The Last-Minute Applicant

Applying to law school with a first LSAT score in February is a bad idea.

Can I really say that categorically? Yes. Except in 2012, as I discuss below.

I'm not saying that you won't get in with a February LSAT score, but that you'll almost certainly get into a better school if you wait a year. Although I take a few clients every year applying this late, I always advise them of the benefits to be gained by waiting later, or perhaps applying now and re-applying next year.

What are the disadvantages of applying with a February Score?

  • Some schools will not allow you to apply with this late score, even if your application is submitted by the deadline..
  • Other schools will accept the late score, but will require you to submit the application before you get your score, so you may be wasting several hundred dollars.
  • Even schools with later deadlines may have awarded the bulk of their merit scholarships, so there may be no money left for you.
  • If a school offers housing, it may be full by the time you're admitted.

That's the cost in terms of your future. There are burdens on your present life as well.

  • The amount of time needed to prepare for the LSAT and write essays will leave you virtually no personal time.
  • If you have any problems (e.g., weaknesses in your writing), you won't have time to deal with them, and your essays will be less than they should be.
  • Time pressures may cause you to make mistakes on your application, which will reduce your chance of admission further.
  • You may be forced to make decisions about where to apply and where to enroll without time to study the law schools.

Can you do anything to alleviate this predicament? Yes, of course.

No one can take your LSAT or write your essays. Both of those are acts are fraudulent. You sign a statement that both are your own work. But can get help with other parts of your file.

  • No one can edit your essays for you to fix all your errors. But you can get someone to review your writing and tell you what you're doing wrong generally, so you can learn how to fix your mistakes.
  • You can get someone to complete the bulk of your applications for you; there's no need for you to type your phone number and email address yourself.
  • You can get someone to do all the research on law schools for you.
  • You can get someone to call law schools with February deadlines and negotiate an extension for you.
  • You can get someone to help with housing and learning the city.

Almost anyone can get someone to help them learn grammar or to complete applications. For help investigating law schools or contacting them, you need the help of a professional. We're able to recommend schools, suggest paths of inquiry, call the admissions office to find out which rules are flexible. If you're able to relocate, and thus to consider a broad range of schools, you may find this very helpful. And if you're able to relocate, your admissions consultant may have other students at that school who can help you learn the angles -- transportation, housing, laundromats and grocery stores.

With sufficient planning and support, law school can be a reality for you even with a February LSAT score, so plan on the support you'll need.

A Plan for Applying to Law School
With a February LSAT Score


Plan LSAT prep, begin drafting essays


Study for LSAT, investigate law schools


Prepare Resume, contact recommenders


Take practice tests, polish essays



investigate law schools



Choose law schools,
Complete Applications, write supplemental essays


Begin law school!


Select housing.



for wait list notices

Take Prep Course


Pay seat deposits, read enrichment materials


Read law school success books


As you can see, this schedule puts an enormous burden on you in November and December, when you're trying to study for the LSAT and prepare other parts of your file, and in March, when you get your score and have to throw together applications before deadlines strike.

Notice the inclusion of "wait list" on this plan. If you've applied broadly, you'll have the stress of wait list notices on any schedule, but if you apply in April, you'll have more wait list letters than acceptances.Here's some advice on how to deal with the waiting and the letters.

The third time this schedule pinches is in July and August. Instead of resting a bit before law school starts, you're finding housing at the last minute: either you were pulled from a wait list, or you waited to see whether you would be.

None of this makes applying with a February score foolproof; it only helps relieve the stress. But if you find yourself unhappy with the results of your application adventure, consider what you can do.

In 2012, apps are so low (as I show here) that I've designed a "when schools are in a panic" timeline. This may work for a year or two, or law schools may revise their application models in a radical way. The theory of disruptive innovation recommends that approach, but law schools are thus far unwilling to change. My crystal ball was so unresponsive I finally gave it away, but for 2012, 2013, and maybe 2014, this timeline could be effective:


Prepare for Feb. LSAT

contact recommenders


Check App Deadlines

Prepare resume


Begin essays

Complete applications


Pay seat deposits

Move. Learn your new city


Begin law school!



Polish essays,
supplemental essays,

Submit applications


Wait List Advice

read enrichment materials


Choose Law Schools

Read law school success books


Prepare for June LSAT


Take me back to the
"Overview" page

Take me back to
the Home Page