Harvard Law School Junior Deferral Program Details

Now in its second year, Harvard Law School (HLS) offers a unique opportunity for JUNIORS to apply to Harvard Law and, if admitted, defer for 2 years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree and then start law school.

For this year’s applicants the timeline would look like this:

Apply Spring 2019
Graduate by Spring 2020
Work/go to graduate school/Fulbright, etc. until Fall 2022
Start Harvard Law School in Fall 2022
Graduate from law school in Spring 2025

Admitted applicants in this program¬†must defer for 2 years after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. However, they can essentially do anything they wish during the 2 year deferral. For example, some will work in the private or public sector, some will secure academic fellowships such as Fulbright opportunities, and others will complete different graduate degree programs. (We’ve included some examples below of what Illini have done prior to entering law school–not necessarily Harvard, although we do have several students/alumni admitted there each year.)

Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled at a college or university and set to graduate in Spring 2020 with a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must be committed to deferring law school for 2 years, as this is a requirement and this program does not allow starting law school sooner.

Application Process: Applications open March 1, 2019 and are due by May 1, 2019.

Steps to apply:

  1. Register for the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account. Click here to learn more about the CAS.
  2. Applicants must submit EITHER a valid GRE or LSAT score.

    The LSAT
    is offered on March 30, 2019. Registration is open here until February 20, although some sites are already full.Applicants taking the GRE are strongly advised to take it prior to April 15 so that results can arrive by the May 1 deadline. The GRE is offered more often in specialized computer labs; find locations and registration here.
  3. Obtain 2-3 letters of recommendation. Have your recommenders upload their letters to your CAS account.
  4. Order a transcript and submit it to your CAS account.
  5. Draft a personal statement and resume. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to get feedback on your statement and resume.
  6. Complete the application (uploading your personal statement and resume) online through your CAS account, and pay the $85 application fee.

Selected applicants will then be invited to interview. If accepted into this program, you would complete your senior year as usual. Then you would have your 2 years of deferral to work, etc. before starting law school.

Who is a good candidate for this program? According to HLS Admissions, applicants accepted through this program submitted applications demonstrating a clear sense of purpose with internships or other elements supporting their stated path. An example of an applicant admitted last year: An environmental science student with internships and research in that area who wants to practice environmental law.

HLS also says that good candidates answer an emphatic YES to the following 3 questions:

  1. Do I want to attend law school?
  2. Do I want to attend Harvard Law School?
  3. Do I want to do something else prior to law school?

We strongly advise interested applicants to participate in an online info session like the one listed below to learn more about what HLS seeks in its candidates.

Where can you find out more information?

What kinds of things have Illini done after undergrad and prior to entering law school? Almost everything. Some examples include:

  • Any and all kinds of work experience, including:
    • Sales
    • Work for a nonprofit or state or federal government
    • Financial consulting
    • Teach for America
    • Work as a Project Assistant at a law firm
    • Teach English abroad
    • Retail jobs
    • Nanny
    • Work as a bank teller
    • Restaurant or hotel jobs
    • Advertising or marketing
    • Journalism–tv, online, and print formats
  • Travel
  • Complete a fellowship such as a Fulbright or Rhodes scholarship. For more details visit the National & International Scholarships Program.
  • Complete another graduate program, such as an MSW, MFA, MBA, or MS/MA.
  • Make a 1-2 year commitment to AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.
  • Serve the state legislature through the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program
  • Serve the Illinois Governor through the Dunn Fellows program
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