Law School Application Process & Timeline

The first thing to note when it comes to law school is that you do not need to go to law school directly after graduation. In fact, 2/3 of applicants decide to pursue a gap year before they make the journey back to the classroom. According to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the average age of a 1L (first year) law student is 24 years old. Speak with your pre-law advisor to determine what the best timeline might be for you. Spoiler alert: it’s different for everyone!

Another fact that might be surprising is that law schools are not looking for one specific major. The American Bar Association (ABA) is the governing organization that accredits all law schools in the United States. They have expressly stated that they do not endorse one major over another. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. They do, however, highlight skills that each student should strengthen before they attend law school:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical reading & thinking
  • Writing and editing
  • Oral communication and listening
  • Research
  • Organization and management
  • Relationship-building and collaboration
  • Public service and promotion of justice

For a complete list of courses available at Villanova that can help you strengthen these skills, please see this handout for reference.

You can choose from a pool of majors that are considered traditional preparation for law school, such as:

  • History
  • English
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Business

Or you could focus on a more diverse array of subject matter, such as the arts, music, or sciences. The best advice we have when it comes to picking a major? Choose something that you are interested in. If you have a genuine interest in your academic subject matter, it will naturally reflect in your grades when it’s time to submit your transcripts.

As a general introduction, law school applications open September 1st every fall semester. They only admit for a fall program start with very few exceptions. So, whenever you do intend to apply for law school, the timing will remain the same.

Deadlines for schools vary, with most of them occurring in early December. But law schools operate on a rolling admission basis—meaning that they evaluate applications as they are received versus waiting to evaluate all applications after a hard deadline. Schools will continue to evaluate applications until they’ve filled all the slots for their incoming class. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to get your applications in as early as possible to better your chances of competing for more spots.