What is the time frame to apply and begin law school?
September 14, 2018 8:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering going to law school. When would I need to submit my application to start in fall 2019? When is the latest I would need to take the LSAT?
posted by davidstandaford to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You ideally would have taken the LSAT already in spring/summer 2018. It's possible there is still time to take it this fall, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is too late at this point (especially without some giant late registration fee). Look up the testing dates. Then look up the admissions schedule for schools you are interested in.
Generally you would apply this fall/winter 2018, then hear back in spring 2019 regarding fall 2019 admissions.
posted by gatorae at 8:30 PM on September 14, 2018

The November LSAT is typically considered the last test for applying for the next academic year but some schools will accept the December LSAT.
posted by k8t at 9:49 PM on September 14, 2018

I, uh, took the LSAT in June and still started classes in that same August, but that was at a third-tier school, and you don't want to go to a third-tier school. So basically, consider any plan extremely suspect that involves trying to do stuff at the last minute. It isn't impossible but it will put you into a school that isn't good enough for whatever it is you aspire to do with this.
posted by Sequence at 10:15 PM on September 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

You can take the LSAT this fall and this winter for admission Fall 2019. Your applications will be due late fall 2018 or January 2019. You can apply before having taken the LSAT, or having taken it once and planning to take it again for a higher score.
posted by hepta at 8:16 AM on September 15, 2018

LSAC has been adding test dates and adjusting the schedule of tests. There is no longer a December test, so ideally (from a timing perspective) you would take the Nov 17 test, registration deadline Oct 8. There is a test in January, but those scores won't be available till mid-February, which is rather late to be applying. (By that time many schools will be waitlisting even strong candidates because of the number of offers of admission they have already made. Not to say that couldn't work out but it's a lot less certain and this past cycle, for instance, offers from the waitlist were quite scarce.)

All that said, if you're going to go to law school, you want to have your best options available and that means doing as well as you possibly can on the LSAT. (The test is not the only thing that matters, but it does matter.) It is a test that you can and should study for a lot -- how much time will you have to prep between now and Nov 17?

Is there a reason you *have* to start in fall 2019? You might want to consider targeting fall 2020 if you have that flexibility. Extra time to study for the LSAT and do your best will be well worth it over the course of your career. It's a tradeoff but you may well have a better outcome in the long run taking the January test and killing it rather than getting a mediocre (or worse) score in November. You can see what happens with a late application this cyckle and, if you don't end up with options that you are happy with, be ready to jump with an early application in fall 2019.
posted by oakroom at 2:30 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd second Oakroom's advice.

To answer your question specifically, the conventional wisdom is that your applications should be submitted by Thanksgiving. Admissions counselors used to say "between Halloween and Thanksgiving," but nowadays many people are submitting earlier.

Here's the caveat to Oakroom's advice (which, again, I agree with). Read his second paragraph again. That's spot-on. If giving yourself another year will get you into a better tier of schools, then it will be hugely worth it. But...realistically, that's not everybody's circumstance. Some people ain't gonna break 165 or 170 no matter how hard they study. Others are stuck with very low undergraduate GPAs. For some people, only one low-ranked law school is feasible: maybe you're married with kids and a good job, and you're set on the four-year night program that's ten minutes from your house.

What does "going to law school" look like for you? If there's a chance you could get into Columbia or Berkeley, or a school that's considered prominent in your area, then you'd be foolish to rush an application rather than putting your strongest foot forward. Take the year. Take Kaplan (or Princeton Review, or whatever prep course you like). Eat the class's cost and realize you're buying yourself opportunity, either admission to better schools ($$$$$) or scholarships ($$). But if those hopes aren't realistic for you, and you just want to get through law school ASAP to start practicing, then yes, you have plenty of time to get an application submitted this cycle. Start today.
posted by cribcage at 7:54 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, fair enough, cribcage.

davidstandaford, if you let us know more about your circumstances we can probably give better-focused advice.
posted by oakroom at 11:29 AM on September 16, 2018

Something I had forgotten when I first replied: Another thing that came up with my idiot move that I would happily spare someone else is that you really, really don't want to wind up with a ton of debt just from living expenses your first year... and honestly the amount they'll even give you in loans is very hard for adults to live on. Very few places offer non-tuition scholarship money, despite not allowing full-time students to work their first year. (I believe this is an ABA rule, or was, not something specific to my school, but it was an actual honor code violation at my school and that's super bad.) If you don't have substantial savings right now or a spouse whose income can support you both, the extra year gives you time to shave your living expenses down and save every dime you can. Between that and it giving you a way better crack at a better school, the long-term impact of waiting is way more positive than rushing in.
posted by Sequence at 11:37 AM on September 16, 2018

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