Application Timeline

A W crest is pictured surrounded by the spring blooms of an ornamental pear tree along University Avenue at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 24, 2017. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)For whatever fall semester that you intend to enter law school, applications for that cycle become available in or around September one year prior. Although application deadlines vary and may not occur until spring, because law schools use a rolling admissions process, it is not in your best interest to wait until nearing a school’s spring deadline to apply. Rolling admissions means that law schools start evaluating and deciding on applications in fall, almost a year before classes start and well before the application deadline. Applying relatively early in the admissions process may increase your likelihood of admission because at the beginning of the process you are competing against a smaller pool of applicants for a larger number of available spots than you would later in the process.

A good rule of thumb is to plan to apply to law school one year before you wish to start. Applicants who apply right away in September have a higher chance of admission, and also an increased likelihood of being eligible for merit based scholarship aid (which all applicants are considered for, and are often awarded in large part due to GPA and LSAT scores). We recommend that applicants apply sometime between September and the end of November one year before they wish to start law school for best results. For more information on scholarships, see our Financing Law School page.

  • Attend a Law School Fair if possible
  • If you will be taking a fall LSAT, focus on LSAT preparation through the exam date then turn immediately to your applications after the exam; otherwise begin to work on applications as soon as they become available
  • Meet with a pre-law advisor as needed to discuss your law school applications or review drafts of documents you plan to submit
  • Formally request your Letters of Recommendation through LSAC
  • Draft your Personal Statement
  • Draft/revise your Resumé
  • Draft any applicable Optional Essays
  • Draft any necessary Addenda
  • Request your Transcript(s)
  • Plan to submit your applications by the end of November if possible (though earlier is better especially in more competitive years); if applying Early Decision, the deadlines are generally around mid/late November
  • If you are not satisfied with your fall LSAT score, consult with a pre-law advisor to determine whether you should retake the exam this cycle.
  • Track your submitted applications through Status Check websites for each school
  • Take/retake the LSAT if necessary; plan to submit your completed applications as soon as the score is ready.
  • Research FAFSA deadlines and other financial aid documentation requirements for each school to which you applied
  • Review the Center for Pre-Law Advising’s After You Apply Handout
  • Watch the Center for Pre-Law Advising video The Law School Admissions Process: What Happens After You Apply?
  • Take steps to advocate for your admission at any school at which you are waitlisted by submitting a Letter of Continuing Interest, scheduling a formal visit, submitting an additional letter of recommendation and/or maintaining phone/e-mail contact with the admissions office every month or so
  • If you are still a student and applied in December or earlier, submit an updated transcript reflecting your fall semester’s grades (assuming your grades were strong)
  • Continue to track your submitted applications through Status Check websites for each school
  • Try to attend the Admitted Students Day/Weekend at any school that has admitted you and that you are considering attending
  • Plan to submit a seat deposit at a law school by the seat deposit deadline, often in early/mid April (depending on the school), even if you are currently wait listed at another school; you can always enroll in the school at which you were wait listed if admitted, even if you already placed a seat deposit at another school
  • Be sure to meet any financial aid deadlines
  • Continue to maintain contact through letters of continued interest every month or so; be sure to check in with the office just after the seat deposit deadline
  • Continue to maintain contact through letters of continued interest every month or so