Many law schools use seat deposits to help keep track of their new classes. A typical fee might be $200, which is credited to your first-term tuition if you actually register at the school.
A school may require another, larger deposit around July 1, which is also credited to tuition.
If you decline the offer of admission after you’ve paid your deposit(s), a portion of the money may be refunded, depending on the date you decline the offer. However, many schools do not refund deposits.
The official position of the Law School Admission Council is as follows:
Except under binding early decision plans or for academic terms beginning in the spring or summer, no law school should require an enrollment commitment of any kind 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.
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 May 15 each year, these reports also include the names and LSAC account numbers for all candidates who have deposits/commitments at multiple participating schools.