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Choosing a Law School? Here are 3 Factors to Consider

Where you ultimately decide to attend law school matters. It’s a decision that will impact not only the next three years, but also the time you spend after graduation.

“Studying law near where you plan to build a career makes sense,” Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, writes. “Your law school’s clinics, internships and local alumni networks may give you a foot in the door. And law school classes may be geared to the rules and subjects tested on the state bar exam.”

But making the decision isn’t easy. Just ask Hillary Mantis, Assistant Dean of the Pre-law Advising Program at Fordham and contributor at National Jurist. She recently offered a few tips on how to make deciding which law school to attend just a bit easier.  

LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

The American Bar Association publishes data on every law school in its Standard 509 disclosure reports. Mantis recommends that applicants to look into the 509 disclosures to better understand how a school’s law students perform.

“You can determine the bar pass rate, recent graduate employment rate, merit scholarship retention rate, and see which top three states their recent graduates were employed in,” Mantis writes.

ATTEND EVENTS

Law schools host a number of events for accepted students to give them a better feel for what the school has to offer. Attending these events can be helpful in making the ultimate decision.

“If you can, as things are opening up, go there in person,” Mantis writes. “Talk to students, walk around the neighborhood, eat in the cafeteria, and walk through the library. Can you picture yourself there? Do you feel comfortable? Do the students seem happy? Is the law library nice? (You will be spending a lot of time there!) Is there food and coffee widely available on campus? Do you like the neighborhood the school is in? Is there housing available? As important as the data is, the intangibles are equally important.”

ASSESS COST

Law school isn’t cheap. In fact, the average total cost of law school is $205,744. Given that the cost isn’t going to get any less expensive, it’s a good idea to factor cost into your decision.

“The total cost of attendance (COA) includes rent and other fees beyond the actual stated tuition,” Mantis writes. “So, even if you received a partial scholarship to a school, the total cost of attendance at that school may actually be more than at a school that didn’t offer you a scholarship but has lower tuition and is in a part of the country with cheaper rent. Sit down, crunch the numbers, and figure it out.”

Sources: National Jurist, US News, Education Data Initiative

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