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When Should I Apply to Law School?

Soon, but not too soon, but also not too late.
Apr 2, 2023

Table of Contents

  1. What time of year is best to apply?
  2. When in my life should I apply?
  3. Unsolicited opinion
  4. Related Articles

When you ask this question you might mean a few things. You might mean: What time of the year is it best to apply to law school? or you might mean: When in my life should I apply to law school. The first one is easier so I will explain that one first. 

What time of the year is best to apply to law school?

Check out our recommended law school application timeline here

Pretty much every law school has rolling admissions. This means that their applications are ‘open’ from around September to May, but you are much more likely to get accepted if you apply as early as possible.

The best time to apply to law school is when you are ready to commit to the three years of study required to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. The best time to apply to law school is also when you have a clear sense of why you want to become a lawyer and how you will use your law degree to achieve your professional goals. 

The process of applying to law school can be time-consuming and expensive, so it is important to make sure you are ready to commit to the process before you begin. The best time to apply to law school is when you have completed your undergraduate degree and taken the LSAT. 

The best time to apply to law school is also when you have a clear idea of what you want to do with your law degree. Are you interested in working in a particular field of law? Do you want to become a prosecutor or public defender? Do you want to work in a private law firm? Knowing what you want to do with your degree will help you choose the right law school and prepare for your career. 

The best time to apply to law school is also when you have a realistic idea of the time and effort required to succeed in law school and pass the bar exam. Law school is a demanding academic environment, and you will need to study hard to earn good grades. You should also be prepared to dedicate time to extracurricular activities, such as moot court and law review, which can help you develop important legal skills. 

Finally, the best time to apply to law school is when you are financially prepared to cover the cost of tuition and living expenses. Law school is a significant investment, and you will need to be sure you can afford the cost before you apply. 

If you are ready to commit to the time and effort required to earn a law degree, and you have a clear idea of why you want to become a lawyer, the best time to apply to law school is now.​​ 

When in my life should I apply to law school?

Simply put, you should go to law school when you want to be a lawyer, or when getting a JD will help your career. But I realize that that isn't really helpful.

First, some stats.

Between 20-30% of 1Ls are KJD (meaning they went straight from H.S. to Undergrad then straight to Law School). Another (probably) 10-15% got some kind of Master's right after undergrad but before law school so they aren't KJD, but have also always been in school. Over 50% of 1Ls are under 25. About 20% of 1Ls are over 30.

Cool, so those are a bunch of numbers that might not be helpful.

Honestly, the question is so personal, that I can't give you a good answer. But I can give some pros and cons that you might not be considering:

KJD aka Straight Through aka ~19 years of school with no break.

Pros:

  1. You never leave school mode so you might be better set to study every day
  2. Your guardians are more likely to support you financially
  3. You get started on a legal career younger

Cons:

  1. Undergrad academics are super different than law school academics (for most) so you might not have the right mentality to succeed at law school
  2. Experience might make you a better applicant and help you get into a better school. This is especially true if you don't have a stellar GPA
  3. Most people don't actually know what they want to do with the rest of their life when they are 22. (Sorry to those of you who are, but consider leaving the lasting decisions to Med School students).

~2-4 years out of undergrad

Pros:

  1. The most common age group to go, so you will be surrounded by people close to you in age
  2. You have some work experience so you will (hopefully) have a better sense of what you want to do professionally
  3. You might still get some support from your family and you can probably coast on their insurance for a little longer.

Cons:

  1. Social pressures might be strong, and your social life might encroach on academics.
  2. Your work experience might not be strong enough to help your application.
  3. Most financial aid offices will still consider your parents income, regardless of how much help they are giving you

~4-8 years out of undergrad

Pros:

  1. You're pretty likely to know what you want to do when you grow up, and if that is being a lawyer, you most likely won't regret it
  2. Your work experience is probably substantial enough to help your application
  3. Most financial aid offices stop looking at your parents/guardians income around age 28 so you are likely to get better financial aid

Cons:

  1. You will be a little older than many of your peers and might find it harder to fit in socially
  2. You will be ~30 when you start your legal career and you might feel behind younger peers
  3. Your family is probably less likely to give you money than when you were younger

~8+ years out of undergrad

Pros:

  1. At this point you have a good amount of work experience and probably have a really good sense that law school is for you (or not)
  2. You should be able to tell a compelling story about how law school will help you further your professional journey
  3. You are most likely mature enough to buckle down and crush law school academically if you want

