Published January 26, 2019
Updated November 30, 2023
You may have heard that submitting your law school applications as early as possible is always in your interest, but is there a best time to apply to law school? Here are a few considerations to help you map out a law school application timeline that works best for you.
While there may be slight variations among law schools, you can expect applications to go live about one year in advance. For example, applicants wishing to start law school in fall 2025 may access and submit applications as early as September 1, 2024. Many law schools accept applications on a rolling basis, meaning your application will be reviewed as soon as it is submitted and deemed complete.
The better question is: when should you apply to law school? First, consider your application options.
While applying Early Decision offers some benefits, it also comes with stipulations. Most Early Decision processes are binding, meaning if you are offered admission, you must accept the offer and withdraw any pending applications you may have at other law schools. This means that you should only apply Early Decision if you have a top-choice school. The benefit is that your application is considered very early in the admissions cycle before regular decision applicants go into review when few seats in the class have been filled, and scholarship funds are plentiful. Early decision deadlines vary by school. At UB School of Law, the early decision deadline is November 15 and decisions are rendered by December 15.
Many law schools also publish a Priority Deadline, or a recommended deadline, for regular decision candidates. In many cases applications are accepted past the priority deadline; however, applying after the priority deadline may negatively impact your admission outcome and availability of scholarship funds. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you apply by or before a school’s priority application deadline. UB School of Law’s priority application deadline is March 1. If you apply regular decision, you can expect a response between four and six weeks after submitting a completed application.
Some law schools set hard deadlines, after which they will no longer accept or review applications, so check all of your prospective schools’ websites for their various application processes and deadlines.
While there is no objective “best” time to submit your application, applying as early as possible (and before the schools’ recommended deadlines) is generally good advice. But, by no means should you jeopardize or rush through any application component to submit your application early. Take the necessary time to proofread your personal statement and optional essays, update your resume, secure recommendation letters, etc.
If you’re unsatisfied with your LSAT or GRE score(s) you may want to put your application on hold until you retake the test. Consider contacting your top choice schools to discuss and weigh your options.
Bottom line: give yourself time to submit the strongest application possible, even if this means submitting your application a week or a month later than originally planned.