Re-applying to Law School

Posted by Ann Levine | August 1, 2010

While you shouldn’t give up your waitlist dreams quite yet, in the next week it will become apparent whether those dreams will come to fruition. This is often a time when people consider whether to attend law school this year at the school  they’ve sent their deposit to, or whether they want to wait and try again (applying earlier in the admission cycle this time).

After spending time as a law school applicant, you may have gotten wiser about how to apply. You might’ve found this blog (or other informative resources) only after submitting your applications for this year, and this may have caused you to realize that you could’ve played your cards better during the Fall 2010 cycle. This is a completely normal reaction, and if you applied in January or February (of a very popular application cycle) it might be a good idea to regroup, re-strategize, and reapply.

I am often asked whether it’s a bad idea to reapply to schools (1) you were rejected from; and also (2) where you were accepted. The answer is, it’s never a bad idea to reapply. The key is to make sure you improve your materials without completing changing how you present yourself because the schools will have the previous year’s application. You want to update whatever is possible to update, re-evaluate the quality of your personal statement, resume, letters of rec, addenda, and optional essays, and apply early. Showing interest in the same school shows likelihood of attending if admitted, and that’s a good thing. You should address reasons for reapplying in your personal statement or in an addendum, and if you were admitted and decided not to attend you should tell the school why you decided not to attend law school the previous year and why your interest remains strong.

Many people who plan to reapply to law school plan to retake the LSAT and/or show improved grades during their senior year. In this case, your schools list will probably change (hopefully for the better) so there’s not a lot of downside to reapplying so long as you plan to do it in a timely manner.

See also:

Top 5 Mistakes Made When Re-Applying to Law School

Take 2: Reapplying to Law School

Re-applying to Law School and the LSAT

Oh – and my US News “Get In: Law School” Blog column starts tomorrow and will post every Monday, so keep an eye out there for tons of tips and advice throughout the Fall 2011 admission cycle.Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Categories: Law School Application Tips, Picking Law Schools

39 Comments »


39 Responses to “Re-applying to Law School”

  1. Sid says:

    Dear Ms. Levine,
    I want to know whether my SOP can have references to my earlier SOP and essay submitted the previous year.
    If you could advise me on whether the admissions committee links up the 2 applications and reads them as a whole, it would help in structuring my new SOP accordingly. I dont want to sound repetitive and if the earlier materials are read together with the new materials I submit this year, it would help tremendously and I can use the word limit for additional things.
    I am mainly looking to reapply to Harvard and NYU.
    Thanks.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Sid, you can have references. If a school is viewing applications electronically, they probably won’t have last year’s app in front of them. If they are of the habit of pulling last year’s files then they will have it and there is no way of knowing.

  2. Elise says:

    Ms. Levine,

    Thank you for the excellent post! I am thinking of re-applying to a school that accepted me (Berkeley) but I withdrew from due to financial reasons (I am currently enrolled in my second choice school that gave more money but is not nearly as exciting to me). If I reapply, will there be as much need to include new material since I was accepted already? I assume I should include an addendum to explain why I chose not to attend the first time around.

    Thank you so much!

    -Elise

  3. Elise says:

    Well, withdrawing is an option from the research I’ve done (there would be little financial consequence as long as I did it by the first week of classes). I’ve been having a difficult time discerning whether or not my chances would be better as a reapplicant or a transfer…any insight you have on this would be appreciated! Thank you.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Elise, that’s a very personal decision. There is no guarantee Berkeley will take you again. And now you’d have to explain why you were withdrawing from law school. It sounds like buyer’s remorse a bit. Why don’t you call Berkeley Law and see what they tell you?

  4. Michelle says:

    Dear Ms. Levine,

    I am reapplying for law school this year and I’m wondering whether I should ask my recommenders to submit new/revised recommendations. If so, should I be giving them the LSAC forms again? Does it reflect poorly on me as an applicant if my recommendations are not updated?

    Thank you for putting out this fabulous resource by the way.

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Ms. Levine,

    I took the LSAT for the first time last December after 6 months of rigorous self-study. I have a history of not doing well on standardized tests; however, I am a very good student (4.1 high school GPA, 1160 SAT score). I also suffer from test anxiety and had an anxiety attack during my first go at the LSAT, but decided to not cancel my score. I scored a 146 (my UGPA is 3.8), but decided to apply to several schools anyway with an addendum describing my history of low standardized test scores, but high GPA. I was rejected for the most part, but wait listed at American.

    This year I continued to study on my own, but took a short prep course as well and raised my score to 153. I will now be reapplying to American and Catholic and only as a part-time student. My question now is if I should write an updated addendum, or leave it out all together?

