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Law Schools With Early Decision: Your Guide

August 25, 2023
6 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 03/03/23

Are you thinking about submitting an early decision law school application? If you are, you don’t want to miss this guide!

New York University is one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation. Students dream of joining its vibrant community and having unparalleled access to some of the largest law firms in the state. 

For many students, NYU is their absolute top choice—if they received an offer letter, they wouldn’t hesitate to accept it right away. If you’re certain you want to apply to NYU, or another T14 law school, you should consider submitting an Early Decision (ED) application.

This application not only demonstrates your unwavering commitment to your desired law school, but can offer you some advantages in the application process. To learn more about the top law schools with Early Decision and the pros and cons of this application, read on!

Law Schools With Early Decision

Before delving into the T14 law schools with Early Decision and their deadlines, it’s important you have a thorough understanding of what Early Decision is. Early Decisions allow students to receive an admission decision before the typical notification period. 

These applicants will be required to submit their application a few months or weeks earlier than regular applicants and can expect a response within a month or two. The catch is, early decisions are binding! 

You can only apply to one ED program, so it’s best suited for students that have a clear top choice. While you can still apply to other law schools as fallbacks, you will be required to withdraw your applications if you’re accepted into your top choice. 

Now that you know what Early Decision is, here are the top law schools that offer this application process:

Law School Early Decision Deadline
University of Chicago December 1
Columbia University November 15
University of Pennsylvania November 15 (round I) or January 7 (round II)
New York University November 15
University of Virginia March 1
UC Berkeley November 15
University of Michigan November 15
Duke University November 4 (round I) or January 6 (II)
Cornell University November 1 (round I) or January 8 (round II)
Northwestern University November 15
Georgetown University March 1

You’ll notice some schools offer two Early Decision rounds. This is to ensure students committed to joining these law schools have enough time to submit all the necessary application materials. 

So, if you need more time to collect your letters of recommendation, or aren’t quite satisfied with your personal statement, you can take this extra time to perfect your application!

Pros and Cons of Applying Early Decision to Law School

In case you’re still hesitant about submitting an ED application, consider these pros and cons to help you make the most informed decision:


There are several advantages to applying to law school using an ED application:

Increase Your Chances of Acceptance

When you apply early to your desired law schools, it tells the admissions committee you’re committed to their school. Admissions officers appreciate this dedication and are therefore more lenient in their review of Early Decision applicants.

So, if you have an LSAT score that is lower than anticipated, or less extensive extracurricular experience than you hoped for, an Early Decision application can work in your favor.

A Smaller Applicant Pool

Considering Early Decision applications are binding, fewer students submit them. Many students have several top choices and do not want to be obligated to accept one. As such, you’ll be competing with a much smaller applicant pool than you would for Regular Admission.

This means your LSAT score may be considered higher than the median of other applicants, and your application is more likely to stand out. 

More Financial Aid

As an incentive for students to submit Early Decision applications, some schools, like UC Berkeley, will give successful ED applicants additional funding or scholarships.

Law school is expensive! Having this additional financial assistance can help you afford a legal education while limiting your student loans.

Some Peace of Mind

While maintaining high grades, acing the LSAT, and submitting a stellar application is the hardest part of the law school admissions process, waiting for a response is arguably the most frustrating part. Students that submit Regular Decision applications wait months to hear back from law schools.

You can avoid this long waiting game by submitting an Early Decision application. Students typically hear back from their school within a few weeks and can feel some peace of mind knowing they’ll receive a decision from their top choice first.


On the other hand, there are also some cons to keep in mind as you determine which application is best for you:

It’s a Big Commitment

The majority of Early Decision programs are binding, meaning you have to know what your top law school choice is early into the application process. This is a big decision to make, so it’s essential you do thorough research on all of your choices to be confident in your final decision.

Earlier Deadlines

Early Decision applicants are required to submit all of their admission materials a few months before Regular Decision applicants. This time crunch can increase your stress, and you risk submitting a weaker application if you rush. 

Unable to Defer Your Admission

Students who are accepted to law school using an ED application are typically not allowed to defer their enrollment.

Should You Apply Early Decision to Law School?

After going over the pros and cons of Early Decision, you should have a clearer idea of if this application is right for you. To help you solidify your choice, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I 100% certain this ED law school is my top choice?
  • Can I complete my application to the best of my ability before the ED deadline?
  • Are there any schools I want to go to as much as this ED law school?
  • Do I have a good chance of getting into my top choice?
  • Is there any chance I will want to defer my enrollment?

Students should only apply to Early Decision if they’re certain of their top choice and are within the competitive range to get accepted into it. If you’re far from the median LSAT and GPA of the school, you should not submit an ED application.

ED applications are generally submitted to schools that are within students’ reach since you can only submit one binding application per admission cycle.

FAQs: Law Schools With Early Decision

Using this guide, you should have enough information to make a decision about submitting an ED application to law school. If you’re still unsure, you can find the answers to common inquiries about law schools with early decision below.

1. What Are the T14 Law Schools With Early Decision?

The T14 law schools with early decision are:

  • The University of Chicago
  • Columbia University
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • New York University
  • The University of Virginia
  • UC Berkeley
  • The University of Michigan
  • Duke University
  • Cornell University
  • Northwestern University
  • Georgetown University

The majority of T14 law schools do offer Early Decision applications. The few that don’t include Yale, Stanford, and Harvard.

2. Does Early Decision Help Your Chances for Law School?

Yes, Early Decision can increase your chances of getting into law school, which can be reassuring considering the T14 law schools are the most selective! Admissions committees tend to be more lenient with Early Decision applicants and there is less competition for seats!

3. Does Harvard Law Have Early Decision?

No, Harvard is one of the few T14 law schools that does not offer an Early Decision application.

4. How Many Law Schools Can You Apply For Using an Early Decision Application?

You can only submit one ED application, because they are binding. Considering this, it’s essential you choose a reasonable law school to submit an ED application to. While the committee will be more lenient when reviewing your application, you must still be a competitive applicant to gain admission to their school.

5. Can I Still Apply To Other Law Schools If I Submit An Early Decision Application?

Yes, you can and should plan to apply to other law schools despite your Early Decision application. You aren’t guaranteed admission to your top choice, so you should leave as many doors open as possible.

Final Thoughts

When you’ve done everything else to get into your dream law school, including spending hours preparing for the LSAT, reviewing your personal statement dozens of times, and crafting the perfect resume, a final step to maximize your chances of admission is to submit an Early Decision application.

Ensure you weigh the pros and cons of this option and are confident in your decision if you choose to submit an ED application!

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