For those set on a specific law school, applying early decision may offer a number of benefits.
“Law schools receive thousands of applications every year, but a significantly lower number during the ED round,” Padya Paramita, of InGenius Prep, writes. “So, aside from conveying your dedication towards the school, applying early also guarantees that you’ll have less competition.”
When considering early decision, it’s important to look at both the pros and cons as the decision is binding. Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently broke down both the good and bad of applying to law school early decision.
If you’re applying to a reach school, submitting your application as an early decision applicant can help give your chances of acceptance a small boost even if your numbers are below average.
“Admissions officers are therefore a bit more lenient toward early decision applicants whose grades or LSAT score are lower than the school median,” Kuris writes. “This gives their chances of admission a little nudge.”
PEACE OF MIND
With early decision, you’ll typically submit your application prior to the general applicant pool. Which means you’ll often hear back on your decision earlier as well.
“It can be a relief, moreover, to receive an early notification of admission,” Kuris writes. “Many law schools will give their early decision applicants a decision by the end of December and some aim for a turnaround of a month or less. Meanwhile, general applicants might need to wait until March or April to hear back, which can feel stressful and uncertain.”
The biggest con of applying early decision to a law school is that the decision is binding, meaning you’ll have to attend if accepted.
“The commitment that early decision applicants make to attend a school if accepted is enforced, except in the few exceptions where a school has made its early decision nonbinding,” Kuris writes. “Admissions offices notify other schools about which applicants have accepted early decision. Breaching a binding contract is not a promising start to a legal career.”
Additionally, applicants considering early decision should be aware that financial aid often is not guaranteed.
“If you apply to a law school early decision, you’re agreeing to attend a program without necessarily knowing how much scholarship you’ll receive,” Paramita, of InGenius Prep, writes. “You might end up getting a really low aid package and left confused about your choices.”