When I was going through admissions, I tried to take an economical approach to the decision. Your ultimate choice should incorporate a number of variables that will ultimately decide whether or not a particular law school is the right choice for you individually.
How much is tuition and living expenses? What are the chances you make X amount of dollars after graduation? Is there a specific city or region you’d prefer to live in after graduating? How much more salary can you expect after graduating from School A as opposed to School B? How important are subjective inputs such as happiness, comfort, proximity to home, etc.? Do I have connections in a certain area that will help me develop my network? If so, how much should that factor in?
By essentially giving each of these factors a tangible “value”, you can come up with a formula that can help narrow down your choices.
Lets look at a quick example of just one of the many factors that will play into your decision – location.
If you’d prefer to live in Boston rather then Nashville, thinking about it in general terms does little to substantially factor it into your equation. If, however, you decide that you “value” living in Boston over Nashville at, say, $5,000 a year, you can add that as a “cost” to attending a school in Nashville versus Boston. By repeating this same process for a variety of factors, you can develop your own unique formula that will help you when it comes time to make your final decision.
~ Brendan Evans
Boston University School of Law ’15
So you’ve taken the LSAT, sent in applications, and the acceptance letters are rolling in? Welcome to the beginning. Choosing a law school is a tough process, but there are three real factors: Location, Rank, Cost.
Location: Where you attend law school matters. In general, your law school is going to have its best network in the city/region/state where its located. Does that mean you can’t go to school in Florida and end up in California? No. But it does mean its going to be a whole lot harder. Pick a school where you wouldn’t mind working.
Rank: USNews isn’t the end-all be-all, but it and other rankings are important not to completely ignore. Your best information is going to come from any ranking that shows outcomes for each school’s students (Jobs. Salary. Etc.). Keep this information in mind when considering…
Cost: Some law schools cost more than others, and chances are high that you’re trying to get out of this law school experience with minimal debt and your dream job. Compare your scholarships and don’t be afraid to try and negotiate between schools. Ultimately, when you take out loans you’re spending your future paycheck. The less you borrow now the more buying power you’ll have later when your land that exciting dream job in International Corporate Dog Law.
~ Tyler Spunaugle
Boston University School of Law ’16
When you choose a law school, you also choose where you’re most-likely going to live for the foreseeable future. Although the very best schools may have a national reach, the vast majority do not. Most of the firms that show up to your OCI will be from the same state or region, and many of the connections you make throughout your three years will be local, making it difficult to move far from where you went to school.
Before you decide on a school, research into the geographic placement of recent graduates. Some schools have rather odd connections to certain areas that may make it easier to relocate once you’ve graduated.
For example, Emory, which is located in Atlanta, Georgia, has very strong ties to New York City. In fact, about a quarter of Emory’s student body finds work in the Mid-Atlantic.
And Emory is not alone – other schools have similar oddities when it comes to geographic job placement.
Graduating from a top law school is great, but if you don’t want to live in that state, or even that region, after you graduate, you may be better off considering options that are closer in proximity to where you want to practice law.
~ Scott Bailer
Boston University School of Law ’16