Law School Rolling Admissions

How does it work and is it a good thing?
Tags: admissions, getting into school
Apr 2, 2023

Overview and why you might care about rolling admissions 

Nearly every ABA Accredited law school uses rolling admissions. 

Exactly how it works isn't perfectly cut and dry, but in general rolling admissions is when schools look at applications and make decisions as they come in. The school will accept (and waitlist) candidates until they have determined that they have given out as many acceptances as they are going to and then no one else will be admitted. 

Since schools like to keep their class size consistent, law schools may accept people late into the admissions cycle once accepted students have decided to go elsewhere, or if fewer great applicants than the AdCom thought would apply ended up applying late in the cycle. These acceptances typically are students who were on the waitlist.

Law schools use rolling admissions, but what does that mean?

In (most) college admissions, you have to send in all your application documents by a certain date — usually in late December or January — and the school won’t look at your application until after the deadline. If they do look at your packet before the deadline, you won’t get preferential treatment for submitting 1 month vs 1 minute early. 

With rolling admission, you can send your application over a longer time, like six months, and the school looks at applications as they get them.

Then, law schools send out their decisions about who they will accept on a rolling basis. These AdCom (admission committee) decisions typically happen in Waves. Schools will choose students until all the spots for the new class are taken. Law schools with rolling admission often start taking applications around September 1 and keep going into early in the spring term. Some schools have deadlines as early as January, and some go as late as the middle of the summer.

The Best Things About Rolling Admission

For proactive applicants, the fact that law schools use rolling admissions can be really helpful. Rolling admissions tends to benefit students who apply early in the admissions cycle. Successful applicants to top tier law schools tend to apply close to the opening date for admissions vs the deadline. 

The benefits of rolling admissions include: 

  1. You Might Have a Better Chance of Getting In
  2. You Can Send Your Law School Applications at Different Times
  3. You Can Have an Easier Last Year of School

You Might Have a Better Chance of Getting In

At least if you apply early.

While you still need a good application that meets what the law school wants, applying early in a rolling admissions cycle — when there are still a lot of open spots — can make it more likely for you to get in.

You Can Stagger Your Law School Applications

Students can use the big application period that comes with rolling admission to not have to apply to a bunch of law schools all at once. (although many do). They can plan the application process by first applying to law schools at the top of your list or those that open first, and then you can apply to the law schools later opening dates or deadlines.

By spreading out the law school application process over a few months, you'll have more time in the late summer to early winter to finish up all your applications.

You Will Hear Back Earlier than Would Otherwise be the Case

Law schools look at applications as they get them, so you'll probably get an answer about whether you got in faster than if you law schools didn’t use rolling admissions. Applying in the fall to law schools with rolling admission lets you know if you've been accepted much earlier, so you don't have to worry and wait as long. You will still have to wait. Making the wait a little easier is why we made LSData in the first place. 

Unfortunately, there is no counterfactual for this claim because all law schools use rolling admissions and some applicants will wait longer than others. 

The Worst Things About Rolling Admission

While rolling admission has some great things, students should also know about the bad things about applying to law schools with this way of doing things.

Spots Can Get Taken Fast

Because applications are looked at as they come in, students who wait until late in the application time might have a harder time getting one of the spots left. A student who can get in but waits until the last minute to apply might be more likely to not get in, so it's better to not wait too long to send in your application.

Rolling Admissions Means a lot of pressure to apply early

Some law schools with rolling admission, have important deadlines that may not even be shared. Law schools may pay more attention to students who send their applications before a certain date. 

Because of the lack of transparency around law school admissions, it is really hard to know if applying early is actually helpful, and if it is, how helpful. So the way most applicants handle the unknown is to put a lot of pressure on themselves to apply as early as possible. This pressure to apply early can make for a lot of stress around getting in apps early and trying to figure out how many times to take the LSAT when you think you can get your score up, but the application is already open. 

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Windsor MIT '22, Harvard College Advisor

I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.

Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.


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Seems like one person reported they did here on lsd last week
for gulc, it seems that most of the people admitted off the wl have either a high gpa or high lsat
i haven't seem them admit people w/ "normal" stats
Did you guys know what area of law you wanted to practice in when you are applying? I am looking to start Law school in 2025 but I am having trouble deciding what area to focus on.
adding to what @menherachan said it looks like most of the people actually reporting it are reverse splitters specifically but who knows if thats representative of the actual body of people let off the waitlist yesterday
[] ararara
@Silver: good morning! Hope you watched the sun come up! Realistically the most important three things in admissions are our grades/test score/softs so I wouldn’t overthink the rest too much! I personally have a real calling to pursue law but don’t think the adcomms really need a tearjerking story to compel them to admit us! They want to see that we can handle law school imo.
@Silver: You don't have to completely decide what area of law you'd like to practice prior to attending. You can learn what areas you enjoy while attending. It would be a good idea to research certain areas and talk to attorneys that practice to get a rough idea on what it's like.
When law school folks and legal professionals, etc. refer to "public interest" jobs or sometimes to "public interest or service" jobs, I take it the job of being a judge is not included in this category, right? And this even though some government jobs would be included, for instance being a prosecutor or a public defender.
I find that a bit odd, so I feel like I may be misunderstanding.
Can someone help me figure out what soft tier I'd fall under? I am director level in my job, and come from disadvantaged status. does that make me tier 3 or 2?
disadvantaged might be tier 3 if you’re lucky. but that will be really solid in the work experience category. work experience is one of the strongest factors for law school acceptance
Are weekend admissions decision common or is that just when people choose to update their statuses loool?
@BankruptcyAndRestructuringLawIsCool: SIGH..
is anyone thinking of heavily utilizing an ipad during school? people keep bringing it up when i think about supplies and stuff but im curious about what y'all think too
i didnt like ipads in undergrad, but a lot of the really competent people would swear by them
i wish i were competent so bad
but that makes sense ty
lmao me2
let me know if you figure out how to be competent i would like tips
Hi! I’m a rising 3L at GULC who transferred and is in big law now. Does anyone have any questions lol
can you put a good word in for me with adcommns?
@georgiapeach88: Where did you transfer from? And why did you transfer?
Oh, I see from your profile: Maryland. Still, why did you transfer?
[] ararara
Caught the most epic sunset haha I was so high up my ears still haven’t popped
[] ararara
@georgiapeach88: I actually remember you from some of the first times I was on this site
Just out of curiosity: Do we think it's fair to say that the percentage of users of those site who continue to use it after their 1L starts, for those users who actually went or go to law school, is <1%?
@georgiapeach88: not sure if you're still there but im also curious bout why you transferred, especially since your application says you were eventually admitted to GULC off the waitlist?
do we think GULC is done
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