    Also, since I plan on reapplying to two schools, I’m assuming it would be wise for me to write a new personal statement. The overall theme will be my perseverance in the face of defeat, so do you think it would be wise to address the fact that I am reapplying in that, or also write an addendum to address the fact?

    Your advice is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Rachel

    • Ann Levine says:

      Rachel, You should write an addendum mentioning the increase and the standardized testing history. The overall theme of your personal statement sounds cliche to me…. You’d have to overcome a lot of defeats to make this a really exceptional story. My advice: leave out the ‘theme’ and just tell your story.
      No addendum necessary to discuss reapplying.

  6. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much! After spending the rest of the day debating topics for my personal statement, I completely agree that the theme sounds cliche. Back to the drawing board it is!

    I’d also just like to say thank you so much for writing this blog. Your tips are amazing and I think I’d feel quite lost without them!

    Rachel

  7. Vikki says:

    Hi Ms. Levine,

    I have taken the LSAT twice with a high score of 157. I was very anxious during preparation for the exam and do not feel I scored as well as I could. The scores came out late and due to anxiety I didn’t send in my applications until I received my score in Janary. Although I was late I got into a top 20 program but got waitlisted at several other T14 schools. I’m inclined to believe that the reason for the waitllist (7 in total) was due to the timeline I followed. I feel I put myself at a serious disadvantage. My question is where I should go to the T20 school and try to transfer into a T14 or wait one more year and try to reapply next cycle. Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated!

    • Ann Levine says:

      First of all, if the T20 school is somewhere you are excited to be, you should go. If you do well, transferring would be an option but don’t count on it. You did very well considering your late application and your LSAT scores. Meanwhile, fight your way into the other schools on the WL. Remember to consider cost, location, career opportunities, etc. in addition to ranking, especially between schools that are ranked so close together. You may learn a lot about this from The Law School Decision Game.

  8. Jessica Chan says:

    Hi Ann,

    I got accepted to the part time program at SMU Dedman School of Law. My end goal is to live in Los Angeles, but I did not get into any Los Angeles law schools. I scored a 159 on the LSAT and have a 3.45 G.P.A. from the University of Houston. I applied to UCLA, USC and Loyola late, around February and March. I was wondering if you thought I should reapply or try to transfer? I am not sure how much better I can do on my LSAT because I did study quite hard. I am 24 and I’m not sure if I should wait another year. Right now, I do have a great job at a large company as a Compliance Analyst, but I don’t want to start my law career too late. I am also worried about the risk of not getting in next year. I just wanted to know your opinion. Thank you so much.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Jessica,
      Applying late certainly didn’t help with Loyola, which would’ve been the reach school in LA. If you know you want to be in LA, you might do better even going to SW on scholarship and having access to the LA job market. Don’t do anything hasty, especially attending a part time program far from home because you would then really only be eligible to transfer to other part time programs. Talk to Loyola about where you would need to be in your class in order to transfer there the following year. Don’t make any snap decisions in favor of a better long-term decision for your career.

  9. Jessica Chan says:

    Thanks for the reply! I called Loyola and they said that I would need to be in the top 25% of my class to transfer. I’m still not sure if I should wait and reapply as full time to Los Angeles schools. I am just scared of the risk of getting rejected again and not having my foot in the door at all. Your post really made me reconsider taking the SMU offer though. Applying to SW with scholarships is a great idea too. Maybe it would better to be patient, retake my LSAT and apply early for next years applications. Also, I just wanted to let you know that your blog is great! Thanks so much for helping me.

  10. Sophie-Ann says:

    I took the December LSAT and am not proud of the grade I received. I want to take the February LSAT in hopes getting accepted for the Fall semester, but I don’t want to rush myself if I’m not prepared. I sent in my transcripts and my recommendation letters. If I were to wait until June and apply for the Spring Semester, would I have to send in new recommendation letters or would they still be good?

  11. Sarah says:

    Hi Ann,

    I applied this year to law school and was accepted to some good schools, but not any of the schools that I would really like to go to. Deciding to apply to law school was a last minute decision for me, so I didn’t really have the time to prepare as much for the LSAT as I should have. Luckily, I am naturally a decent standardized test taker, but I question whether or not I can do better. My issue is that I want to take a year off and reapply, but I am worried that if I don’t get into the schools I want to go to I will be left with nothing since I was already accepted by all of my back-ups. I already was accepted by the lower T14 schools and feel that they will probably reject me since they will think I have no interest in attending. I’m currently deposited at one school, but I just worry about the regret of not trying for better if I settle and go this year. I am unsure of how much I can improve my LSAT score even with studying, and how score averaging would impact my chances even if I did improve. What do you recommend?

