What You Need To Know About Law School Deadlines

Because law schools use a rolling admissions cycle, it is often daunting to figure out each school’s application deadline, if they have one at all, and what one should do if the stated deadline has passed.

“Hard” vs. “Soft” Law School Deadlines

Because of the rolling nature of the law school admissions cycle, candidates submit applications over many months, and law schools will accept applications on a space-available basis late into the application cycle. This pushes most schools to employ what we call “soft” deadlines as opposed to “hard” deadlines. A “hard” deadline is one after which a school will not accept or read an application. A “soft” deadline, on the other hand, does not prohibit the submission of applications after that deadline.

Don’t treat a “soft” deadline as an invitation to apply after the deadline, though! You should always make every effort to submit applications by the stated deadline, whether it’s “hard” or “soft”.

Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

A preliminary deadline-oriented decision is whether to apply early decision. There are strategic advantages and disadvantages to applying early decision, but one clear factor is the deadline. Early decision deadlines tend to fall some time in November, usually at least three months before the regular decision deadline. Early decision deadlines also tend to be “hard” deadlines, while regular decision deadlines tend to be “soft” deadlines.

When is it too late to submit law school applications?

Some law schools, like UC Berkeley, Yale and Boston College, have hard deadlines. The vast majority of schools, though, will accept applications after their stated deadlines. Note that many of the top schools will only guarantee full consideration of applications that are submitted by their stated deadline.

To complicate matters further, many schools have “priority” deadlines, which generally means that they will guarantee a decision by a certain date for applicants submit before that deadline.

Many schools will accept applications into the summer, and will accept candidates who submit applications as late as June or July. For most schools, the only way to know for sure that it’s too late to submit an application is to call the admissions office and ask…you might be surprised by their answer!

Summary: What you need to know

  • Law schools begin to accept applications between September 1 and October 1
  • Early decision deadlines are between November 1 and December 1
  • Regular decision deadlines are generally between February 1 and April 1, but most schools will accept applications after their stated deadlines
  • Check with each school individually if you have any questions about their application deadline policies

As with many aspects of the law school admissions process, the treatment of application deadlines varies greatly from school to school, so always check with the schools themselves if you have any questions about their deadlines. And, of course, you can always speak with a Stratus strategist by calling 212-307-1788.

Law School Deadlines

School Rank Deadline Feb Accept?
YALE UNIVERSITY 1 2/28/17 Yes
HARVARD UNIVERSITY 2 2/1/17 Yes*
STANFORD UNIVERSITY 2 2/1/17 Yes (by petition)
CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF 4 3/1/17 Yes
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 4 2/15/17 Yes (by petition)
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY 6 2/15/17 Yes*
PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF 7 3/1/17 Yes
CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF 8 2/1/17 No
MICHIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF 8 2/15/17 Yes
VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF 8 3/6/17 Yes
DUKE UNIVERSITY 11 2/15/17 Yes
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY 12 2/15/17 Yes
CORNELL UNIVERSITY 13 2/1/17 Yes
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY 14 3/1/17 Yes
TEXAS AT AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF 15 3/1/17 Yes

*Applications with a February LSAT score are accepted but not guaranteed full consideration.

About Stratus

Stratus Admissions Counseling is a full service admissions counseling firm distinguished by its team based, multi-step process ensuring each application is crafted for optimum impact. Each law admissions team member has graduated from a top-14 law school and our collaborative team provides the depth and breadth of legal experience to maximize your chances of admission to your top choice law school.

 

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