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During the 1980's when the number of law school applicants exploded, law schools made a number of adjustments that affect how you apply for admission. The two changes that have the most affect on you and your application schedule are the shift to rolling admissions and the lengthening of the admissions process - it now extends from October through the following spring.
The Best Time to Apply
Generally, law schools send out application forms in August and September; begin accepting applications in October; and start mailing acceptance letters by November. While accepted applicants are notified beginning in November, most law schools do not mail out rejection letters until January. Application deadlines may still be in February or March; but because the schools have begun filling their classes in the fall, it is not unusual for more than 75 percent of the anticipated acceptance letters to have been sent by the spring deadline date.
Applying early provides you with three major advantages:
1. Credentials are evaluated more carefully later in the process.
2. The later you apply, the tougher the competition.
3. Your application will look fresher.
KAPLAN QUICK TIP: Begin planning your application and getting yourself ready financially 15-18 months before you hope to register for classes.
Some pre-law advisors and even a few admissions officers dispute the importance of early applicants - and at a few schools, there may be no special advantage. Law schools are almost always open to exceptional applicants and sometimes will admit someone well after the deadline if there's space in the class.
A few schools will routinely accept applications up until a week or two before classes start. But these are exceptions. You increase the risk of not having your application fully considered if you submit it right at the deadline. If you want to complete all of your applications by late November, your planning should begin five or six months before that.
One year before law school begins.
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