So, you made the decision that becoming a lawyer is the perfect for you! You know you have the self discipline, intellectual curiosity and passion for what law school and the career entails, and now you are asking yourself one question: how do I choose the right school for me?
Law school is competitive, and many people attend the only school they were able to get admitted into. With around 54,000 applications flowing in each year at law schools across the country, the competition is fierce. If you are fortunate to get accepted to multiple schools, pat yourself on the back, for you are among some of the best and brightest young adults.
Now back to the original question: what should you consider when choosing which law school is right for you?
What are your areas of interest?
You likely are pursuing law out of a special interest, such as criminal law or family law. Most applicants explain their interests in their admission essays, where they express their long-term goal for going to law school. If you haven’t considered your interests yet, take time to outline them before applying. This can make a difference in which schools you look at. For example, oil and gas law piques your interest, you may want to consider schools in Texas, where the job opportunities for oil and gas reign. If you want to look into environmental law, schools on the Pacific may be right up your alley. University of California at Berkeley has one of the top programs in the country for environmental law.
Where do you want to settle down?
Where you go to law school often plays a major deciding factor in where you will ultimately live after you graduate. This is mainly due to the impact of networking while you are in school. For University of Alabama graduates, 70 percent remain in Alabama after graduation due to the high number of local alumni contacts and career fairs for Alabama firms. In areas like New York and Washington, D.C., the retention rate of graduates is lower due to the high volume of national applications these firms receive. Although, if these are cities you would want to live in three years down the road, consider the schools nearby for a networking advantage.
Is the school in the top 100?
Prestige and rank will always make your resume competitive after graduation. The competition does not end after getting into law school, it follows you until you land that first job. Although, if you are accepted to a top-tier institution, but know it would not be a good fit for your goals and lifestyle, this red flag should trump the school’s high ranking.
All of these questions should be answered during the application process, as well as when you make your ultimate decision on where to attend. It will provide you with a vague guide when making imperative decisions, and may even decide whether or not you really do want to go to law school.
About the Author: Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for The Kyle Law Firm in New Braunfels, Texas. She thinks networking is the most important part of law school in landing that first job.