Cons:

  1. You will be the oldest person many rooms at law school. Maybe even older than some of your professors. This can be isolating
  2. Implicit agism will come into play in admissions and your chances of getting in might not be as high as if you were younger

My unsolicited opinion

I think that many undergrads feel like if they don't immediately go to law school that they will not have succeeded, or they use it as way to put off going to work. While this works for some people, a lot of KJD (or even people who are 2 years out) don't really know why they are at law school. As a result, it is really hard to give law school the focus required to really excel and subsequently younger applicants don't do as well during and after school. The flip side of that is that a lot young law students (more than older law students) make social connections in law school that are much stronger than older peers.

Overall, everyone is different so it is hard to give one-size fits all advice. What I can say with confidence is that you should go to law school when you know that you are ready, and when you are prepared to put into law school what you want to get out of law school. If that is a social life, great. If that is a killer job after, also great. Just make law school something you did, not something that happened to you.

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  3. How do I apply to Law School?
  4. How Much do Lawyers Make?
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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19:19
just some stupid accounting jargon
MightyUnableSphinx
19:21
my boss told me the pcaob is the enemy and if they are in the office we need to be quiet in the hallways, lmao, so there is that i guess
19:31
lololol
19:32
hey what study mats. have you used and whats your study schedule/routine like? also do you think its beneficial if i hire a private tutor?
KnowledgeableRitzyWasp
19:39
Tutors usually are a waste of money unless you have specific things you need to work on
KnowledgeableRitzyWasp
19:39
7sage is a really good option for studying
[] ararara
20:01
Do not think tutors are a waste of money or that all tutoring experiences are equal but ultimately it’s going to come down to you and how much work you put in!
[] ararara
20:01
Get fee waivers then lsat demon is free for 3 months and 7 sage costs a dollar a month!
Wow Ara out here promoting a demon
Unholy activities
I had a tutor, I worked with for some months.. and he really helped me understand the LSAT... It helped me more than self studying
MightyUnableSphinx
20:38
@Sunshine0303: I use 7sage. I do 1 PT every other day and mostly drill only LG. After I get to -1 or -2 LG super consistently will probably pivot to RC since my LR has always been really great. That's been working great for me.
MightyUnableSphinx
20:38
But yeah I do
MightyUnableSphinx
20:39
PT Drilling, Drilling, PT Drilling, PT , etc etc
MightyUnableSphinx
20:46
Also does anyone think there is a reason to use LSAT Demon over 7sage? Seems just like a more expensive option and not sure if I am missing some differentiator
21:05
I would avoid LSAT demon. They have a documented history of shady practices - see: https://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/1bhr6hi/why_a_certain_company_is_restricted_here/
KnowledgeableRitzyWasp
21:07
i mean if you are single and want an lsat demon e-bf it might be a good option
21:07
Lmao
[] ararara
21:09
@Mountaineer99: yo ❤️ and everyone else what’s up fools 🤠 hope you’re having a great Saturday!
[] ararara
21:10
I think it’s important for people to find what works for them! Not that prep is better or worse than other prep! Haven’t clicked that link but I’ve seen 7 sage, demon, blueprint all be shady fs!
[] ararara
21:11
(Also what sets demon/7 sage apart fee waiver program makes them free!)
I think 7sage is only good when it comes to it's drilling and analytics, it's curriculum and preptest platform aren't very good and I prefer the official LSAC resources for those. I don't really see why shady practices should stop you from choosing a study material though, sounds chronically online to me
lsat demon may well be good, though I haven't tried it
7sage got me from 162 diagnostic to 177 official in less than 2 months. I recommend it
did cls send a whole bunch of decisions today??
Ijustwannagetinman
21:47
@MangoMuncher99: no i think they’re from the Friday wave which seems way bigger than we realized
Wow this site has gottens ooo much nicer than it was a few years ago
I'm a 20-21 cycle who is a 3L now. Applying to LLM programs, anyone know anything about how those decisions work lol?
[] ararara
22:20
@SouthernYank97: I kind of do but also just want to say this comment means so much! I’m a reapplicant who remembers how it was! I was too scared to even talk here at first and now we’ve been chugging love potion for days so thanks Yank!
@legalknievel did you get rejected today or on Friday?
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