The right law school can mean the difference between a rewarding career and three years of frustration. But how do you know which school to choose? Here are five tips for choosing the right law school:
What are the school’s strengths?
Every law school has a specialization. They might have a special law review or a mock trial program. They might focus on training advocacy lawyers, or they might prepare lawyers for the rigors of large law firms. Thinking through your ultimate career goals can help you distinguish between schools as you make your choice.
When you’re researching a school’s credentials, it’s important to research a school’s attrition rate. Some schools have relatively open admissions policies but low graduation rates. Other schools see only a relatively small number of students drop out. Attrition is often a helpful indicator of what to expect at a school.
What’s my financial aid package?
Law school is expensive. You might be wise to take a generous financial aid package over a school that ranks slightly higher. The lower your student loans, the more choices you can make once you have a diploma.
What do I need to do to maintain my scholarship?
If you receive a scholarship, be sure to read the fine print. Some schools allow any student in good standing to keep their scholarship. Other schools require a relatively high standing in the class to renew a scholarship. A law school might lure in first-year students with generous offers knowing that not all of them are going to qualify to renew their scholarships. It helps to do your research before you jump at a scholarship.
Where do I want to work?
Many law schools are regional. For example, if you want to live and work in Texas, it helps to go to law school there. Some law schools teach common law while many regional schools teach specifically to the state where most of their students are going to practice.
Is it realistic to move there?
Lots of people move to go to law school. You need to think about whether it’s realistic to make the move. Family obligations and employment requirements might make it impractical to move to a certain place.
As you research law schools, you will be able to make the right decision for you. Take your time to get a feel for each school’s identity and specialties. You’re about to enter an exciting and challenging time in your life, so enjoy the process of choosing a law school.