Applying to law school is time-consuming and can be expensive. (Each law school charges an application fee, typically around $75-100, although sometimes law schools will provide application fee waivers, so it doesn’t hurt to ask). The choice of where to apply and, ultimately, where to attend, also depends on a lot of factors that are unique to each student. Given this, students should be intentional in and make informed choices about which law schools to apply to. Key factors to consider include: how competitive an applicant you’ll be, geographic preferences, particular programs or clinical experiences offered by the school, net cost of tuition and living expenses, and employment prospects after completion of the J.D.
There are a number of good sources of information about law schools:
First, check out the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools. At this site students can read profiles of every ABA-approved law school in the country. The site also features a search tool that can be customized by geographic area and a filter that allows you to see, based on your GPA and LSAT score, how competitive an applicant you’ll be the school.
Next, head to ABA’s website to view Required Disclosures of every ABA-approved law school. These reports include data on the LSAT scores and GPA of the most recent entering class (again, allowing you to judge how competitive an applicant you’ll be), information about the make-up of the student body and faculty, estimates of cost, data on numbers and amounts of scholarships offered, and information about bar exam passage rates of recent graduates.
Finally, students should visit the ABA’s Employment Summary Reports for schools they’re considering. These provide detailed information about where recent graduates are working. If any schools you’re considering have low employment rates or low bar passage rates, you should ask a lot of questions and tread cautiously.
Students who do their homework should be able to narrow their choices down to 6-8 schools—one or two schools that are a reach, one or two where you’re pretty sure you’ll be admitted, and then 3-4 schools where you’ll be a very competitive applicant.
Visiting regularly with your pre-law advisor will help you sort through all these factors and decide what schools are best for you.