Should You Defer Law School?

defer law school

In normal circumstances, most law schools expect that when you apply, you’re intending to enroll for the next upcoming fall term. It’s also expected that you’re applying because you’re very interested in that particular law school, and you intend to be a student as soon as possible.

However, there are several circumstances in life that can change that. When it becomes clear that you should or can’t begin law school at the expected time, you can defer enrollment in law school. Schools typically allow a one-year deferral if you’re granted one. In special circumstances, like if you’re completing a non-profit commitment, you can defer for two years. But, what are the consequences? Are your reasons good enough? If you’re thinking about these issues, let’s figure out whether deferring law school is best for you!

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Appropriate Reasons to Defer Law School

Although deferring admission isn’t always ideal, there are several good reasons to do it. If your reasons are similar to any one of these, you may be more confident that you should defer law school.

  • You have an amazing new career opportunity that enhances you as a law student.
  • If you’ve been offered a promotion, high-salary position, or a great work opportunity, you might be granted a deferral to take advantage of it.

  • You have been called for duty in the military.
  • “Ask Asha” at Yale Law School blogs about the reasons students have been granted deferrals. One of the better reasons for a long-term deferral is an armed service commitment.

  • Personal or Medical Difficulties
  • Unfortunately, life happens and circumstances aren’t always great. If a difficult situation has come up and enrolling in law school suddenly needs to be put on hold, just explain to your admissions office what is going on.

Inappropriate Reasons to Defer Law School

  • You want to apply to other law schools and check if you can get into a better school.
  • This is poor form and pretty inconsiderate to the other students who truly want to attend the law school you’ve been admitted to.

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  • You need more time to think about whether law is right for you.
  • If you aren’t sure about law school, or if you haven’t thought about why you’re applying deeply enough, a deferral isn’t the best way to gain time. After all, your whole application is a demonstration for why you’re serious about the career and the school. If you apply for a deferral, suddenly explaining that you aren’t sure, you won’t give the best impression to the admissions office. Try your best to think carefully about your intentions before you send your application.

So Should You Defer?

Ultimately, it’s best to consider all of these issues before you complete your application to law school. Think about if it’s best to apply for the next term, or if you should wait until life circumstances change. No matter when you enroll, good luck!


  • Deborah

    Deborah earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2010 and MBA from Salve Regina University. She scored in the 96th percentile on the LSAT and loves finding better ways to understand logic and solid arguments. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys volunteering, reading adventure fiction, and adding tech skills to her toolbox.

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