Unlike in college admissions, waitlisting is extremely common in law school admissions. It’s likely you’ll get waitlisted by at least one school on your list, if not more. Getting waitlisted can give rise to lots of emotions, from dismay to hope to yet more uncertainty. It can feel like asking someone out on a date and getting a “maybe” – are they interested or not? You’re good enough that they want to keep you around, but they aren’t quite sure they’re ready to commit to you yet. And, as in dating, once you get that “maybe,” you don’t want to overwhelm them with your affections (no love bombing!), but you do want to let them know you’re still interested. That’s where a Letter of Continued Interest, or LOCI, comes in.
A LOCI is vital for ensuring you will still be under consideration for admission. Many schools won’t even admit candidates off the waitlist unless they submit a LOCI. After all, schools typically place a large number of applicants on their waitlist, so looking at who takes the time to sit down and write a letter and who doesn’t offers an easy way to cut down the pool. Sending a LOCI not only demonstrates you’re serious enough to take that time but also lets the school know that you’re still interested in attending. So don’t just pay lip service—only submit LOCIs to schools where you would be willing to attend over schools where you may have already been admitted!
Now that you know why a LOCI is important, you might be wondering what you should include. Here are my recommendations:
Any significant updates
If you won a prize for your thesis or scored a 180 on the LSAT since you sent your application in, you’re definitely going to want to include that in your letter. But if your boss told you “good job” one time or you got an A on a paper, that’s probably not worthy of a mention. It’s also totally okay if you don’t have any significant updates to share—in that case, just focus on the other elements of your letter.
Your level of interest (and be honest!)
You shouldn’t be writing a LOCI to a school unless you’re interested in attending, but there are levels of interest. If the school is your very first choice, and you would accept an offer from there over any other school in a heartbeat, then say that! But if a different school holds the top place in your heart, you can still express your interest without being dishonest. I would suggest saying something like “your school is among my top choices” or “I would be very interested in attending [insert school name here] should a spot open up for me.”
Why the school is a good fit for you and your goals
It’s a good idea to reiterate what makes the school an excellent fit for you in particular—for your interests, goals, values, etc.—and how attending will help you on your path. In keeping with the (surprisingly apt) dating metaphor, schools like to feel special, and a little flattery never hurt anybody! But it’s important to not just compliment the school generally (You have such a beautiful campus…) but tailor it to you (Your extremely strong programming in XYZ would be helpful for me as I pursue my goal of working in ABC…)
What you will contribute to the school
On the flip side, you should mention not just what the school can do for you, but what you can do for the school. Schools don’t want to just be used for their large endowments and hotshot professors; the relationship should one of mutual benefit. Will your unique background enrich the community, or your keen analytical eye help you contribute to the classroom environment?
Contact you’ve had with the school since applying
Have you spoken with professors or students who made an impression? Did you interview and have a great chat with your interviewer about the school’s strong community or great clinical programs? Have you visited campus and sat in on a class? If you’ve had any positive interactions with the school, now is the time to bring them up. Plus, mentioning any proactive actions you’ve taken to get to know the school better shows you’re serious about them.
In addition to including the above, your letter should be thoughtful, absent of typos, and concise (preferably under a page single-spaced). Remember that your LOCI is also a writing sample, showing schools the quality of your thought and how well you express that thought. In terms of timing, it’s a good idea not to wait too long to send your letter after getting a waitlist notification—after all, you don’t want the school to think you’ve forgotten about them. But you also might want to wait a little bit to send the letter closer to when schools start evaluating waitlist candidates (usually after the commitment deadline for admitted students), to ensure the school doesn’t forget about you.
Now go forth and get send those LOCIs!
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Thank you Julia Gourary! Very thoughtful attitude and nice of you to write about it.
Glad you enjoyed it!