If you are reading this post, chances are you have gotten into law school and are now trying to decide where to go from several options. So first off, congratulations are in order— CONGRATULATIONS! YOU GOT INTO LAW SCHOOL!! If the excitement has started to wear off and the doubt and panic have started to settle in, don’t worry: your friends at Law School Toolbox have you covered!
In this post we want to talk you through some important things to consider when deciding which law school you should attend. Other than the quality of the program, cost, and general campus life, location is an important factor. Read on to learn why you should take location into consideration and what kind of experience you can expect to have in different regions of the country. This is especially important if you are moving to a new city for law school!
Bar Exam and Career Decisions
Yes, this may be more pressure on you to think ahead and predict your future, but you should think about where you want to practice law after law school. If you are not going to a top five or internationally recognized law school (if you are, your J.D. will be recognized everywhere), chances are your J.D. will have the most value in the area (city or state) that you received it in. You will be making connections and networking with professionals in your law school’s city. This means that your first job offer is likely to be from a local firm. So, if there is a law school on your list located somewhere you would never consider practicing law, we would recommend you avoid going there.
Similar considerations should be taken into account when it comes to the bar exam. Beyond what geographic region you want to practice in, you should also consider what the bar exam is like in the states you are considering. There is reciprocity in some states, meaning that if you take one state’s bar exam, it may count for other states as well. However, your law school state’s bar may contain state specific bar material that adds to your list of things to study.
Regional Highlights and Recommendations
The West Coast
Primarily made up of sunny, beautiful California, the west coast is home to several top tier law schools including Stanford Law, UC Berkeley Law, and UCLA Law. While California is the main attraction here, there are also law schools in the Pacific northwest including Lewis and Clark Law School.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle are large hubs for just about any industry you can imagine, but there is a strong tech presence in those areas. Major airports make getting to the west coast easy and beautiful weather makes leaving difficult! If you’re considering a west coast law school, make sure your time management skills are in check so you don’t spend all your time in LA driving the PCH, or exploring nature in the northwest. There’s a lot to do!
From north to south, the central region of the U.S. has law schools such as the University of Chicago Law, University of Texas Law, and Tulane Law among many others. While up north it gets plenty cold during the winters, you can expect to find more temperate climates in this region. Unlike the coasts, it is significantly cheaper to live in these states on average. Texas, for example, is a huge state with lots of space to live in, and is also home to many industries other than the energy sector. There are less major airport hubs than on the coasts, but you can still get to the big cities pretty easily. The central region offers just the right balance between city clusters and open space that many law students find appealing.
The East Coast
Although we have listed a few schools that are not on the east coast, it is easy to think every law school is there. Seven out of the ten highest ranked law schools in the country are there. These schools include Harvard Law, Columbia Law, Yale Law, and University of Pennsylvania Law, just to name a few. Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Boston are some of the most historic and happening cities in the country which means very developed legal communities reside there. New York is a major business hub while D.C. is obviously the political and governmental heart of the nation.
If your law school is in one of the many large cities on the east coast, it is an easy plane or train ride to explore the entire coast. All down the east coast you can observe the change of seasons, but if you are not fond of brutal winters, you might want to think twice. The farther north you go, the less likely you are to see the sun for extended periods of time during the winter. It is also important to take into account the high cost of living in many east coast cities.
We hope this guide helped you in making your decision! If you can, try to reach out to law students at the schools you got accepted to and ask them how they like life there. Think ahead, be honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes, and good luck!
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