highlight your suitability for law school.

Letter of Recommendation Timeline

Securing strong letters of recommendation is another critical aspect of the law school application process. Building relationships with potential recommenders and providing them with sufficient time and information is key to obtaining compelling recommendation letters. It is essential to initiate this process well in advance to allow recommenders ample time to craft and submit their letters.

Recommended timeline for obtaining recommendation letters:

  1. Identify and approach potential recommenders around six months before the application deadline.
  2. Discuss your law school aspirations, academic achievements, and relevant experiences with your recommenders to help them write targeted letters.
  3. Provide recommenders with all necessary information, such as your resume, personal statement draft, and any specific points you would like them to highlight.
  4. Follow up with recommenders periodically to ensure they have the information they need and to confirm the submission of their letters.
  5. Ask for letters of recommendation no later than August, allowing recommenders one month to complete and submit them before the application deadline.

Note: It is always a good idea to express your gratitude to recommenders for their support and to provide them with updates on your progress in the application process.

By following the recommended essay preparation and recommendation letter timeline, you will have the opportunity to thoroughly craft your essays and secure strong letters of recommendation. These components will significantly enhance your law school application and increase your chances of admission.

Timeline Action
6 months before application deadline Begin brainstorming essay ideas
5 months before application deadline Create an outline for personal statement and diversity statement
4 months before application deadline Develop multiple essay drafts
2-3 months before application deadline Seek feedback and revise essays
1 month before application deadline Finalize and proofread essays
6 months before application deadline Identify and approach potential recommenders
5 months before application deadline Discuss aspirations and provide information to recommenders
4 months before application deadline Follow up with recommenders and provide updates
3 months before application deadline Request recommendation letters
1 month before application deadline Ensure recommenders have submitted letters


Applying to law school requires careful planning and a clear understanding of the law school application timeline. By starting the application process early, dedicating time to thorough preparation, and submitting your application ahead of deadlines, you can maximize your chances of acceptance and increase your opportunities for scholarships.

Applying early, between September and November, offers significant advantages, such as higher chances of admission and the availability of more scholarship opportunities. This is due to the rolling admission cycle of law schools, where early applicants are among the first to be considered. Additionally, applying on time, between December and January, is still acceptable, but it is important to be aware that availability may be limited.

It is generally discouraged to apply late, after February, as this can decrease your chances of acceptance and scholarship opportunities. Late applicants may find that most spots in law schools have been filled by earlier applicants, making it more challenging to secure admission. It is essential to follow a well-structured timeline, ensuring you dedicate sufficient time to LSAT preparation, essay writing, and securing strong recommendation letters.

By understanding the importance of early application, thoroughly preparing for the application process, and maximizing your acceptance chances, you can position yourself for success in the competitive law school admissions process. Remember to plan ahead, stay organized, and prioritize your application to increase your chances of securing a spot in your desired law school.