The majority of law students in the class of 2013 have received their acceptance, rejection and waitlist letters--or expect to very shortly. But with extended deadlines into the summer, a few may still be applying.
This week, some prospective law students received emails from law schools inviting them to apply for the class of 2013 this summer. The University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota, for example, extended their application deadline all the way out to July 1st. The school would even accept June LSAT score--meaning that, if you are planning on applying this fall/winter, you could take the June LSAT, apply in July and, if accepted, become a 1L a mere three months later, thereby joining the class of 2013 rather than the class of 2014. This would cut the admissions process from an 18-month ordeal (assuming you start studying for the June LSAT in April) to only six months--not a bad option. Moreover, if you already applied to other schools, you've got your application materials on hand and are still in the zone.
But before you request another transcript from your college, beware. These schools are adding late deadlines because they didn't get the number or caliber of applicants and matriculants they budgeted for. Prospective law students decided that the law school wasn't for them, and while I'm sure there are unique reasons for each school, there are some industry-wide trends that played a large role.
Many of the summer deadline law schools are in the lower tier, which comes with a number of caveats. Because of the recession, law firm recruiting is experiencing a "flight to quality:" with limited open positions across the country, hiring partners can afford to be picky about where they recruit, which often means they only recruit at the most elite schools. Simply put, the job prospects of a top-tier law school graduate are better. There aren't enough jobs for the students graduating from second, third, and fourth tier schools, and top tier pedigree will give you a better chance at snagging that dream job a few years down the road. So it doesn't seem to your benefit to attend a lower-ranked school just to go--reapplying in one or two years is probably a better option.
Keeping the potential for lower career prospects in mind, it's time to consider your ROI (return on investment) for law school. Law school can cost upwards of $150,000, and these days JDs are graduating with mountains of debt. But if you're not likely to get a six-figure salary when you graduate, it isn't necessarily worth it to take on tons of debt--you may not be able to pay it off. Law school is an investment in your future--an investment of money and hard work that should lead to a desirable career path. But if the end goal isn't clear, the investment may make less sense. Whether you're applying in July or in October, it's important to evaluate your finances and figure out if you can afford three years of law school if the job as a newly-minted JD has a $40,000 salary.
A lot of brilliant applicants with stellar numbers, leadership skills and drive found themselves disappointed when April didn't bring good news and they may be applying this summer. Plus, law schools with summer deadlines have already selected some of their 1L class in earlier rounds, so the number of spots is smaller. This adds up to more high-quality competition for fewer spots, so you won't be a shoo-in. It may make more sense to take your time and apply first round in the fall despite the longer wait time.
--Posted by Madison Priest and Carolyn C. Wise
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