Deciding Where to Go > Choosing the Right Law School

BC, BU, Notre Dam, Emory, W&L, UConn

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First thing to understand when making the life altering decision of whether to attend law school and where to attend it is that everything you read from anonymous internet posters on this board or others including my post should be taken with a major grain of salt. Nobody knows your situation or what is best for you and what law school you choose is a highly personal decision. With that said I will offer the following advice when choosing a law school these are the factors you should consider (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feeling About the school (4) Understanding the reality of legal education (5) if all else fails use U.S. News ranking. I will analyze these factors below.

When choosing a law school particularly in the vastly different areas you are considering this is very important. Law school does not exist in a vacuum and you are going to live in the City you attend law school for three years and you will likely end up taking the bar in the state you attend law school. As I hope you are aware there is a vast difference between South Bend, Indiana and Boston for example. If you want to live in small college town and enjoy Football then ND could be for you. However, if you are a city person then Boston might be a better fit. Remember law school will be three years of your life and you are going to get an apartment, make friends, etc. Although law school is difficult you will have time to live life and your experience will be vastly different in South Bend Indiana or Boston.

On top of that you need to consider where you want to end up after graduation. If you attend law school in Notre Dame you will get internships in the Midwest not the East Coast. There are 6 or 7 law schools in Boston so employers there will have no reason to recruit outside of the area. Same with UCONN for example if you want to be in Connecticut then Quinnipac and Connecticut will be in the best position to get you a job in Connecticut.

UConn Law gives me free ride.
W&L gives me 30K per year
Emory: 20K,
Notre Dame: 15K,
BC 20K.

Those scholarships are great, but one thing to really look into is the conditions of these scholarships. Often they will say something along the lines of you need to maintain a 3.0 or be in the 25% of the class etc.  To have gotten these scholarships you obviously got a 3.0 in undergrad with ease, but law school is much different based on the curve and the intelligence and work ethic of those in law school. First off to get a 3.0 at most schools you need to be in the top 35% of the class. I know you believe that you will of course be in the top 35%, but 100% of people on the first day of law school are convinced they are going to be in the top of the class, but you don't have to be a math major to see how that works.

If it is a 3.0 requirement there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship nothing against you personally, but everyone in law school is smart, hard working, and motivated and there is a good chance you will lose the scholarship. Here is a NY times article explaining how this system works


3) Personal Feelings about the School
Aside from location and cost each school has a culture to it. When I was a OL and in mock trial competitions I interacted with a number of different schools some I liked others I didn't. However, that is my personal feeling I have visited Notre Dame and love the tradition there and the whole University, but that is just me. You might hate sports etc and be much more into what W & L has to offer. It is a highly personal decision and I highly recommend visiting the school to get a vibe from the school and see if it fits your personality it is a 3 year commitment and if you don't like the professors, students, admins you meet during a visit you won't like the school.

4. Reality of Legal Education
An important thing to realize is that at every ABA school the education is the same. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Con Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Property.  In these courses you will read Supreme Court Cases that are exactly the same no matter where you read them. In Torts you will read the Palsgraf case to understand Proximate Cause, in Hadley v. Baxendale you will learn contract remedies, Criminal Law you will learns mens rea and the elements for burglary, etc. It is all the same no matter where you learn it.

5. U.S. News
If after you analyze the factors above and you still cannot make a decision then use this as a guide, but realize this is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion and should not be the basis of a life altering decision.

Please take my advice and other advice you read on anonymous internet poster boards with a grain of salt. I highly recommend when making a 3 year, 100,000 dollar commitment, that will determine the future of your career that you meet with people from these schools and visit the schools personally. I have been to Notre Dame for a few days, but have never even set foot on the campus of the other schools or even been to the Boston, Georgia, or Connecticut so I have no understanding of the legal markets there so get information directly from the source and if you want use the factors I listed above in your decision.

Good luck in your legal career.


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