Look Beyond the Stats: Law School Selection Tips & Choosing Where to Apply

With just over 200 accredited law schools in the US, “Where should I apply?” can be a difficult question to answer.

Aside from the standard advice of applying to the highest ranked schools you will most likely be accepted to given your LSAT and GPA, you should consider a number of additional factors when compiling your list. Depending on your circumstances, ranking may not or should not be your number one consideration when choosing where to apply.

Location

Choose schools in locations where you would feel comfortable not only living for three years but where you could conceivably live and work after graduation. If you graduate from a T14 program, you will be able to move to most areas of the country – maybe. Often times local ties will outweigh law school ranking for employers. Hiring new attorneys is an investment that employers want to maximize, weighing not only potential success but potential retention as well. If you are determined to work and live in a particular city post-graduation, consider applying to schools in that geographic location even if they may be lower ranked.

Environment

Since you will be devoting three years of your life to law school, consider the campus environments. Research areas that are important to you: diversity, class size, rural or urban, faculty make-up, weather, etc.

If you can, visit the campuses. While it may not seem critical now, the accessibility and availability of facilities such as libraries and housing will greatly impact your law school experience. Do not discount the importance of a school’s social environment. Speak to current and past students to get a sense of what it may be like on a day to day basis: Is it competitive? Do people go out together? What do they do in their free time? Do you see yourself fitting in?

Area of Practice

If you have a strong sense of the area of law that you would like to practice after graduation, research the school rankings in those areas. For example, U.S. News & World Report provides a subscription based service that gives more comprehensive information on law schools including their industry rankings.

Familiarizing yourself with school curriculum and extra-curricular offerings can also be helpful in narrowing down your choices. If you are interested in intellectual property and patent law, it would be worth noting that the University of Virginia has amongst its 19 clinics a Patent and Licensing Clinic whereas other law schools do not.

Cost

While many students pursue law for reasons other than money, it would be imprudent to dismiss the financial realities of attending law school. Undeniably, law school is a costly undertaking. Depending on your financial situation, consider schools that can help lighten your financial load whether it be through scholarships or in-state tuition rates.

Resources

Ultimately, be informed when choosing where to apply to law school. Below are some resources that may be good places to begin your research.

The American Bar Association Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
The LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
The Boston College Law School Locator
– Your undergraduate career services office
– Anecdotal research. Talk to people who have applied to law school. They may have insight not found anywhere else.

About Stratus

Stratus Admissions Counseling is a full service admissions counseling firm distinguished by its team based, multi-step process ensuring each application is crafted for optimum impact. Each law admissions team member has graduated from a top-14 law school and our collaborative team provides the depth and breadth of legal experience to maximize your chances of admission to your top choice law school.

 

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