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I’m hearing a lot of people agonizing over this same choice, especially people who chose to take the LSAT and/or apply to law school at the last minute. It’s pretty normal to reapply after a second year. Just communicate to those schools that you’ve decided to take a year off and you plan to reapply.

  12. Sarah says:

    Hi Ann,
    I have the same problem as the person who posted above me, only that I’ve already taken another LSAT this June. I applied with a 169 and this time around I got a 170. Would it be a good idea to reapply with this 1 point difference? And is it too late in the summer to withdraw from the schools that I have deposited?

    • Ann Levine says:

      Sarah,
      A 1-point difference won’t make a big deal. You can ask the schools you’ve applied to to reconsider your application based on your new LSAT score, though. But one point probably wasn’t the deal-breaker.

  13. Jessica King says:

    Good Evening Ann,

    I applied to Law school last year and was denied admission to all law schools. the highest lsat score that I received out of FOUR times is a 140 I have spent thousands of dollars on prep courses to no avail and I still have not been successful. I am a bit older I am 27 now but when I was 18 I received all E’s my first semester of college and was kicked out. Then I became pregnant and had a little girl. Soon after I had my daughter I enrolled in a community college and received mediocre grades but good enough to graduate and get an associate degree in the arts and also good enough to get back into the University that I was kicked out of.
    To make a long story short I graduated with 2.5 from the university. I did however despite my low gpa I got into grad school to get my masters in criminology on a conditional acceptance as long as I maintained a 3.0 I currently have a 3.5, I also participated in an internship with the local legal aid office, in addition to that I was able to get a job working for the government working in the legal department because of my B.A. degree in political science in which I have maintained for a year since graduating and being denied admission last year 2012.
    I cannot retake any courses from undergrad because my grades are sealed, I have also maxed out of financial aid so I would not be able to afford to try and attempt to get another undergrad degree.. I am still in grad school but with only one semester left im not sure if it could benefit me anymore, I anticipate that I will maintain a 3.5 or higher
    I cannot move out of state because I am the only provider for my household and what little support I have is here..There is nothing else in this world that I want to be is an attorney, nothing more. I do not want to have a career change. I want to be an attorney, Please help me and give me some advice on what I can do…
    I have reapplied to 6 schools that I applied to last year and so far I have been denied from 2 I am getting discouraged even though I have not heard from the others..
    To make matters worse LSAC does not honor academic bankruptcy so it includes the E’s in my gpa which lowered my LSAC gpa to a 2.04 for undergrad instead of 2.5 :/
    HELP ME please I don’t know what to do

    The reason why I want to be an attorney is for the simple fact that my brother was charged with capital murder (death penalty) he asked for a speedy trial but he still had to wait five agonizing years for a trial which lasted over two weeks. As a result, the jury deliberated for 2.5days over not only murder first but 19 additional charges.
    My brother was aquitted of all charges and was freed from jail as a free man. My desire to be an attorney is not for bragging rights or to post another degree on my wall it is a selfless desire to help others just like my brother..
    If there is anything you can suggest that I do please let me know
    –btw I have already spoken with the dean of admissions to all the law schools I was not accepted in last year and the they all suggested a higher score, proof of better academic record, employment or community service. I fulfilled all of the above accept a higher lsat score I’m so confused I don’t know what to do……

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Jessica,
      Thanks for writing. I understand that life has thrown a lot at you. It sounds like the law schools you would need to attend know you and know your situation and that they are giving you good advice about how to improve the likelihood of your admission, so I’m not sure there is more I can do to help you, unfortunately.
      I understand you have the drive and desire and wish there was more I could to help.

  14. Alicia Thompson says:

    Hello Ann,

    I am writing because I am in a difficult position with regards to reapplying to law school and I really need some help in deciding what to do.

    I graduated from undergrad in May 2013 with a 4.0 cumulative GPA and as valedictorian of my class. I had internships (two law related and two with the federal gov’t) during all summers of undergrad. I volunteered at my school’s church and was president of my university’s philosophy club, in addition to other activities. I applied to 6 law schools in January of 2013 (late because I felt my LSAT score wasn’t good enough to get in anywhere) and got admitted to 3 (after waitlisted), denied at 1, and waitlisted at 2 (one I didn’t move forward with, and 1 I later found out that the committee didn’t admit from the waitlist for that year). I opted not to attend for that year because I had persistent health issues, which I had not been able to sort out and I did not feel that I was financially able to begin.

