Deferment in Law School Admissions: What Does It Mean to Defer?

Are you considering deferring your law school admission but unsure about what it means? This article explores the concept of deferment in law school admissions, its benefits, and potential drawbacks.

Posted May 12, 2023

Free Event

Law School App Office Hours with a Former Stanford AdCom Member

Starting Thursday, June 13

12:00 AM UTC · 45 minutes

undefined's profile

Featuring Indrani S.

Table of Contents

Are you considering applying to law school but unsure if you're ready to start your program? If so, you may be interested in learning more about deferment in law school admissions. Deferment allows you to delay the start of your law school program for a set period of time, usually a year. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of deferment, why law schools offer it, and how to request a deferment for your law school admission.

The Benefits of Deferment in Law School Admissions

There are many reasons why you may want to defer your law school admission. Perhaps you need more time to save money for tuition or you'd like to travel before starting your studies. Deferment can also be useful if you need to take care of personal matters or medical issues. Whatever your reason for deferring, it can offer you several benefits.

Firstly, it can provide you with a better preparation for law school. If you are not confident in your academic skills or want to work on your writing skills, taking a gap year can be helpful. You can use the time to study for the LSAT or take a refresher course in the areas you felt weakest. Secondly, deferment can also allow you to pursue work or volunteer experiences that can be beneficial to your future career as a lawyer. This includes internships, fellowships or public outreach programs. Lastly, taking a gap year can offer you the chance to improve your mental and physical wellbeing by doing things that bring you joy before you start your studies.

Another benefit of deferring your law school admission is that it can give you time to explore other interests and passions. Law school can be intense and demanding, leaving little time for extracurricular activities. By taking a gap year, you can pursue hobbies or interests that you may not have time for once you start your studies. This can also help you develop new skills and broaden your perspective, which can be valuable in your future legal career.

Lastly, deferring your law school admission can give you the opportunity to gain more life experience. Many law schools value applicants who have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Taking a gap year can allow you to travel, work, or volunteer in different parts of the world, which can help you develop a global perspective and gain valuable life skills. This can also make you a more well-rounded and interesting candidate when you apply to law school.

Why Do Law Schools Offer Deferment?

Law schools offer deferment to attract a wider range of talented students who may not be ready to start law school immediately. By offering this flexibility, law schools can gain a competitive advantage in student recruitment. Law schools also understand that students deferring their admission can bring new perspectives, experiences, and ultimately benefit their academic community.

Another reason why law schools offer deferment is to accommodate students who may have unexpected life events or circumstances that prevent them from starting law school on time. For example, a student may need to care for a sick family member or may have a personal health issue that requires attention. By allowing students to defer their admission, law schools can show compassion and support for their students.

Additionally, law schools may offer deferment as a way to manage their enrollment numbers. If a law school has a large number of students who defer their admission, it can help balance out the number of students who start law school each year. This can be beneficial for the school's resources and faculty, as they can better plan for class sizes and course offerings.

How to Request a Deferment for Your Law School Admission

If you're interested in deferring your law school admission, it's important to do so as soon as possible. Once your admission has been confirmed, you can usually request a deferment by contacting the admissions office of your law school via email, phone or online application portal. Law schools may have different policies or reasons as to which requests can be granted. Some schools may require you to provide a reason for deferral, and others may require a written request outlining your plans during the gap year. It's important to read the requirements and deadlines carefully and make sure that you provide all the required documentation.

One reason why students may request a deferment is to pursue other educational opportunities. For example, some students may want to complete a master's degree or participate in a fellowship program before starting law school. Others may want to take a gap year to travel or work on a personal project. Whatever the reason, it's important to communicate your plans clearly and professionally to the admissions office.

It's also important to note that not all law schools allow deferments. Some schools may have strict policies that only allow deferments for certain reasons, such as military service or medical issues. Before applying to law school, it's a good idea to research the deferment policies of the schools you're interested in and factor that into your decision-making process.

The Different Types of Deferment Options Available for Law School Admissions

Law schools offer different types of deferment options which vary depending on the individual school. Some offer a one-year gap, allowing students to start in the following year, while others offer a multi-year deferment period that caters to students pursuing other majors or degrees. Part-time or extended study schedules are also available at some schools, which are suited for students who need to work or have personal obligations. Again, it's important to check with your individual school to see what options are available and what criteria must be met.

