The Application Process
When to Apply
The first decision a prospective law school student must make has to do with the timing of their application. Applicants need to decide whether they wish to enter law school directly after graduation, or if they would prefer to take time off between college and law school.
Approximately two-thirds of Columbia's prospective law school applicants choose to take time off; their reasons for doing so vary widely. Quite a few simply want time off from school before undertaking graduate studies. Frequently, students who take time off school seek employment which provides them the opportunity to look more closely at their own career goals. Other students have engaged in public service programs including Teach For America and the Peace Corps.
As undergraduates, a substantial number of applicants have interests other than law. Many applicants spend the years between college and law school in a vast array of jobs (including teaching, dance performance, and investment banking). Some pursue graduate degrees in fields that are completely different than law. Deferrals such as these should not be regarded as limiting; applicants who have had experience outside of college are likely to have more focused views about why they're pursuing their law degree, and may write more interesting and convincing essays than those who are applying to law school directly out of college.