    To explain further:

    After preparing for 3 months on my own I took the LSAT once in Oct of 2012 and received a 145. I had two major problems. First, I scored well (160′s o 170′s) when I did untimed tests. However, I found it difficult to move significantly faster when completing timed exams. Second, knowing the importance of the test made me extremely anxious, and this anxiety manifested during preparation and on test day. I did not sleep one minute the night before, and went into the test feeling exhausted and finding it difficult to concentrate.

    Though I planned to retake the LSAT after taking a prep course during the summer, I encountered some issues. First, I could not afford the prep course and have not gotten a job (despite applying every day) so that I can pay for it. Most importantly however, after finally having the courage and health insurance to move forward I have recently been diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease as well as an associated heart problem. I often experience extreme fatigue and joint pain, among other symptoms, which make it difficult for me to focus on even studying on my own so that I can retake the LSAT. Because of the complexity of my health issues and the fact that I am in the very early stages of treatment, I don’t anticipate that I will be able to retake the test by December.

    I think that I will get my health under control by August of next year, so I really would like to attend law school beginning in the Fall of 2014.

    With all this said, in reapplying for law school (I plan to apply to 10, with 4 being reapplications), can you please suggest any actions that I may take? Do you think I have a chance of being admitted anywhere? And should I submit an addendum explaining why I can’t endeavor to retake the LSAT right now?

    I know this is a lengthy response, but I wanted to give as much info as possible and I hope that you have some time to assist me. Thank you in advance for any advice that you can provide.

    Alicia

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Alicia,
      First let me say that I’m sorry you are experiencing such serious health issues. I certainly hope you are able to get the symptoms under control, and it’s understandable why you would not be able to accomplish a lot while dealing with this. There are pros and cons to telling the schools why you did not attend last year and why you are not retaking the LSAT. The primary concern is that you do not want to cause them to doubt your ability to perform at a high level in law school due to the illness.
      For the schools that admitted you last year, I think you should explain something about why you did not attend. Alluding to a health issue that arose would be appropriate in this case when coupled with a strong expression of interest in the school and that you are not able to retake the LSAT at this time. (We don’t want them to think you are not happy with attending the school and you are trying to see where else you might be admitted).
      However, all of this being said, I am concerned that this isn’t the right time for you to be applying to law school. It sounds like you have health and financial issues to get under control before you are ready to do your best in a competitive and strenuous environment. Of course your undergraduate record is very impressive, as are your activities. If you can show the schools that this is the better indicator of how you will perform in law school, I think you will overcome the concerns I am raising.

      • Alicia Thompson says:

        Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate your assistance and I have written an addendum incorporating each of the elements that you mentioned. I will let you know how it goes.

  15. Ally says:

    Hi,

    Last year I applied a tad bit late, and I was waitlisted at my top two schools. I wrote a killer personal statement, and I revamped it this year for new schools I am applying to. My question is, can I resubmit my statement I used last year, or should I write a completely new personal statement.

  16. Susan Park says:

    Hi,

    If you were originally planning on applying to law schools this year, but have decided to wait another year to apply early/retake the LSAT either in Feb or June 2014, do you need to ask your recommenders to re-submit their letters of recommendation? (I have two from undergrad professors and one from my previous job).

    I am assuming that all letters will have a date written on them. If law schools see that it’s a bit outdated, would that hurt me in any way?

    Please let me know.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Susan, No need to have letters re-submitted. Professor letters would be fine with old dates, and since you are no longer working for that employer, no updated letter is necessary there either.

  17. Alex says:

    Hi Anne,

    Very insightful, thank you. I’m at a juncture and I need to make a decision. I have a 158 LSAT and 3.88 GPA at an Ivy League university. This same university is the only one which I wish to attend for Law school. Needless to say, a 158 does not impress them. I do plan to re-take my LSAT, but am not confident my score would improve greatly, as I already have studied arduously over the past 6 months.

    Here’s my situation: If I apply early decision to this university which I love, but which does not normally accept students with 158 LSAT and, as is most likely, get rejected by them, I would certainly then apply again next year… only this time, I would apply even earlier in the application cycle. I would subsequently also take the October 2014 LSAT and will likely score maybe 2 or 3 points higher if I’m lucky.

    So here’s my question: Since this law school will likely reject me this time, wouldn’t it be better to just wait for the next admission cycle and apply then earlier and with a score that’s around 160? Or do you think that it wouldn’t hurt my chances of acceptance in the next admission cycle even if I apply early decision now in this January and get rejected (likely)? In other words, what harm could it do to apply now even if I get rejected? It might even show my determination to attend this school when I apply again in the fall despite being rejected once from it. It would show that despite receiving other offers I stuck it out one more year to give them another try, because they’re the ones I want. Or do you think it might indeed harm me to reapply after rejection since a rejected applicant isn’t viewed as seriously in the next admission cycle?

