Legal Pathways works with both current students and UW Tacoma alumni in the process of applying to law school. The majority of law students work or volunteer for 1-2 years after graduation and prior to starting law -- taking a gap year (or years) is an incredibly common practice. Therefore, below you will find both a general timeline for law school exploration during a student’s undergraduate years as well as an application timeline based on how many months a student (or alumni) is from when they hope to begin law school, as one’s year in school may not be the best indicator of one’s intended law school matriculation date.
Please note, these timelines are meant to guide and inform prospective law students, but every student has their own personal circumstances. Please make sure to set up an advising appointment with Legal Pathways to talk through your own unique timeline and needs.
Research the legal profession by attending Legal Pathways events, doing informational interviews with attorneys, and being a part of the Legal Pathways Mentorship Program;
Research law schools: In addition to speaking with your prelaw advisor, there are many online guides and sites that will help you determine which law schools might be right for you. LSAC offers a free searchable guide for ABA-approved law schools that is updated annually by the law schools themselves.
Attend an LSAC Law School Forum or a Law School Fair: LSAC Forums are held every year in cities throughout the country. These events allow you to meet admission professionals, prelaw advisors, and other experts from law schools and institutions, and attend workshops about the LSAT, the admission process, financing law school, and diversity in law school.
Please refer to the Application Timeline for specific law school application related deadlines and suggestions
Please refer to the Application Timeline for specific law school application related deadlines and suggestionsFor student intending to go straight from undergraduate studies to law school, aim to submit applications by Thanksgiving;
Continue to keep your grades strong through graduation;
Law school always starts in the late summer or early fall and applications become available the year prior. Law schools generally have “rolling admissions”, which means that while there may be a deadline to submit applications, application decisions start being made as soon as the application process opens. Applying early in the application process is wise -- the earlier you apply, the smaller the number of other applicants and the more available seats for each school. Because of rolling admissions, it is important to time your LSAT exam date(s) and application carefully.
18 - 24 Months Before Law School (~March, April, May)
Plan your application budget, considering the cost to prepare for the LSAT, register for the LSAT, the costs of Credential Assembly Services (CAS), and the cost of sending Law School Reports. If needed, apply for an LSAC Fee Waiver. Always appeal if you are denied, as the first time your fee waiver application is subject to an automated process, but appeals are reviewed by an actual person. You can find helpful budgeting tools from AccessLex to help your application budget.
Apply for the Legal Pathways Fellows program;
Meet with Legal Pathways to discuss your LSAT study plan and timeline (how will you be studying for the exam? Which exam administration will you take? What will you re-take option be?) as well as to talk through any additional support needed (do you need to request accommodations for the exam? Do you need assistance finding a quiet place to study? Do you need any help finding a study program that works for you?)
Decide on a test date (ideally the summer a year before you hope to start law school, so if you hope to start law school in the fall of 2023, you would want to take the LSAT in the summer of 2022) and make sure to note the registration deadline. Please know that LSAT registration deadlines are firm -- if you miss it, you will not be able to register for that exam, period.
Review the Legal Pathways “Apply” section, including LSAT preparation guidance, advice on requesting letters of recommendation, and law school application components
12 - 18 Months Before Law School (~June, July, August)
Select your letter of recommendation writers. We highly recommend meeting with your recommenders (in person or virtually) to talk with them about your professional goals and application process;
Draft your personal statement, resume, optional essays (including diversity statement), and any optional or mandatory addenda. We highly recommend working with Legal Pathways, a Faculty member, or the Writing Center to review and edit documents prior to submission!
Request your transcripts to be sent to CAS. Remember you will need to request transcripts from all undergraduate institutions, including community colleges!
Plan to submit your applications by the end of November if possible (though earlier is better especially in more competitive years); if applying Early Decision, the deadlines are generally around mid/late November
If you are not satisfied with your fall LSAT score, meet with Legal Pathways to discuss next steps and options
6 - 9 Months Before Law School (~December, January, February)
Track your submitted applications through Status Check websites for each school
Take/retake the LSAT if necessary; plan to submit your completed applications as soon as the score is ready.
Research FAFSA deadlines and other financial aid documentation requirements for each school to which you applied
Take steps to advocate for your admission at any school at which you are waitlisted by submitting a Letter of Continuing Interest, scheduling a formal visit, submitting an additional letter of recommendation and/or maintaining phone/e-mail contact with the admissions office every month or so
If you are still a student and applied in December or earlier, submit an updated transcript reflecting your fall semester’s grades (assuming your grades were strong)
3-6 Months Before Law School (~March, April, May)
Continue to track your submitted applications through Status Check websites for each school
Try to attend the Admitted Students Day/Weekend at any school that has admitted you and that you are considering attending
Plan to submit a seat deposit at a law school by the seat deposit deadline. Note that seat deposit deadlines are HARD DEADLINES. If you do not submit a seat deposit, you will lose your seat!
Be sure to meet any financial aid deadlines
0 - 3 Months Before Law School (~June, July, August)
If you have accepted an offer, relax and enjoy your summer!
If you are still waiting or are on a waitlist, continue to submit letters of continued interest;
If you were not accepted this cycle, reach out to Legal Pathways to talk about how to strengthen your application for the next cycle (and remember, every year there are great students who don’t receive offers of admissions but ultimately go on to become law students and eventually lawyers!)