Deciding to go to law school is a difficult decision but finding the perfect university for you can be even harder. Since you will be studying there for three years, it is important that you find a school that you can see yourself being successful at for all of law school. You will have to ask yourself the difficult questions such as: How do I know it is a good fit? What am I actually looking for? Where can I realistically get admitted?
Since there are many universities that have law programs, you have a large pool of places to choose from. There are several things you should keep in mind when you begin your law school search. These include academic requirements, the resources the law school offers, opportunities that the university gives to students, and your comfort level at the specific school. Deciding on your future university can be challenging, however, it can be made easier by researching different factors about the various law schools.
An excellent way to begin your search is by looking at Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and GPA expectations. Academic requirements are very important when considering a law school. Admissions committees determine admittance largely based off of the LSAT and GPA scores of applicants. The LSAT is an exam that is designed to be a measurement of law school success, so schools take this score to represent a student’s ability to keep up with their curriculum. Although LSAT and GPA qualifications are important, law schools do look at other parts of a student’s application such as their resume and personal statement. Also, many universities have a wait list for students that did not necessarily meet academic requirements but are still strong candidates.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) provides a search engine for potential students that are examining law schools based on GPA and LSAT scores. This will help you determine which universities will likely admit you; the search engine will assist you in narrowing down your law school list and ultimately lead you to the beginning of your legal journey. Academics are very important factors when considering applying to a specific law school. Not only are they a great start to your law school hunt, but they also project your future success in your legal career.
Programs + Degrees
In addition to academics, it is important to consider what kind of degree and program you want to pursue. Each college is different in the programs they offer. Some schools offer joint degrees with master or other doctorate degrees. Others offer special programs or fields of law. It is best to decide what kind of law education you want to find at law school that caters to that need. For example, if you want to work part-time during the day but take classes at night, you should look for a university that administers evening courses. While you do not need to immediately know what kind of law you would like to practice in the future, if there is a specialized division that you are looking for, it is important to check to see if a law school offers it. Another thing to consider is what types of degrees the college has. All law schools have a Juris Doctor or J.D. program but some institutions allow students to get their Masters of Law (LL.M) degree. The best way to find out what each law school has to offer is by visiting their programs website and researching what most suits your needs.
Location + Network
A factor that is typically forgotten is the location of the law school. You want to consider the university’s proximity to courts and offices, especially since these are the places where you will look for externships and internships. It is best to think about law school as an investment for your future, not only in monetary terms but location as well. Essentially, where you choose to study law is most likely where you will end up practicing law. This is because you will have been making connections and setting your network up for three years. Employment opportunities, colleague connections, and professional references are very important in the legal industry, which is why you want to ensure you can establish a strong one based off the law school’s location. Also, network building is very important during law school so you want to ensure that the law school has a strong alumni association. The LSAC also offers a search guide by state for law schools. This will help you get a clear picture of what area the law school is in and how your network will be set up.
Prestige + Ranking
Another point to consider is the reputation and ranking of a law school. The U.S. News publishes a ranking list of the ABA accredited law schools based off a certain methodology to determine the prestige of the university’s program. Overall, there are different tiers of law schools which help place them in the ranking list. Top-tier represents the small collection of very reputable universities with excellent programs and low acceptance rates. The middle-tier consists typically of law schools that have good programs for students but not necessarily notable awards. The lower-tier schools are usually colleges that are low-funded or relatively new that tend to have higher acceptance rates.
Prestige represents a law school’s worth in the general sphere. While the ranking of the law school is not the only factor that determines a program’s worth, it still is crucial. Essentially, the higher the ranking, the more opportunities that law school can offer which lead to an increased payoff for students post-graduation. However, this is typically matched with higher tuition bills and lower acceptance rates based off of high GPA and LSAT scores. The ranking of law schools is important in determining the diverse opportunities that a particular university can offer you, however, there are good law schools with lower rankings that still provide a quality legal education. Overall, choose a university that works for your qualifications, budget, and comfort level when determining what level of the tier you could see yourself applying.
Financial Aid + Resources
Another important factor to consider when looking for a law school are the resources that the university offers. Since law school is a large investment, you want to ensure that the financial aid office for a particular school is helpful. The array of scholarships and aid that a law school can provide to students varies depending on state, federal, and donor funding. Thus, looking at an individual school’s financial aid website that is geared specifically for law students can be beneficial in your search.
Other resources that are good to examine at each law school are their opportunities that deal with hands-on training. These include moot court, student journals, clinics, mock trial, internships, externships, and clerkships. The more opportunities a school offers, the better outgoing students feel in their careers. Researching the resources the university has is a good way to narrow down your search for a law school.
Recruiting + Admitted Students Events
Many schools put on events for recruiting purposes in order to help students get to know the university and the programs that they offer. These are excellent ways to analyze the law school and determine if it is a good fit for you. They are also willing to answer questions and address concerns in order to aid in your application process. In addition to recruiting events, some schools host admitted student gatherings for their accepted class. These are excellent ways to get accustomed to your fellow classmates and gauge your comfort level at the particular university. These events are designed to make your decision easier, so it is important to attend as many as you are comfortable.
Visit the Law School
Sometimes, the best way to determine if something is a good fit is by actually going to the law school. Being on the campus and seeing the university will allow you to determine how comfortable you feel being there and potentially studying there. It is important to physically check out the law school and gauge your comfort level because you will be spending at least three years pursuing your legal education. Assess yourself and the law school to determine whether or not it is a good fit. If you want to schedule a visit or check out the law school, check out the individual university’s website to learn more.
Research To Make Your Decision Easier
Choosing to go to law school is not an easy decision, and deciding on a specific school is even harder. Each university is different and offers a range of various resources, degrees, and programs. Setting yourself up for a successful legal education will lead you to a noteworthy career in law. Thus, selecting a law school is a very important and life-changing decision. Ultimately, researching different schools and listing out your priorities are the best ways to ensure you’ll find the perfect institute for you. Just remember that this is your decision! You should go with what you feel is right for you and what kind of student you are. If you pursue what is best for your success, you will be able to make the most out of law school.
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