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Applying to law school just keeps on getting more complicated. Law schools these days started trying out a new requirement of applicants: commit or walk.
In the past, students who were flush with cash or who desperately wanted to hedge their bets would sign an "intent to enroll" letter or make a cash deposit on a seat. But doing that overzealously could cost you.
LSAC and Multiple Deposits
Law school applications go more or less like this. You've taken the LSAT, and you send all your materials out to the different schools that are on your list. If you're lucky, a few schools will write back with an acceptance and scholarship offer. The conundrum is whether or not to commit -- either with the signing of an "intent to enroll" letter or with cash on the barrel-head.
"Overlap Reporting Service"
In the past, students "commited" to many schools with the aim of hedging a safety school if the other school of their dreams responded back with a rejection letter. But according to LSAC's notification policies, the agency will start providing detailed reports of the number of applicants who have submitted commitments to other schools. And since 2008, your name and LSAC number have been open to all the participating schools if you do this multi-commitment ballet.
A school you'd like to attend could decide that you're not particularly committed one way or the other because -- ironically -- you've made so many commitments. This could weigh against you when schools assess scholarship funds. If your offers are final, it doesn't present well to the schools if you're simply sitting on the sidelines until the last minute before you make a concrete decision. Additionally, subsequent deposits to schools may be governed by rules that force you to let go of your other outstanding offers from other schools.
In the end, it's a bit of a balance. We suggest "committing" to two schools -- three tops. A commitment to good schools can send the signal to competing organizations that you're top quality and should be fought over. But if you're committing to too many schools, you begin to look like a potential liability.