As you may have heard, law schools right now are doing everything and anything to get people to come, including keeping the doors open for spring (and even summer) admission. As we recently blogged, at least 25 law schools are accepting applications from June LSAT takers for admission the immediately following fall. These schools mind you are officially maintaining spring and summer admission. A lot more schools, the majority even, are currently keeping admissions open well past their formal deadlines, even accepting applications right before class starts in fall. So while formal deadlines usually occur in early spring, it’s now possible to gain admission in late spring or summer at many law schools.

Why You Still Shouldn’t Apply For Spring Admission To Law School

However, just because you can do it doesn’t make applying in spring or later a good idea. We strongly counsel anyone seeking our advice to wait a year and apply to schools earlier in the cycle (December or before). This is for several reasons:

  1. There generally aren’t a lot of spots left by the time you apply to law school in spring. This should hold true to some extent even in the current situation. While strong applicants will face less of a disadvantage or none at all in terms of getting in, weaker applicants will likely have much better results applying early the following year.
  2. There is likely to be substantially less scholarship money available in spring. This is the real reason why you should not apply late to law school unless money is no matter. By spring most schools will have used up all or most of the merit-based scholarship money that they use to draw students to their. Even if they give you a scholarship late, don’t expect schools to be honest about whether you got the best one they would have given you had you applied earlier. Scholarship money is given out through a one way blind process- unless you get the largest scholarship they have, you’ll never know if you could have done better next year.
  3. There is the possibility that admissions is essentially closed, and law schools are merely trying to lower their acceptance rate. Law schools are ranked in part based on their selectivity. The lower the amount of people they actually offer acceptance in proportion to the number actually applying, the more selective they appear, and the better they do in that metric of the influential USNWR rankings. Because of this, law schools have a strong incentive to get more applications even when there aren’t really any spots open (or there are only spots for candidates with really high numbers). All things being equal, you may prefer applying to a school when you have an actual shot at getting in (next year). This is especially true for candidates below the median GPA/LSAT numbers for a school.
  4. You won’t shrivel up and die if you wait another year to attend law school. In fact, it’s likely that you can use the extra year to do something that makes you a stronger candidate for law schools, such as doing substantial volunteer work or kicking butt at a job somewhere.

That said, I know some people are going to ignore my advice and at least float out a few applications. Here is a list of schools that in 2012 were still unofficially accepting applications as of July 24th. The date next to each school is the  official application deadline:

Chicago   (2/1)
Michigan (2/15)
Northwestern (2/15)
Cornell:   (2/1)
Georgetown (3/1)
Texas: (2/1)
UCLA:   (2/1)
Vanderbilt:  (3/15)
George Washington (4/5)
Minnesota:  (4/1)
WUSL:  (4/1)
Boston U (3/30)
Wisconsin (3/1)
Washington & Lee:  (3/1)
Alabama:  Currently changing to a later deadline for the 2013-14 cycle. Specifics not yet announced.
Illinois: Currently (as of 2013) the ‘preferred’ deadline is 3/1 but there is no absolute deadline.
Emory:  (3/1)
Indiana-Bloomington:  (7/31, i.e., formal not passed)
Fordham:  (3/1)
Arizona State:  (2/1)
William & Mary:  (3/1)
George Mason: (4/1)
Brigham Young:  (3/1)
Arizona:  (2/15)
Wake Forest:  (3/15)
Utah:  (2/15)
Pepperdine: (2/1)
American:  (3/1)

This represents 28 of the top 50 schools. Schools further down the ladder are even likelier to accept applications late, especially if you are over the GPA/LSAT medians for the school.

As for news on schools that officially have spring and summer admission check this post:  Many schools have recently their policy to allow late applications, including University of Alabama and University of North Carolina. It’s likely that a lot more schools will change their official deadlines in the coming cycle. Because these changes in policy are very recent and ongoing, the best thing to do is to call an individual school and see whether they keep admissions open for later applicants, as well as whether they accept February and June LSAT scores for admission the immediately following fall.

Remember that most schools will accept a February or June retake LSAT score provided you applied with an earlier score before the application deadline. However, you may have to inform them that you plan to retake and ask them to keep your application open or reconsider it when you have your new score.

If you are convinced you have great reasons to apply to law school in spring, tell them to me anonymously or otherwise in the comments, and I will do my best to talk you out of it unless the reasons are very compelling. Remember that if you want the best chances of going to your dream school at a good price, it’s always a good idea to get in your applications before Christmas or earlier.


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