JD Application Deadlines of the T20 Law Schools

In this article, you'll find an overview of the early and regular decision deadlines of the top 20 law schools as well as detailed information on the JD program admissions cycle and how to time your applications.

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Applying to any graduate program can be confusing with so many different moving pieces and deadlines. Here is our guide to the 2023 JD application cycle for the top programs, to help you keep track of your law school timeline.

Overview of the Law School Admissions Cycle

The vast majority of law school application cycles are based on a rolling system of acceptances. Applications can be submitted anytime during a period of several months and are reviewed as they come in. The admissions cycle generally starts in the fall of the year before you plan to attend law school and lasts until the spring, when decisions are made and acceptances are extended.

Most programs offer an official early decision deadline through which students can receive their acceptance/rejection letters earlier than other applicants. These are usually binding, meaning if the student is admitted through early decision, they are committed to attending. Others have a more informal early action deadline. For example, Columbia Law School states that if the application is submitted before December 31, the decision will be released before March; if the application is submitted by the regular deadline on February 15, the decision will not be released until the end of April. As you decide on your top choice programs, make sure that you understand their deadlines and have an idea of when you’ll apply.

As a general rule of thumb, try to apply as early as possible in order to optimize your chances of admission. Applications are typically reviewed in the order that they are received and applying early means there are more seats available.

There are several steps that should be taken before even starting the application process. Many students start studying for the LSAT before even looking at the application. It’s a good idea to take the LSAT (or GRE) at least a couple of months before you want to submit your application. This gives you a buffer to retake it should you not get your target score and enough time to think through essay prompts, reach out to potential recommenders, and polish your resume.

After the LSAT, the first step of the admissions process is to research different law programs and their requirements. This includes looking at things like the school's curriculum, location, admissions criteria, and cost, among other factors. It's important to choose a school that aligns with your professional and personal aspirations.

To learn more, read: How Many Law Schools Should You Apply To?

Once you have a list of schools that you're interested in, you'll need to prepare your application materials. Generally, this includes transcripts, resumes, fit/character information, and personal statements/essays. Which application parts you decide to tackle first will depend on your candidacy but many applicants choose something similar to the following timeline.

3-6 Months Before Deadlines:

  • Take the LSAT
  • Research programs and decide where you want to apply
  • Outline your application strategy

3 Months Before Deadlines:

  • Reach out to potential recommenders
  • Start brainstorming your application themes and essay responses
  • Research scholarships and financial aid deadlines

1-3 Months Before Deadlines:

  • Draft and edit your personal statements
  • Support recommenders

1 Month Before Deadlines:

  • Follow up with recommenders
  • Get feedback on essays, continue to review and edit
  • Edit and polish your resume
  • Fill out additional information and optional materials

1 Week After Deadlines:

  • Celebrate!
  • Begin preparing for interviews

Once the schools receive your application, they'll review it and decide whether to invite you for an interview. For some schools, interviews are required for admission while others are optional. Regardless, it's a good idea to take advantage of any opportunity to speak with someone from the admissions committee.

Finally, after the interview process is complete, the schools will make their decisions and send out acceptances and rejections. If you're admitted to multiple schools, you'll need to choose which one you want to attend, declare your intent to enroll, and submit a deposit.

2023-2024 T20 JD Application Deadlines

Here are all of the deadlines for the top 20 law schools. Three of the programs–namely Yale, Stanford, and Harvard–do not offer an early decision option. Everyone must apply before the same deadlines.

Regular Decision-Only Programs

Programs That Offer Early-Decision

These programs, on the other hand, do offer an early decision deadline. As mentioned, this means that the application must be submitted earlier but that decisions will also be released earlier. Almost every school's early decision program is binding; in other words, if the student is admitted, they must withdraw their other applications and attend that program. Early decision deadlines are the most useful if there is a specific program that you want to attend above all others.

Law School Resume Template & Example

Use this template and Harvard Law School resume example to make sure you have the strongest possible application

Get Into Law School With the Help of an Expert

As you put together your law school applications, the best thing you can do to make them as compelling as possible is to work one-on-one with an expert coach. Below are three of our top law school coaches. They are graduates of some of the best programs in the country and will be able to help you navigate the difficult process.

As you put together your applications, here are a few more resources you may find helpful:

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