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How to Get Off Law School Waitlists & Sample Letters of Continued Interest

“The Year of the Waitlists” is what I have deemed this and last law school admissions cycle. 

With so many more applicants applying to law school, and with some law schools getting burned by overenrolling too many students, law schools’ calculations about how many students to accept has been entirely thrown off.   

Law schools are responding to this confusion cautiously with their response being deep deep waitlists.

This is incredibly frustrating for applicants. It feels like an ex who keeps saying “I like you, I’m just not in a place to date . . . yet.” So you hold out hope that your one true love will come around and finally be ready for you. 

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But will they ever be?

How Likely is it to Get Off a Law School Waitlist

Realistically, your chances of getting of a law school waitlist this cycle are slim. There are simply so many people on the waitlists that your odds of being the one to get off are not high. 

Though if your stats are within the school’s median numbers, you are more likely to get off the waitlist. Similarly, if you were told you were on a “priority” waitlist or a top-tier of a waitlist’s rank, you are more likely to get off the waitlist. 

Even then, it will be tough. 

But like any good rom com, a fight for your love could come out in your favor. 

There are things you can do to improve your chances of getting off a waitlist.

How to Get Off a Law School Waitlist

1. Accept & follow directions CAREFULLY.

Every school has a different process for accepting a position on the waitlist. Some require you to opt in by responding to an email, others require you to write a letter of intent to remain on the waitlist, others will have you fill out a specific form, and others will just put you there automatically.

This also goes for any communication you have about your waitlist (we’ll talk about what that communication looks like shortly); some schools will require you to only submit letters via their online portal, others only via email to a specific waitlist address.

Moral of the story, read the directions and follow them precisely! If you don’t, I can almost guarantee you won’t be taken off the waitlist.

2. Make your shortlist.

With waitlists so long this year, you could be sitting on a waitlist for a very long time—all the way until a school’s orientation! The best strategy is to focus all your energy on a few select schools where you really want to go. Are you willing to move, break a lease, etc. if you get a call in late August? 

If it’s early in the waitlist season, you can wait to make your shortlist, and keep your name on a longer list of schools. But as the summer progresses, it’s best to narrow your list down to those schools you really would accept an offer from, no matter when. 

Why narrow it down? Why not keep your name in everywhere? That brings me to the next step. 

3. Say the magic words—promise you’ll come.

For admissions officers, waitlists are like trying to fill last minute canceled airline tickets. Admissions officers’ primary goal at that point is to just make sure every seat is filled once orientation begins. An empty seat means lost money and that’s a big no no for an admissions officer. 

What this means is that they want to know that the applicant they call off the waitlist will not only accept, but will also certainly ATTEND. They don’t want to have to make ten calls on their list before finding someone to accept, and they don’t want to give an offer to someone who will initially accept but then withdraw after getting off the waitlist somewhere else a month later.

So if you want to show your sincerity for attending a given school, you can say these magic words: “X school is my first choice, and if admitted, I would immediately accept, withdraw my existing seat and all other pending applications.” 

Please: only send these magic words if you mean them and intend to follow through. While this is not a contractual commitment, you’re entering a profession where your integrity matters a lot. Don’t start your career by breaking a promise; word gets around fast.   

You can send this message to a few schools, but you will then have to follow through on the promise with whichever school offers you admission first—though don’t get too anxious about giving up a spot because likelihood of getting off multiple waitlists these days is probably slim.    

How should you convey these magic words to schools? By pigeon carrier? Gentle whisperings in the ears of admissions officers…? On to the next step!

 4. Send LOCIs—one robust and then a quick reminder every month.  

LOCI, the fond name for Letters of Continued Interest, are how you will stay in touch with your waitlisted schools, and how you’ll keep them aware that they remain your top choice. 

I typically have my clients send a more robust LOCI either when they’ve been waitlisted (if the schools specifically asks for a letter to accompany the intent to remain on waitlist), or more typically, right around the school’s deposit deadline – typically mid to late April.

I’ve shared an example of the more robust LOCI at the end of this post, but essentially the formula goes one paragraph for each of the following: (1) thank you and reminder that the school is your top choice + magic words if applicable; (2) any updates that are worth mentioning—think accolades like job promotion/new job, new and significant responsibilities at work, award at school, etc. not things like new hobbies or travel; (3) reminder about why that school is your first choice, pointing to specific opportunities at the school that relate to your specific job goals; (4) closing paragraph reiterating that you would accept if admitted, and relaying any personal ties to the school or the region that make you more compelled to go there. 

After this more robust LOCI, you’ll want to send additional letters about every four to six weeks. The remaining letters should be short and straightforward. It is enough to simply state that you’re “writing to reiterate that x school remains your first choice and if admitted you would accept and withdraw your deposit and all other pending applications.” This will get repetitive in content, but that is OK. In fact, admissions officers will appreciate your brevity. Your writing to remind them that even as the summer has progressed you’re still thinking about them and still committed to attending if admitted. 

If you do have any noteworthy updates throughout the summer—including a new LSAT score—you can include those in your follow-up letters. 

Also, make sure you read your waitlist offer closely. Some schools will explicitly ask you not to contact them more than once. 

P.S.: no need to use the LOCI terminology in your update letters.

