How Do You Decide Where To Apply?
As important as your GPA and LSAT score are, applying to law school is also about networking and asking questions.
You can get tons of advice from many different people and online sources, and they will all tell you something different about where you should apply and where to go after you get accepted. Part of your job is going to be figuring out who to listen to about what. Your aunt who has been an attorney for 40 years is probably not the best person to ask for advice on the LSAT. However, she would be a great person to talk to about what her job is like and how the profession has changed.
Always remember that the law school you attend is YOUR CHOICE.
This may seem obvious, but law schools are very different from each other. It is important that you go to a law school that “feels right.” Law schools want to admit students who are a “good fit,” so you should think about that as well. A law school that looks great online may feel very different when you visit or start talking to admissions staff, faculty, and law students.
Begin By Thinking About YOUR Priorities.
You may not know exactly what you are looking for when you first begin the application process, and your priorities may change as you go through the process and learn more.
Some people will tell you that you need to go to the highest ranking law school that you get accepted to. And if that is important to you, then go for it. However, there is much more to choosing a law school than its rank.
Here is a list of questions to get you started:
What about location? Do I want to be in a large city or some place smaller? Do I want to be some place with an intense urban vibe, like New York City or Chicago, or some place more laid back, like Austin or Madison?
Do I want to stay close to home where my support system is? Or do I want to get the h*** out of here?
Is the law school near the state capitol or near Washington, DC? This will provide you with more opportunities to work in government or on policy, if that is something you are interested in.
What are the class sizes? How large will your cohort be? What would make me more comfortable?
What programs or clinics are offered? Are there study abroad opportunities? What kinds of law interest me?
What kinds of summer work experience opportunities are there?
What kinds of jobs do graduates get? What size law firms do they work at? Ask for employment data. Don’t just get the overall percentage rate of students employed within one year of graduation: get DETAILED data on this!
Where do most graduates end up? In terms of location, do most get jobs locally? Regionally? Nationally? Does this match what I want?
Can I see detailed salary data for their graduates? Don’t just get the average starting salary; this can be very misleading.
What are the bar passage rates? What resources does the school have to help prepare for the bar exam?
How diverse is the student body? What does diversity mean at that school? Are there any classes (optional or required) that focus on social justice? How important is this to me?
How engaged are alums?
What is the campus climate like? How competitive is the culture?
How many students are the first in their family to go to college or to law school?
Are there parks or greenspace nearby? How important is being close to nature to me?
What kind of mental health resources are there? How open is the school to talking about mental health issues?
What is tuition? Fees? Books? What is the cost of living and how much can I expect to pay in rent? What kind of scholarships are there? Will tuition go up every year or do they have a tuition-freeze policy?
Ask questions. Lots of questions. Pick a law school that is a good fit for you.