But Mom, I Don’t Want to go to Law School Yet: Information on the Law School Deferral
The month of August is shaping up to be a big one. For starters, it marks my much-anticipated return to the United States. Granted, so far my only truly happy welcome was from the lady who works at the café across the street (I think my coffee consumption is roughly 30% of their annual sales), but I’m sure everyone else is just being shy. Even more heralded, this month I will actually go to law school. That’s right, I’m determined to make an honest woman yet out of this “Law School Blog”, and I can now count down the days on an only slightly mutated set of digits terminating my rotating limbs.
But as I look forward with eager anticipation (read: dread), I can’t help but wish for another year before I chain myself to the legal world. (I also can’t help but wish I didn’t sound so much like Carrie Bradshaw. But that’s a different problem.) I imagine that I’m not the only one to express such a longing, and luckily law schools have a built-in mechanism designed to deal with such situations: the deferral.
So enjoy, as I fill you in on everything I wish I had known about deferrals, once upon a time.
First, deferring is the act of choosing not to go to law school for a period of time (generally one or two years) while reserving your spot for when you do decide to mosey on into the law student world. So step one on obtaining a deferral is being accepted to your school of choice. Which brings us back to the LSAT. For advice on that, re-read Colin’s blog, then immediately return to studying.
However, some of you may be in the same position as myself—wishing there were chocolate countdown calendars for times other than Advent. More importantly, you might not be totally sure you are ready for the whole law school fiesta starting in the next thirty days.
Sadly, if you’re starting law school in fall of 2009 and want a deferral, you’re out of luck. The deadline for deferrals is generally near to the date you need to put your deposit down for your future alma mater, typically the first week of May, but check with your individual schools for more specificity. That means that for those matriculating in fall 2009, the deadline has probably come and gone.
On the other hand, for those of you getting your applications together now who think you may want to exercise the deferral option, keep on reading.
Step two of securing a deferral is to write a letter to your law school detailing what you will be doing during your time off. Keep in mind that law schools may also ask for a letter toward the end of your deferral period asking what you have been doing, so if you say you are off to save the [insert endangered animal of choice] in [enter foreign country of choice], you should at least have a valid passport. After the law school receives your letter they will inform you if they’ve accepted your request, and if so you are free for a predetermined while. My recommendation, however, is that you still follow all deadlines for things like transcript submissions and dean’s certificates for the class you would have been a part of. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier when the time for reenrollment begins.
Note: You will have to put your deposit down before you defer. Deposits can vary, but they typically cost around $200. Otherwise known as 25 drinks.
Come reenrollment (usually earlier than deposit deadlines, anticipate hearing from your school during the winter of your last year of freedom), schools are generally going to ask for the aforementioned letter, any outstanding documents for your application, and possibly another letter of recommendation. This time, the letter will have to pertain to the activities in which you’ve been engaging during your deferral, so if you’re going back to school, keep on schmoozing professors. If you are working or volunteering, try not to f’up too much. (Note: In some circumstances schools will waive a letter of recommendation if obtaining one will put your employment at risk. If this is your situation, then either your school will address it in your reenrollment information or you should contact them directly). At this time you can sometimes also request an extension on your deferral, but law school lore indicates these second deferrals may be harder to obtain than your first. On the other hand, if you are done touring/saving/imbibing the world, then just follow all directions and start planning the color scheme for your dorm come August.
So, one might ask, what exactly are valid reasons for deferring? Well I would love to tell you, but I would love even more to keep you waiting (and save myself the stress of worrying what I’m going to write about next week) for “Deferring Part Two: I Really, Really Want to Train my Mixed-Breed, Toy-Sized Companion for Westminster, But I Just Don’t Think I’ll Have the Time if I’m Living in a Library. Will Yale Let Me Defer?”
Spoiler: I sincerely hope not.