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When Should You Defer Law School Admission?

If you are thinking about deferring your law school admission, think again.

It is not much of a problem if you haven't actually been accepted because you are not technically "deferring admission." If your application has been accepted, however, then you may have a problem.

Law schools generally do not like it when applicants ask to defer admission after being accepted. Depending on your reason, a law school could say anything from "OK" to "oh no, you didn't."

The Good News

There are some good reasons to defer admission. Just be sure that you know what you're doing before you tell the admissions office.

First, make sure you have a valid offer from the school. Second, make your request in writing. Third, have a good reason, like:

  • You have been called to active duty
  • You have personal or medical problems that could not be avoided
  • You have a career, service, or educational opportunity that will make you a better law student

If your deferral request is accepted, you will likely have to make a non-refundable seat deposit and processing fee. You will also have to commit that you will not enroll at or apply to another law school.

The Bad News

The chances of getting a deferral are slim. Some law schools, like Georgetown and Duke, do not grant them, except on a case-by-case basis.

Once you have reviewed your school's policy, be sure you are not requesting deferral for any of the following reasons:

  • You don't have the money
  • You want to apply to other law schools
  • You need more time to think about going to law school at all

While life may happen to you, law schools do not want your problems to happen to them. In fact, it could become an ethical problem if you take a deferral at one law school to apply for another.

If you get a deferment, make good use of your time. Typically, a law school will give you one year.

If it is longer, the school may require new admission testing.

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