Law School Waitlist

When To Expect Law School Waitlist Movement

Law school waitlists can be the bane of an applicant’s existence. Trying to predict when or if there will be movement can feel like an impossible task, yet one you’re constantly working to figure out. In this post, we shed light on when to expect to see law school waitlist movement and what you can do to be prepared for it!

When To Expect Law School Waitlist Movement

Waitlist Policies at Schools

When discussing law school waitlists, it’s important to acknowledge that schools’ approaches tend to vary (sometimes drastically) from year to year and school to school. We’re already seeing that this year (2021), with some schools drastically changing their policies regarding seat deposits from what they’ve traditionally done in the past. Some schools are changing in extremely unprecedented and unpredictable ways to secure their incoming class. So, while this post is intended to give you general knowledge and insight into what may be happening nationwide, you should always stay in touch with your specific law schools to best determine when you might see law school waitlist movement!

Will there be waitlist movement this year?

Yes! Every year there is waitlist movement, and I don’t expect that to change this year. Despite the increase in applications this year and schools being slow to return decisions to applicants, we still expect many schools to dip into their waitlist. However, schools are maintaining a larger than normal waitlist this year. For that reason, chances of you seeing movement may be smaller than usual.

When to Expect Waitlist Movement

Applicants should expect to see law school waitlist movement after seat deposit deadlines have passed for currently admitted students. For most schools, this happens around mid-April or early May (anytime now!). From a law school perspective, offices will see who has committed to reserving a seat in the incoming class and thus are likely attending in the fall, and who has given up their spot in the incoming class to attend a different program.

You can also expect to see additional law school waitlist movement again in mid to late May after commitment overlap reports are released to schools. Commitment overlap reports are reports that LSAC sends to participating law schools showing how many admitted students deposited at their school and any other schools. Not all schools will receive this report because they must agree to share information with others to receive the overlap information.

That being said, if a school does not receive a lot of initial seat deposits from currently admitted students, they will start to admit other candidates off their waitlist. Likewise, if a school sees on the LSAC commitment overlap report that a lot of their admitted students also paid seat deposits elsewhere, they may again admit more people off the waitlist.

What Can Applicants Do?

Now that you may have a better understanding of what the law school waitlist landscape looks like, there are a few things you can do to help your cause. For even more tips on what to do once you’re waitlisted, check out this post.

  • Write a Letter of Continued Interest

If you haven’t already been in touch with law schools, start corresponding with them now! You should submit a letter of continued interest to schools letting them know that even though you are waitlisted, you remain interested in attending their program! This helps them to know that if they extend you an offer, you’re likely to take it! (Being a “safe bet” for schools can be a good thing. They don’t want to give one of the few remaining seats in their class to an applicant that will drag their feet and ultimately go elsewhere.)

  • Read all your emails!

I’ll repeat this for the people in the back: read all your emails! The best way to know how a law school is handling their waitlist is to see what they have to say about it! If you have more than one email address, verify the email you included in your application for schools to contact you. If that email address isn’t already connected to your phone, link it now so you won’t miss any important correspondence.

It’s important to know that schools may put “feelers” out to see which waitlisted students are still interested in their program before making decisions to admit them off the waitlist. If you are asked whether you’re still interested, respond within a day or two that you are (assuming that’s the truth)! If you wait a week to reply, they may have already moved on to other candidates.

  • Stay flexible

Given the unpredictability of law school waitlist movement, try to stay as flexible as possible! In an attempt to do this, consider putting down seat deposits at more than one school (if you haven’t done so already). Law schools don’t love this, for obvious reasons (they want you to only deposit at their school), but you should keep your options reasonably open. There’s no need to put deposits down at every school you were admitted to but don’t only deposit at a single school unless you are already 100% committed to attending there.

  • Research Housing for a Late Summer Scramble

It’s very likely that waitlisted students may get notified of admission between the late spring and late summer. This might even happen as late as the first day of orientation! This will leave last-minute admits scrambling for housing in the location of their new school.

For waitlisted applicants who want to be prepared for any option, research housing in the cities where you are waitlisted. Of course, you’ll have to look into housing at the school(s) you plan on attending and currently have offers to. However, it’s good to also acquaint yourself with the locations of schools you’re waitlisted at as well. Get an idea of the cost of living and what neighborhoods may be affordable, safe, close to public transportation (if needed), and within shooting distance of the law school. This way, should the decision of admission come late in summer, you’ll know exactly where you will want to live and can start the apartment housing search immediately.

If you were given a very late offer of admission and find yourself in a bind, consider staying in a furnished Airbnb upon arrival. You could also reach out to Facebook groups or other social media groups for admitted students to see if anyone needs a last-minute roommate. Often, there’s a need for one or two more people to fill extra rooms!

Your Control In the Process

In general, remember that you have some control in this process as well. Law school waitlist movement is up to the schools, but it’s up to the applicants to decide to stay on the waitlist. If you get to a point in summer, or earlier, where you don’t feel you can wait any longer, then ask that you be withdrawn from consideration at any law schools you were waitlisted at. This will allow you to get out of limbo, settle into a decision, and start making concrete plans to move forward and prepare for class at your new school!

Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out!

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