By mid-December, most law school applicants have submitted their applications. Because the admissions process is rolling, it is better to apply in the fall than to delay until application deadlines in late winter or early spring.
Once applications are in, the waiting game begins. Most law schools aim to review applications within six to eight weeks, but applicants should prepare to dig in for the long haul. Some law schools may not make decisions until March or even April, and a late decision is not necessarily a bad sign.
What should you do while you wait? The best thing you can do is to continue to strengthen your application. If you are in college, keep your grades high. If you are in the workforce, aim for a new achievement or promotion. Look for opportunities to volunteer your time or take a relevant class.
That way, you will have something new and exciting to report to law schools if you end up on a waitlist and need to write an update or letter of continued interest. After all, it is likely you will be placed on at least one waitlist if you apply to a broad range of schools.
In the meantime, before you receive a decision, is it a good idea to email law schools with updates to your application? That depends on the reason for your update.
Changes and Corrections
If you experience a major life event that would render your application outdated, like a job change or name change, be sure to send a brief email with an updated resume or new information.
Also contact admissions offices if you realize you have made a significant mistake on your application that could jeopardize your candidacy. Law is a detail-oriented profession, so oversights should be avoided at all costs, but most typos are not worth raising a fuss. However, errors that might call your judgment into question, like neglecting to disclose an eligible incident on the character and fitness section of the application, are worth addressing.
For similar reasons, be sure to let law schools know promptly if you need to withdraw your application or accept a binding admissions offer at another school. Law school admissions offices circulate lists of candidates who accept early decision, and they won’t be pleased to discover that an accepted applicant is not taking that commitment seriously.
Checking in After a Long Wait
What if you are just feeling antsy or concerned that your application fell through the cracks?
Check your LSAC Credential Assembly Service account to confirm your application was transmitted and look for any status updates. When a law school has requested your file to begin review, or come to a decision, you should see the status change in your application.
Try to stay patient. If your application has been transmitted, it will be reviewed. Remember that law schools are still overwhelmed by a surge in applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and decisions may not come as promptly as in the past.
Do not write to law schools with complaints, demands, ultimatums or redundant inquiries. Do not send a long email about your love for the school or extra unsolicited materials.
Instead, if it has been at least a few months, consider sending law schools a brief update on your application. If you followed my earlier advice about continuing to strengthen your application, you will likely have at least something noteworthy to report.
Some law schools allow updates directly through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service. If not, email the law school to reaffirm your interest and provide a life update. Keep your email to one or two short paragraphs. Show respect for the reader’s time by writing directly and courteously. Law school is a professional school, and any communications that cast doubt on your professionalism may torpedo your chance of admission.
Try not to email the admissions office more than every month or two. Group updates together for easier review. You want to create the impression that you are organized and staying busy.
Ultimately, remember that admissions officers have thousands of applications to review. The time this review takes shows that law school admissions is not simply a mechanical process of sorting applicants by grades and LSAT scores. As hard as it may be to imagine, once you are in law school, the long wait will fade into a blur.
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