Choosing a law school
The first step in selecting a law school is to know what's important to you and what your ambitions are. While everyone's priorities may be different, consider the following when making your choice.
The cost of a legal education is a huge factor when choosing a school. Costs can be in the neighborhood of $100,000 for three years, counting tuition, fees, books, and travel.
Reputation and career placement
A law school's reputation can impact how successful its graduates are on the job market. While there are law programs that seem to have all-around excellent reputations, every school builds its reputation differently.
- Some law schools have a particularly strong reputation within a state or region. (These are especially useful for building contacts if you want to work on a state government level.)
- Other schools may be known for the strength of individual programs (e.g., environmental law, tax law, constitutional law).
This means that the law school you choose could impact where you work and what kind of jobs you can expect to get.
Before investing any time or money toward your law degree, learn how law schools stack up against each other and what areas each excels in.
Check out sites and guides that rank law schools. Apart from showing which schools excel in which areas, the rankings can give you an idea of how successful a school is when placing its graduates in jobs.
Contact your potential law school's placement bureau or the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) to research graduate placement statistics.
How big a school would you feel comfortable studying in?
- Large law schools tend to have more than 1,000 students.
- Intermediate-size schools have 500 - 1,000 students.
- Small schools enroll fewer than 500 students.
Which is best for you? Larger schools usually offer more courses, cover a more diverse range of interests, and are often near larger cities. Smaller schools can provide more personalized attention and mentoring.
Campus visits are a great way to get a feel for the school. While on campus talk with faculty and students.
Library and computer facilities
Law libraries are a very important factor in choosing a law school. When visiting a school, find out if the library has enough reference material available and enough space to study — especially during exams. Ample computer access is a must.