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What to Do If You're Waitlisted for Law School

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Just got a waitlist response to your law school application?

The good news is, the school is definitely interested in you. The bad news is, you're going to have to wait a few months to know more.

In the meantime, don't worry because law schools generally don't rank their waitlists. Nobody on the list has an advantage at this point. It's like lottery balls, they are constantly moving and no one knows which one will come up. Similarly, applicants may take themselves off the waitlist to go to other schools.

But to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist and being admitted, there are some things you can do. First, send the school a letter or pay a visit to show you are still interested. Second, update your resume or submit another letter of recommendation.

Here are a few tips about how to do it:

Recommendation Letter

Don't submit a letter with the same information. Do submit one with new information.

Like judges who read lawyers' motions before hearings, admissions review committees read applicants' files before responding. They are not interested in a repeat performance, so show them something new.

If you previously submitted letters attesting to your academic skills, get one that shows you have work skills. Volunteer work counts, and it may also distinguish you from others. It's not just about law school; it's about your future as a lawyer.

Talk to Those Who Recommend You

Ask and you may receive. Not only should you ask for a recommendation, you should follow up with a friendly reminder.

It is important that your recommenders know about deadlines, too. Most waitlist activity occurs in April and June, when law schools must secure deposits. Make sure your recommend letters arrive well before then -- at least a month early because it takes time for the committees to review them.

Also, you should coach your recommenders to focus on new information about your qualifications for law school and law practice. A quick email with bullet points will do.

Follow Instructions

Like many things in life, it is easier when you follow the instructions. Law schools have different preferences about recommendation letters, so make sure you follow their instructions.

Some schools will not accept additional letters or information, especially if you have already maxed out. If you are not sure, call the school's admission office and find out what additional information is acceptable.

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