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How to Choose a Law School: Main Factors, Tips + FAQs

May 22, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 5/22/24

Choosing the right law school can be overwhelming and confusing. In this article, we’ll discuss how to choose a law school.

Choosing a law school to attend can be one of the most overwhelming and challenging decisions you'll have to make in your education journey. There's a lot to consider, like location, tuition cost, as well as class and program size.

It would be best if you did your research when looking at law schools. You must be aware of what area of study you'd like to specialize in and if a law school's ranking is something that matters to you. All of those factors come into play when choosing a law school to attend.

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Law School

Here are the key factors you should consider when choosing your future law school. 


For many, location is a significant deciding factor in choosing a law school. If you're not aiming to attend one of the top 10 law schools in the country, then you should consider going to law school in a region where you'd like to start your future career.

The reason for this is so you can get a headstart on developing a strong professional network within the community. Law schools offer students a chance to work on pro bono cases in their community. Students can utilize that by networking and building ties with the community they want to work in.

Christina, Admissions Expert at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, shares these tips on deciding what law schools to apply to:

"One thing that you should prioritize is location preferences: urban versus rural, proximity to legal markets. I'm sure a lot of you have seen law school rankings and people thinking a lot about, okay, this school is ranked here or this school is more prestigious. But when you think about some of the schools who maybe aren't as high on a ranking list, a lot of them have really strong geographical ties, and so they can be very valuable in that specific legal market."
"When you think about location preferences, consider urban versus rural, and proximity to legal markets. I'm sure a lot of you have seen law school rankings and people thinking a lot about, okay, this school is ranked here or this school is more prestigious. But when you think about some of the schools that maybe aren't as high on a ranking list, a lot of them have really strong geographical ties, and so they can be very valuable in that specific legal market.
"If you want to move, think about those challenges that might come up. When you're thinking about moving to a new city for law school, consider how much it costs, how much an apartment costs, what it would look like to get you from point A to point B. These logistical considerations are important because you're going to be living in this city for three years, and you want to reflect on what your career goals are and where you see yourself in the legal field."

Class and Program Size

When choosing a law school, prospective students tend to overlook class and program size. What a potential student might deem acceptable in class and program size is dependent on what they're looking to gain in law school.

For instance, smaller class sizes have some benefits. You'll have the opportunity to engage in many class discussions and build close relationships with your peers and professors.

With that being said, larger class sizes also have their advantages. For instance, it allows you to network with a large community. A larger class size also means a large alumni pool, which means more opportunities for you to find work.

You need to consider class and program size and decide whether you would be okay with small or large class sizes. 

Program Focus and Curriculum 

If you're deciding on getting your law degree, you'll have to decide what type of law you want to practice. This is crucial because some law schools may specialize in certain areas of law. For instance, some law schools may focus on human rights, business, or criminal law. 

The curriculum you'll be learning from will be the stepping stone to your career. So you must figure out what type of law you'll want to work in in the future. Once you've figured that out, you should research law schools specializing in that law.

Alternatively, some law schools offer joint degrees in fields like business. If this is something you'd be interested in, do your research on those law schools and see if they require any extra admission components. 

Financial Aid and Cost

The cost of tuition, books, housing, and other expenses is a significant factor when considering law schools. Tuition costs can vary depending on which law school you choose. For instance, Ivy League law schools are more expensive than non-ivy league schools.

However, you must research what a school offers and not only focus on the cost. Law schools that cost less may not offer as many opportunities as those pricier ones. Look at your law degree as an investment in your future. So it would be best if you researched law schools and what they offer.

Law schools do offer financial aid to help students with costs. Keep an eye out for deadlines for financial aid and scholarships because they can help with the expensive law school fees. 

Ranking and Reputation 

For some people, a law school ranking is extremely important to them. Prestigious law schools can open up a lot of doors for their graduates. However, it's also important to note that these schools are incredibly competitive.

For many of those prestigious law schools, applicants have a very high GPA and LSAT score and an impressive resume filled with extracurricular activities. If, despite all that, you're still determined to attend a prestigious school, here is something that would help you get in.

Passage Rate on the Bar Exam and Employment Success

High bar exam passage rates indicate that the school provides a strong legal education and prepares its students well for the licensure exam. Similarly, a high employment success rate shows that the school’s graduates are more likely to secure legal jobs, which is crucial for kickstarting your career and keeping your student loans in check! 

