How Likely Are You To Be Admitted To A Law School After Being Waitlisted?

Likelihood of Admission To Law School After Being Waitlisted: “It Depends”

The short answer to the question of how likely you are to be admitted to a particular law school after being waitlisted is “it depends.” And it depends upon so many different factors that stating a percentage/estimate is both useless and misleading. That being said, “it depends” should not be taken as a cop-out answer, nor should you assume it isn’t relevant to your strategy of applying to law school.

Let’s analyze why getting accepted into a law school after being waitlisted depends upon so many factors, and why the likelihood of being accepted is so difficult to predict. And then we will discuss why the “it depends” answer is important to your law school application strategy.

Factors That Affect Being Admitted To Law School After Being Waitlisted

First, some law schools accept far more students off the waitlist than others. Second, some law schools waitlist far more students than others. Both of those factors will heavily influence an individual student’s chances of getting admitted into a particular law school after being waitlisted.

Second, results vary from year to year. And sometimes they vary significantly. So, the percentage of students a law school admits off the wait list in 2023 might be very different than those same numbers in 2024.

Third, law schools crave diversity. Not just diversity in terms of race, gender, etc. But diversity on a wide variety of factors: diversity of undergraduate institutions; diversity of college majors; diiversity of life and college experiences. The list goes on. In any given year, a law school may have a lot of one thing and very little of something else. Maybe one year the law school doesn’t have a single candidate who served in the military, and you did. Maybe that year the law school doesn’t have a single accepted candidate from your college – that could be a big boost to you.

A lot more can be added to this list, but you get the idea. Obviously, the more competitive your application is (primarily LSAT score and cumulative undergraduate GPA), the better your chances. But after that, a lot may ride on things completely outside your control, and those unpredictable factors can vary greatly from law school to law school and from year to year.

The Relevance Of “It Depends” To Your Law School Application Strategy

It would be easy to dismiss the “it depends” answer as providing you with little to no guidance on your law school application strategy. It would be a mistake to reach such a conclusion.

Let’s begin by discussing some empirical evidence. Year after year I see certain strong law school applicants get admitted into one T14 law school…but only one T14 law school. Typically, such a student had the credentials (LSAT score and GPA) to be competitive at T14 law schools, but they were on the lower end of the medians. Obviously, there was something about that student’s law school application (i.e., their “soft factors”) that appealed to the T14 law school that accepted them, despite them not getting into other T14 law schools.

Other times I will see students get into one of their “reach” law schools while also getting rejected (or waitlisted) from other law schools that were lower in the rankings than their “reach” law school.

Hopefully, you can see where I am going with this. The wider the net you cast, the greater your chances of being admitted. Of course, you need to be reasonably competitive to have a chance – otherwise, you likely are just wasting money and setting yourself up for disappointment. But if your LSAT score and GPA make you reasonably competitive at various law schools, you undoubtedly improve your chances of acceptance by applying to more of them.

For example, if you apply to 10 “reach” law schools (that are not unrealistic “reaches”), the odds are much higher that one of them won’t have any students from your undergraduate institution that year than if you apply to only one “reach” law school. And so on. The larger net will impact your likelihood of being accepted initially, and also will impact your likelihood of getting admitted off at least one of your waitlists.

Conclusion

It is extremely difficult to predict the likelihood of getting accepted into law school off the waitlist. “It depends” (on a wide variety of factors) is the most honest and accurate answer one can give. However, because “it depends,” you can significantly improve your odds of being admitted to law school – either initially or off the waitlist – if you increase the number of law schools you apply to…assuming you are a reasonably competitive candidate.

If you have questions about your particular situation, please feel free to contact me at mark@scoreitup.com. Good luck!