Help! I've been Waitlisted and I can't get up [off the waitlist]


The majority of law school applicants will be waitlisted somewhere this year and, at many schools, upwards of 50% (or more) of the matriculates will be from the waitlist. Now is the time such WLing is starting to happen, which means now (and through August) is when I am getting a great deal of emails and calls about the waitlist.

This blog post is not near all-compassing re: what to do if WLed,  but I do want to share a few words of encouragement.  The first comes from the above. Simply keep in mind that most law schools have larger numbers of people, and take significantly higher numbers of people, from the waitlist than the typical law school applicant realizes. Initially, small numbers are admitted and schools anticipate they will have to take larger numbers from the WL. In sports terms, being waitlisted is NOT like being undrafted, but rather being waitlisted simply means you will likely be drafted [somewhere] in a later round, albeit perhaps by a team you fell to but not necessarily your very top-pick team.

The second piece of good news is that you are ALWAYS waitlisted for a reason. There are hundreds of reasons why; some “good” in the sense the law school is anticipating they may need something you have for their class, and some “bad”, for example yield protection. Either way, there are hundreds of things you can do to leverage (in the case of “good”) or ameliorate (in “bad”) these reasons for being waitlisted and get off the waitlisted.

In sum, being waitlisted is very often a small speed-bump on the road to being admitted. Often, when waitlisted,  the ball is in your court and there is a good deal you can do to run with it!