Where to apply

Start by thinking about what you want from a law school, not which law schools might admit you.

There are some 200 law schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Applying to law school is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but not nearly as costly or time-consuming as attending law school. Since you will likely leave law school with a personal debt somewhere between $80,000 to $150,000, take the time now to carefully research different law schools and find the ones that are the best fit for you.

Start by thinking about what you want from a law school. Draw up a list of law schools that meet your criteria and then revise your choices based on your chances of admission. While your GPA and LSAT do not begin to tell your whole story, unfortunately they are the primary yardstick that admissions committees use to differentiate among applicants.

Don’t underestimate your qualifications and abilities; at the same time, be realistic about your expectations in a highly competitive process.

We urge you to only consider ABA-accredited schools. They are the only institutions whose degrees entitle you to sit for the bar anywhere in the United States. Non-accredited schools, which may seem attractive because of more generous policies regarding low LSAT scores or lower tuition, limit your options for future practice, and hurt you in the job market. More importantly, in many states, you cannot sit for the bar unless you attended an ABA-accredited institution.

Your primary source of information about the law schools should be the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, available as a free searchable online database on the LSAC website. (You can also purchase the book version at LSAC’s online store, or peruse the Pre-Law Advising Office’s copy during regular office hours.)  The guide provides an array of information about each school, with links to the schools’ official websites.  This is the most reliable and up-to-date source of information about law schools and should be consulted before you begin checking out various secondary materials (commercial guides, websites, blogs, etc.).

Lawyers and law students can be quite informative about their own law schools, but please remember one important caveat: with rare exceptions, any given lawyer or law student has only ever attended one law school.  They have little or no basis for comparison, and can only tell you about their particular experience.  Keep in mind also that any two graduates of a school can emerge with very different impressions of the experience. Make sure you ask them for the basis of their opinions, and not just their conclusions.

And what about the rankings?  These are so problematic, they merit their own page.

Criteria for choosing a law school

What you’re looking for in a law school depends largely on your career goals—why do you want to be a lawyer in the first place?  But it also depends on a number of other personal factors, including geographic preferences, intellectual interests, and desired learning environment.  The...read more »

Researching law schools

Once you have decided what you want from a law school, then you can begin to narrow your search. Application fees range from $50 to $90. Being selective saves you time and money. (Please note, though, that fee waivers are often available for applications.) However, don’t put all your eggs in...read more »

Rankings

This is the criterion most often discussed by prospective law students and the most difficult to determine because it is so subjective. You need to decide what is important to you and not rely on someone else’s “ranking.” In particular, once you leave the set of 10 or 20 schools considered “...read more »