Thinking About Multiple Seat Deposits?

Law School Expert Blog

If you’ve been admitted to law school for Fall 2008, you probably have a seat deposit due April 1 or April 15. The complication, of course, is you may be one of the many law school applicants waiting to hear from other schools and you probably don’t feel ready to make a commitment to one school without knowing what your other options might be.

The most common question is whether an applicant can submit a deposit to more than one law school. The answer to this question has changed in the last year thanks to a new LSAC policy.
Here is what LSAC says:

Seat Deposits

Many law schools use seat deposits to help keep track of their new classes. For example, a typical fee is $200, which is credited to your first-term tuition if you actually register at the school; if you don’t register, the deposit may be forfeited or partially returned. A school may require a larger deposit around July 1, which is also credited to tuition. If you decline the offer of admission after you’ve paid your deposit, a portion of the money may be refunded, depending on the date you actually decline the offer. At some schools, you may not be refunded any of the deposit.

The official position of the Law School Admission Council is:

Except under early decision plans, no law school should require an enrollment commitment of any kind, binding or non-binding, to an offer of admission or scholarship prior to April 1. Admitted applicants who have submitted a timely financial aid application should not be required to commit to enroll by having to make a nonrefundable financial commitment until notified of financial aid awards that are within the control of the law school.

Multiple Deposit Notification

Each year, LSAC provides participating law schools with periodic reports detailing the number of applicants who have submitted seat deposits or commitments at other participating schools, along with identification of those other schools. Beginning June 15, 2008, those reports will also include the names and LSAC account numbers for all candidates who have deposits/commitments at multiple participating schools.


Be smart and ask each law school about their policy on multiple deposits. (NYLS has been kind enough to send a threatening e-mail about this to some of my clients this year). If a school says they will not penalize you for multiple deposits, then great. If they say they might revoke your offer of admission then that will definitely impact your decision.

I’d love to hear comments from applicants who are navigating these unchartered waters….

19 Responses

  1. I’m really glad you posted on this… I’ve had an offer of admission from my third choice school for a month, and still not a word from my first choice. Word on the street is they’re running a little behind. However, the deposit for the other school is due April 15, in less than a month. A friend who goes to my first choice school said she got her offer of admission in LATE April! I was planning on just paying it if I hadn’t heard by then. I had no idea there were potentially policies against it.

  2. Hi Ann,

    This is so unfair. How can they penalize when there is no requirement that all law schools make decisions by a certain date. I still haven’t heard back from my top three choices and deposits at my safety schools are due April 1st. This makes no sense to me. any advice on what to do?

  3. Dear Law School Expert,

    Although this is quite unrelated to your post, could you blog about the way that the LSDAS calculates cumulative GPA? I heard that it differs from that of most schools. For example I think it counts A+ as 4.33.

  4. Hi – remember the schools won’t know until June 15 that you’ve put down multiple deposits. By then, you can withdraw your name from other schools. And it’s unlikely schools will boot you off their list – they just want to scare you from this practice because they are trying to guess how many seats will be filled.

  5. thx!!

    do schools really follow the LSDAS grading system?

    doesn’t that mean that schools with +/- systems are advantaged?

    and it also means that it is potentially possible to surpass 4.

  6. Yes, this is what the schools rely upon because it’s the only way to compare GPAs between schools (otherwise all schools would adapt advantageous policies).

    I’ve never seen anyone surpass a 4.0 on LSDAS’ calculation.

  7. So, based on the number of seat deposits they receive by the April deadline, do schools then look at the “other” applications that might not have been so great to fill the remaining seats?

    The school I’m applying to has an admissions deadline of May 1, but the Accepted Student Orientation is in March and seat deposits are due April 1. What does that mean for those of us still waiting? ~~Carol

  8. Schools will start to evaluate whether they need their waitlist. If so, they go to the waitlist now – and they may look for highest LSAT/GPA people first, or they might look for people they think are more likely to attend (to keep yield in check). I had a client get into UCLA and USC last year on the day his orientation at Hastings was supposed to begin (in August). So, it’s never too late to get a call!

  9. So if I put down two deposits (because I haven’t decided yet) and then withdraw from one of the schools before June 15, will I still be on the 2 deposit list?

  10. I called LSAC and they said they don’t send out anything about applicants having multiple deposits at schools…

  11. They don’t – yet. They will start in June. Check the link I posted for more information.

  12. I posted one of the anonymous comments before and I just wanted to let you know that even if you withdraw at a school (after making mult deposits) you will still be on that list. LSAC told me there is NO WAY to get off the list.

  13. Of course, if that’s true, you can simply withdraw from one of the schools and let the other school know you’ve withdrawn and send them a copy of the correspondence…

  14. I have a question about NYU’s binding scholarship agreement. Do you know anything about this? What are the implications of it being “binding”? Let’s say you accept the binding scholarship, but you stay on another school’s waitlist– what would be the consequences of, for example, signing the binding agreement at the end of April but then getting into a different school at the end of May and trying to withdraw from the first school? Would the first school, to whom you are breaking the binding agreement, try to force you to stay, or try to contact the second school and have the second school rescind their offer? Would there be consequences when going before the bar? Do you know anything about this or would you have any advice?

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