Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Law School

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer Briana Borgolini to talk about what to keep in mind when making the decision of which law school to attend.

If you’re trying to decide which law school to attend, take solace in the fact that the largest hurdle to law school (admission) has now been cleared. However, the decision of which law school to attend can seem equally imposing. While choosing a law school is a highly personal process, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to ensure you make the best decision possible.

Is it Located in a Region you would like to Live in for Few Years?

If you’re going to attend a school for three years, it is in your best interest to choose a school in a location that you won’t mind living in. Location preferences are highly personal, and you should consider what factors are most important to you when narrowing down your ideal location. For some, it may be an easy decision to stay in a certain area to be close to home or family, but for others it may be more difficult. Be sure to keep in mind that law school can be stressful, and staying close to your support system may be something to consider. Alternatively, actively wanting to move to a specific location, especially if you’d like to work there after graduation, is also something to keep in mind.

Is it Located in a Region where you would like to Ultimately Work?

An important factor to consider when choosing a law school is where you think you’d like to work after graduation. While a degree from the most prestigious schools is more likely to be transferrable to virtually any location, schools that aren’t as nationally recognized will likely place far more graduates in their own regional markets than they will in more distant locations. For schools that are more regional, on-campus interviews and school connections will focus largely on regional employers and firms with offices in its region. While it is definitely not impossible to secure a position in a different area from your school, be sure to keep in mind that it may be significantly more difficult, and require more legwork.

What is your Cost of Attendance?

It may be the least fun part of choosing a law school, but considering how much school is going to cost is very important. While cost should not be the only consideration, it can greatly impact your life down the road if you ignore it. Consider law school to be an investment, and assess the cost roughly in light of your future earning potential. Be sure to be realistic, and remember that high-paying BigLaw associate salaries are not necessarily the norm. Remember that besides your tuition costs, you still need to consider other cost associated with attendance such as housing, transportation and food. There will be large differences in the cost of living between geographic areas, so be sure to take this into account as well.

What Type of Financial Aid will you Receive?

Something else to consider is not only how much school will cost, but what type of financial aid you will have. Scholarships are of course ideal, because they don’t need to be paid back. Therefore, it is in your best interest to try to get as much of your cost covered through scholarships as possible. Don’t forget to consider applying to outside scholarships! If you are receiving a scholarship through your school, be sure you understand any conditions attached. For example, some scholarships may require you to maintain a certain GPA, or class rank. Be sure you understand this thoroughly so you can make an informed decision.

How are the Employment Prospects?

Of course, you should look into what each school’s employment prospects are like when deciding which school to attend. Each school should report where their graduates are employed to the ABA each year, and this information should be considered in your decision. Usually, this information is broken down into a fair amount of detail so you can see what types of positions graduates are employed in. Besides the overall employment rate, it may be helpful to look at specific types of positions you’re interested in to get an idea of how each school places in certain fields. There can be significant disparities between schools in particular fields, so be sure to keep that in mind when deciding.

Does it Feel like the Right Culture Fit?

Finally, it can be useful to consider other soft factors when deciding which law school is best for you. If you can, ask the admissions staff if there is way for you contact current students or staff to learn more about the school. Try to attend an accepted student or orientation day if possible, as this can give you a better idea of whether the school is a good fit for you. Don’t forget to consider size as well, as this can vary the student experience greatly.

Choosing a law school is a highly personal decision. No one factor should be determinative, so be sure to consider the aspects that are most important for you.


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About Briana Borgolini

Briana Borgolini is a law student at Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she graduated with her B.A. in Human Biology with Honors. Briana worked in public health research for four years before law school and hopes that her non-traditional perspective can help others navigate the law school and legal career process.

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