Law School Applications: What to Do in September

Many law school applicants might agree with writer T.S. Eliot that April is the cruelest month, especially if they receive rejection letters then. They might feel a lot happier by August, when they finally start law school.

What about September? September is the most crucial month for law school applicants.

Although it’s best to start preparing to apply to law school over the summer, many people find it all too easy to procrastinate when fall seems so far away. By September, it’s time to get down to work.

Applicants have better odds if they submit their applications early, because law school admissions are rolling.

[Learn what What Rolling Admission Means for Law School Hopefuls]

The law school admissions process is not a race. No prizes are awarded for being first to the finish line. Rather, applicants face better chances when there are still plenty of seats left in the class. Starting around late November, space may be increasingly limited even though deadlines may be months away.

Here are five tasks to make the most of the pivotal month of September:

— Check for application openings.

— Work on your essays.

— Take the LSAT.

— Request recommendation letters.

— Consider early decision.

Check for Application Openings

Generally, most law schools make their applications available between mid-August and late September. Once you have set up an account with the LSAC Credential Assembly Service, you can access all applications online.

While applications tend not to vary much year to year, it’s important to review the most current version to understand what to get done before you can submit.

Work on Your Essays

It can feel daunting to complete your resume, personal statement, supplemental essays and addenda.

[READ: Law School Application Fall Checklist.]

Start by brainstorming and outlining a draft of your personal statement, which is the hardest essay to write. Think about how to use the essay to convey your interest in and commitment to a career in law.

Next, complete a rough draft. At this point, do not worry about the length, language or style. Just try to get your ideas in a logical order and figure out what fits best. In later drafts, you’ll have plenty of chances to edit and polish your writing.

Take the LSAT

September is usually the most popular month to take the LSAT, due to the number of people who study over the summer.

If you haven’t taken the LSAT yet, September is a good time to do so to allow for a back-up date in October in case something goes wrong. If you missed the registration deadline, sign up for October or November before those registrations close.

Even if you have taken the LSAT already, consider retaking it if you are unhappy with your score. Since law schools will go with your highest score, there’s no penalty for taking the LSAT multiple times.

Request Recommendation Letters

Law schools require at least one recommendation letter and usually allow between two and five. It’s a good idea to request those letters about a month before you apply, to give your recommenders plenty of time to write them.

[Read Law School Admissions Process: A Month-By-Month Guide.]

That means that if you plan to apply by October, you should request recommendation letters by September. Aim for early in the month, before professors get too busy with the start of classes.

Consider Early Decision

Many law schools offer binding early decision options, and some even offer nonbinding early action options. Generally, early decision deadlines are around November, but the earlier you submit, the earlier you will receive a decision.

If you apply early decision in September, you may be able to receive a decision before deadlines close. If you receive an unfavorable decision, you may even be able to apply to a different school early decision.

If you make progress on all those fronts, you will stay on track to submit your applications well before Thanksgiving. Week by week, you can move towards your goals to craft a strong and timely application with minimal stress.

More from U.S. News

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