Having a wide range of choices when applying to law school is critical.
Not having a solid strategy for safety, target, and reach schools can run you the risk of not getting into the school you want to attend – or even worse not getting into any school you’ve applied to.
AIM FOR AT LEAST 12 SCHOOLS TOTAL
The general rule of thumb is to apply to at least 12 law schools in total with five reaches, five targets, and two safeties.
Target schools should be one of your highest priorities and require careful selection as these are the schools that are most likely your best options. While your chances of getting into a reach school are lower, Kuris says, “It is worth applying to several reach schools, anticipating the likelihood of being waitlisted or rejected at each one. As long as you are being realistic, there is no harm in taking a chance. After all, if you receive no rejections, you may wonder whether you could have aimed higher.”
Keep to two safeties. Experts caution against applying to more safety schools than you need to.
“This is a mistake we often see people make,” Spivey writes. “A safety school is, by definition, one that you are confident will admit you, barring a really bad letter of recommendation or character and fitness issue. It is also one that you would attend if you weren’t admitted to any of your other schools.”
FIT IS KEY
Regardless of whether it’s a safety, target, or reach, all schools that you apply to should be a good fit for your goals and values.
Mike Spivey, of Spivey Consulting, says when considering fit, applicants should look beyond the typical considerations of location, programs, and cost.
“Read the mission statements, news releases, online alumni magazines, and social media posts and comments of the schools’ student organizations’ accounts. Go to Law School Transparency for employment data,” Spivey writes. “These other resources give you greater insight as to whether the school is a fit for you.”