One of the biggest tips I have for creating your list of potential law schools is to consider location. Where do you want to practice law? When I first began the process of putting a list of schools together, I considered many schools for the wrong reasons. I thought about which schools had the best sports teams and which tourist city/state I wanted to live in temporarily. However, I realized that if I was not willing to practice law or at least begin my career in the state, why should I attend a law school there?
You may want to consider the location of your law school in relation to access to resources, courthouses, law firms, etc. Building relationships for internships and potential employment can be an important factor when considering which schools to apply to and ultimately which school to attend.
I transferred undergraduate institutions for a similar reason. I attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa for two years. Around the time where I would begin to partake in internships and form relationships in my field of interest, I realized that I wanted to establish connections in the city/state where I would launch my career. I’m a Cali girl and I knew that I wanted to work in the city, whether it was San Fran or DTLA, so I moved back to California to jumpstart my legal career. This is not to say that one cannot attend a university or law school in one region and become successful in another. I am simply saying to take these factors into consideration when creating your list of schools.
Also, check out the law schools employment statistics. You’ll want to look for high employment rates and a decent percentage of students who are employed in your desired work location. For example, if you want to practice law in California and attend the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers School of Law, you will want to know what percentage of their students pass the California Bar Exam.
Creating a list of potential law schools probably isn’t stressful for a wealthy applicant. However, I know from experience that application and report fees add up quickly. Each application will cost anywhere from $35 – $135 depending on the school and whether or not they waive their application fee that year. Without a proper evaluation of which schools are the best fit for your personal and career goals, you may end up wasting hundreds of dollars in application fees alone. (LSAC offers application fee waivers for applicants with serious financial need.)
Another financial perspective to consider when creating a list of law schools is the cost of attendance. I am not suggesting you veer away from schools with extremely expensive tuition. Law school is expensive and high tuition is inevitable. I do suggest, however, to apply to at least one school with a lower cost of attendance. I applied to mostly private schools without taking this into consideration. Just in case your financial plan does not go as planned, and finances become a determining factor in your decision, you don’t want to be stuck with $62,000 tuition without an option for $40,000. Don’t worry you won’t have to compromise a quality law school for lower tuition. There are several top law schools with reasonable tuition, or as reasonable as law school tuition gets. (University of California, Los Angeles, University of Arizona, University of California, Irvine, etc.)
I’m sure a college advisor along the way has introduced the idea of applying to a safety school, a target school, and a dream school. The concept still applies to law schools. I recommend applying to 3 – 5 of each. Evaluate your LSAT score and UGPA in comparison to the median LSAT and UGPA of the law school in question. Your safety schools should have a median LSAT and UGPA below your own, your target schools should have an average LSAT and UGPA within the parameters of your own, and your reach schools should have a median LSAT and UGPA that is above your own.
In terms of selecting safety schools, I do not recommend applying to a school that you would not want to attend solely because your chances of being accepted are high. Make sure you have a sound reason for applying to each school.
Also, I suggest applying to well-ranked schools where your LSAT and GPA may be slightly under the schools average. Especially, if you have other aspects to offer such as a commitment to volunteer service, a compelling life story depicted in your personal statement or extensive extracurricular activities. I’ve learned that many admissions officers use a holistic approach, meaning they read beyond your LSAT and UGPA, regarding applications. So have some faith!
Kayla Phillips ♥