    Your blog entry seems to suggest the former of the two (apply now and, if rejected (likely), reapply next cycle, but do it earlier and hopefully with a marginally stronger LSAT). I’d really appreciate if you could clarify a bit further. Thanks for your valuable time and for clearing our doubts.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Alex, great question. I’m so sorry I didn’t have a chance to respond earlier. Apply now, and if it doesn’t work out, reapply. Absolutely. If your materials are strong, there will be no bias from applying and being rejected in a previous year (assuming that’s what happens, for the sake of argument).

  18. Arlena says:

    Thank you for posting this useful information! I’m scheduled to retake the February LSAT while deployed and the law school I applied to was aware of that. Unfortunately, they based their admittance off of my previous score, which wasn’t that great, which made me feel as if everything else I accomplished really didn’t matter. I’m in the military, on my 2nd deployment, served countless hours of community service, was the head of several community service projects, wrote my own personal essay that was proofread by my professors, and overcame a serious traumatizing experience; I’m also in two different honor societies and my GPA is a 3.7. Is there anything that states I am unable to resubmit my application since the school did not wait for my second test or do I have to wait until September to submit my application for reconsideration? I’m asking because the school was at the top of my list and I even added some of their award winning programs to my essay as to the reasons why I wanted to go there. The other schools put my application on hold and I’m wondering why they didn’t do the same as well. Thanks!

    • Ann Levine says:

      Arlena, Have you called the school to find out whether they made the decision by mistake and whether they would place your file on reconsideration when your new LSAT score arrives?

  19. Nelson says:

    Hi Ann,

    First of all, I want to thank you for all of your posts, because they really helped throughout my admissions and not only.

    I am in a situation where I need to make an important decision and would appreciate if you tell your opinion.

    I applied to dozen of law schools this year, all of which had median LSAT scores above my score. I got into one only. Taking into consideration my LSAT score + other factors related to my application and the profile of the law school (location, employment prospects, tuition fee, etc), I realize that I should be happy to be admitted. Meanwhile, I am thinking about reapplying.
    I took the LSAT twice and scored about the same (1 point difference). I think about a prep course, but not sure if it is worth it (will it help to have 5+ point difference). Even if I score couple of points higher, it will only give me 50/50 chances to be admitted to slightly better schools.
    Besides, I don’t think during the year I can have any real changes in my application other than the LSAT score.

    Basically, waiting another year without having an idea whether I will have be admitted to a better law school (what if I am not accepted to any?) does not seem like a right thing to do, especially considering the costs for that year.

    What do you think about this situation in general? What are the chances of having a considerably higher LSAT score after a prep course?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Nelson,
      Thanks for your nice comments.
      Not knowing the exact numbers or schools we are talking about, I can only give you general advice: either you need to apply to different schools or improve your LSAT if you want more choices. If you never took an LSAT prep course or worked with a tutor, you should do so. Don’t retake the LSAT for your final time without changing up how you prepare – you will get the same results you’ve always gotten.

  20. Jessica says:

    Hi Ann,

    Great post, and thank you for continuing to reply. I maintained a relatively high GPA from a top 10 school, but a very low LSAT score(took the LSAT twice; there was a 5 point increase, but still very low). Despite this, I had a remarkable cycle and got in to some great schools, including my number one choice. Unfortunately, due to financial reasons, I was unable to attend this cycle. I am reapplying this year, with a new, pretty impressive recommendation and will be submitting a new personal statement.

    However, I am quite nervous that I might not get in this time due to my LSAT score. Moreover, I will be applying to a few T14 schools that I did not apply to before, and they would probably like to see a stronger LSAT. I am not a great test taker, but the previous times were under extreme conditions which I explained in an addendum.

    I am also considering the fact that I applied fairly late in my first cycle(late November,early December). I think having my applications in earlier would be helpful in getting the same or more acceptances.

    Thus, would you recommend re-taking the LSAT or submitting my applications earlier in the cycle? Thank you.

    • Ann Levine says:

      Jessica, I don’t know your scores, or where you were admitted this year, but if you can improve your LSAT score then it’s worth waiting to apply. I don’t think late November/early December is considered “late” anymore – it’s not early, but it’s not harmful either. But with a September LSAT, you’d be able to have your applications complete before Thanksgiving, which is considered early in the rolling admissions process.

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