What To Do About Law School Wait Lists

Waiting...waiting...The old saying goes, “Good things come to those that wait.”

I think that’s true part of the time. The other part of the time, it’s better to take action.

So, what do you do if you get on a law school’s wait list?

Wait? Take action?

I recommend that you do both.

First, figure out if the law school is one that you still want to go to.
I say this because it’s amazing how many applicants change their mind about a school after they hear an admissions decision. Whether the decision given is a yes, no, or wait list, I am often surprised by my clients’ change of opinion. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, hearing a decision makes some people change their mind–whether towards the affirmative or the negative. Don’t skip this step. Take time to thoughtfully research the school and decide if it is still a good match for you.

Second, follow the directions given in the wait list notice.
For example, some schools indicate that you should email or call them by a specific date in order to remain on the wait list. If your answer is yes, email or call the school’s admissions office before the deadline. If you know you do not want to attend this school, contact them to get off the wait list. Whether your answer is yes or no, see if there’s anything you need to do to follow-up.

Third, take further action if needed.
Follow the school’s instructions. If your letter or email doesn’t say much, visit the school’s web site and search for wait lists. Sometimes they will list more information there. Do they want a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI)? Do they want you to visit and meet with an admissions officer? Are they open to receiving additional letters of recommendation? Do they want your latest transcript? Follow the instructions and if you can take action, do it. On the other hand, if the school indicates they do not want further information, then honor their instructions.

Visit! Visit! Visit!
If the school is a yes or strong maybe in your mind, I highly recommend visiting the school, sitting in on a class, and talking with as many students and faculty as you can. There’s nothing like being there. Visiting will not only help you decide if the school and city are right for you, it can also help you write a better LOCI with specific details on how the school and/or city are the right fit for you. Again, only send a LOCI if the school is okay with that.

For more insights, read To Wait or Not to Wait: what it means to be on the wait list (and how to get off) by Chloe Reid, Associate Dean and Dean of Admissions at USC Gould School of Law. You can find Reid’s helpful article on pages 19-20 of the free Getting Into Law School Guide by AdmissionsDean.

Lastly, after doing all that you can, all you can do is…wait.

That’s right. I know it’s hard. Take advantage of this waiting time to focus on your studies (if you’re still in school), your life (for once, you’re not studying for the LSAT!), and/or the people you care about (they will appreciate it).

No matter what the outcome, know that you did all that you could do.

Have questions about wait lists? I’d love to hear from you! I’m here to help. Post your questions below and I’ll respond.

Shaggy dog photo by Karin Beate Nøsterud.

2 thoughts on “What To Do About Law School Wait Lists

  1. Thanks for the write up! I’ve noticed (at least personally) this cycle that there seems to be a lot of yield protection with waitlists. I just got off of one yesterday with a half tuition scholarship, yet did not do anything active with the school. I stayed on because I liked the school, but probably wasn’t going to attend in light of other offers, but the money will play well into my final negotiations! Something else to consider if you’re numbers indicated you should probably get in.

  2. Congrats, Travis, on getting off the wait list with a half tuition scholarship! That’s great news! This admissions cycle has been really interesting to say the least. It is really an applicant’s market in many ways.

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