The limbo land of waitlists can be challenging -- you did the preparation, you sent in your application, and now you have to just … wait. There is no way to make the time to a final decision go faster, but there are things you can do while you are in limbo.
What are waitlists?
Each year, law schools determine the number of seats available in the incoming class. If you have been waitlisted, it generally means that the law school has accepted the number of students it can accommodate in its first year class but believes that you are qualified to study there. It is, in effect, an “alternate” list -- if another student decides not to enroll, you may be offered that spot. Waitlisted applicants have been offered spots in the incoming class months as early as months before the first quarter/semester starts, but also as late as the very first day of class!
Law school waitlists are unpredictable and there is no universal practice to how they are used or when students may be notified that they are being offered a spot from the waitlist. In very competitive years, such as the 2020-2021 academic year, many schools did not offer any waitlisted students spots in the incoming class.
What can you do if you are waitlisted?
Follow Instructions: Many schools require waitlisted students to submit a form or statement indicating to the school that the student wishes to remain on the waitlist. Some schools will provide important information or instructions about whether they will accept other additional information, such as a letter of continued interest, additional statement, or another letter of recommendation. If the school will accept additional materials, you should strongly consider submitting them. If you are unclear on what the school will accept, make sure to clarify with the admissions office.
Submit a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI): A letter of continued interest is a way to let law school programs know that you are still interested in attending their program despite being deferred or waitlisted. An LOCI is not an additional personal statement or an informal email, but rather generally a one-page business-style letter in which you update the school on relevant information (new academic awards, fall semester grades, etc.) and explain in greater detail why you want to attend this particular law school. If the school where you are waitlisted is your top choice and you are certain that you would accept an offer of admission there, you should say that in your LOCI (but only if it is true!). If you update the school about grades, send a copy of your transcript as well.
Submit an Optional Essay if Allowed: Some schools will allow waitlisted students to submit an additional essay. This is a good opportunity to provide the school with more information about you, your desire to attend their school, and your writing ability. Take it as seriously as all other written components of you application and make sure you submit a strong piece of writing.
Submit an Additional Letter of Recommendation: Many schools allow waitlisted students to submit an additional letter of recommendation. This is a good opportunity to add a strong academic letter from a faculty member you took a class with after submitting your application.