1. The Earlier You Apply the Better
“I want to submit my applications September 1, so I am not going to take the October LSAT (even though I could get a better score).”
Yes, rolling admissions is a “thing” in the law school world. There is some advantage to applying earlier. However, it’s always better to wait and get an LSAT score that more accurately shows your aptitude than to be the first application in the door. There is no advantage to applying in September versus October or even November. The advantage comes in applying in December/early January as opposed to end of January/early February. However, the importance of rolling admissions as a whole has been diminished as the number of law school applicants overall has dropped significantly in the last few years.
2. Taking the LSAT a Third Time is Bad
“I don’t want to retake the LSAT because it would look bad for me to take it a third time.”
If you haven’t been able to study appropriately for the LSAT and/or if your LSAT score (or scores) on record don’t reflect your potential, then retake the LSAT. There is a reason you are allowed to take it three times in a two-year period. While schools see all of your scores, it’s really the highest score that matters. This is the score that law schools report to the ABA and for rankings purposes. Although a few schools use the average LSAT in their internal index calculations, they have every incentive to place greater weight on your highest score, so there isn’t a lot of risk involved in taking the LSAT again if you feel you can increase your score.
3. I Can Always Transfer After 1L Year
“I got into Appalachian/Thomas Cooley/Florida Coastal and plan to transfer after my 1L year to Georgetown.”
Remember that you need to be in the top part of your class to be competitive as a transfer, and that everyone else in your class will be trying to place in the top as well. It’s not so easy to be among the top 10% or top 5%. And even if you get there, remember that everyone from Top 100 schools are trying to get to a Top 25, and people in the Top 25 are trying to get to the T-14, and that T-14 people are trying to transfer to Top 5 law schools. Yes, people do transfer up and do so successfully. Here is an example from one of my clients: he was in the top 5% of his class at USF Law, had an undergrad GPA of 3.9 from a good school, but a low LSAT score for USF. He rocked things as a 1L and is transferring to Georgetown Law. I could’ve told you he would do great in law school based on his undergrad GPA. If you don’t have that going for you, it’s not as solid of a bet that you will be in the top of your law school class. However, I have had other clients who enter law school with low GPAs and very (very!) high LSAT scores, be in the top 5% at their Top 80 law schools, and then transfer to Top 10 schools. But be honest with yourself about the opportunities that may be available (or unavailable) to you and don’t start at any law school that you wouldn’t want to graduate from.
Ann K. Levine is a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com. She is the author of The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert (affiliate link) and The Law School Decision Game: A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers (affiliate link).