How Many Law Schools Should I Apply To?

Choosing the right number of law schools to apply to can feel like a balancing act. Too few, and you might limit your chances of acceptance; too many, and you risk spreading yourself too thin. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This article will help you navigate the process and determine the optimal number of applications based on your unique circumstances.

Understanding Your Goals

Career Aspirations

Before you start listing law schools, take a moment to think about your career goals. Do you dream of working in a big law firm, focusing on public interest law, or perhaps aiming for a career in academia? 

Geographic Preferences

Location, location, location! Where you want to study and eventually practice law is crucial. Some regions have a higher concentration of top-tier schools, while others might offer more opportunities in specific legal fields. Consider where you want to live and work after graduation.

Specialty Programs

If you have a particular interest in a niche area of law, such as environmental law or intellectual property, look for schools known for their strong programs in these areas. This can narrow down your list to institutions that offer the best education and networking opportunities in your desired field.

Assessing Your Qualifications

GPA and LSAT Scores

Your GPA and LSAT scores are pivotal in the law school admissions process. They are often the first things admissions committees look at, so understanding where you stand is essential. A high LSAT score can open doors to top-tier schools, but even a lower score doesn’t mean you’re out of the running. Consider law schools that don’t require the LSAT. Understanding your score and how it compares to the average scores of admitted students at various schools can help you categorize your options.

Academic Records

A strong GPA from your undergraduate studies can significantly boost your application. It reflects your dedication and ability to handle rigorous coursework.

Extracurricular Activities and Work Experience

Law schools appreciate well-rounded candidates. Your involvement in extracurricular activities, internships, and work experiences can strengthen your application and set you apart from other applicants.

Ideal Number of Law Schools to Apply To

When deciding how many law schools to apply to, a balanced approach is often recommended. Applying to around 8-12 law schools provides a mix of reach, target, and safety schools, ensuring you have options without overwhelming yourself. Let’s dive into each category to understand why this range works well.

Reach Schools

Reach schools are the dream institutions that you aspire to attend, even if your academic credentials are slightly below their median. These schools are known for their prestige and high standards.

Applying to reach schools is always a good idea because it allows you to aim high. However, it’s important to keep expectations realistic. Reach schools are highly competitive, and while it’s worth a shot, ensure you have other options lined up as well. Your GPA and LSAT scores might be on the lower end compared to the average admitted student, but a strong application with compelling personal statements and recommendations can still make a difference.

Target Schools

Target schools are those where your academic credentials closely match or slightly exceed the median scores of admitted students. These are the schools where you have a solid chance of acceptance.

Target schools should form the core of your application strategy. Since your qualifications align well with the average admitted student’s profile, your chances of acceptance are higher here. These schools offer a good balance of challenge and attainability, making them a central part of your application list. Focus on showcasing your strengths and fit with each program to maximize your chances.

Safety Schools

Safety schools are the institutions where your qualifications are well above the median scores of admitted students. These schools provide a higher likelihood of acceptance, ensuring you have a fallback option.

Safety schools are crucial to your application strategy. They provide a safety net, ensuring that you have options even if your reach and target schools don’t work out. Your strong qualifications should give you confidence in securing a place at these institutions. However, don’t neglect your applications to safety schools—tailor them to highlight why you would be a good fit and genuinely interested in attending.

Application Strategies

Applying to law schools requires a strategic approach to maximize your chances of acceptance. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Applying Early Decision

Early decision (ED) applications can boost your chances of acceptance but come with a binding commitment to attend if accepted. This strategy is ideal if you have a clear first-choice school.

Applying early decision can be advantageous because it shows your commitment to the school. Admissions committees often favor applicants who demonstrate a strong interest. However, since ED is binding, you should only apply if you are certain about attending that school. Make sure to understand the implications and be prepared for the commitment.

Regular vs. Rolling Admissions

Understanding the difference between regular and rolling admissions can help you plan your application timeline effectively.

Regular admissions have set deadlines, which means all applications are reviewed after the deadline. In contrast, rolling admissions review applications as they are received. Applying early in a rolling admissions process can enhance your chances of acceptance, as there are more spots available earlier in the cycle. Plan your applications accordingly to take advantage of these timelines.

Managing Deadlines

Keeping track of application deadlines is crucial to ensure you submit all materials on time. Here’s how to stay organized.

Managing deadlines can be challenging, but it’s essential to avoid last-minute stress. Use a calendar or spreadsheet to track each school’s deadline, required documents, and submission dates. Set reminders for yourself and aim to complete applications well before the actual deadlines. This approach not only reduces stress but also allows time for thorough review and any necessary revisions.

Balancing Quantity and Quality

Applying to the right number of law schools requires balancing the quantity of applications with the quality of each submission. Here’s how to manage this balance effectively:

Avoiding Overwhelm

Applying to too many schools can be overwhelming and lead to burnout. Here’s how to keep your application process manageable.

Applying to a large number of schools might seem like a good strategy, but it can quickly become overwhelming. To avoid burnout, aim for a manageable number of applications that allow you to dedicate enough time and effort to each one. Focus on schools that are the best fit for your goals and qualifications. This approach ensures you can submit high-quality applications without feeling overwhelmed.

Ensuring Strong Applications

Quality over quantity is key when applying to law schools. Here’s why focusing on fewer, well-prepared applications is more effective.

A well-prepared application stands out more than a rushed one. By limiting the number of schools you apply to, you can spend more time tailoring each application to highlight your strengths and fit with the program. This attention to detail can make a significant difference in the admissions process. Prioritize quality over quantity to maximize your chances of acceptance.


Deciding how many law schools to apply to is a personal decision that depends on various factors, including your qualifications, career goals, and financial situation. By carefully considering these elements and creating a strategic plan, you can maximize your chances of acceptance and find the best fit for your legal education.


How many law schools do most applicants apply to?

Most applicants apply to between 8 and 12 law schools. This range allows for a mix of reach, target, and safety schools.

Is it better to apply to more or fewer schools?

Applying to more schools can increase your chances of acceptance, but it also requires more time and effort. Aim for a balance that allows you to submit strong applications.

Can applying to too many schools hurt my chances?

Applying to too many schools can spread your resources thin and result in less polished applications. Focus on a manageable number to ensure quality.

How do I choose which law schools to apply to?

Consider factors such as your qualifications, career goals, geographic preferences, and financial situation. Research each school thoroughly to determine the best fit.

What if I don’t get into any law schools?

If you don’t get into any law schools, consider reapplying next year. Use the time to strengthen your application, retake the LSAT if necessary, and gain additional experience or education.