Things to Consider...
There are many considerations to keep in mind when choosing what law school to attend. Though hardly exhaustive, here is a list of questions to ask yourself – not to mention current students and Admissions staff at the law schools you are considering – which will hopefully aid in your decision-making process. We also recommend that you schedule an appointment with your pre-law advisor as you weigh your options.
- The Program: Does it have a national or regional reputation? Is it practical or theoretical in its approach to legal education? How flexible is the curriculum in allowing you to cross-register to pursue your unique interests? Are there joint-degree programs? Is the program full-time only or are there part-time and evening programs? Can you begin your studies in the fall only or is there spring and/or summer entry? What types of clinical offerings and externships are available? Are there enough clinical slots to accommodate student demand?
- The Setting: Is the environment of the school urban, suburban, or a university campus? Is public transportation available? What is the availability, cost, and desirability of the housing? Do most students live in University-affiliated housing or in individually owned apartments nearby? Are there gym facilities accessible to graduate students? Is the campus a place where you feel cultural compatibility
- The Students: What are the gender, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds of the students? What size is the entering class? How competitive/collaborative are students with each other? Are they ranked? How many matriculants enroll directly from their undergraduate programs and how many take at least one year (or more) off before they enroll? How large are the 1L (first-year) sections? Does the school offer small, seminar style classes after first year?
- The Faculty: How accessible is the faculty? What is the student-faculty ratio? Do faculty members maintain open office hours? What are the particular strengths or interests of the faculty? Are they engaged in scholarly work, applied work, or a combination of both? Is there sufficient faculty in the area(s) that interest you most?
- Financial Considerations: What is the overall cost of attending the school, including tuition, fees, books, housing and transportation? Is need-based and or merit-based financial aid available? To qualify for need based aid, is family financial information required? What is the average debt load of graduates? Is there a loan repayment program for lawyers who go on to public interest work?
- Career Placement: Where are graduates finding placement – geographically and otherwise? What is the range of salaries being offered? What assistance is given for locating summer and part-time work? Who recruits on campus and do they interview all students, or only a small percentage? How much support – financially and otherwise – is available for graduates who wish to pursue a non-law firm (i.e., public service) track?