What to Consider When Selecting a Law School

In Degrees of Difference: A How-To Guide to Choosing A Law School, Amy Briggs offers the following suggestions to pre-law students seeking to identify law schools to which they might apply:

"The best piece of advice about determining where to apply is to be honest with yourself regarding your credentials. It can be difficult, even unpleasant, to realize that your UGPA (undergraduate grade point average) or LSAT isn't what you'd hoped it would be or what it would have been if you'd spent more time in the library! But failing to be realistic can set you up for rejection. If you truly want to go to law school, you'll have to objectively evaluate what you have to offer and how that compares to other applicants."
(Briggs, Degrees of Difference: A How-To Guide to Chosing a Law School , National Association for Law Placement, 1998, p. 55).

To examine law school admissions patterns for students in your LSAT score and UPGA range, you may consult the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

It is important to remember, however, that factors other than your LSAT score and GPA will be considered by law schools.

In addition to assessing your own credentials, you should know the following details regarding any of the law schools you are considering:

  • Academic reputation.
  • Class size (with information on first-year sections and upper-division courses and seminars).
  • Faculty-student ratio.
  • Details on faculty members (number of full-time regular tenured/tenure-track faculty members teaching and directing clinics/special programs).
  • Number of upper-division courses offered.
  • Adequacy of facilities (library, computer resources).
  • Location.
  • Support for students (mentoring, writing labs, special summer programs).
  • Experiences of other UNM graduates at the law school.
  • Percentage of students involved in law journals, moot court, faculty-supervised clinics.
  • Clinics (how many, number of openings, whether supervised by regular faculty members).
  • Existence of law student associations consistent with your interests.
  • Special programs (specializations, dual degrees, placement patterns for students in specializations/dual degrees).
  • Specializations (number of full-time tenured faculty teaching/doing reseach in areas of specialization; number of journals published and faculty-directed clinics offered in the areas of specialization).
  • Dual degrees (range of flexibility in scheduling classes, completing dual degrees).
  • The diversity of the student body and faculty.
  • Bar passage rates (including a comparison with state averages, with information on first-time takers and whether passage rate is going up/down).
  • Job placement support and placement patterns for students.
  • Relationship between placement office and local/regional/national recruiters.
  • Financial aid.
  • Attrition rates.
  • Cost [see article on cost]

While no single list of sources can offer you definitive guidance for sorting through these many questions, you should consult the following publications:

Of course, you may also find it helpful to discuss these issues with your pre-law advisor .