The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has just been released, and you are ready to apply for law school. The number one question that immediately comes to mind is: How many law schools should I apply to? There is a simple answer; it depends.
Deciding on how many law schools to apply to is one of the significant decisions you need to make during your law school application process. Most application requirements are almost similar for all law schools, so you can apply to as many schools as you wish.
When Do I Apply for Law School?
Do not give much weight to the application deadline because the closer you get to the application deadline, the slimmer your chance of getting accepted. Law school admission officers start making decisions long before the deadline. So, it is essential to submit your application as early as you can.
Applying early also has a lot of other benefits. If you apply early and get accepted early, you do not have to stress until the last minute to find out where you will go for your law studies. If you do not get accepted, you still have time to try your luck with other schools.
If ever you get waitlisted, you will prefer to get waitlisted earlier and be on top of the list for a good chance of getting accepted.
Factors that affect your Law School Application
Many law students and lawyers will tell you that it is not a walk in the park to apply to these schools.
Many factors may affect your applications.
• High GPA, High LSAT
Although it is still highly recommended that you apply to a few law schools, a high GPA combined with a high LSAT score will require fewer applications. If you belong to this group, you can send 50% of applications to safety schools and 50% to reach the schools of your choice.
• Low GPA, Low LSAT
If you have an uncompetitive GPA (you barely passed your Bachelor’s Degree) and LSAT (you have a below-media score, 151 and below), consider re-taking your LSAT or better yet, rethink your career path). With these grades, you will have a difficult time getting accepted to any law school.
If you want to go to law school, you can perhaps get accepted to a fourth-tier school with a percentage of bar passers. You may be able to beat all odds, but you will have a considerable amount of student debt and poor job prospects when you graduate.
• Non-traditional Applicants
If you belong in this group of law school applications, you are in an unpredictable and odd camp. You may have a low GPA but a high LSAT score. You may have graduated summa cum laude in college, but despite your multiple attempts and efforts, you could not get an excellent high LSAT score.
With one good number and one bad number, your prospects for admission to law schools may be unpredictable. In this case, you will need to apply to many law schools. You will never know which of the schools will prioritize your GPA or which schools will give more weight to your LSAT score.
• Applicant’s Preference
While every law school applicant falls under different circumstances, most of the students usually have preferences. Here are some of it:
• Law School preference and location on where to live while in law school.
• Preference on where to practice law after graduating from law school.
Falling under any of these categories can limit the number of law schools where you can apply. If you are this type of applicant, it is best to apply to all law schools within the target region you are considering living while in law school or considering working after law school.
How many Law Schools can you apply to?
Law school application costs can take a toll on your finances. First, you will need to pay for your LSAT and the bounty for each law school you apply for. You will also need to pass your credentials, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
The Law School Numbers says that the average student should apply to 6 law schools. However, based on the experience of many, some factors could affect the number of schools you need to apply to.
The application process can be time-consuming and expensive. You will need to pay a fee for each application, and you may need to write tailored statements and essay supplements for each law school application.
As mentioned, an average student should apply to six law schools. The actual number of law schools depends on where you live, where you want to work after law school, and, more importantly, your GPA and LSAT.
Your choice of law schools, for purposes of your application, is categorized as:
• Reach schools
A reach law school is one with students’ average GPA and LSAT higher than yours.
• Safety schools
A safety law school is one whose students’ average GPA and LSAT is lower than yours.
• Match schools
A match law school is one whose students’ average GPA and LSAT are the same as yours.
• Apply to at least 4 law schools
If you have a competitive GPA and LSAT score, apply to at least 4 law schools. Of the 4 law schools, one should be a safety school (where you may be above 25% on LSAT of the school). You can also consider applying to one of the top 5 law schools in the US if attending any of these schools is an option that you want to consider.
• Apply to 6 to 8 law schools
Apply to at least 6 to 8 law schools within your preferred region if you have an average GPA and LSAT school. At least three of these law schools should be Tier 4 law schools. They will be your safe schools. At least two of these law schools should be competitive schools and only 2 of them should reach schools.
• Apply to 7 schools
Why seven schools? When you apply to seven law schools, break it down into two reach schools, three safety schools, and two match schools. Most law school admission experts say this combination is pretty safe. However, if you want to move on the safe side, apply to three law schools in each law school category.
• Apply to 12 or more law schools
If you have a low GPA and a low LSAT, apply to 12 or more law schools. Make sure that you stay within the region where you wish to work after graduation. Make sure, too, that you apply in more than two reach schools and at least 6 Tier 4 law schools. Use this application method if you have done all you can to maximize your GPA and LSAT score.
Albeit this guide, the number of law schools you apply to depends on your preference and circumstances. If you want to have more chances of getting accepted into the best law school possible and there are no hindrances to consider in your decision, apply to as many law schools as possible.
Here are some tips to help you draft your list of law schools to apply to:
1. Ask yourself if you really want to go to law school if you get accepted.
Ask yourself these questions. You should at least have one “yes” answer. If you do not, scratch off that law school from your list.
• Is the school near the part of the country where you live?
• Do you want to live in that part of the country where the law school is located?
• Do you like to work in that part of the country where the law school is located?
2. Do in-depth research on the law school before applying.
Before including a law school in your list of possible laws schools to apply to, gather information about the law school:
• The reputation of the law school.
• Potential costs of studying in law school.
• Check out online alumni magazines, news releases, and social media posts.
• Read the mission statement of the law school.
• Check the law school’s website
• Check admission materials
• Check reviews about the school.
3. Write a mock essay, “Why I like to attend X Law School.”
If you are having a difficult time coming up with reasons why you like a particular law school other than its reputation and location, then that law school may not be where you actually want to study law. On the other hand, if you discover many reasons why you like this law school, your excitement will be noticeable in your essay.
4. Always make sure to apply to at least one safety school.
Not applying to at least one safety school is a common mistake of law school applicants. A safety school is where you are confident you will be admitted based on your GPA and LSAT scores. It is also the law school you would want to attend should you get accepted.
Most tips on how many law schools to apply to will say that you need to apply to many safety schools. The truth is, you only need to apply to a few safety schools, and they should be the ones you are willing to attend.
5. Try to visit the law schools.
You will not necessarily be able to visit all the law schools you are interested in applying to before submitting your application. Try to visit some of them if you can. Some law school applicants actually transferred a school from the top to the bottom of the list after visiting the law school.
The law school may have a good reputation. Still, after walking around the campus and talking to some students and the faculty, you may develop a different impression of the school and decide it is far from what you expected.
6. Be prepared for the extended application cycle.
Many aspiring law students think it is simple to apply and get accepted to a law school. The truth is, the application cycle can be longer than they think. Some students apply in June and are accepted in July. Others apply in December and do not get accepted until July.
There is no default answer as to the number of law schools you should apply to until you finally enroll in the law school that is a perfect match.
What matters most is that your list of law schools is a good match and that you have a good chance of getting accepted in one or a few of them.
As stated above, you need to consider a lot of factors before coming up with the number of law schools you should apply to. If you cannot decide, the norm is to apply to about 7-15 law schools.
Proper planning is essential when applying to law schools and, more importantly, apply early.