I suggested this indicated a certain degree of, if not outright desperation, at least striking eagerness on the part of some top schools to find ways to fill their incoming classes, and that it wouldn't be difficult for schools to avoid the appearance or the actual commission of impropriety in regard to these matters by simply indicating that their admissions deadlines were not really deadlines at all, but flexible standards (i.e., making clear that applicants who wanted a guarantee of having their applications at least formally considered had to meet the application deadline, but later applicants might be considered depending on circumstances).
Davison Douglas, dean at William & Mary, e-mailed me about this topic, and sent a similar e-mail to Taxprof, which Taxprof published with Douglas's permission:
I read your blog today citing the Campos blogpost about law schools still seeking applications.From where I sit, this story is completely overblown.
Here at William and Mary Law School, we’ve had the following statement on our website for years (we never take it down):
“March 1: Application deadline. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed, but your chances of being offered admission may be significantly decreased.”
Many schools have similar language.
Do we typically receive a few applications after March 1? Yes, a handful. Do those applicants gain admission? Occasionally. An example might be the spouse of an active duty member of the military who gets transferred to one of our nearby military bases in late spring. The spouse, who was set to attend another law school, applies late to our law school so that he won’t have to live apart from his wife. The person is a strong candidate and we accept him.
Do we actively seek out applicants after our March 1 deadline? No.
Are we still trying to attract applicants here at William and Mary for the incoming class of 1Ls?
No. Our class is set.
I asked Douglas how many schools have similar language on their websites, as I had looked at a bunch of formal deadlines while writing the original post and hadn't noticed such language anywhere. He didn't reply, which makes me suspect he has no idea, and that it's quite possible that William & Mary is one of very few schools (or indeed possibly the only school) that has a public policy of this kind.What Campos missed is that the willingness of law schools to accept applications after the stated deadline is pretty standard. It says nothing about a law school’s actual enrollment needs. My guess is that he never noticed that language on law school websites before.
"Many" legal academics have a bad habit of talking about things they don't really know anything about as if they do. With the help of a couple of readers I put a certain amount of work into determining exactly how many top 50 schools were, as of July 24, 2012, accepting applications for their 2012 classes. The answer wasn't "many:" it was 28.