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Applying to Law School in January? Hopeless or Hopeful?

Applying to Law School in January? Hopeless or Hopeful?
Ann Levine of Law School Expert and author of “The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert” has some law school advice for prospective law students.

Yes, law schools have already admitted, rejected, and waitlisted people. They have already given out scholarships. December LSAT results are being released later this year than ever before, pushing application time back even later. Will applying in January negatively impact your chances of getting into law school?

While applying in January isn’t ideal, and certainly isn’t advisable, it isn’t necessarily too late to get in, even to top law schools. Last year, I had law school admission consulting clients who got into Harvard, NYU, Columbia, etc. with December LSAT scores, proving that it’s not too late. But February is too late: January is your chance to be competitive for Fall 2011 admission.

I asked some current law students who applied in January in 2010 and 2009 how they felt they fared applying late:

Brian Bah (1L, UT-Austin)
“I think during my first application cycle, I didn’t apply until late December/early January. Plus, it took until the beginning of February until one of my professors finally faxed in his recommendation. I think I had a pretty predictable cycle. The biggest disadvantage was that it hurt my chances at a scholarship from Emory, since they told me they had already given out most their scholarships by the time they accepted me. I still was able to get scholarship offers from other schools though. I even managed to get a scholarship from Notre Dame being accepted off the waitlist.”

Obair Qudsi (2L, U. of Iowa) “I believe I finished some, if not most of my applications in January. I still got into Iowa!”

Sabyl Cohen Landrum (1L, UC-Irvine)
“I applied mid to late January last year. I think the only school where it almost certainly made a difference was for Northwestern because I missed the deadline to do an alumni interview. Otherwise my results were not too far off from expected based on my numbers, except that some wait lists may have been accepts had I applied earlier. I also received several scholarship offers, even though I was too late to apply to certain named scholarships at some schools. And the best part about applying late is I had a shorter wait for an answer than some people who applied in October and were still waiting in decisions in March and April. In the end, everything worked out as well as it could have and I love UC Irvine.”

Give yourself a deadline of January 31st to submit all applications.
Here are 3 tips for getting applications submitted ASAP:

1.Make sure transcripts and letters of rec are processed at LSAC. These are longer lead-time items that you don’t want to hold up applications for. If you’re having problems with people sending letters of rec, remember that they can be faxed and that some schools will accept online evaluations this year in lieu of a traditional letter of rec.

2.Apply first to schools that only have a simple application (without short-answer responses) and want a standard personal statement. Get those done and out the door before you tackle schools that want optional essays, school-specific essays, and/or short-answer responses.

3.Don’t waste time on law school discussion forums – just apply to schools.

The bottom line: it’s not too late – yet: don’t even think about retaking the LSAT in February!