Choosing a law school is a tough decision, but we’re here to make it easier! Follow along to find out how a law school’s reputation can impact your future career.
When selecting a law school, there are many important factors to consider. But does which law school you go to matter? The answer is a little more complicated than you may think.
Your law school decision should be as informed as possible, and we’ve got you covered! Here we’ll go over each factor you should consider when choosing a law school; including the school’s reputation, location, specialty, and more.
Here are a few ways in which your law school can impact your future career.
As you may know, attending prestigious schools can have a significant impact on your future career. Attending a law school with an excellent reputation tells employers that you’ve received a top tier education, and signifies that you’re well-prepared to handle whatever the job may throw your way.
In fact, some firms only consider applicants who have attended a top 20 law school, but this may be changing. According to a 2022 Law.com article on law firms and diversity; “While there will always be firms that consider themselves elite because they only hire from Harvard or Yale, there is a growing number of students, clients and private practice attorneys who do not consider such firms elite but rather elitist.”
The article goes on to point out that the same firms that once only selected applicants from top 20 schools are now prioritizing inclusion in response to the change in political climate over the last 10 years.
The quality of your education will impact how prepared you are for the world of law. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t receive an excellent education at a lower-tier or non-ivy school. Your school’s reputation goes beyond rankings and prestige.
Take a look at real-life reviews of your school, statistics on placements and, if you can, meet with an alum from the school. Your choice should be made based on what you think is best based on all of your needs, including the connection you feel to the school, location, and quality of training you’ll receive.
At the end of the day, your ability to do a great job and your drive to improve is much more important than your law school’s reputation. If a law school has a negative reputation, look into why. Is it because students have given bad reviews? Or perhaps because law firms who have hired alumni have found them unprepared? Take these red flags into consideration before choosing a school.
Let’s talk about industries and practice areas that care about where you go to law school. Realistically, the school you attend will have an impact on your job prospects, but you can use this to your advantage.
For example, you may not attend a top 10 law school, but you can attend a school that specializes in an area of law you are passionate about to give you a leg up in your future job applications.
It’s important to understand that law schools don’t expect you to know which field of law you want to matriculate into later on. If you have an idea of what you want to do, you can tailor your law school experience to be more suited to that field.
Law school rankings take a number of factors into consideration. Additionally, each ranking system is different. The US News Best Law Schools rankings, for example, “evaluate institutions on their successful placement of graduates, faculty resources, academic achievements of entering students, and opinions by law schools, lawyers and judges on overall program quality.”
US News is an excellent source for researching law school rankings, but it’s not the only one. You can also check Public Legal, Forbes, and, of course, Juris Education for more insights on the top law schools in the US.
Reputation isn’t everything. Here are some more factors to consider when applying for law school.
A school’s ranking is not the same as its overall reputation. Certain law schools may also have higher rankings in certain categories than others, so it’s important to tailor your search to your individual needs.
Most law schools, like regular colleges, are known for having a specialty. If you decide which area of law you want to practice, you can base your law school decision on how many connections your law school has to that field.
For example, if your school specializes in corporate law, you may have a better chance at getting a job at a corporate firm. Your profs are also excellent resources. While you’re at law school, reach out to them and ask their advice! They may be able to connect you with job opportunities if they see you are passionate and hardworking.
When choosing a law school, it’s important to put your location preferences at the top of your priority list. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for a realistic life change. If attending a school means moving to another state, consider how that will impact all aspects of your life.
Sometimes it’s better to stay close to home, even if that means not attending the most highly reputable law school in the world. For others, an adventure to a new place is an excellent way to make connections and expand your horizons.
For many students, financial aid is a critical aspect of their law school decision. If you are dependent on financial aid to get you through law school, make sure to do thorough research on what’s available to you at each of your target schools. Keep in mind that attending an affordable school doesn’t necessarily mean attending a “bad” school.
Your law school's reputation will have an impact on your future job prospects, but the effect may not be as critical as you may think. What’s most important is that you get the best education you can, and that you are comfortable in your decision.
If you are concerned about getting into the right law school, consider hiring an admissions expert to help you along your journey.