Andrew, Admissions Expert at NYU School of Law, says:

"Bar passage rates, this is a big one. Every year you'll see people going to a school that frankly, like, less than half the people pass the bar."
"Employment outcomes, and I think arguably this is the most important part of you choosing a law school probably more than anything else except for maybe that like you do want to go to a law school and figure out a couple of years in that the job you want is very hard to achieve in there."

Student Clubs and Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

Your law school will be more than a place to earn a degree. It's a three-year journey, a hub for making lifelong connections, and a chance to explore your passions beyond the classroom! Look into the clubs and extracurriculars offered by the schools you’re interested in to see if they align with your interests. 

Inclusivity and Multiculturalism

​​A diverse student body and faculty bring a wealth of perspectives, enriching your educational experience.  

Exposure to a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints also fosters cultural competency, a skill increasingly vital in the legal field! It also reflects a commitment to social justice and equity, values that are important for any law school to have!

Visiting Law Schools

While websites and networking can offer you important information on your desired schools, physically being on campus provides an invaluable firsthand experience. 

It allows you to gauge the school's atmosphere, interact with students and faculty, and explore the facilities. You can actually envision yourself on campus and decide if you feel at home!

Campus Culture

​​Considering campus culture is crucial when selecting a law school. The culture defines the overall atmosphere, values, and social dynamics of the institution. It's essential to choose a school you feel comfortable and aligned with, as you'll spend three years there!

Dominique, Admissions Counselor at Dartmouth, explains:

"You want to make sure you're in a place where you really feel you fit in and you can make friends and you know that that can be achieved by visiting and just talking to a lot of people."

Juris Education offers law school admission consulting and tutoring to help you get into your dream law school. Our team consists of admission experts who have worked at the admission offices at schools like Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, and Brown, so you know you're in good hands. 

If you're interested, you can book a free consultation to get started.

Evaluate Which Schools Suit Your Future Law Career Goals

Below, you'll find a chart showcasing law schools, the areas of law they specialize in, and what type of career support/ job placements they offer.

Law School Type of Law Specializations Career Support/Job Placements They Offer
Columbia University Law School Business/Corporate Law Students have the chance to work at clinics and externships at established corporations or start-ups
New York University Law School Criminal Law Internship opportunities are available at their criminal law clinics
University of California-Berkeley Law School Environmental Law Students are given opportunities in interdisciplinary research and hands-on legal experience at their Environmental Law Clinic
Georgetown University Law School Human Rights Law Students have the opportunity to participate in clinical programs and projects
Harvard University Law School Constitutional Law Students are given the opportunity to participate in clinical placements with hundreds of placements in more than 30 areas of law
Saint Louis University Law School Health Care Law Students have the opportunity to participate in practical experience in health care regulations through externship placements

All of these law schools offer a variety of internships and job placements for their students in many areas of law. 

Use Our Free Law School Selection Quiz to Choose the Right Law School For You!

Useful Tips on How to Choose a Law School

If you’re still unsure of which law school is right for you, consider these tips as you make your decision: 

  • Spend Time Researching: Don’t make any decision until you’ve conducted thorough research on the schools you’re considering. Dip deep! Go beyond rankings and programs and see how successful their graduates are, what learning opportunities they offer, and how they can help advance your career.
  • Consider More Than The Rankings: While getting into a T14 law school certainly has its perks, don’t feel obligated to join the highest-ranking school. It may not be a good match for you! Consider rank, but don’t base your decision on it.
  • Network: Application websites will boast of how great their schools are, but until you reach out to real students you won’t get an accurate reading on them! Connecting with alumni, friends, or current students can offer invaluable insights into the law school's real-life experience.

By incorporating these tips into your decision-making process, you can make a well-informed choice that sets you on the path to a successful legal career!


If you still have questions about choosing a law school, check out these frequently asked questions below. 

1. How Important Is Ranking When Choosing a Law School?

The ranking isn't the most critical factor when choosing a law school. Law schools with a high ranking can open up more opportunities for their graduates, but non-Ivy League schools can offer other things like a tight-knit community. However, it's important to note that Ivy League law schools are highly competitive.

2. Should You Go To Law School In The State You Want To Practice?

As mentioned before, yes, you should go to law school in a state where you want to practice law in the future. This is because it allows you to connect and network with the community you plan on serving and working with.

3. Does It Matter Where You Go To Law School?

No, it doesn't matter where you go to law school as long as you consider what was mentioned in today's article. Location, class size, curriculum, financial aid, cost, etc., are all important factors to consider when choosing a law school.

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