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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.

Related Articles

  1. Is Law School Worth It?
  2. Lawyer or Paralegal
  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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CamoCat
14:22
Congrats!! Go get some ice cream!
Dear Waitlist, I am overjoyed to hear the incredible news! All of your hard work, perseverance, and dedication have finally paid off. This is a monumental achievement, and I couldn't be prouder of you. Your journey through the uncertainty and challenges has only highlighted your strength and determination. This moment is just the beginning of your long and unwritten success story. Every step you've taken has led you to this point, and now, your path forward is filled with endless possibilities and opportunities. Your time in purgatory is no longer; you have emerged stronger and more resilient than ever. -glove
@GloveDontSplitUMustAcquit: yo whats up
im on pace to be temple bound the way my pt's have been homie
@GloveDontSplitUMustAcquit: ty so much! that means a lot, so excited! manifesting waitlist movement for all of you <3
@GloveDontSplitUMustAcquit:
pookiebear
14:40
uga A
[] ararara
14:41
Go Dawgs and congratulations absolutely everybody!
Sounds good glove. I think they give really good aid usually
do we think they'll be any waitlist movement today
ChiefComplexHammerHead
15:08
What school(s) are u hoping for? @splitterus
stanford NYU and Columbia (umich too but I dont their will be movement)
super stressed ab it
woooo waitlist! congrats
manifestmoreadmissions
16:16
oh yay congrats!
trees1234567
17:48
dang hell woods getting off 2 WLs
manifestmoreadmissions
18:39
looks like he got a little $ at gulc though so i feel like it might be a tough decision
i’m betting he goes to northwestern he kinda hates gulc
20:41
Hang on - either the person asking about "NU vs Gtown when GULC is $45K cheaper?" yesterday was HellWoods (understandable tbh, people have all kinds of reactions to the handle atp) or this is memeing abt the other user
could you imagine if it’s was incognito hell
manifestmoreadmissions
20:52
after hell kinda got quiet and deleted his reddit i have seen a few accounts here that im pretty sure are Hell alts
manifestmoreadmissions
20:53
but they're usually civil and i can never be 100% sure so i just let it ride
mmm hell is amongus
cheering for you hell, glad it turned out well for you
[] ararara
21:18
Haven’t clicked their profile lately but they might not be done. Cycle isn’t over yet. I know users with the same stats who each got 1 T 14 school last cycle. This is huge.
[] ararara
21:19
@hellwoods if you see this, none our legal goals come complete with eternal life and dancing shoes. Think about your purpose if you don’t have one. Congrats.
[] ararara
21:19
None of our*
Judge Holden?
14:01
Has anyone else tried to email lsd.law and see the addresses were not valid?
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