For years, we told would-be law students to aim to have applications submitted by Thanksgiving. At that time, approximately 1/3 of applications were submitted before Thanksgiving and an additional 1/3 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Law school application deadlines were virtually never extended, and rolling admissions meant that some schools had filled most of their available seats long before their application deadlines.
The downturn in law school applications over the past few years has changed all that, but our advice hasn’t changed. Though the advantages offered by applying early in the cycle are a bit different today, it’s still wise to submit your applications in the fall, 9-10 months prior to your target law school start date. The timeline below is based on that target date.
January-March (18-20 months prior to start date)
- Take an LSAT practice test to determine your baseline
- Investigate LSAT prep options and make a plan
February-May (16-19 months prior to start date)
- Prep for the LSAT
- Create LSAC account
- Sign up for the June LSAT
June-August (13-15 months prior to start date)
- Take the June LSAT
- Research schools and create list
- Identify possible recommenders
- Sign up for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service
- Request transcripts from all collegiate institutions*
*In some cases, there may be reason to delay requesting transcripts. For example, if you’ve taken summer courses and expect them to raise your GPA, but those grades haven’t posted yet, you will want to hold off making this request until your transcripts are up to date.
September (12 months prior to start)
- Create recommender packets
- Request recommendations and deliver packets (be sure to update CAS with your recommenders)
- Review applications for essay requirements and any supplemental documents required
- Start writing!
October (11 months prior to start)
- Review and revise personal statement and other essays
- Get an objective third party to review your essays
- Check recommendation status and follow up as needed
- Fill out your applications
- Review requirements for each school and ensure that your applications and attachments are complete and in proper format
October-November (9-10 months prior to start)
- Submit applications
- Review offers
- Supplement your applications if wait-listed
- Negotiate scholarship opportunities
- Choose your school