Law School Waitlists and LOCIs

A few thoughts during this excruciating time of year for you:

1. Schools keep very deep waitlists. The odds of getting an offer from one of them are slim. Do prepare mentally to attend the school where you have already put down your deposit, or make other plans altogether. (You do not have to go to law school.) But don't let law schools string you along and mess with your head all summer like a bad ex. Manage your expectations. 

2. If you do get that happy call, you will have very little time to make a decision. So decide ahead of time what answer would be (and that anticipated answer might change as more time passes, so reevaluate periodically). You also won't have the time or the leverage to negotiate financial aid, so as you decide ahead of time whether you would say "yes" or not, assume you'd be paying full fare, and weigh that against the offer and price tag you'd be turning down in order to accept that offer from the waitlist. Related to that...

3. We field a lot of questions about asking for scholarship money from a waitlist. That's a non-starter. Law schools use scholarship money as a recruiting tool. If they had wanted to recruit you, they would already have admitted you. You wouldn't be on a waitlist.

4. For schools you would say "yes" to, do stay in touch over the summer. If your contact information changes, let them know, because you want them to be able to reach you at a moment's notice. Email them about once a month to remind them of your strong interest (assuming that's true — see #2 above; if not, let that waitlist go). Those are called "Letters of Continued Interest," aka LOCIs, but you don't need to use that terminology in your emails. If you have genuine application updates (job change, graduation/finalized degree, summer plans, etc.) include those as well.

5. LOCIs will feel very repetitive if you're sending them once a month. That's OK. The length can be a few sentences to a few paragraphs.

6. If you would in fact accept an offer and withdraw your existing deposit AND also withdraw all your other pending applications, let them know that in your LOCIs, because that makes it easier for them to make you an offer. 

7. Don't turn into a crazy person. Don't stalk admissions officers online or in person. Don't pitch a tent in the quad. Don't go down rabbit holes on Reddit. Try to stay sane. Waitlist offers are unexpected bonuses; don't stake your sanity or your happiness on them. 

8. Some schools like to be fancy and call the waitlist something other than the waitlist ("hold," "reserve," etc.) They're all the same thing. Some schools haven't told you anything at all by this point, which is pretty rude but not unusual; those are effectively waitlists too at this point in the season, so you can go into waitlist mode with them too.

9. Follow directions, assuming you care about staying on a particular waitlist. Some schools make you opt into the waitlist; others put you there unless you opt out. Some ask for additional materials, others want only updates. Read their communications carefully.