Top 5 Factors in Choosing a Law School

Law School Expert Blog

Surveying Practicing Attorneys

I surveyed more than 250 attorneys from across the country to provide you with information that will help you decide:
1: whether to go to law school
2: where to go to law school
3: what you can expect from a law degree, and
4: how to make yourself employable as a lawyer.  

Today, I want to share the results of the following question –

What do attorneys say are the 5 Most Important Factors in Choosing a Law School? Percentages are based on number of lawyers naming these in their top 5.*

1: Location near job and internship opportunities. (74%)

2: Bar passage rate (72%)

3: Supportiveness of faculty and administration (69%)

4: U.S. News rankings (67%)

5: Cost of attendance (tied at 55%)

5: Area of specialization (tied at 55%)

I’m going to be posting some excerpts from my new book, The Law School Decision Game: A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers, now available. It just came out last week and is under $12 on Amazon. I look forward to your comments and questions about the book.

*(see page 206 of The Law School Decision Game for more about this data and other conclusions about choosing a law school).

8 Responses

  1. Hi Ms. Levine, perhaps you can offer some advice:

    Took the June 2011 LSAT (162-88th percentile), non-traditional student (13 yrs. in workforce), middling Undergraduate GPA, high Graduate GPA. Various academic honors. Clinical research experience. Strong recommendations. Strong Personal Statement.

    Received speedy admission to Benjamin Cardozo a few days ago (very prompt decision). I am a female URM.

    PROS: Cardozo is the ONLY school in New York City that has a Spring start (January 2012). All other New York schools have a Fall start (August 2012), a seven-month difference. Also, January entrants benefit from an accelerated program that concludes in 2.5 yrs vs. three. I’m interested in corporate law (mergers&acquisitions, finance, private equity) and Cardozo has a great securities arbitration clinic.

    MY DILEMMA: I must secure my seat at Cardozo by December 1, 2011 (1K deposit). However, if I apply to Columbia, NYU, and Fordham, the earliest I would get a decision (via Early Determination) would be LATE December (of course, I’m being highly optimistic with regards to these schools given my less than ideal stats, but I do think my soft factors make me a great candidate).

    If I move ahead and accept Cardozo, it would render application to other schools moot, since by the time I receive a determination, I would already have secured a seat at Cardozo by deposit. However, I will never know if any other school would accept me if I do not apply, and that, madame, is the rub.

    MY QUESTION: Do I decline Cardozos’ Spring offer and go ahead and apply for Columbia, NYU, and Fordham? My concern is that if I am not accepted into any of the others, I’ve lost out completely. No Columbia, No NYU, No Fordham AND No Cardozo.

    THE ONLY SOLUTION I’VE COME UP WITH SO FAR: I could pay the $1,000 deposit at Cardozo with the understanding that I walk away from the money and absorb the financial loss if a more desirable offer comes my way. Do you have any other suggestions that do not involve me (potentially) taking a 1K loss????

    1. Hi Blueenigma,
      Congrats on your prompt decision from Cardozo!
      I think it’s highly unlikely you’d get into the other schools you mentioned. It’s also unlikely you would receive a decision in December from any of the other schools. Also recognize that by starting in January you would be a bit off schedule if you wanted to try to transfer. I think, based on the #s, Cardozo is the closest fit for you but I don’t know enough about you to know whether you’re the exception who would get into Fordham.

  2. Hi Ms. Levine,
    I am writing to you because I have applied to law schools this cycle with very low scores. I have been offered conditional acceptances to Cooley and Phoenix so far and I am consdering them since the cost of the programs has been decreased to about $500 for Phoenix and $100 for Cooley. I am waiting to hear from Southern University Law Center. What do you think about my chances at Southen if I have a 141 LSAT and a less than stellar GPA due to a life threatening situation. My GPA isn’t very good, and I am surprised that I even got a chance at some of these schools. Do you think I may have a shot at Southern?

    Thank you very much for your advice. I think that part of the reason schools have even taken a chance to admit me to these programs is because of your advice concerning personal statements and addendums.

    1. Lauriela,
      I’m glad that you are happy with your results. I just want to caution you that if you do a conditional program and don’t make it through, you’ll have an even tougher time getting into law school in the future. I don’t comment on chances of admission in the blog format since I’m not reviewing your entire application. Just exercise caution about conditional programs – find out how many people make it through.

  3. Hello Ms. Levine,

    I applied to 22 law schools. My numbers while not overly impressive I have deemed myself a “tier 3 and 4’s dream” which I am ok with. I cannot decide where to go. Ill spare you the details but I have been accepted to 7 schools this far, and denied to 7 with 8 more schools deciding. Right now I am torn between New England law, and Washburn. I am pretty flexible either way I can stay or move wherever I live it all depends on job prospects. I want to become a prosecutor. Any insight on this dilemma would be great thank you once again.

    1. Christopher, ask the tough questions to the career services offices at both schools and find out where graduates are going and whether the local DAs office hires from the schools and who they hire. You can also reach out for informational interviews at local DAs offices, or look up their bios and see where they went to law school.

  4. Hi Ann! I was just wondering your thoughts on Cardozo full tuition v Fordham sticker in today’s legal market? I am agonizing over this decision!

    1. Nic, what a great decision to have. Having no debt and being at the top of your class will give you a lot of options, depending on what you hope to do with your career.

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