Another type of deferment option that some law schools offer is a deferral for public service. This allows students to defer their enrollment for a certain period of time to work in public service, such as with a non-profit organization or government agency. This option is often popular among students who want to gain practical experience in the legal field before starting law school.

Additionally, some law schools offer deferment options for military service. This allows students who are entering military service to defer their enrollment until they complete their service. This option is particularly helpful for students who want to serve their country before pursuing their legal education.

What to Expect During Your Deferral Period: A Complete Guide

Once your deferment request has been granted, it's important to plan and make the most of your time off. During your deferral period, you can explore different academic, personal and professional opportunities. You can work, volunteer or travel to gain new experiences and expand your skills or even take a course at your local college. On the other hand, some students may want to take time to rest, recharge and work on their personal development and well-being. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are using the time wisely.

How to Stay Productive During Your Law School Admission Deferral

While you have the freedom to spend your deferral period as you wish, it's important to stay productive. Consider things such as finding a part-time job, volunteering or pursuing a new hobby. You can also enroll in a summer school or online course to sharpen your academic skills. Utilize this time to develop crucial skills that will benefit you when you return to law school. Keeping yourself active will also improve your motivation and keep you refreshed and focused during your studies when you return to law school.

Can You Change Your Mind After Deferring Your Law School Admission?

Yes, you can change your mind after deferring your law school admission, but it depends on the law school's policy. Some schools may be flexible, allowing you to refund your fee and admission deposit if you choose not to enrol, while others might require you to reapply to the school, as they follow a more formal deferral policy. It's important to read and understand your school's policy before committing to a deferral.

The Risks and Drawbacks of Deferring a Law School Admission

While deferred admission can offer an alternative approach to starting law school with some great benefits, it also has risks and drawbacks. One significant risk of deferring your admission is the potential loss of academic momentum. Taking a gap year can cause you to forget some of the already acquired knowledge and find it difficult to transition back into academic life. Secondly, some law schools may not permit scholarships or financial assistance to be carried over, and so you may need to reapply for which an award is not guaranteed. Lastly, your personal circumstances may change during your deferral period and impact your plans and priorities. It's important to keep yourself updated on your law school's policy and financial obligations in case of any uncertainties.

Common Misconceptions About Deferring a Law School Admission

There are several misconceptions about deferred admission that students often raise. One of the common myths is that deferred admission is seen as an indication of a lack of commitment to studying law. In reality, law schools are happy to grant a gap year to students who want to grow their skills, interests, or gain a necessary experience that will benefit them in the long term. Another common myth is that deferred students have a tougher time adjusting to law school work. This is not the case as students, when they return to law school, often bring stronger determination, experience, and skills that benefit them in their academic work.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Law School Admission Deferrals

With the disruption of the ongoing pandemic, schools are being more accommodating and flexible with law school admissions. Many law schools are offering deferral programs to their students as a result of the travel restrictions and uncertainties that have arisen. With COVID-19, students can consider the opportunity to delay their studies and to improve their academic progress as they wait for clarifications on the future outlook of law school operations.

Stories from Students Who Deferred Their Law School Admissions

Many students who deferred their law school admissions have inspiring stories of how they utilized their gap year to pursue their interests, excel in their fields, and find new career paths. They grew their skills and experiences in areas such as research, policy, community engagement, and entrepreneurship, making them better prepared to tackle their legal careers. While some students used their deferral to travel the world, build relationships or find new hobbies, others found purpose and direction by joining programs that promote social justice and raise awareness on human rights.

In conclusion, taking a gap year or deferring law school admission offers many benefits and opportunities if you have a clear plan. It is also important to weigh the risks and drawbacks and to understand your school's policies thoroughly before deciding to take the deferral route. By using your time off productively, you will come back to law school more refreshed and prepared to tackle your academic work. Remember, deferred admission is not a detriment to your career prospects but an opportunity to take control of your personal and academic development.

Browse hundreds of expert coaches

Leland coaches have helped thousands of people achieve their goals. A dedicated mentor can make all the difference.

Browse Related Articles