Law School Rankings Have Little Impact on Applicants’ Choices, Study Finds

How to Assess Off-Campus Opportunities

Out-of-classroom opportunities are a great way to expand on your law school education and apply your learnings in the real world.

As applicants navigate these opportunities, Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently highlighted what questions applicants should consider when assessing off-campus programs.

IS THE PROGRAM WELL ESTABLISHED?

When considering off-campus opportunities, Kuris recommends looking at whether or not a specific program is integrated into the law school curricula.

“For example, Northeastern University School of Law in Massachusetts requires second- and third-year students to practice law off campus through its unique ‘co-op’ program,” Kuris says. “Washburn University School of Law in Kansas offers a Third Year Anywhere program through which students can work under attorney supervision anywhere in the world while taking Washburn Law classes online.”

It’s important to note that not all off-campus programs are built into the curricula.

“Some may be new and experimental; others may exist more on paper than in reality,” Kuris says. “Staff turnover, changes in funding or university policies around travel can hinder participation. Don’t assume that every program listed on a school’s website is active. If in doubt, ask admissions officers or current students about such programs and how you could participate.” 

WILL I EARN ACADEMIC CREDIT?

Another way to gauge the quality of an off-campus opportunity is to see whether or not you’ll earn academic credit for participating.

“Receiving school credit while off campus should be a hallmark of a strong externship or study away opportunity,” Kuris says. “Make sure you understand the rules around such programs before committing, so that you can earn credit and graduate on time with your peers.”

WILL THE PROGRAM SUPPORT MY CAREER GOALS?

Considering your career objectives can provide valuable insight when assessing off-campus opportunities. For instance, you might consider an off-campus opportunity as a means to establish connections in a legal market that you want to work in.

“This is one reason why dozens of law schools offer students the chance to spend a semester engaging in federal law and policy in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is a key legal job center that attracts graduates from law schools nationwide,” Kuris says. “If you’re interested in working internationally, the chance to spend a semester in Rome or Hong Kong may be invaluable. But if you’re just doing it for the warm weather and delicious food, consider the tradeoffs.”

Sources: US News, Top Law Coach

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