5. Consider retaking the LSAT – yes, again…

If your LSAT score was on the low end for that school (below their median from the previous year), then you may want to consider taking the LSAT again over the summer. Yes, I hear you, you thought you were DONE with that exam. But let me try to convince you. You have literally nothing to lose—other than maybe some studying hours. Let’s say you don’t do that well, you are in the exact same position you are now. But let’s say you do improve, this can be significant leverage to get you off that waitlist. Why? 

Because law schools have to report the highest LSAT score of every applicant and it gets factored into the median reported to US News. I.e., your higher LSAT score could help with their rankings.

This is not just pie in the sky thinking. My colleague and fellow law school consultant here at Top Law School Consulting, Ted, is the most impressive example of making this strategy work. He was waitlisted at a bunch of schools, retook the LSAT in June and scored significantly better. He then went on to get off almost all his waitlists, including T-10 schools, and even had Duke, a school that initially reject him, reverse its decision and admit him with a scholarship

And I’ve worked with other clients where this strategy has worked to get them off the waitlist at their dream school. 

But if your LSAT is already within the school’s median, sadly a higher LSAT score may not help you that much and may not be worth your time.

6. Keep your contact info updated.

If your contact information changes throughout the summer, be sure to update the admissions department at any school you were waitlisted. If a school can’t get a hold of you, I can promise they’re not going to try very hard to track you down. They’ll just go to the next person. 

7. Be ready to make a quick decision.  

If you do get the golden ticket, you may be given a short deadline of when you have to reply by. They may also just not wait for you if you decide you need to think about it, and instead go to the next person on the waitlist.

Remember, admissions officers are like airlines, they just want to fill their seats! 

8. Be wiling to pay sticker price.

When deciding whether you’re going to stay on a waitlist, you should assume you won’t get any scholarships. Most law schools, (other than Harvard, Yale, Stanford) use scholarship money as a recruiting tool to incentivize their top applicants to accept. So by the time they get to waitlist applicants, most scholarships have been given away. It’s not impossible to get scholarship money off of a waitlist, but unlikely, and you should assume it won’t happen. 

9. Be patient.

Finally, remember, waitlists are a marathon, not a spring. Patience will be key here. So will flexibility. 

Expect that you won’t hear any news until May at the earliest, all the way until end of August, even September for schools that start orientation that late. 

This means, you will have to submit a seat deposit at another school, one you likely will not get back (some schools kindly offer to reimburse any lost seat

Waitlists can be frustrating, and candidly, I wish schools wouldn’t keep such long lists—it feels like they’re leading applicants on and dragging it out. So plan as if you’re going to the school you put down a deposit on, but be ready for a fun last minute adventure if you get off the waitlist. 

And one last word: if you do get off a waitlist, don’t you dare think you’re any less deserving to be there than the other students. I don’t want you walking into class day one thinking you somehow conned the system and everyone else is going to be smarter, more prepared, etc. Law school is an incredible equalizer and everyone there is starting from the same place. You deserve to be there!

[SAMPLE] Robust Letter of Continued Interest

Dear Admissions Committee,

I hope this letter finds you and the rest of the NYU community healthy and well. Thank you for your review of my application and continued consideration. I write to update my application and to reiterate that NYU continues to be my first-choice law school and that if admitted I would immediately accept and withdraw my current seat deposit and all other pending applications.  

Last month, I received a promotion from Business Immigration Analyst to Senior Business Immigration Analyst. This promotion came after my commitment and willingness to take on greater responsibility during the extreme surge of adjustment of status applications (the final step in a green card application) that our firm had to file in the recent months. Not only did I have to learn for the first time how to prepare an adjustment of status application, but I also had to prepare them quickly, working nights and weekends to keep up with the demand. Even after our team completed all our applications, I continued to work late nights in the office helping other teams review and prepare applications.

I want to reiterate that NYU is my first-choice law school. My aim as a lawyer is to empower immigrants and other marginalized groups fleeing persecution, particularly my own community of Egyptian Coptic Christians. NYU Law’s dedication to pro bono work and its commitment to helping marginalized communities all over the world—evident from the experiential learning opportunities—assure me that it is the school that will most support my aspirations as a lawyer. I am particularly excited about the Immigration Rights clinic—which will provide me a unique opportunity to learn about the many facets of immigration in and out of the classroom—and the International Refugee Assistance Project—which will allow me to understand the root of immigration, using my own background, and the specific needs of those fleeing their homeland.

Additionally, New York is where I call home and where I intend to begin my legal career. To have the opportunities and network within the City that NYU offers would be invaluable to my future career opportunities, while also allowing me a personal support system while in law school. For me, practicing law is a way to empower a group of people to contribute to society. To that end, I am confident that NYU Law is the school where I will best achieve my goals as a lawyer, and I am extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to join such a globally-minded legal community.




[SAMPLE] Simple Follow-Up Letter of Continued Interest

Dear Admissions Committee,

I hope this letter finds you and the rest of the NYU community well. I write to reiterate my interest in remaining on the waitlist and my commitment to attending NYU. As I previously indicated, if admitted I would immediately accept and withdraw my current seat deposit and all other pending applications.   




Next steps

There you have it! That’s how you get off law school waitlists.

If you want more help with applying to law school, take a look at my law school application services here.

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Hope you enjoy this blog post! Want to know how to use the power of your personal statement to get into your dream law school, even if you aren’t the “perfect” applicant?

Mara has helped countless law school applicants get into their dream law schools, even without a perfect GPA, the highest LSAT score, or most unique story. Mara used to be a litigator at one of the top law firms in the world and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a prestigious Toll Public Interest Scholar.

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